They met at CHOM in 1975 and married a few years later. They died together in a head-on vehicle collision in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico this past Monday.
Monday evening Les Sole and Terri Michael who were enjoying retirement in Cabo, Mexico, went out for dinner. Leslie’s mother, Violet, visiting from Vancouver, decided instead to stay in.
She was the one that had to answer the door when she wasn’t expecting anyone. And once that door opened, all that bad energy, all the bad news came in like a flood.
There had been a terrible crash between a car and a pickup truck. That crash claimed the lives of well-known Canadian broadcasters Les Sole and his wife, Terri Michael. The driver of the pickup truck also died at the scene.
Once this tragedy has been absorbed, theirs will be a story of not just talent and success, but also a story that’s rarely celebrated in our industry.
A love story.
During the heyday of radio, Les and Terri were a glittering industry couple. Both of their stars were very much on the rise in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He was blonde, charismatic and cute; she was dark haired, chic and glamorous with a velvety voice. They were both on their way, and they knew it.
Les was a phenom as his star rose first in radio and then settled in television. He was the morning guy at a Windsor radio station after high school and then before you knew it, he was running CHOM FM in Montreal. At CHOM FM (where these two met), it was his influence that turned CHOM into the first bilingual station in the country. He created Metro1430 (the greatest station that never was) in Toronto and was proud of what they did regardless of a failure to launch. He went to CFMT (the Telemedia multicultural station) and ran the rebranded OMNI. He merged OMNI and CITY across the country and became the CEO for Rogers Television. His passions were people and culture. He was called a creative visionary. His tenure with Rogers lasted 25 years. Les also travelled to China 6 or 7 times creating new ventures for Canadians there.
During a time when women in media were sometimes openly discriminated against, when it was still often assumed that the husband should be/was the breadwinner, Terri and Les wrote their own rules.
While Les was reaping the rewards of his talent and focus, so was Terri. She too was in radio; in fact she was the very first woman to host a solo morning show in Canada at CHOM in Montreal. She became the first ever female announcer on the air at CJBK in London. In Toronto, she worked at Q107, the MIX, CHFI and EZRock, where, again, she was the first female in Toronto to host the morning show. She also had a TV and film career, launched a jewellery line with her sister Lori Grant (a longtime CHFI announcer), did voiceover work, and maybe you remember the feature “Canadian Living” on radio and TV? Terri worked and worked hard. She was talented with a wide range of abilities, and natural entrepreneur. Not surprisingly that since retiring with Les to Mexico a few years ago, she was hosting a weekly radio show there, Total Recall on CaboMil 96.3.
Friends and family will remember two unique souls who made a family and a marriage that withstood the test of both time and rock and roll. Those heady days were not always kind to romantic unions. As an industry, we will remember two of our own. They advanced themselves based on their talent, smarts and verve. Passion, dedication and a sense of humour completed the package. We’ll give respect to two careers well done and well deserved, and comfort each other over the loss of two well-liked and regarded broadcasters.
Les and Terri celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary in October. They leave behind an adult son John.
Condolences to friends and family of the couple. Details on final arrangements had not been set at the time of publication.
Rick Brace, President of Rogers Media - Leslie was a visionary, who passionately loved Canadian television and left an indelible mark on this industry, and on Rogers. Throughout his 25 years at Rogers, Leslie was a creative executive who never shied away from bold decisions and was the architect of pioneering stations such as OMNI Television. Rogers Media extends its deepest condolences to the entire Sole family on the passing of Leslie and his wife Terri. We join with friends and colleagues in the remembrance of this respected media leader, one we were proud to call our own.
Larry Fedoruk. CKTB - A hundred years ago in Winnipeg, I wrote a hundred letters to people in Toronto to see if anyone was interested in what I had to say. Two people got back to me with notes of encouragement. Roger Ashby and Leslie Sole (I still have the letters). Years later I would work with Leslie briefly at Rogers and learned so much. I also worked with the flawless Teri Michael at 99.9. I am beyond stunned by this news. I also have fond memories of 2 remarkable people that I was lucky enough to cross paths with.
Julie Adam – President Rogers Radio – When we were relaunching KISS, I was pitching the idea of hiring a morning show that had never worked together. One person specifically hadn’t even been on the air full-time and was working for another TV network. Leslie was the head of TV for Rogers at the time, and when I told him about the idea, he sent me a 2-word email response that said “inspired choice”. In a sea of “are you sure??” opinions, his two words lifted me up. That was Leslie. (The show was Roz and Mocha)
Tony Viner – My earliest memory of Leslie is when I met him in Montreal. He was the GM of CHOM FM, Canada’s foremost counter-culture radio station. As part of his compensation, he was allowed to lease a Mercedes, an icon of the establishment. I’m sure Leslie was 22 at the time and extremely proud of his new car but afraid to tell anyone! Leslie’s most obvious strength was his ability to innovate and create. The neurons in Leslie’s brain followed paths where the rest of us have no pathways. Every executive who ever worked with Leslie marvelled at his creativity. But he was also a loyal, warm and faithful friend. He will be missed by all but most especially by John, the son he doted on. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have worked with him.
Chuck McCoy – Its really only been since their retirement to Mexico that my wife and I had become good friends with Les and Terri. Our places there aren’t too far apart, and we vacationed together last year. We exchanged messages about three weeks ago. Since my heart attack, he took it upon himself to “chuck” in with me, and we stayed in touch. Great people. I’m just completely stunned. Unbelievable loss.