Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today we are shining the light on John Ferguson.
I had certainly heard about John for many years coming up in the business. Funny thing we never met until I decided to take on leading the charge to get COUNTY-FM on the air. I look up to John in a few ways: because of his history and track record in the radio business, and because he is quite a bit taller than this vertically challenged lad. He has gladly and without reservation helped in keeping COUNTY-FM on track, and we thank him for that. Many long-term and successful performers in this industry got their start working for John as he created an environment that was conducive to learning and spreading wings.
John has now worked 58 years in the radio business, most of them as a broadcast journalist. He has read close to 70 THOUSAND newscasts!
He started working for CBC Ottawa in the early sixties at CBC Ottawa and then was hired at CKPM in Ottawa. He later moved to CHIC Brampton and was fired with most of those on the payroll three months later when the station switched to an all-female staff. BillBoards along the Gardiner Expressway showed a Bikini-Clad woman coming out of an egg with the copy saying, ‘CHIC...Your All Girls Station’. A different time for sure.
Shortly after he got into management working as News Director at CHWO in Oakville, followed by taking a reporter gig with CHAM Radio in Hamilton.
In 1967 things took a different turn as he was hired as News Director with the Bermuda Broadcasting Company which had three radio stations and a television station. It was a great experience there learning a whole new way of life. While in Bermuda lots of cool things happened like meeting the Queen, interviewing Muhammad Ali, actors Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset and author Peter Benchley when the movie 'The Deep' was being filmed on the island.
John returned to Canada when the opportunity came to take up the position of News Director with The Quinte Broadcasting Company in Belleville. The Company has CJBQ, Mix 97 and Rock 107 and he stayed there till he retired.
John has a million stories: “I was coming back from Picton Ontario after covering a news assignment back in the mid-1980s. I was driving a well-marked news car with the dome lights etc. I was on highway 62 heading East and had just passed the Ben Gill road. I was on the cars cell phone, which in those days was about the size of a home phone, filing a report on Air to 365’er Peter Thompson who was doing the open line show on CJBQ when I went through the police radar. I said to Peter ‘Oh-oh, looks like I went through radar and I will probably be stopped’. Peter said, 'stay on the air because we want to hear what the cop has to say'. Sure enough, the police car that was going in the opposite direction, turned around and pulled me over. On-air I was explaining what was happening as this was unfolding. When the police officer approached the car, I had the window down and told him we were on the air and asked him why I was being stopped. He told me speeding and that I was doing 15 kilometers over the 80-speed limit. He then told me I should be aware of what speed I drive and stay within the speed limit, and then wrote a ticket. I think the fine was about 85 dollars. I heard a lot of laughing from Peter. By the time I got back to the radio station the story, complete with audio had been filed to the national newswire service. So many people across the country knew that I had been caught for speeding by a Prince Edward OPP officer. Have I ever been caught for speeding since....the answer is NO.”
There are many Loyalist Broadcast Journalism students who interned in his newsroom and among them one that he is most proud of is Todd Smith who he worked with for 9 years and who eventually took his job when he retired. Todd, of course, went into politics and just won his second term as a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario where he currently serves as both the Government House Leader and Minister of Government and Consumer Services. The first time he was elected he represented Prince Edward—Hastings, and, after the most recent election, he represents the riding of Bay of Quinte.
John officially retired in 2006 but says he can't shake broadcasting. He has been instrumental at COUNTY-FM as a board member, news coach, contributing news copy and doing a couple of newscasts every week. He has had a great career working in broadcasting and hopes to get a few more years in before he finally calls it quits.
John has a very talented daughter named Lindsay Ferguson who is a recording star living in Europe these days. She has a solid body of work and comes back to tour North America regularly. Check her out at youtube.com/watch?v=AigPQs-uTmI.
John has always been involved in the communities he has served. Today he keeps busy sitting on the boards of COUNTY-FM and Community Care for Seniors in Prince Edward County. He is also a member of the executive for the Bay of Quinte Aeromodellers and the Brighton RC Hawks, both of which are model airplane clubs.
He’s fun, smart, talented and involved in the community for no other reason than trying to help and lend his experience. I’m very happy to have met him, work with him, and become friends with him. Atta be John!
Thank you, John Ferguson for being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share John’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? As they say, stay tuned.
– Jim JJ Johnston is the CEO, President and Chief Talent/Content Coach for JJIMS INC. and works with talent in many different industries.