Duff Roman. Pic: Bill King Photography
Duff Roman. Pic: Bill King Photography

Duff Roman Named To Receive the Walt Grealis Award

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) today announced broadcast luminary Duff Roman will be awarded the 2019 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for his ongoing contributions and dedication to Canada’s music industry.

The Award, named after Canadian music trade publisher and CanCon pioneer Walt Grealis, will be presented to Roman at the 48th annual Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on Saturday, March 16 at the London, ON Convention Centre.

Lauded as a pioneer and trailblazer in the industry, Roman’s contributions to Canadian music span over 60 years. His entrepreneurial spirit has been instrumental in the development of Canadian radio, punctuated by notable accolades along the way. From his early days as a radio announcer, time with Roman Records, and long-standing career with CHUM-FM to his executive industry roles and co-founding of FACTOR, Roman has been a key figure in the development of countless Canadian artists.

“We are honoured to name Duff Roman as the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award Recipient this year. Duff has been a consummate figure in Canadian broadcasting, with industry insight and a dedication that knows no bounds; his lifelong work exemplifies the true spirit of this award,” said Allan Reid, President & CEO, CARAS/The Juno Awards & MusiCounts.

“Throughout his remarkable career, Duff has always been focused on the development of Canadian music. He stands apart as an iconic leader in the industry and continues to provide valuable guidance and wisdom from his decades of experience.”

“I am humbled and truly overjoyed to be receiving this award,” said Duff Roman. “I’ve always felt lucky to be a part of an industry that honours creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. I’d like to thank CARAS and everyone in this incredible industry that I’ve had the honour of working alongside throughout the years.”

Hailing from the Canadian prairies, Roman kicked off his career in the radio broadcasting world working as an on-air personality at radio stations in Winnipeg, Edmonton and his hometown of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

After moving to Toronto in 1959, he found his home with CHUM Limited, working his way up for the next six decades. After beginning as an announcer in the 1960s, Roman steadily rose through the ranks as Program Director at CHUM-FM. He then became Station Manager where he directed the repositioning of CHUM-FM as Canada’s foremost Adult Rock radio station. In 1988, Roman was appointed Vice President Industry Affairs of CHUM Limited, assuming additional responsibilities of Vice President, Digital Radio Operations in 1999. Roman retired as the Head of CHUM Radio Network, a position he held since 2007.

After founding Roman Records with his late brother, Dan, in the early 1960s, Roman paved the way as a pioneer record-label owner and artist manager. He notably produced Little Caesar and The Consuls, as well as the first recordings of Levon and the Hawks who went on to rename themselves as The Band. Roman also helped launch the careers of The Paupers and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee David Clayton-Thomas, amongst many others.

Using his wealth of experience and industry savvy, Roman has been a guiding force in programs invested in the longevity and future of Canadian music. In 1982, Roman led the creation of FACTOR, the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings, and continues to serve as its Director Emeritus.

Since forming Duff Roman Media Inc. in 2009, Roman has been involved in SmartGrid electrical demand- response technology development as well as TV documentary production, including the award-winning mini-series, Yonge Street: Toronto Rock and Roll Stories, for CTV’s BRAVO channel. He is currently Vice President of Corporate Development with the 19-station Evanov Radio Group.

Roman’s years of experience in radio have made him an expert in an evolving industry that transitioned from traditional radio broadcasting to digital multimedia broadcasting. In 2001, Roman was inducted to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Broadcast Hall of Fame and, in 2006, was one of the first broadcasters inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. He has been Chair of CAB, President of Digital Radio Roll-Out Inc (DDRI) and was Canada’s representative on the WorldDMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) Steering Committee.

Throughout his career, Roman has received numerous prestigious awards and accolades. In 1986, Roman received the Major Market Radio Executive of the Year Award at the Annual Industry Conference sponsored by The Record. He was named Broadcaster of the Year in March 1996 by the Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB). In 2010, Roman received the OAB Lifetime Achievement Award, and, in 2017, the Music Managers’ Forum Brian Chater Pioneer Manager Award.

Tickets for the 2019 Juno Awards broadcast go on sale to the general public on Friday, November 30 and can be purchased here.

-- An comprehensive interview with Duff was published earlier in FYI Music News and can be viewed here.

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