Vic Waters

Vic spent entire radio career with one station

Vic with best buddy Red Robinson in 1995


 "If there's a microphone in heaven, you can be sure Vic will grab it!" 


Long-time Vancouver Radio Broadcaster and B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame member Vic Waters died peacefully with his wife Thelma at his side on August 19, 2008. 

Born Charles Victor Waters on September 9, 1918, Vic was the youngest of 4 children born to William James Waters and Enid Vivian Ramage. Vic grew up in Grandview, and was well known for his theatrical performances at Britannia High School. From his early teens, Vic had a strong interest in "The Magic of Radio", and earned his Amateur Radio License and set up his own amateur radio station, VE5QH. 

He remained an avid "Ham" throughout his life. Vic began his broadcasting career at pioneering radio station CJOR as a technician and operator. Soon, he was a wireless operator copying the news services for the radio station and the Vancouver Province newspaper. With the advent of World War II, Vic became an on-air personality at CJOR, until he too left to join the service in 1942. Vic was a member of the Canadian Army, Special Wireless Group Number One, and was stationed in Darwin Australia from 1944 to 1946. After the war, he returned to CJOR, where he became one of Vancouver's best-known announcers. He worked at CJOR as a disk jockey, program director and talk-show host until he retired in 1969. While he was at CJOR, Vic became a mentor to several young Vancouver Broadcasters, among them Red Robinson, Frosty Forst, and Fred Latremouille. 

He later joined Premier Cablevision where he, set up one of the first community television channels in Canada, pioneering locally-produced live television in Vancouver. During his retirement years, Vic was actively involved in community service, and enjoyed traveling, family affairs, music, and lawn bowling. In addition to Thelma, his wife of 67 years, Vic is survived by their two children, Rick and Laura, and by grandchildren Catherine, Michael, Paul, and Emily, and by 5 great grandchildren. At Vic's request, there will be no service, but Vic loved a party, and a sharing of memories and celebration of his life for family and friends will take place on Friday, September 5 from 5 PM to 8PM, at 3692 Quesnel Drive in Vancouver.

“I started in radio in 1938. I was taking a wireless-telegraphy course at Sprott-Shaw School on Robson Street and was asked by an instructor as to whether I could copy Morse code at 35 words per minute and I said yes. I was needed.

My first duty was to go to the transmitter site of CJOR at Sea Island and listen to the Trans-Radio Press circuit and type the copy. The idea was that CJOR wanted to be first with unchallenged accuracy in its reporting of what was going on in the world. The copy was couriered by motorcycle to the Howe Street studios for Dick Diespecker’s 8 o’clock morning news broadcast. Prior to this time, CJOR would get its news from a station CKCD owned by The Vancouver Daily Province. One of the important chores linked to my job was that I first turned the transmitter on at 5:45 am under instruction from Engineer Bud Seabrooke.

I only worked at one station, which is uncommon in the broadcast field. I came through the front door meeting the likes of Dorwin Baird, Diespecker and Ross Mortimer - all were announcers and involved in current affairs.” 

He worked with Bernie Braden, Andrew Allen, Charles Hovey, Dal Richards, and Al Jordan. Hector McKay was a named with fondness, well known in the copy writing world. Waters talked a lot about those first two years of 1938-1939 as if they were yesterday telling the story of Laddy Whatkis, the bookkeeper who used that name and others on CJOR including Margaret May, the pianist and Mrs. Fennell.

After WW2 broke out Waters enlisted and served 4 years. He returned to what he knew best. Waters was asked about the Chandler Family – owners of the station and he responded that Art Chandler was the chief engineer and George ran the business side until his death and then his wife, Marie took that role. He said the Chandlers were gentile. He talked fondly about Cardo Smalley and his violin program and the talented blind pianist Ronnie Mathews. He said in those days no recorded music was allowed to be played between 7:30 and 11pm – so the station had entertaining programs through the evening.

Waters says the station built the CJOR Radio Theatre across the street from the Grosvenor Hotel that could handle a 16-piece orchestra and many broadcasts were made from that location including ones transmitted over the Dominion Network of the CBC.

“I held most positions within the production side of radio, studio operator, news editor, engineer, program director, talk show host, and announcer. 

Quietly he has a lot of respect for Red Robinson. He hired him first.

I remember once being the operator to Pat Burns who was doing a telephone talk show. This lady caller asked Burns if he had been born on a farm. He said no. She asked was Vic Waters born on a farm. The answer was no again and Burns asked why this particular question. She responded that she had never heard so much bull manure (or words to that effect) in her entire life.” So a delay system had to be invented. It was the birth of modern talk radio.

In 1969 Waters retired. Ownership had changed. His day of doing everything for that one station was over. He had been the glue for nearly thirty years. Vic was a great deal happier when he arrived home to see Thelma.

written by Jack Bennest after an interview on the phone with Vic.


They say "fame is fleeting" and so it is. Some of the giants of radio from bygone days are fading into the mist and this is not right. 

One of those who pioneered the art of deejay communication was Vic Waters. He went from wireless operator, to copywriter, to engineer, network announcer, program director and of course deejay. 

Vic spent more than 30 years with Vancouver's first real "talk radio" station CJOR starting in 1938. On his evening spot, when radio was king, he brought to his show stars such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Patti Page, The Ink Spots, The Mills Brothers and big band leaders such as Tex Beneke, Woody Herman and Cab Calloway. Vic also introduced radio audiences to newcomers who went on to broadcast fame including Jack Webster, who had been city editor of the Vancouver Sun, Fred Latremouille, Al Jordan and Pat Burns plus a young red-headed rock and roller, yours truly. 

When Vic retired he returned the following year by joining the fledgling new Vancouver Cablevision with a mandate to introduce community programming. He was pioneering once again and this time with the world's first cable operation right here in our town. 

Vic also served his country in the armed forces in the South Pacific from 1942-1946. 

This man could take a word such as "Sky" and turn it into one of the most interesting stories with twists and turns that only a fertile imagination could invent. 

He was truly one of the greatest communicators the radio business had ever produced. 

above written by Red Robinson - edited Special to The Vancouver Sun  August 21, 2006 

Former corporal Vic Waters tells of his WW11 career.

Waters, who joined CJOR radio in 1938, says he was one of the charter members of the Royal Canadian Signal Corps. "We started in a little, shabby bungalow in the outskirts of Esquimalt and we set up the first Pacific Coast listening station.
"Our job was to track down enemy subversive operators, operating out of the Hudson River basin in New York and places like Seattle and Portland.''
Vic and other highly trained wireless intercept operators were posted to Darwin in 1945 with a companion group of Canadian Intelligence Service operatives in the last few months of the Second World War.
"The receiving station we built at the very aptly named Cemetery Plains in northern Australia was probably one of the best in the world, akin to Bletchley Park in England. Most people didn't know there was any Canadian corps in the South Pacific because the work was hush-hush,'' says Vic.
"In the book, Vancouver's First Century, there is a picture on page 128 showing `Troops embarking.' It's not troops embarking, it was our corps returning home from Australia on the Indian freighter Sikotra in March 1946."

above written by Archibald Rollo - edited The Vancouver Sun May 19, 1994


thanks to Jim Bennie for this one published

Around Your Radio Dial—TONIGHT  [Dick Diespecker, Vancouver Daily Province, Monday, May 1, 1950] 


One of Vancouver’s most recent additions to the disc jockey tribe is a fellow named Vic Waters of CJOR. Impossible as it may sound, he became a disc jockey by way of a program known as the Concert Hour. 
Waters is not really a monster, of course, but he rather liked to have people think he is. By all the rules of radio, he should be building radio transmitters or crouched over a wireless key in the cabin on the top deck of some freighter, for Waters is essentially a technical man. 
I don’t know what he did in school, but back in 1939 he turned up at CJOR’s transmitter as a qualified wireless operator. He was engaged to copy Trans Radio news for the station and Chicago Daily News Foreign Service for the Daily Province. He was one of those remarkable people who can listen to those dit-dit-daas in earphones and translate them into English on a typewriter at a rate of 40 words a minute.

Unfortunately, Mr. Waters also has a fiendish sense of humor. He used to tune in the Domei (Japanese) wireless broadcasts, and knowing that the Trans Radio copy would be delivered at the studio by messenger only just in time for this writer to use it on the air without any previous reading, the monster came out in him. Morning after morning, I would be reading a very serious dispatch concerning world affairs, only to suddenly find myself reading a lot of gibberish in the middle of a sentence. Fortunately, for all of us, the war put a stop to these shenanigans. 
In 1941, the management commuted Waters’ sentence and allowed into the studio as a studio operator. It was then that Vancouver listeners were introduced to Waters’ peculiar brand of humor. Two announcers handled a program called Studio Party and Waters was their operator. When he did not like what they were saying . . . he would simply cut them off the air and entertain the customers himself, leaving the announcers gasping like fish out of water. 

The management had an answer for this, too. They made Waters an announcer. He thought that was too much to bear, so he joined the army, and immediately found himself listening to Japanese broadcasts again . . . first at Esquimalt and later in Australia. 
In 1946, he presented himself at CJOR again and was put to work as a studio operator. It took him four years to stop talking about the “Big Walk Abouts” and other assorted Australian phenomena. In his spare moments as a raconteur, he operated most of the big network shows from this station, and still operates the coast-to-coast chuckwagon. 

During a shortage of staff, Waters was pressed into service as a newscaster and finally was sent to radio’s Siberia by being given the late night shift which included the Concert Hour. This, he conducted for several years, using what he called the special “concert hour voice” for the purpose. 
Actually, Vic Waters knows a great deal about classical music and did a sound job on the Concert Hour. But the sales department, like all radio station sales departments, thought the concert hour was a waste of time. The thin edge of the wedge was a disc jockey show, conducted by Mr. Waters every Saturday night. The public seemed to like it, Waters enjoyed it himself and it was not long before a few sessions in the back room with a strong light and a rubber truncheon convinced him that good music should go and pop music take its place. 
Now Mrs. Waters' little boy Vic spins discs and yak-yaks in between six nights a week. His yakking is as good as any on the air, and a great deal better than some, and his selection of discs is excellent with some exceptions. Like all listeners, I have my favorites. I hate Waters when he makes nasty remarks about Vaughn Monroe, but fortunately he is saved by the fact he like Louis Armstrong and Dixieland jazz as much as I do. So with that thought in mind, we say farewell to this monster of the turntables, his beady little eyes following us hungrily as we depart and his hunting cry reaching us faintly as we move on . . .”That fo hguone thats” which freely translates means “That’s enough of that.” 


Use this link to hear Vic speak with Jack Webster in a 1976 Broadcast celebrating CJOR's 50th Year on the air:

Vic Waters