A Classy Morning Man Exits Quietly

Wille Cole
Wille Cole

One of the most difficult moments in life’s journey is to say “goodbye”. Its definition is simply, “An act of parting or leave-taking”. I find goodbye too final. Yes, I am calling it a career at 620 CKRM. It’s been a long but fun ride. 42 years have gone by in the broadcast industry, 33 of them at CKRM (both 980 and 620). When I came to Regina, there were two main competitors. The late great Johnny Sandison at CKCK and Hart Kirsch at CJME. Both were seasoned performers. How do you come into a community to do something different or better than what they were doing. My first thought was to start the morning show earlier than anyone else. I told George Gallagher that I wanted to start at 5 a.m. instead of six like everyone else. He said, let’s compromise and make it 5:30 a.m. That’s what I did. It was only a matter of time when both my competitors shifted to the same time slot.

A lot of water has run under the bridge. Many many competitors have come and gone. My main goal was to make sure that I gave the audience the information and entertainment they wanted. Most importantly was to start everyday on a positive note. The last thing any audience needs to know is what your troubles are. They have enough of their own. Mornings have always been a natural time for me. I was an early riser as a youngster. When my friends slept until 10 a.m., I was up and at it by 6:30 or 7 a.m. I love the morning. It’s the best time of the day. Nothing frustrates me more than when I hear a fellow employee or friend say, “I just can’t function on less than 8 hours of sleep”. Well, it all depends on how hard you want to do what you want to do. Just get up and do it.

I’ve had the good fortune of being the sideline voice and field voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 28 seasons. I’ve outlived 3 of the four play by play voices. And no, I didn’t beg for a Grey Cup ring, even though I’ve been there for two of the three Grey Cups as a broadcaster. Those should be reserved for the team ONLY! It’s been an absolute thrill to be in the best seat in the house, the Rider sideline. My association with the Regina Pats has been memorable as well. My first association with Pats hockey goes to back to when I was a fifteen year old at my first junior hockey camp with the St. Boniface Canadians of the MJHL and an exhibition hockey game against Fran Huck and the Pats. What an eye opener. What a great hockey history and tradition. Let’s not lose them!

My Career has taken me from Williams lake, B.C., to Thompson, Manitoba, CKRM, Regina, CFCN, Calgary, CFRY, Portage La Prairie and final home to CKRM.

I’ve had the priveledge of working with some very talented broadcasters. I have met almost every country music star and hundreds of story makers, like Buzz Aldrin, John Candy and more. What other job would give you that experience? Very very few. To have been part of the first organzing team for the Big Valley Jamboree (now Craven Country Jamboree) was a very exciting time for Country Music.  Being involved in 34 years of the 620 CKRM Big Country Talent Show is something I will never forget.  The stories and events are endless.

It’s allowed me to raise a family and enjoy what I have today. For that I am truly greatful. Most of all I want to thank the incredible family of listeners I’ve had for my 33 years at 620 CKRM. It’s the largest breakfast audience in Southern Saskatchewan in private radio. You have made me the luckiest man in the world doing something I love.

So, I won’t say “goodbye”. I’ll say “so long”. Regina and Saskatchewan is my home. East Selkirk, Manitoba is where I was born and raised. I look forward to our meetings in the future.

I leave you with a phrase used by a former Regina broadcaster that has always set a standard for me.  The late Howard Langdale, who I worked with in Calgary, used to end his broadcast day with this.  Always wear a smile! It’s infectious….you’ll see. Keep smiling everybody.

I had the pleasure of meeting Willie Cole of a number of occasions as I consulted his sister station in Regina. Willie always had a smile on his face and was a pleasure to be around. He will be missed by listeners and broadcasters alike. Enjoy taking it easy Willie… You have earned it. Chris Byrnes