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Lifetimes: Funny, quirky broadcaster was local TV personality

Johnnie Walters

  • Johnnie Walters
  • Johnnie Walters
  • Johnnie Walters
  • Johnnie Walters
  • Johnnie and Jackie Walters in 1958
  • Johnnie Walters and Linda Richards ride an elephant at African Lion Safari in the early 1980s for their show “Tempo Ontario.” Co-host Betty Thompson (standing with the microphone) was less keen on the elephant ride.

In a Nineteen Eighties episode of CKCO TV’s “Trivia Firm” host Johnnie Walters strolls down King Avenue in Kitchener, posing an actual stumper of a query to pedestrians: Who was the final king of Italy?

It was King Victor Emmanuel III however, not surprisingly, nobody approached by the microphone-wielding Johnnie had the reply. One lady wouldn’t even get off the pay cellphone (bear in mind them?) when he approached her, although she does crack jokes with Johnnie. One other lady saved stuffing her mouth with muffin as he was asking the query.

You are reading: Lifetimes: Funny, quirky broadcaster was local TV personality

This was Johnnie’s magic, the flexibility to seize the funniest, quirkiest moments with individuals he met, largely as a result of they felt comfy round him, felt drawn to his sense of enjoyable.

Johnnie died on Feb. 26, two days after his ninetieth birthday. And what a legacy he left.

“He was a fantastically distinctive particular person, not your normal broadcaster,” stated Danny Bailey, the station’s former program supervisor.

“He was an exuberant and inventive character, brilliantly goofy,” added Bailey, noting that whether or not Johnnie was randomly phoning individuals from the cellphone e-book, or catching them on the streets, he made individuals in Waterloo Area really feel they had been a part of the present.

Although he got here throughout as an enormous character, an actual showman, in his downtime Johnnie was a quiet and humble man, stated former colleague Linda Richards. He was good within the studio, however out on the road talking to individuals he actually shone, she stated.

“He liked to be out doing items with individuals. He was so humorous,” stated Linda.

“Trivia Firm” ran from 1984 to 1988 and gained a broadcasting award annually.

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Johnnie was born Feb. 24, 1933, in Beamsville to Hungarian-born Zarah Petri and German-born John Walters, certainly one of three boys. At 17 he began working at radio stations round southwestern Ontario and in London, he met Jackie Barnes, the station’s music librarian. They married in 1958.

When he was supplied jobs within the U.S., the couple left Canada, transferring round as Johnnie hosted tv and radio exhibits till settling in Cleveland, the place their daughters Leigh and Aubrey had been born and the place Johnnie labored at WHK from 1959 to 1967.

The progressive rock station was credited with having a significant position in sparking change in American in style music. Artists clamoured to be featured on the airwaves.

Throughout his time within the U.S., Johnnie met John Lennon, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Sammy Davis Jr., and had lunch with Barbra Streisand and Bobby Kennedy. The couple had been additionally pals of Rosemary Clooney and cuddled her son George when he was an toddler.

Johnnie had profession prospects within the U.S. and had been thought-about to host “The Newlywed Sport” tv present, stated daughter Aubrey. However the couple determined to come back again dwelling to Ontario, nearer to household, and moved to Waterloo, the place he joined CKCO-TV.

Johnnie had pitched the thought of a brand new sport present, “Horoscope {Dollars},” to Bailey and was employed.

“I used to be impressed with Johnnie’s American (work) background,” stated Bailey.

Fran Pappert-Shannon, who portrayed “Romper Room’s” Miss Fran, was a colleague and liked Johnnie’s sense of humour. He was a person who “got here alive in entrance of the cameras,” she stated.

“He was foolish, he was enjoyable, numerous power,” added Aubrey, noting he was an excellent father, very heat and loving.

Throughout his twenty years at CKCO, Johnnie hosted a number of exhibits: “Horoscope {Dollars}” from 1974-76; “The Johnnie Walters Present,” from 1976-81; “Tempo Ontario” from 1981-82; “Trivia Firm” from 1983-87 and “Morning Journal” from 1987-94.

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His tales from an unimaginable profession sparked the thought of writing his memoir. He did attempt, Aubrey stated, however his mom’s story of immigration, perseverance and spunk dominated his ideas. He as soon as informed a reporter, “My mom entered the stage and pushed me off.”

As he did with every thing in his life, Johnnie didn’t observe any prescribed format. Autobiographies are normally written by the particular person whose life is being informed. However Johnnie selected to write down her story himself, utilizing Zarah’s voice.

“A Very Succesful Life” was revealed in 2010 and gained a nationwide $10,000 prize, the Edna Staebler Award for Inventive Non-Fiction.

Zarah was in her 90s when he pitched the thought, interviewing her over a number of months. By the point the e-book was achieved, Zarah’s thoughts was engulfed by Alzheimer’s. She died at 96.

Johnnie was a superb author and was engaged on a novel. He additionally painted canvases in an impressionist model. The person simply oozed creativity.

He retired from CKCO in 1994 at age 61, largely to assist take care of the widowed Zarah. The couple moved to Kitchener 15 years in the past. Jackie died in 2021.

“Household was every thing to him,” stated Aubrey. “He laughed quite a bit, and laughed loudly.”


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