Remembering Radio legend Brian Henderson

Brian Henderson The White Knight

Brian Henderson invented outside-of-the-box radio programming. He was one-of-a-kind, thank goodness.

I would say Brian Henderson was the ultimate communicator.

Nobody did it better (sorry Carly Simon!)

Legendary radio and television broadcaster Brian Henderson has passed away. Toronto radio sources say Henderson had been in hospital over the Christmas holidays after falling and breaking his hip. He was battling the early stages of lung cancer and over the years had survived other battles with the disease.

Brian Henderson squeezed every bit of fun out of life and always bounced back. Some say he had nine lives. While working at CKBB in Barrie Henderson often talked on-air about his pet, Nygel the cat. Apparently Nygel was quite a handful. Brian was Nygel.

Henderson began his broadcasting career at CKMP radio in Midland. He then moved to CKBB in Barrie. At that time the Barrie radio station was a part of CKVR television, sharing studios “up on the hill” in Barrie. He was the popular host of an evening rock show called “Spinout” on CKBB 950. He also hosted a children’s television show called “The Marvelous SuperHeroes” in 1967. He sometimes hosted the evening weather report and appeared on the television sports desk.

John Nichols once told me that he often had to fill in television sports duties for Henderson “on a moment’s notice.”

Brian Henderson on CKCB 1400 radio

Brian Henderson was known as “The White Knight” as host of the popular rock music “Spinout” radio show on CKBB 950 and CKCB 1400. He is pictured above broadcasting from the front window of Saunders in downtown Collingwood.

Collingwood residents may remember Henderson’s annual live remote from the front window of Saunders downtown book store on the first day of school. He was so popular the annual event would draw a huge crowd of young people wanting to watch him broadcast and play their favourite hit songs.

He moved on from CKBB and CKVR-TV but returned to Barrie Broadcasting as Program Director of CKBB 950 in Barrie and CKCB 1400 in Collingwood. Brian hosted the morning show on CKBB 950 at that time while John Nichols hosted the morning show on CKCB 1400.

He had an ongoing gag whereby he constantly made fun of anything or anybody from Elmvale. He was a welcome guest at the Phelpston Tavern and often told stories about some of the people he met there.

People in these parts loved him.

Broadcaster Dale Patterson asked Brian to talk about his career. Henderson described this part of his radio journey:

“On another turn at CKBB/CKCB I was the program director, and it was in that capacity that I discovered a couple of names you might recognize. Jim Van Horne was from the nearby hamlet of Waverly. I hired him, but it didn’t turn out that well. Apparently I forgot to tell him that it wasn’t for a job in Barrie, but at CKCB in Collingwood. Not exactly a great career move,,,,and I know he was pissed for a while . But he got the last laugh, enjoying some of the best years at CHUM,,,,way ahead of me …. and then a long career at TSN.”

This is the point I began my radio career and was lucky enough to work for Brian.

To say he marched to his own drum would be a massive understatement. Henderson bent the rules to the point where you expected to hear a big snap.

Henderson taught me a great deal in a short period of time. Any young announcer paying attention would learn through osmosis simply by watching and listening to him. He taught me to talk one-on-one to a listener. I always remembered a meeting we had in the new CKBB front lobby, still under construction on Ferris Lane in Barrie, when he told me to “always be yourself. Talk the way you talk. If you want to talk about your shoe laces, take off your shoe hold it up in front of you and describe it.”

He once again left CKBB – CKCB and eventually ended up working for CHUM Limited. He spent 27 years working as 1050 CHUM’s sports guy, news person and morning show host. Whatever position he held, he did it better than anybody.

Listening to Brian on the radio was like sitting at your favourite bar talking to your bet friend.

Brian Henderson was one-of-a-kind. Man, he was good!

So long Nygel.

— Paul Richards is a retired broadcaster and the publisher of this web site

Thanks to Dale Patterson’s for providing the audio aircheck clips of Brian Henderson on 1050 CHUM

Check out this YouTube video of another radio legend, Dick Smyth, leading the charge into Brian Henderson’s house to surprise him on his 65th birthday.

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