Meet Joe Leary.
Joe is a veteran broadcaster, a writer, a bon vivant about town, a man for all reasons and seasons.
The wizard at adapting – when one door closes for him in broadcasting, another one always opens for him.
He deals with the punches as they come along.
And there have been plenty of punches.
Broadcasting always has been a tough gig. On-air personalities come and go.
They are effusive – you hear them when you wake up, you hear them all day, you hear them just before you go bed.
And then suddenly they are gone, replaced by another gang of personalities, as the powers to be in the executive suite try, yet again, another programming approach, hoping that viewers and listeners like it to stick with it.
Many broadcasters leave the business, never to be heard or seen again – the dust bins of broadcasting are filled to the brim.
And since digitization the turnover, the changes, the new approaches, have become ever more brutal.
Leary knows it, has seen it all, has been part of it all for 45 years – mainly in Vancouver with some time in Toronto.
But despite that he is undaunted and he has a way of dealing with it – it’s called diversification, being nimble footed and being realistic.
“Early on I came to the inescapable conclusion that radio is an unstable business at its core. I’ve been “let go”, “phased out”, now five times and though there was some degree of golden parachute or compensation, each time a door indeed opened – and they always did – I would approach my next opportunity with more resolve and certainty that if I was to lose a gig again for whatever reason, I would have side hustle to fall back and rely on. From as long as I can remember having some degree of name recognition in the media, I would play off of that and not just open doors, but create doorways to open in the event they didn’t exist.”
Diversifying his broadcasting profile started early.
“I started freelance writing in the early 90’s for a district community paper in North Vancouver and then writing a weekly media column for The Province newspaper – Air Traffic that ran for seven years.”
His print freelancing was prolific – writing for various local, regional, national publications.
Topics covered – music, travel, food, wine, beer, spirits, showbiz, sports, business, automobiles, the entertainment scene.
He is especially proud of what happened during his radio days in 1995.
“i was working as Fred Latremouille’s fill-in morning show host on 97 KISS-FM while also covering weather fill-in for Wayne Cox.”
Both were super radio stars in the Vancouver market.
One of his longest freelancing gigs – 13 years – as an on-air host, weather anchor at City-TV, through its various incarnations: UTV, Global and CKVU.
Eleven years ago his passion for craft beer led to another venture – creating Canada’s original dedicated commercial beer radio show, Just Here for the Beer. The show airs bi-weekly, on the weekends, on Sportsnet 650, Vancouver.
The show led to another door opening. A new effort, focused entirely on the canned and bottled cocktail market called, The RTD Show; Ciders, Sodas and Cocktails.
In addition, Joe a.so hosts an all new craft beer TV program on Shaw TV – BC Brew On Tap.
Along the way Joe has met, talked to, interviewed tons of celebrities.
The one interview – out of hundreds – that stands out for him was with the late Terry Fox.
Fox, a Canadian athlete, humanitarian, cancer research activist, lost his leg to cancer at age 18.
And Fox had a dream – run across Canada, one marathon daily – raising money to find a cure for cancer.
Cancer took Terry’s life before he could realize his dream but he inspired people all over the world.
Today the annual Terry Fox Run has raised $850 million for cancer research in 60 countries.
“The most meaningful (interview) of them all…would be Terry Fox. I met him in 1981 just weeks before he died. It’s not everyday you interact with a true hero!”
For Joe a broadcasting career was pre-ordained.
“From my earliest childhood memory while my peers were fascinated and enchanted by the artists of the British Invasion – instead of wanting to be the singer or the band. I wanted to be the DJ playing them on the radio.In my grad year at Killarney High School, it states simply that ‘Joe Leary wants to pursue radio announcing’.There was NEVER a Plan B – still isn’t.”
And throughout it all – Joe has had a simple approach.
“Good enough is never good enough.”
Right on Joe, right on.