Archive Record

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Catalog Number 2013.55.105
Object Name Video
Title Johnny Esaw
Scope & Content Johnny Esaw:
1 of 2: 00:30Intro to hall
01:05Childhood: played hockey and baseball; friendships came out of sport
01:58Played junior hockey, spent two years in Army, went to Spokane to play hockey and injured his ankle ending his hockey career
03:17Started career as a broadcaster in 1947, was in the press box for local games and pretended to himself that he was Foster Hewitt and calling the game, eventually the local newspaper asked him to write a column, new station that just opened asked him to broadcast, he covered both baseball and hockey
05:40Did you style yourself after Hewitt: everybody tried to style themselves after Foster Hewitt, not many able to do it but he came pretty close, satisfied in what he was doing and achieving, he recorded his broadcasts and review them; after what he called the "seemingly success" of his hockey broadcasts in North Battleford he got a call from a station in Regina, in 1948 joined the station and did the Wednesday night hockey broadcasts
07:54Did you consider yourself as an entertainer or a journalist: did not think of himself as a journalist, did the play by play of what he saw, not much technical information for the viewers
08:25Had no trademark phrase like Hewitt's
08:48How did you wind up at CFTO in 1960 in Toronto: was in Regina from 1948 to 1956, then went to Winnipeg, did the football broadcasts in both cities; in 1960 got a call from Foster Hewitt and John Bassett and asked to join them in Toronto, refused at first and then agreed, started with them in December 1960
13:30What did you wind up doing: was made vice-president of sport for CFTO, which was before CTV was formed, as VP and broadcaster could do anything, called his own shots, covered football and hockey
15:12On covering figure skating: figure skating to me was the absolute simplest sport to cover, liked it, as a broadcaster saw it as simple to televise but hard to describe, spent some time with figure skating and made arrangements to got into it himself; talks about 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley and the World Championships in Vancouver, not ready to be involved that year; by 1961 felt he could cover it, ABC asked him to get the broadcast rights to cover the World Championships, got the rights for $10,000, the 1961 Worlds were cancelled and they covered the 1962 World Championships in Prague, got the feed from ABC as there was only one satellite link then, good year for Canada with Gold for Don Jackson in singles and the Jellineks in pairs, silver for Don McPherson, and medal in dance
20:29What was your involvement in hockey: talks about international ice hockey in the 1960's, always exciting because playing foreign teams, had watched the Europeans and realized how good the Russians were, talks about Father David Bauer and the national team
In 1964 got the rights to cover Olympic hockey and figure skating for $5,000., did not realized he was making good deals, talks about Vic Emery team winning the Gold medal in bobsleigh; the Canadian public was becoming interested and they were on a roll; helped to make him successful rather quickly
24:331972 Summit Series: had a tough time making them believe at Maple Leaf Gardens that the European hockey teams were worth playing with, got the rights to the Canada-Russia series
26:34On the CFTO broadcasts: the Russians were always beating our national teams prior to 1972, had a good working agreement with the Russians in covering them; talks about Alan Eagleson getting the deal for the Canada-Russia series, for an 8 game series, he wanted the best players in the NHL, had to be in September so the players could do the series and then report for training camp for their teams; he made the deal with Eagleson for the TV rights for all 8 games, needed French coverage so made a deal with CBC Radio Canada to have all 8 games on the French network and 4 games on English CBC, he was the executive producer with Brian Conacher for colour commentary and Foster Hewitt for play by play; talks about the games: losing Game 1 the whole country was in a state of shock; Game 2 was a great game, our guys had learned this was not going to be a cinch, talks about the Peter Mahovolich goal, greatest goal ever seen; Game 3 was tied; Game 4: "... we weren't whipping the Russian team as everyone thought we would and on the face we were lucky to be in the game with them. The Canadian hockey fan coast to coast was very upset and they started to boo the Canadian players. They booed the team off the ice.", he was doing intermissions so from his spot he grabbed his mike and got Phil Esposito to get his comments on what was happening, got the greatest interview he has ever had, the floor manager was trying to get him to stop the interview because the news was coming on but he said no and to tell them in the truck we are going to keep on because the interview was so good, Phil was so upset he couldn't stop talking, that interview turned out to be the highlight of the series outside of Henderson's goal
34:33Did you stand at this sport for all the games: had a location where did interviews
35:46How did it feel to be offering a job to Foster Hewitt: they were very good friends, having Hewitt was a thrill, one of many in the series; Brian Conacher had just written a controversial book about the NHL, the owners did not want him to do the colour commentary, John Bassett (owner of CFTO) said "no Conacher, no series" which stopped the controversy; Esaw had not read the book at that point and didn't realize it had stirred up the controversy
37:50On Moscow: the rink was do big, was on the ice side again, it worked well
38:20Were you able to talk to Henderson: couldn't get close, the team went wild, talks about cost of satellite link from Moscow to Halifax and having to keep the costs down
39:20Did you cover the game in Prague: he came home to cover football, rest of the crew went to Prague
2 of 2; 00:07The biggest single problem in the Canada-Russia series came from the Russian side, they did not want Canadian commercials seen in Moscow, had a Russian sports writer in the production truck following what they were broadcasting
02:28When you're broadcasting, what is the most important thing for you: the most important part of a telecast is the person at home is not left wondering what is happening, always careful and made of sure his crew to do this, cover the who, what the score was, time in the game and time to the end of the period, odd personal touch in there
03:42On preparation for a game: always felt had to have a lot of information, little bits here and there you could throw in, indicated you knew the players, add personality to the players but in the appropriate time, used his experience as a player and as a broadcaster
05:15Comparing hockey coverage to today: the game more difficult now to call the play by play portion because of the rule changes, etc.
07:10Life lesson: having played or broadcast any sport, honest call of what is happening, call what is there, not making up your own description, being factual, "you can't cheat the public, the public is too smart, you have to be an honest broadcaster"
09:10On the importance of sport to Canada: for those interested in sport realized it is a lifestyle, a culture bred into us; learn from being involved in it that it is important as a Canadian and that is why when a Canadian team is playing or a Canadian players is out in some sport representing Canada, Canada get excited and get to thank this person and the thrill of that never leaves
11:03Funny moment: that night in Moscow when the captains exchanged gift and Phil Esposito fell
11:12Who do you respect the most: Father David Bauer, given his life to the church and to the athletes, turned out a lot of great athletes, was not paid, not part of his job, something he wanted to do; Father Murray from Saskatchewan, because he would not only teach a kid but he would bring in a kid that couldn't afford to play
14:56Talks about picture showing him receiving the Order of Canada

Year Range from 1961
Year Range to 1990
Subjects sport broadcaster
ice hockey
figure skating
1972 Summit Series
Search Terms innovative
true to self