I’m hardly what you’d call a regular listener, but Rex Murphy retiring as host of Cross Country Checkup on September 20th still qualifies to me as pretty big news just because he’s such a fixture up here.
Rex says, “It’s the right time for me to step down. The continuing conversation I have had every Sunday with Canadians on a wide range of topics over 21-years has been rewarding — and hard to give up. Cross Country Checkup’s 50th anniversary show in Saskatoon in June made me think that I’ve been in the host’s chair for almost half that time. I am reminded every day by people who approach me in the street, in stores, airports and restaurants how many people have enjoyed and participated in that conversation …and I am grateful.”
What surprises me more than the retirement itself is that he’s only been the full time host of Checkup since 1994. I’d have bet anything that he dated back to the 80s at least because I feel like he’s always just been there for as long as I’ve been able to remember things. I know he was a guest host before 94, but I guess I must have had good luck as a child flipping past CBC when he was on because he’s the only name I associate with that show.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about other hosts. Man, there were a lot of them. How the hell’d I not know that?
The first host was CBC Montreal announcer Bob Cadman, and its first guest was Dr Victor Goldbloom, then president of the Canadian Medical Association. When Checkup started broadcasting as a weekly series on November 24, 1965, Jim Schrumm was the first regular host. Subsequent hosts have included Brad Crandall, Moses Znaimer, Percy Saltzman, Betty Shapiro, John Dafoe, Pierre Pascau, Harry Elton, Elizabeth Gray, Wayne Grigsby, Dennis Trudeau, Augusta La Paix, Dale Goldhawk, Peter Downie, Royal Orr and Rex Murphy.
Not a lot of job security in those early days, it would seem.
Even though Rex is leaving the radio show, he’s keeping his weekly commentary gig on the National. Those things are some heavy listening when it’s getting on for 11 PM and you’re getting ready to call it a night, am I wrong?
Speaking of which, does anybody but me remember a comedy sketch from years ago where Rex Murphy was doing a commentary and got lost in a sentence? I believe it aired on a show called Muckraker or something like that, but I could be wrong. I was trying to find it just now to include in this post since I remember it being pretty funny, but I’m coming up empty.