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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JOHNNY ESAW

Inducted in 1991

Member Details

Date of Birth: June 11, 1925
Place of Birth: North Battleford, Saskatchewan
Date of Passing: April 6, 2013
Sport: Sport Broadcaster
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1974

Foster Hewitt Award as Broadcaster of the Year

1976

Awarded an Olympic Medal by the President of Austria for outstanding coverage at the Olympics in Innsbruck

1984

Inducted into the Canadian Football Reporters Hall of Fame

1988

Received Gemini Award for outstanding Figure Skating coverage at Calgary Olympics

Inducted into the Canadian Winter Olympics Hall of Fame

1990

Johnny Esaw Bursary established by Canadian Figure Skating Association

1991

Inducted into the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame

Honoured Member JOHNNY ESAW
Inspire

Story

Johnny Esaw was at the forefront of sports broadcasting in Canada and around the world for more than 40 years. He was a pioneer, an innovator, and a fervent supporter of our nation's sporting achievements. After several years as a radio broadcaster in western Canada, Esaw entered the world of televised sports in 1961 with Toronto's CFTO-TV. Over the years, he was sports director at both CFTO-TV and CTV, eventually becoming vice-president and executive producer of CTV Sports in 1974. He was renowned for his television coverage of Canadian football, figure skating, and Olympic events, and he was also a particularly strong supporter of all amateur sports. In 1967, Esaw produced the first colour telecast of a hockey game, in Vienna. While working for CTV, he offered Canadians a glimpse of Soviet hockey with his annual coverage of the World Championship. This led directly to the unforgettable 1972 Summit Series showdown between Canada and the Soviet Union and, by extension, the Canada Cup. Known for his exceptional Olympic coverage, Esaw was awarded an Olympic Medal by the President of Austria after the 1976 Games in Innsbruck. He was at the helm again at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, New York, where he was named chairman of the International Broadcast Committee. Esaw later led CTV's successful bid to be host broadcaster for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, and provided coverage to the world. This widely acclaimed broadcast helped CTV acquire the Canadian television rights for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer. In the 1960s, when the only televised ice shows featured sticks and pucks, Esaw recognized the broadcasting potential of figure skating and convinced the network that the colour and drama of the sport would attract viewers. The Canadian Figure Skating Association now annually presents the Johnny Esaw Bursary in recognition of the man who moved figure skating from the social pages to the small screen, produced 28 years of prime time television coverage, and made it one of the most popular and most financially secure sports on television. Esaw, who retired from CTV in 1990, won numerous broadcasting awards over the course of his brilliant 30-year career, including the Foster Hewitt Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting in Canada, the Sports Media Canada Achievement award, and several Broadcaster-of-the-year awards. For his superb contribution to sport in Canada, Esaw was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2004.


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