He’s been the voice of CJNB for nearly half a century, and now as Doug Harrison signs off the air for the last time today, he is described as a caring husband, a passionate father and a consummate professional by those close to him.
Doug Harrison has officially decided to retire 45 years to the day he started at CJNB on Jan. 10, 1973. According to Karl Johnston, general manager of CJNB, the loyalty Doug has shown to stick with the same station for so long is simply unheard of these days.
“Forty five years really says it all. I mean, 45 years of commitment to his career, the community and service to our company is just amazing. In radio on a station like CJNB, which has not been around much longer than 45 years, he truly is an institution in the community and one that we’re all going to miss. We thank him for his contribution.”
Former station owner and general manager of CJNB, David Dekker, started working at the station right around the same time as Doug. His father Harry Dekker Sr., who was the general manger at the time, hired Doug. David reminisced recently about what it was like to work with the one and only Doug Harrison.
“Doug was hard on people who made stupid mistakes and I made a few stupid mistakes over the years,” Dekker said while laughing. “He was not shy about pointing out those mistakes. He was very open about what he thought we should be doing. To some, they found that intimidating, but to others it was inspirational and educational.”
According to Dekker, it was a different story when it came to Doug making a mistake though.
“Doug was free to point out mistakes others made, but if he made one you only approached him about it carefully. Most often when something happened he knew didn’t do right, he’d just be shaking his head and you didn’t have to say anything.”
Dekker echoed Johnston’s sentiments about how amazing it is that Doug has not only been in the industry as long as he has, but at the same station.
“That just simply doesn’t happen anymore... and to tell you something else, in the 42 years I worked with Doug, I don’t think I ever saw him take a sick day.” Dekker said.
According to Doug’s wife of 40 years, Joan Harrison, as good and as loyal a worker he was, he was tenfold the father.
“He is a very caring man and is very proud of his family and his boys,” Joan said. “He is always their number one fan and they could always count on Doug whether it was for sports or schooling. He taught them the values of hard work, family and most importantly never giving up.”
Joan may not be able to remember exactly what Doug’s comments to swoon her was, but she remembers how they first met and what made Doug catch her eye.
“We were visiting at a mutual friend’s house and he seemed to be a really nice guy, respectful to women and a lot of fun. He has a really good sense of humour and I often say to him ‘are you sure you really needed to say that out loud?’”
Joan said there is definitely a sweet side to Doug as one of her favorite memories was the secret message he would say to her over the radio.
“He would never say my name on the radio, but he would say ‘good morning sunshine’ at five minutes to seven in the morning as I was getting up.”
As for the man himself, Doug believes in the old adage that if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of every day I’ve worked here and that’s what I look back at most,” Doug said. “There were very few days in 45 years that I woke up and didn’t want to go to work. I’ve been blessed.”
Doug confirmed what Dekker said about never taking a sick day. According to Doug, he never missed a day of work due to flu or a cold. He said he took time off during a couple of surgeries, but added he couldn’t have taken time off if he wanted to.
“There was no automation back then, so if you weren’t there then it was dead air. I can remember coming to work a few times and being physically sick between records, but there was no option.”
The more Doug talked about his time at CJNB, he kept bringing up how truly amazing everyone he worked with was, dating back to his very first day on the job, which happened to be his most memorable.
“I remember living on 92nd St. and it was bitterly cold on my first day. I was walking to work and a car pulled up and the guy rolled down his window and asked if I wanted a ride. I said ‘sure’ and he asked where I was going and I said ‘the radio station, it’s my first day there.’ He said ‘I’m Alec Johnson. I’m in sales and I do the breakfast news at CJNB.’’
“So on my first day, I got a ride from a great gentleman who happened to work at the station. It was memorable to say the least.”
As for what is next for Doug Harrison, he really isn’t sure. The avid golfer and grandfather to four grandchildren under eight-years-old said he doesn’t have a plan for what’s next, just that it won’t be work.
“I’ll cook for my wife. She’s cooked for me for long enough so I’ll do some of that. My house will be very clean because I will have a lot of time to do housecleaning. Mostly I just won’t work,” he said while chuckling.
On Twitter @realgreghiggins
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