CJAD legend Neil McKenty dies at 87

Posted By: Richard Deschamps rdeschamps@astral.com · 5/12/2012 4:05:00 PM

Neil McKenty, a fixture on CJAD during the 1970s and 80s, has passed away at the age of 87.

The Ontario native moved to Montreal in 1972 to begin working at CJAD as an editorialist, and later as a talk-show host. By 1977, his midday program Exchange became the top-rated radio show in Montreal, and his signature line ‘the lines are blazing’ became part of Montreal radio lore.

“Graceful, thoughtful, of clear mind, the kind of guy who knew the difference between right and wrong,” says CJAD host Ric Peterson, who worked alongside McKenty in the early 1980s. “He was not a guy that really sounded off an awful lot about what he was going to say, but when he got into the studio and turned the mike on, and he said it, he got your attention.”

Tommy Schnurmacher is one of several CJAD hosts who would follow McKenty in his time slot.

“What I remember is having a very tolerant view of the whole English-French debate at a time when it wasn’t very fashionable.”

“He treated people equally…he left us an example of how, as a true gentleman, that as a credible individual you can build a tremendous audience but make a mark in the community,” said Rick Leckner, who was a young traffic reporter on CJAD in the days when McKenty was starring.

He left CJAD in 1985 to write, but returned to broadcasting in 1987, this time in television, with the popular phone-in program McKenty Live, which ran on CFCF-TV (CTV Montreal) until 1990.

He was very active in his later years writing, and in 2008, started a current affairs blog.

McKenty took ill during a recent cruise, and slipped into a coma upon returning to Montreal.

He passed away in hospital Saturday morning.

His funeral will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 19 at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges funeral chapel.

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