With the passing of Kitchener TV broadcaster Bill Inkol at age 92, we are reminded of the early says of television broadcasting in Southern Ontario—a far cry from the conglomerate-owned media world of today. When Bill Inkol became sports director of CKCO in Kitchener in Canada’s Centennial year, he had followed a familiar path for TV broadcasters. He started his career in Stratford Radio at CJCS and then did a stint at CFPL in London before joining CKCO Kitchener.
CKCO was owned by Electrohome, a Canadian manufacturer of televisions and other home entertainment equipment. A silent partner in the venture was Famous Players Theatres who also had a chunk of Hamilton’s CHCH. Most TV stations in Canada were controlled by families—Carl Pollock, owner of Electrohome owned CKCO, Ken Soble owned CHCH and the Blackburn Family, owners of the London Free Press also owned CFPL.
Bill Inkol was a well-known face across southern Ontario in an era that even with cable, there were not much more than a dozen channels available. Kitchener had rebroadcasting towers across Southern Ontario; so Inkol became a household name in London, Sarnia and Windsor as well as Kitchener. He was also a familiar face to CTV Toronto audiences.
Inkol was a multi-tasker at the station for three decades, in addition to sportscasting, covering Olympic games, co-hosting Blue Jays Banter and hosting Bowling for Dollars.
Tributes pour in
“I am very sad to report that my friend and Stratford broadcasting legend Bill Inkol passed away this morning at the age of 92,” Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson tweeted on Monday. “Bill was a gentleman, gracious in his spirit and time, witty and thoughtful – he will be missed by all who knew him.”
“Personally, with me, he was such a kind and generous guy remembered,” former colleague Jeff Hutcheson, who for years was the weatherman on Canada AM, but previously had worked with Inkol at CKCO. said. Hutchison, Inkol and news anchor Ron Johnston were all part of the red-blazered anchor team at CKCO during the 80’s and 90’s.
“He was very well-known, very well-liked, very well-respected, and a great guy to work for,” said Randy Steinman, another former colleague.
Hutcheson said Inkol hired him at CKCO-TV in 1976. “I worked there until 1997, and I had about 20 years with Bill,” he said. “Everything you heard or read about him, even today, was so true. I mean, the man could tell a story. He cared about you and the person beside you, he took time out of his day to say hello, he just was one of those guys who was instantly likeable the first second you saw him.”
Steinman said Inkol let people do their job and supported them 100 per cent, but didn’t micro-manage. “I can’t even begin to understand what my career would have looked like had it not been for Bill Inkol hiring me in 1989,” he said. “I probably would have spent my whole career in radio, and you know, he gave me a chance in TV and a chance to come to CKCO and Kitchener and work at a station that I worked at for 30 years and loved. I’m just grateful for the opportunity he gave me because I don’t even know if I deserved it at the time, but he saw something in me and I was sure appreciative of that.”
Photo Credits: CKCO History.com