CANADIAN SHOW CELEBRATES IN THE PROVINCE OF FLORIDA
To mark 45 years on the air, the news program Canada Calling did what many of its listeners have been doing for years.
It came to Florida.
This week, host Prior Smith brought Canada Calling to Universal Studios Florida, the Kennedy Space Center and the Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg.
For the uninitiated, Canada Calling offers news, sports, stocks and weather updates to the state’s approximately 2 million visiting Canadians in 5 1/2 minute reports Monday through Saturdays and 15-minute “week in review” segments on Sundays.
It has been doing that without interruption since Jan. 4, 1954. It launched on two stations after a Florida vacation by the original host, Canadian broadcaster Dave Price.
“He and some buddies were on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, and he got into a hell of a mess trying to get results of the previous night’s Stanley Cup hockey game,” Smith recounts.
Distributed by Florida’s Radio Networks, Canada Calling now provides hockey scores and other essential information on 24 Florida stations – including 790 AM (WLBE) in Leesburg, which carries it at 12:15 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 12:06 p.m. Sundays.
Listeners also can catch it on 920 AM (WMEL) in Melbourne (8:55 a.m. Monday-Saturday); 1340 AM (WROD) in Daytona Beach (11:55 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 11:45 a.m. Sunday); and 1230 AM (WSBB) in New Smyrna Beach (9 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday). It has aired on WSBB for 41 years.
Over the years, there have been as many as three competing Canadian news shows, but Canada Calling has outlasted them all.
Smith has been host of the show for 22 years, mostly broadcasting from his log home in the Canadian wilderness 115 miles northeast of Toronto. On Tuesday, the high temperature there was 20 degrees, which makes this week’s Florida coldsnap practically balmy.
“You just put on a jacket,” Smith says. “It’s a piece of cake.”
Excerpt from Orlando Sentinel “Calendar” Section