Over the years, Canadians travelling to Florida and Arizona during the winter have made it a habit of tuning in the network radio show Canada Calling, a daily link with news from home.

This Monday morning, the show will celebrate its 45th anniversary.

It all began when the late Dave Price, a Toronto broadcaster, launched the shows on two Florida stations (in Miami and Tampa) Jan. 4, 1954.

An item in the Toronto Telegram 45 years ago today reported “the idea originated when it was found out that Canadians in Florida frequently asked other Canadians, “What have you heard from home?”…Price found that unless you were lucky enough to run into someone who had been talking to Canada, you never did find out.”

Not much has changed. The media in Florida pay little attention to Canada, despite the fact 2 million of us travel there every year and we leave behind some $1.5 billion dollars annually.

That’s where Canada Calling fills a niche.

Price was host of the shows for more than 20 years. For the past 22 years, the daily shows have been hosted by Prior Smith, who has never missed a day. (Smith also writes the weekly “Florida Calling” columns for The Star; it’s on Page 13 today).

The radio network has grown to more than two dozen stations in Florida and one in Phoenix, Ariz., airing the daily reports from November to May.

A little celebration is planned Monday morning. Instead of doing the shows from his studio just north of Peterborough, Smith will get a break from winter for a day. He’ll be treated to a little southern hospitality while reporting the news from home from the broadcast centre at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Toronto Star