Allan Slaight, a Canadian rock ‘n’ roll radio pioneer, and one of Canada’s most vital and relentless music, arts, and health philanthropists passed away on Sept. 19, 2021, at the age of 90, at his Toronto home.
Slaight combined his strong entrepreneurial skills with his with his vast knowledge of radio to create Canada’s largest privately-owned multi-media company, the Standard Broadcasting Corporation. He was one of the greatest boosters of Canadian music in the history of the industry: he helped build long-standing Toronto radio stations CHUM and Q107, and supported the JUNO Awards, Canada’s Walk of Fame, and Canadian Music Week – all of which have named awards and funds after him.
Slaight also ran Global Television in the 1970s, and in the 1980s took over Standard Broadcasting, where he remained for decades. He also had his own radio broadcasting company, Slaight Communications, and in the early 1990s, he was a part owner of the Toronto Raptors. The Slaight Family Foundation and Slaight Music, now run by his son Gary Slaight, have supported charities related to health care, at-risk youth, the arts, music, international development, and social services. The National Arts Centre in Ottawa says the Slaights have been especially supportive of emerging artists, as well as the centre’s Indigenous Theatre, and #CanadaPerforms, a pandemic relief fund for professional Canadian artists.
Born in 1931, Slaight began his career as a touring magician, before following his father into the media business. At age 16, he hosted his own late-night jazz radio program, Spins and Needles, at CHAB in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He moved to Edmonton in 1950, and by 1956 had worked his way up to National Sales Manager at CHED. Then the fledgling CHUM Radio in Toronto hired him to turn around its poor fortunes, which he did: Slaight’s programming, promotions, and business skills turned CHUM into a household name in the city.
In 1970, he established Slaight Communications and bought radio stations CFGM in Toronto and CFOX in Montréal. In 1977, he launched a new rock ‘n’ roll FM radio station, Q107, in Toronto. In 1985, Slaight Communications sold CFGM and Q107, and purchased the Standard Broadcasting Corporation, which he developed from seven radio stations to a national network of more than 50 outlets. In 2007, the Slaight family sold Standard Broadcasting to Astral Media.
Slaight also served as a trustee of Women’s College Hospital (1978-1982), a director of the United Way of Greater Toronto (1979-1987), a director of the Shaw Festival (1982-1988), a governor of York University (1986-1987), and a director of the Festival of Festivals (1989-1993). He’s an inductee into the Broadcast Hall of Fame, the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Ryerson, a Member of the Order of Canada, and the recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for his contribution to the growth and development of the Canadian music industry.
SOCAN mourns the loss of this great Canadian music innovator and champion, and extends its condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and all of those he’s helped throughout the Canadian music ecosystem, arts community, health and wellness sector, and social services arena.