Nevin Grant, the longtime music director at Hamilton’s CKOC, passed away Wednesday after a battle with Parkinson’s. He was 80.
Grant, who established CKOC as “a hitmaker” over his 37 years at the station, was set to be inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame this month during Canadian Music Week as the 2020 recipient of the Allan Waters Lifetime Achievement Award.
Grant started working at CKOC in 1966 following his graduation from Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program after leaving law school to pursue broadcasting. Starting out as a copywriter, he worked his way up to creative director, music director, assistant program director and eventually program director. During most of Grant’s tenure, the station played Top 40 with CKOC earning a reputation as a leader in breaking new hits and artists. The station flipped to Oldies 1150 in 1991. Grant also served as PD of sister station 820 CHAM.
Dave Charles, who did afternoon drive on CKOC from 1967-71 and is now a radio consultant with Media Results International, says above all else Grant was an early champion of Canadian content and was eager to help develop artists.
“He realized…I live in Canada, I’m at a Canadian radio station, I’m going to support Canadian artists,” said Charles, who noted that over the years, Grant lent his support to Ray Materick, Crowbar, and Tranquility Base, among other acts.
Charles credits Grant with giving him the experience that led to his hiring at CHUM Toronto under J. Robert Wood. CKOC was one of 12 key stations that would review and select CanCon singles for regular airplay under the short-lived Maple Leaf System (MLS) and Charles says under Grant’s direction, he learned how to be a programmer.
“Today’s Canadian stars like Alessia Cara and Drake are the result of Nevin’s groundwork helping to build a strong Canadian music system. Nevin was part of the foundation of that,” said Charles.
Over the years, Grant helped launch the careers of many broadcasters including Roger Ashby, Ronald J. Morey, Gord James, Brent Sleightholm, Bob Steele, Mike Jaycock, Peter Jaycock, Franklyn Cooper, “Rock ‘N’” Ray Michaels and Bob Bratina, who would go on to become mayor of Hamilton. Grant also chaired the Program Advisory Committee for Radio Broadcasting at Mohawk College.
He retired in 2003 and went on to pen 2015 memoir, Growing up with the Hits!: Reliving The Best Time of Your Life – 1955-1989. Known for his encyclopedic knowledge of music and an epic record collector, his collection contained over 15,000 45 RPM singles alone.
Among the accolades he received over the years was the Howard Caine Memorial Award for outstanding community service from the Central Canada Broadcasters Association (1986) and an Award of Merit from the Mohawk College Board of Governors in 1989.
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