Former CTV, Harvard Broadcasting VP Bruce Cowie dies at 83

Bruce Cowie (right) hosting an early CKCK-TV call-in show with politician Hazen Argue.

Bruce Cowie, the former Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of CTV and former Vice-President of Harvard Broadcasting, passed away Tuesday in Kelowna. He was 83.

Bruce Cowie

Cowie began his broadcasting career while still in his teen years, at age 15, in 1953 at CKOM-AM Saskatoon. After three years, he made the move into television at CKCK-TV Regina where he became a household name, and by 1972 was General Manager of the station.

Following CKCK-TV’s sale to Baton Broadcasting, he joined Electrohome Limited to head CFRN-TV in Edmonton and after Bill McGregor’s retirement, was appointed President and COO of the Electrohome broadcast group, encompassing both CFRN and CKCO-TV Kitchener.

When Electrohome’s assets were acquired by Baton, Cowie transferred to Toronto where he rose to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CTV. Cowie eventually returned to the Prairies where he went on to serve as Vice-President of Harvard Broadcasting and remained a Special Advisor to the President.

Michael Olstrom, who served as Station Group Manager under Cowie at Harvard Regina in the early 2000s, told Broadcast Dialogue that he was among his biggest influences.

“Bruce was my most influential mentor in terms of what I learned from him and what he exposed me to in the industry in terms of the people and the CRTC application process,” said Olstrom, who is now COO of Momentum Media Networks (a subsidiary of Broadcast Dialogue’s parent company).

“He was good at putting the right teams together and was instrumental in building out Harvard’s growth and getting that process started. There was a lot of growth that happened because of his involvement and pushing the agenda,” added Olstrom.

Marlene & Bruce Cowie at the Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB) Conference in 2013. (Broadcast Dialogue Archive)

Over the years, Cowie held leadership positions with various broadcast industry associations, serving as president of the North American Broadcasters’ Association; chair of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Board of Directors; and president of the Saskatchewan Association of Broadcasters and Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB), in which he recognized with an honorary lifetime membership. He was inducted into the CAB Hall of Fame in 2001. A devoted Saskatchewan Roughriders fan, Cowie also served as a member of the team’s management committee and its president from 1976-78. He was the Western Football Conference’s final president in 1977.

Cowie’s son, Cam, followed in his dad’s footsteps in the broadcast industry, working as an Account Executive at CKCK-TV in the 1980s, prior to joining Craig Media. He’s been VP & COO of Harvard Broadcasting since 2008.


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