Sign Offs

Barry Hamelin

Barry John Hamelin, 82, on May 11, of COVID-19. Hamelin started his broadcast career with CKPG Radio & TV in Prince George, BC before going on to spend upwards of 27 years in various management roles with Broadcast News in Toronto, working alongside Broadcast Dialogue founder Howard Christensen. Hamelin’s input was instrumental to the publication’s conception in the Spring of 1992 on how to serve Canada’s broadcast community with more timely and relevant industry news. That led to a determination to produce the weekly newsletter. Later, when Broadcast Dialogue extended efforts into the publication of a glossy 48-page monthly magazine, Hamelin served as its Editor.

Steve Vrlak

Stephen Vrlak, 79, on May 2, following a battle with Parkinson’s and dementia. Vrlak got his start working for Procter & Gamble, before joining Vancouver radio stations, CKNW and CJOR, as an advertising rep. He later joined Dixon Advertising and then partnered with local radio personality Red Robinson, who had been program director during Vrlak’s tenure at CJOR, in Vrlak Robinson Advertising. The agency grew with the mergers of Spectrum and later Hayhurst Communications. Vrlak would go on to start the Vrlak & Company agency with his son, Mike, which counted the Vancouver Canucks and BC Lions, among its clients.

Eric Lipka

Eric Lipka, 80, on April 29. With a love of theatre that developed during his high school years in Kelowna as part of the Radio Drama Club and Mission Players, Lipka began working as a set designer at age 19, after school, when he was hired at CHBC-TV Kelowna to build and paint sets and do camera and boom mic work for shows like “Your North Okanagan” and “Okanagan Farm and Garden.” He eventually left for a set designer position at CKSO-TV Sudbury, before arriving at CBC Toronto in 1966 where he worked on shows from Front Page Challenge and The Tommy Hunter Show to Marketplace and Country Canada. Lipka also worked on CBC specials featuring Glenn Gould, The National Ballet, Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, and other performers. He retired in 2001.

Charles Harris

Charles Harris, 101, on April 19. Harris started his career as a reporter for the Globe and Mail in 1937, before enlisting in the RCAF in 1941. Following the war, he earned a B.A. in Modern History at the University of Toronto and joined CBC as a radio producer in 1947. In 1950, he was appointed Assistant to the Director of Television in Toronto. He moved into public relations two years later, joining the PR department at CN in Montreal where he rose through the ranks to Director of Public Relations and in 1970 was named Vice President. He moved to join Bell Canada in 1972 as Vice President, Public Affairs, before partnering with Douglas Heal in consulting firm, Harris Heal Ltd., in the early ‘80s. Harris was a past president of the Canadian Public Relations Society and received its National Award of Attainment in 1966, recognizing outstanding achievement and service to public relations.