Wednesday 17 August 2011

My personal memories of Ted Tevan

Funeral services were held today for sports talk show host legend Ted Tevan, who died last week at the age of 78. From Earl "The Pearl" Zukerman's wonderful obituary in The Gazette to Mitch Melnick's superb tribute show Tuesday on THE TEAM 990, I appreciated every anecdote these folks came up with it. I am only sorry that before he left us, someone did not have some kind of event to honour Ted - an event in which he could have made an acceptance speech.

When Ted was in his glory days in the 1970s, I attended Wagar High School in Côte Saint-Luc. As lawyer and one-time talk show host himself, Mitch Garber, quite correctly shared with Melnick this week, if you were a sports fan you did not go to school each day without having listened to Tevan the evening before. On the old CFCF Radio he was on the air from 10 p.m. until midnight and it was "must listen to" radio. My brother Chuckie and I shared a room in those days and we would have the radio on low, listening to Ted and his cast of characters. There was his producer Dan McGarrity. We all loved it when Tevan would shout, "McGarrity, get me a Dr. Pepper." His commercials for restaurants like Chenoy's ("Mort the Sport and Nicholas the Great"), the South Seas, Dorion Suit and Unitaxi were classics. He loved Blue Bonnets Raceway, the local boxing scene and of course the Expos. Chuckie and I always looked forward to Ted broadcasting a pretend World Series parade down St. Catherine Street or the days when he would travel to Hawaii and report back on the baseball winter meetings.

My dad, Lawrence Frederick Cohen (better known as Larry Fredericks), goes back with Ted to the beginning of their respective careers. Larry spent decades in the pressbox, so we felt very fortunate as pre-teens to meet Ted in person. Chuckie and I would often call Ted on the air, writing down our questions and praying he would not give us the "machine gun" and tell us "you're gone!"

In the early 1980s my dad started to bring me in the pressbox as his assistant. I got to see Ted at every baseball, hockey and football game, plus boxing and at Blue Bonnets. When I joined the now defunct Sunday Express Newspaper in 1982, at the time a very well read publication in the city, I often wrote about Ted and he appreciated it. I was going through my clippings this week and found an '82 story in which Ted was hired by CJAD to do colour commentary for the Montreal Alouettes. This was 30 years ago and sadly, his glory days were already behind him. For the last three decades he moved from station to station - CJAD, CFMB, CIQC and finally THE TEAM 990. He found a home at the latter for a while, but eventually retired for good.

My dad and I tried very hard to get Ted to appear at the annual Sports Celebrity Breakfast we organize in the Jewish community. A few years ago he agreed, calling back a few days later to say he had second thoughts and did not feel comfortable making a public appearance.

Off the air, Ted Tevan was a puppy dog - a wonderful and thoughtful human being who always had a kind word to say. There will never be anyone like him.

Rest in peace Ted!

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