On International Women’s Day, the CAB celebrates the women who contribute to the Canadian broadcast sector across our country. There are many iconic women who paved the way and shaped the sector into what it is today, making Canadian television and radio a trusted representation of Canadian culture and values.
The following are just some of the 24 women who have been inducted into the CAB Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was active from 1982 to 2012 and was created to honour those who made significant contributions to the broadcasting sector in Canada.
Year of induction: 1991
A pioneer in broadcasting, Betty Kennedy is the first woman inducted into the CAB Hall of Fame. The journalist and broadcaster is best known for her role as a panelist on the show Front Page Challenge and as host of the Betty Kennedy Show, where she interviewed thousands of guests on Toronto’s CFRB radio station over the course of 27 years. She was also made an Officer to the Order of Canada in 1982 and was appointed to the Senate in 2000.
Year of induction: 1999
Known as “one of Canada’s first television industry visionaries,” Phyllis Switzer was ahead of her time. She worked as a print journalist before her career in television began, at which point her belief in creating a locally focused television station in Toronto led to the creation of CITY-TV in 1972. Switzer also helped launch Canada’s first national pay TV movie channel in 1982 and, two years later, was appointed Managing Director of CTV’s Host Broadcast Unit for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Year of induction: 2008
Best known for advancing the field of ethnocultural programming in Canada, Jaya Chandrasekar is the Executive Vice-President and Vice-President of Programming for Asian Television Network (ATN). Her leadership helped the network grow into a dominant player within the Canadian broadcasting sector, operating 54 TV specialty digital channels in several South Asian languages and English. In addition to her work behind the scenes, she hosted a long-running series, Asian Horizons. Today the network is available across multiple cable, satellite, and IPTV platforms, and Chandrasekar continues to be regarded as a mentor and visionary in broadcasting.
Year of induction: 2006
Following in her family’s footsteps, Sophie Thibault joined the broadcasting community working at radio stations CINQ-FM in Montreal and CHAI-FM in Châteauguay. Her flare for communications led her to roles as a reporter, TV program host, and newsreader for TVA Network in Quebec. Most notably, in 2002 Thibault became the first female news anchor of an evening newscast in Quebec, which attracted more than half a million viewers – the biggest audience for a newscast in the province. Thibault has received many distinctions and has been recognized for her contributions and promotion of French language and culture. Today, she remains an on-air reporter and Quebec journalist for TVA network and news channel, LCN.
Year of induction: 2002
Denise Donlon took Canada by storm when she joined MuchMusic as host and producer of The New Music. Rising up the ranks, she became Director of Music Programming for MuchMusic and CITY-TV, followed by Vice-President and General Manager of MuchMusic. Her devotion to Canadian talent helped propel the network to an international audience and led to her appointment as the first female President of Sony Music Canada in 2000. Following this role, Donlon continued advocating for artists by lobbying the government for copyright reform and securing funding for Canadian music initiatives through the Department of Canadian Heritage. She has also received many accolades including the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award in 2018 and an appointment to the Order of Canada in 2004.
Year of induction: 1997
Marge Anthony’s broadcasting career began in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia at the age of 13 and took her across Canada and into the US. Regarded by some as “the first lady of Canadian broadcasting,” she held roles in radio, television, and music. Anthony was not only Montreal’s “first woman all-night DJ” at CKMG, but also the first woman Vice-President in Canadian television as the VP of Network Relations for CTV. During her tenure, Anthony produced albums for high-profile artists such as Barry Manilow, Kenny Rogers and Neil Diamond, and was also responsible for producing a special performance for Queen Elizabeth.
The full list of inductees, along with biographies, can be found here.