Forty years ago, 28-year-old Ernie Afaganis joined CBC Sports in his home province. Born and educated through high school in Lethbridge, Alberta, Ernie took a B.A. at Eastern Washington University but returned from the U.S.A. to begin his broadcasting career at station CFRN in Edmonton in 1953. Eight years later he moved to CBC Edmonton and was soon one of Canada’s most popular and most versatile radio and TV sports broadcasters.
His versatility is illustrated by the broad range of significant assignments he drew. He was a prominent voice in the coverage of the CFL from 1955 to 1980. He served as president of the CFL Writers and Broadcasters Association and was also named to the CFL Hall of Fame.
Ernie covered winter and summer Olympic Games from 1968 to 1996 and from 1974 to 1994 he was also a fixture on the broadcast crews of Pan Am Games, Commonwealth Games and Canada Games.
Add to the list International Hockey, World Track and Field Championships, World Basketball Championships in Finland and Cali, Colombia, Canadian Open Golf from 1961 to 1986, World Curling Championships from Scotland, Switzerland, France, Germany and the U.S.A. as well as, of course, here at home, the Calgary Stampede from 1979 up to last year, Expo baseball and the NHL playoffs in the 80s and the most energetic among us would be exhausted just making the list. As well, Ernie hosted the popular Par 27 Golf Show for 26 years – a broadcasting longevity record in its own right.
Awards and recognition of his diligent work and winning personality are nothing new for this genial westerner. He was elected to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1979, the Helenic World Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Lethbridge Hall of Fame in 1991. In 1976 he became one of the early winners of the ACTRA Award for Broadcasting.
He claims his own golf game (he always carried a low handicap) is slipping these days. You’d want to be with him on a golf course because he’s such a great guy – but you’d be well advised not to put any money on your coming out ahead in any contest which might be suggested on the course.