by George Gross
Steve Douglas was a television icon in sports broadcasting in the 1950s and 1960s who marched to his own drummer. It eventually cost him his job as the CBC’s television announcer and broadcaster of CFL games.
If Foster Hewitt had his own inimitable way of opening a hockey broadcast with “Hello Canada and hockey fans……..”, Steve Douglas used to end his 15 minute sports newscast or football game reports with a healthy “S’ long, everybody…”
He was unaware that one day he would be forced to say “S’ long” for good because he objected to a decision by the CBC’s upper management to cut the daily sports news from 15 minutes to eight minutes and his contract which expired in 1965 was not renewed.
Douglas and George Retzlaff of the CBC’s sports department disagreed with the decision and while Retzlaff was able to retain his position, the CBC sports brass decided to replace Douglas on TV sportscasts with a couple of former football players — Curly Morrison and Freddie Black.
The experiment didn’t turn out to be a smashing success and the CBC’s higher level decision-makers came to realize that sports fans preferred broadcasters such as Douglas to former pro football players who turned out to be amateurs at the microphone.
The popular Douglas was soon hired by the Ontario Jockey Club and later moved to Barrie where he covered sports on radio and television, much to the delight of sports fans in the snowbelt and faithful followers in the Toronto area who regularly tuned him in on the Barrie station.
Steve Douglas was an outstanding broadcaster for three decades and will be remembered not only for his outstanding broadcasting talent, but also for his bow tie, puckish grin and ever present crewcut.
He well deserves a place on Sports Media Canada’s Honour Roll.