Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CBC's Rex Murphy Retires Mic after 21 Years of 'Friendly' National Radio

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CBC's Rex Murphy Retires Mic after 21 Years of 'Friendly' National Radio

Article excerpt

CBC's Rex Murphy retires after 21 years of radio


TORONTO - On the same day Monica Lewinsky captured airwaves globally with the White House sex scandal, CBC radio host Rex Murphy was happily gabbing with callers about electoral reform in Prince George, B.C.

The personable, yet fiery critic from Newfoundland remains proud of that 1998 decision as he bids farewell to listeners after 21 years as host of CBC's Cross Country Checkup.

"I thought that was wonderful -- and in a sense, defying the storm of the world's media -- that a bunch of Canadians were chatting about whether recall in B.C. was the greatest thing of all," he said in an interview on Tuesday.

The 68-year-old closed the show on Sunday by announcing his retirement from the popular open-line program after spending far longer than he ever contemplated in the chair.

He decided to depart after the show's 50th anniversary program aired from Saskatoon in June.

"That solidified some of my own thinking and I said, 'Let's not keep doing this just because you're there,'" he said.

"Let's let people have a rest and have someone new."

The high-profile host with impeccable diction and an unmistakable voice rose to the limelight almost by accident, he said.

After lending a helping hand one afternoon at private radio station VOCM in St. John's, the manager asked Murphy to backfill a talk show while its personality went on vacation.

He spent a month in that job in the early 1970s before he was catapulted into a five-days-a-week gig with CBC Radio's Here and Now.

Murphy debuted as full-time host for Cross Country Checkup on Aug. 7, 1994, and quickly became a Sunday fixture for audiences spanning the country.

"I don't think we were an exciting show, but I think it was a very friendly one, and for that I was very pleased," he said.

Murphy fondly recalls events that galvanized vast numbers of Canadians to dial in, including the deaths of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau in 2000 and Cpl. …

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