In praise of Patrick

So, there it was, last Sunday, page A11 of The Morning Star: Patrick Nicol’s swan song, his official goodbye as general manager of local radio station Kiss-FM.

Nicol took out a full-page, colour advertisement, thanking the community for all of its support during his 40 years at CJIB/Kiss. He included some of the highlights of his career, and put in a number of photos of him and local, national and international dignitaries.

Two things struck me when I saw the ad: one, that’s typical Patrick. Thanking the community in the newspaper with the biggest ad he could do. He used to do that as general manager of the radio station after the spring and fall ratings period, taking out large ads announcing that his station had won the ratings battle.

But I also thought it was a sad ending to a very distinguished radio career.

There has never been an official release from the parent company as to why Nicol was let go as general manager of Kiss. There was a ‘no comment,’ which never sits well with the public. Nicol, himself, has never said why he’s no longer with the company.

It’s no secret Nicol, who also serves as a city councillor, has had to deal with some personal problems recently.

Still, this is a man who has given his heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears to the community and, in particular, radio in the North Okanagan.

Honestly, can you think of a bigger community booster than Patrick Nicol? Through his work with the radio station, the city or the Vernon Winter Carnival?

Or how about to careers?

Let me give you an idea of how much of an impact Patrick has made on broadcasters. I e-mailed several CJIB alumni, all of whom are still in the radio game.

Bruce Ritchie only spent six months at CJIB. During that time, he had sent out audition tapes to major market cities to “test the waters.” A week later, Patrick called Bruce into his office to say the general manager of a station in Edmonton wanted to talk to Ritchie.

“Patrick could’ve been upset with me for making a move so quickly after joining the station, but he not only encouraged me to take the job, he gave the Edmonton GM his personal endorsement,” said Ritchie, who now works at a station in Calgary. “He was proud of the people that he’d mentored, and rather than hold them back, he took great pleasure in their success.” 

Nicol had no qualms about hiring people who worked for the other radio station in town, CKAL, or CICF or Mix 105 which has morphed into Sun-FM. Ritchie was one. Melanie O’Hara and Steve Durant, who currently work at Kiss, also toiled at the station “across the street.”

Morning Star movie critic Jason Armstrong is an on-air announcer at Kiss who worked for Nicol for years, admiring his boss’s devotion.

“More than anything, Patrick cared,” said Armstrong. “He cared about music, he cared about his radio station, and the people that helped him make it the success that it was. He cared about the city, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a person that was prouder than Patrick to call Vernon home.”

Nicol also had no issues hiring back former employees, among them Scott Russell, who had a couple of stints at CJIB.

“I have worked in over a dozen TV and radio stations and I can honestly say that Patrick Nicol was the most sincere and dedicated general manager that I have worked for,” said Russell, now a sportscaster in Vancouver. “I learned so much from him about radio, from what makes a successful community radio station to programming hit music. I didn’t realize how much I had learned about the business until I was working elsewhere. 

“I will never forget how much he truly cared for his employees which is never a given in a crazy business like radio.”

And that’s why Nicol deserved better than having to place a farewell ad using his own nickel.


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