Radio & Broadcasting Achievements of Roy Ward Dickson

Roy moved on from advertising in Vancouver to working at the Toronto Star. At that time, commercial radio programming, paid for by advertisers, was a relatively new development in North America. Listening to the radio one night, Roy recalled the question-and-answer sessions he had used with his pupils during his brief stint as a school teacher. This led him to formulate a general knowledge quiz game for the public.

On May 15th, 1935, he began moonlighting from the Star by producing the world's first quiz show for CKCL radio. Professor Dick and his Question Box aired five times a week, at lunchtime. The half-hour shows were prepared each night at home and produced during Roy's lunch hour, after which he'd return to his advertising beat. After accumulating seven sponsors, Roy resigned from the newspaper and was never again on anyone's payroll.

Within a year, Roy had invented a format for a lively radio quiz game titled The Quizz Club (1936). He pitched the broadcast of that radio show in a half-hour evening time slot once weekly through the wide coverage, and enormous popularity, of Toronto's CFRB radio station. Leaving "Dick del Valle" behind, he hit on "Roy Ward Dickson" and launched The Quizz Club to instant and phenomenal success. Roy's show aired on Saturday nights, a half-hour before Foster Hewitt's Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts — a Canadian listening "must" of the time.

By 1939, CBC (the taxpayer-subsidized crown corporation) had a tight grip on the networking monopoly and the Nazi war machine was on the roll in Europe. Ever the individualist, Roy refused to take direction from the CBC and lost his time slot, and through tightening pre-war regulations, also lost his sponsor.

With a nation now at war, Roy perceived the prime function of radio in war-time to be cheering people up. This led him to create Fun Parade, the "nonsense-packed half-hour" audience participation radio show that brought him fame and stardom and saw him criss-cross the country for the next seventeen years entertaining Canadians.

Next: the emergence of television changes everything. For more in-depth information on the life of Roy Ward Dickson, see Roy's autobiography, Take a Chance!