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Stu Jeffries ‘Still Rockin’

By Joe Leary

Published 12:38 PDT, Thu March 28, 2024

In the halcyon days when music videos ruled the television airwaves, the personalities who presented these visual depictions set to music were often as big as the songs they introduced.

In fact, the video hosts—or VJ’s as they became branded—were instrumental in setting up the music clips and introducing the concept of video and the artists behind them, to an ever-engaging and curious public.

Chief among them was Stu Jeffries; who soared to prominence as the host of the CBC nationally televised show, Good Rockin’ Tonight. What you may not know is that the Stu Jeffries’ story begins, right here on the West Coast.

“I lived on Aintree and Ainsworth Crescent in Richmond when I was but a baby,” he recalls. “I had to consult my mother on this one as my parents divorced when I was four and my mother gathered up my two brothers, my one sister and me, and we took the train to Winnipeg, where I would spend the next fifteen years. We lived in a tiny two-bedroom apartment and it was there that I remember being fascinated with radio”.

Stu’s love affair for broadcasting came from those early days. “As a young kid, my seat at the breakfast table was right next to a tiny black transistor radio that my mother would put on at a low volume while she got us fed. I remember being fascinated by the voice in the box, one that was talking to me, being a part of our morning routine and yet I couldn’t see him. I also remember wondering how they fit all the artists in the studio to perform their songs. I was six—give me a break”!

Early bouts of bronchitis would render him bed-ridden for periods of time but it was here that his early love of the craft would be nurtured. “I had my brother’s radio by my side the whole time and radio became my friend,” he acknowledges. “I knew all the announcers and followed the music charts religiously. I never really thought I would ever work in it, though. I thought it was for special people”.

Sure, enough it was for him and Jeffries landed his first broadcast gig in Yorkton, Saskatchewan in 1979. “My initial plan was to stay in Yorktown for a few months and then return to Winnipeg and work at my favourite station, CFRW and be a legend in my hometown. After sending out air checks with a healthy six weeks of experience on the overnight show, I began to realize that I was indeed, not good and that harder work and lots of learning was required”.

It was a few years later that he would secure the hosting position of the CBC-TV video hits program, Good Rockin’ Tonight. It was here that Stu Jeffries gained national attention and prominence. “The transition came easy to me and I chock that up to just being too young and dumb to be nervous and I was getting the hang of ‘fake-it-til-you-make-it’,” he says of the gig that he held for eight years.

“I really loved the job and the national exposure was fun but also a bit weird. To go to a place in this country that you’ve never been and have people recognize you is pretty surreal. To this day I’m very thankful social media wasn’t a thing in the 80s or I’d have been ripped to shreds”.

Jeffries poise and ease on television, was evident early on but the radio bug is a hard thing to shake as many will attest. And, as is often the case, radio folk move from market to market until they land the right position and find that perfect fit.

Eventually Stu returned home to the West Coast. “I started at LG73 around the time Good Rockin’ Tonight was cancelled, I think around 1993. They were experimenting with a talk format and I co-hosted a midday show with Erin Davis. That format was short-lived as they transitioned back to music. I moved into the afternoon drive slot and then mornings with Stu McCallister. Two Stus in the Morning was a ton of fun, even though maybe four people were listening to us. I stayed until 1997”. 

Stu Jeffries currently holds down the morning show playing ‘Classic Hits’ on Toronto’s ‘Boom 97.3 FM’. And while Ontario has become his longtime address, one never actually replaces their original home base and that time spent in the mid-90’s years back in the Lower Mainland proved rather nostalgic for the affable host. 

“It was great to be back home,” says Jeffries. “It was also strange in that I remembered very little about it so it was like starting from scratch. I’ll always have the fondest memories of my time there. It was ten years of growth, opportunities and understanding what it takes to survive in this industry”.

X-@reallyjoeleary • Instagram@joeleary

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