Ida (Bianco) Clarkson - radio and television personality in Victoria, BC

 

 

Ida Clarkson's broadcast career began in 1946 when she first worked as a creative writer for CJVI Radio in Victoria. Ida was later discovered by CJVI's production manager after reading a commercial on air, which led to a position as "The Bay Shopping Hostess", copy editor, and director of women's programming.

Five years later, Ida left to raise her family, but eventually resumed her career in 1961 when CHEK Television hired her as a copy editor. A year later, when one of the original hosts left, Ida was asked to co-host a live, daily program. That show eventually became "The Ida Clarkson Show", a popular spotlight for many community-oriented groups, artists and charities.

Ida Clarkson remained with CHEK Television, hosting her show and representing the station in a public relations capacity until her retirement in 1991.

In 1961, Ida Clarkson overcame her wariness of the "one-eyed box" to take the show over and make it hers -- and ours. She had co-hosts -- newscaster Andy Stephen at first, and then Dave Roegele -- but there was little doubt that this was Ida's Show.

 

Hosting the live, one-hour show meant Ida got her hair done every day, but it was hardly a "superstar gig. Nobody did just one thing," she recalls. "We didn't have much staff. I was hired as copy writer and copy editor, and I didn't bother telling them I knew how to thread a projector, because I'd have had to do that, too."

 

Bob Willett remembers:  I was a co-host with Ida Clarkson on The Noon Show.

 

I especially remember the day Ida and I had Canada's Dairy Princess, a Vancouver Island girl, as our guest. To add to the visual appeal, we got her father, an Island Farms dairyman, to bring one of his prize cows to the station. Sticking my neck out, I announced in advance that I'd milk this bovine star on the show, even though she'd never been hand-milked and, moreover, the noon hour isn't a regular milking period. Ida said she'd keep her fingers crossed and the cow appeared to be good-natured and seemed likely to co-operate.

 

Nevertheless, although I rubbed my hands together to warm them (like any good milker); it took several minutes of sweet-talking to get any result. I was about to admit defeat when a stream of milk suddenly shot into the pail. It made a delightful sound - another one I won't forget.

 

Ida, I'm sure, has many wonderful memories of her 30 years as a "femcee" on CHEK-TV. I'm just as certain that she never had more fun with a guest as what we shared in 1962, when Victor Borge, "the clown prince of Denmark", was booked into the Esquimalt Arena. We wanted him as a guest, of course, but Ida's initial invitation was turned down. Having known Victor in Hollywood during the early days of TV when he was a regular on Omnibus, I tried to get him to reconsider by reminding him of our previous association, but to no avail. I'd told Ida that Victor was, if anything, unpredictable, so she wasn't surprised at what finally happened.

 

Writing Borge off, we arranged an appearance of singer-comedian Rolf Harris, who was also in town. Rolf started the fun by beginning work on one of his distinctively-different paintings, rendered with a brush at least four inches wide. When he was about 10 minutes into it, the studio door was suddenly opened and Borge strode in, immediately introducing himself to us and to our audience. He then jumped into a facetious discussion of art with Harris. Next, he began rummaging in the drawers of our kitchen set, which were largely full of products pertaining to sponsors, past and present.

 

The result was that the clown prince ended up plugging their wares.

 

Halfway through the show, as usual, I devoted 10 minutes to a news roundup. Or tried to! Borge made that part of his act, too, remarking about each and every item. ("Oh, that's sad.", "That's not good news", "THAT'S good news!", "I didn't know that!!) For his grand finale, he went to work on the display of about a dozen TV-6 watches we were then promoting. Examining them one by one as we talked to him, he slipped them onto one arm or the other until he was wearing all of them. He then left us with a final laugh line: "Thanks for the watches!" The audience of The Noon Show was regularly augmented by school students who went home for lunch.