CBC Yukon says 'happy trails' to longtime radio show director Roch Shannon Fraser

·4 min read
CBC Yukon radio director Roch Shannon Fraser retires Friday after 45 years in broadcasting. The huge coffee is typical; the power clashing outfit is special for his last day. (Chris Windeyer/CBC - image credit)
CBC Yukon radio director Roch Shannon Fraser retires Friday after 45 years in broadcasting. The huge coffee is typical; the power clashing outfit is special for his last day. (Chris Windeyer/CBC - image credit)

Even though Roch Fraser is leaving his day job, he says early mornings and busy days are still in his forecast.

The longtime CBC Yukon Morning director is retiring after over 20 years as a broadcaster for CBC. He said he'll be sticking around the territory to run his Airbnb, visit with friends and family and go camping.

Fraser was raised in Alberta, but by about 14 years old, he had already set his heart on living in the North after reading a Pierre Berton book.

"I decided one day that I was going to be one of those people that had to come to the Yukon," he said.

He went to broadcast school in 1977. Around 1979, while working in Dawson Creek, he got a call from the program director of CKRW, a private radio station in Whitehorse, offering him a job.

"I thought, 'This is incredible. This is a great opportunity,'" he said. "So we packed and we moved out to the Yukon."

He stayed for three years before moving to B.C., but eventually he made his way back North around 1994, working for CKRW and then eventually CBC by around 2000.


Memories of 9/11

He started with reading the daily news, then began taking on jobs on morning and weekend radio shows — with the condition, Fraser said, that he could pick the music.

He worked with Elyn Jones, host of CBC's Yukon Morning, for the longest — about 20 years.

"Holy, that's a long time," he said, adding with a laugh, "I think I need to retire."

A memory of an interview that stands out strongly to Fraser goes back over 20 years, while he was working on the weekend show. It was 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Fraser had been in touch with a man from New York and decided to reach out to him, both to check in on how he was doing and to see if he'd like to share his story.

"He was a really chatty guy. And he worked in lower Manhattan and where the terrorist attack took place," Fraser said.

"When I talked to him … I just said, 'Peter, I can't even fathom or try to understand what you've been going through for the past week. So if you could just tell me your story.'"

Fraser said the man spoke for about three quarters of an hour. "I just let him go … it was the most amazing and terrifying and fascinating thing that I've ever done, I think, on radio."


Fond farewells

Fraser said he'll miss working with his colleagues.

To Jones, he said, "she's the best of the best."

"I couldn't have asked for a better end to my career than working with a woman like Elyn … we work really well together."

And he gave a shout out to Sandi Coleman, whom he also worked with for nearly two decades.

"I've had such a great time working at CBC, I'm going to miss everybody," he said. "I'll miss being there in the morning."


Another former colleague, former current affairs producer Arnold Hedstrom, said Fraser's "passion came through each and every day all the many years we worked together at the CBC."

"Happy trails to you," Hedstrom said.

Scott Regehr, a current CBC sportscaster and former Yukoner who worked in Whitehorse also worked alongside Fraser, described their relationship as a "pretty fast friendship."

"Your sense of humour, your prioritizing of the team before yourself — and, of course, those dulcet tones — are the first things that I think stand out for me," Regehr said in farewell.

Wayne Klenk, current morning show host at Bounce Radio in Trail, B.C., formerly worked as weekend host at CBC Yukon and was a morning show co-host with Fraser at CKRW in Whitehorse. He said he worked and trained under "the great Roch Shannon Fraser" in 1998 and 1999.

"Roch has just got this infectious laugh that doesn't matter how bad your day is going," he said.

"When you hear that laugh, you can't help but feel a little bit better. And there was always this genuine happiness that we would have on the air when we started working together."


Sandi Coleman joked that the team could "always count" on Fraser for letting them know what season of the year it was by whether he was wearing a ball cap or plaid trappers.

She said Fraser will be missed as a colleague at CBC.

"You so deserve this chance to step back and enjoy life away from the microphone," she said. "And believe me when I say, it will have its own magic."