Iconic Talk of the Town host Tom Young dead at 75

Tom Young, a radio icon in Saint John for more than 50 years, has died. He was 75.

Young was best known as the host of the long-running show Talk of the Town on CFBC as  well as The Afternoon News on News 88.9 Saint John, News 91.9 Moncton, and News 95.7 Halifax.

Young was born in 1942 and grew up in the Toronto area, quitting school after Grade 10 to join the military. He started his broadcasting career in military radio in what was then West Germany.

Longtime CHSJ news director Brian McLain met young in 1978, when he was scouted to join CFBC in Saint John.

"He was a force of nature, a whirlwind, and charismatic on the radio," McLain said.

In 1976, during the Groundhog Gale, CFBC was the only radio station that remained on the air.

With Young at the helm, "it became like a command centre," said McLain.

"That was one of the highlights of his career, and it put CFBC on the map."

'Tom was the guy'

Todd Veinotte, who produced Young's afternoon news show and took over as host after his retirement, remembered Young as "the guy, back in the 1970s and into the 1980s."

"He was the boss — he brought in the numbers. He was CFBC."

While Veinotte and Young had "many disagreements" over the years, Veinotte said, "he taught me some important lessons — mainly, to never pretend to be anyone other than yourself, and never pretend you know something that you don't."

"He would drag himself into the studio no matter what. I remember one time he even had a bunch of teeth replaced, and he was just in agony, and he still dragged himself in and gave 100 per cent. He was an old-school radio guy, a pro."

Young could seem gruff to callers who ventured opinions on his Talk of the Town show, but Veinotte remembers the broadcaster's sense of humour.

"He was hilarious, always joking. He always used to say: 'never give the listener an opportunity to change the dial.'"

Young signed off for the last time in August 2011.

His "legacy was massive in southern New Brunswick," said Veinotte.

Mayor, town councillor

In addition to his radio career, Young's lifelong interest in politics led him to municipal governance.  

He served as the mayor of Renforth from 1989 to 1992 and later for several terms as a Rothesay town councillor.

As a politician,"even if something was unpopular, he would stick to his guns," McLain said. "I remember going to his home and seeing the books on his shelves were all about politics and history.

"He came across as the everyday sort of guy, but he actually read very widely."

A softer side

Although blunt and uncompromising at work, at home Young was a soft-hearted family man.

"Everyone saw him as a tough, mean guy that never smiled, but his family knew him in another light," son Tyler Young said, adding that with him and his two sisters, Young "had a heart of gold."

He and his wife, Diana, were married for nearly 50 years. They moved after their retirement to St. John's, N.L., in order to be close to their four grandchildren, who were "his whole world," his son said.

Tom Young died Monday in a St. John's hospital of complications from knee surgery last week. 

"Some people were just made to be something," said Tyler. "And he was made to be a radio announcer."

No funeral will be held, according to Young's wishes.