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Ross Porter

Photo: Janet Jardine

 

ROSS MURRAY PORTER, C.M., is a Canadian broadcast executive, music authority, event producer, and published author.

Host of Music To Listen To Jazz By, Saturdays 9AM to 11AM, President and Chief Executive Officer of JAZZ.FM91 since July of 2004, Ross Porter is acknowledged by jazz lovers from coast-to-coast as Canada’s preeminent jazz broadcaster.

Before assuming the senior executive role at JAZZ.FM in July of 2004, he was widely known for a distinguished career as a Radio and Television broadcaster and producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. For eleven years, Porter hosted a daily national show on CBC Radio 2, and covered pop culture for CBC Television's The National and CBC Newsworld's On the Arts, becoming integral to the careers of many of Canada’s most successful performers, including Diana Krall, Molly Johnson, Jane Bunnett, and Holly Cole.

As an executive for CanWest from 2002 to 2004, Porter developed, launched, and spearheaded programming for Canada’s national music channel COOLTV, also managing day-to-day operations at CanWest’s 24-hour jazz station, COOL-FM.

Throughout his early career, he amassed an impressive list of commendations as a producer for network radio documentaries on music icons including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Chet Baker, and created critically acclaimed television documentaries on the lives of legends Oscar Peterson, Joni Mitchell, Moe Koffman, Quincy Jones, George Harrison, Brian Wilson, and Diana Krall.

Recognized for his impeccable taste in music, his unique delivery, and his innate ability to articulate the colorful jazz landscape for radio listening audiences across the country as executive producer and host of CBC Radio’s highly successful daily “After Hours” jazz show, Porter also shared his passion and unique understanding of the jazz genre with international air travelers as host of Air Canada’s in-flight audio jazz channel for several years.

His lengthy list of background credentials also includes stints as a respected print journalist, serving as a music columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press and as a jazz reviewer for The National Post. In 2006, McLelland and Stewart published Ross Porter’s first book,The Essential Jazz Recordings: 101 CDs. A consistent best seller ever since, it is now in consecutive printings.

Since assuming his current position as President and CEO of JAZZ.FM91, Porter has repositioned the station as an important force on the broadcast landscape, regionally, nationally and internationally. As a first priority after assuming the management helm in 2004, he eliminated the station’s $800,000 debt and was responsible for delivering some of the highest ratings in the station’s history.

He relocated the station to its current home in the trendy Liberty Village area of Toronto, and supervised its design which features a live performance hall at its centre, to allow many of Canada’s best performers to appear live in front of an audience, for broadcast around the world.

As a strong advocate of new and social media, Porter commissioned the JAZZ.FM91 iPhone app which has since been downloaded almost 500,000 times, and the recently launched iPad app which has now achieved 50,000 downloads. He also created the station’s four on-line audio streams.

High-impact community outreach initiatives he has spearheaded are extensive and include the creation of the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band, the Jazz 4 Kids music series, the Jazzology radio show (an accredited part of the curriculum at four post-secondary institutions) the JAZZ.FM91 Thinkers Series (an interactive lecture series showcasing eminent speakers who personify some of pop culture’s pivotal moments), and the on-line teaching resource – the Canadian Jazz Archive. The station’s revitalized and expanded Sound of JazzConcert Series recently celebrated its 37th anniversary at the same time as Porter developed a parallel Cabaret performance series.

In 2005, Porter created the landmark annual fundraising event Jazz Lives (now held at Toronto’s Koerner Hall). For the last nine years the live concert hall event has been acknowledged as one the premier jazz events in the country featuring leading performers from around the world, and selling out every year just days after the talent line-up is announced. Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis, Al Jarreau, Ramsey Lewis, John Scofield, Bill Charlap, Terence Blanchard are among the legendary jazz artists to have appeared in recent Jazz Lives concerts.

Winner of numerous honours and accolades throughout his illustrious career, Ross Porter was accorded the 2000 CanWest Award for his ‘Outstanding Contribution to Jazz’ by friend and mentor Izzy Asper. The prestigious National Jazz Awards named him ‘Broadcaster of the Year’ in both 2002 and 2004. In the Spring of 2009, Porter was nominated, by the Jazz Journalists Association, for the Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting.

His interest in music is diverse. In the late ‘70s, he worked as Road Manager for the Ottawa-based Cooper Brothers, an award-winning rock band who were signed to the prestigious Capricorn Records label in the U.S. Porter worked in the Cultural Industries in Manitoba where he was key in developing the careers of Fred Penner and the Crash Test Dummies. He was a member of the Oscar Peterson National Committee which commissioned Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy to create a commemorative statue at Canada's National Arts Centre. In June 2010, Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh unveiled the sculpture in Ottawa. He also chairs the Music Advisory Committee at Humber College in Toronto.

Ross Porter studied at the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College and the Schulich School of Business. On June 28, 2013 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada for lifetime achievement.

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