Well-known former B.C. radio personality and politician Barrie Clark dies

Clark remembered as a fair-minded ‘statesman,’ who always saw the big picture

Barrie Clark

Former Kelowna city councillor and local radio talk show host Barrie Clark has died after a brief battle with cancer.

Clark, who started his radio career in Kelowna in 1949 after graduating from KSS, passed away Friday at the age of 86, according to friends who posted the news on the internet.

Current Kelowna city manager Ron Mattiussi, who was director of planning for the city when Clark was on council, described Clark as a “real statesman,” and someone who always saw the big picture.

“He was a very fair man but did not suffer fools gladly,” said Mattiussi Tuesday.

Despite his public persona as being serious and stern, with a loud booming voice Mattiussi described as a feature of the council’s Clark sat on, the city manager said privately Clark was a very funny man with a great sense of humour.

“He had a profound sense of decorum,” said Mattiussi.

Well-known in Kelowna for both his popular radio talk show on the former CKOV station from 1989 to 1999, and his subsequent years as a city councillor (1999 to 2008), Clark had an extensive history in radio in the Lower Mainland, as well as a stint in Ontario. He worked in London, England with Reuters News Agency in 1954, prior to his return to Kelowna in 1988.

In the early 1960s Clark’s and his on-air partner Jim McDonald were popular radio personalities in Vancouver. As he would do later in Kelowna, Clark parlayed that popularity into politics in 1963 when he was elected as a municipal alderman in the District of North Vancouver. In 1967 he made the jump to provincial politics, running for the Liberals in North Vancouver-Seymour, a seat he won and then retained in the 1969 provincial election. Clark lost the seat in 1972 when the province’s first NDP government came to power.

Despite his political affiliation, then NDP premier Dave Barrett appointed Clark as the B.C.’s first Rentalsman in 1973, a job he held until 1976.

Following his stint as Rentalsman, Clark returned to radio, hosting talk shows on two different Vancouver radio stations before returning to Kelowna in 1988 when the station he was working at changed its format from talk to music.

Back in his home town, he hosted what became one of the most popular local radio programs of its time, a morning talk show on CKOV, the station where he got his start. In large part due to his popularity on radio, Clark ran for, and won a seat on Kelowna city council in 1999.

As it had on his radio show, Clark’s public no-nonsense approach on council clicked with many voters and he was re-elected to council twice before retiring from local politics to care for his ailing wife.

Former Kelowna councillor Andre Blanleil, who sat on council with Clark remembered him Tuesday as an excellent councillor and a great colleague.

”He was very decisive,” said Blanleil. “He was obviously very opinionated given his time in radio (as a talk show host) but he didn’t try to micro manage staff. He let them do their job.”

Blanleil said he got along very well with Clark and liked working with him.

Current Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran did not serve on council with Clark and said he did not know him personally, but growing up in the city remembers listening to Clark’s on the radio.

“I remember that deep voice and that he would always ask the tough questions,” said Basran.

“I really liked his show,” said the mayor, went on to work as a television reporter at what was then CHBC (now Global Okanagan) after graduating from high school and college.

According to the internet posting announcing his death, at Clark’s request, there will be no service.

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