Canadian Media Mogul Allan Slaight Dies at 90
The prominent arts philanthropist passed away at his home in Toronto on Sunday, September 19
Slaight passed away peacefully at his home in Toronto on Sunday (September 19), with his beloved wife Emmanuelle Gattuso by his side. He's also survived by his children Gary, Greg and Marie; five grandchildren and several great-grandchildren; as well as his brother, Brian (and his wife, Annabel).
Born in Galt, ON, Allan began his career in broadcasting at age 17, hosting a late night jazz program called Spins and Needles in Moose Jaw, SK. In 1958, he became the program director of Toronto's CHUM FM — a fledgling rock station at the time that went on to set the standard for rock programming in Canada and abroad.
He later stepped away from conventional broadcasting and moved to England to establish a sales agency for pirate radio station Radio Caroline ahead of returning to Toronto to launch his advertising and communications firm Allan Slaight Ltd. By 1970, Slaight Broadcasting was formed and acquired the nearly bankrupt Global Television. Slaight also created Q107 in Toronto and then acquired Standard Broadcasting, transforming it into the largest privately-owned radio station network in the country.
After 52 years of involvement in radio, Slaight stepped down as Standard Broadcasting's president and CEO, turning his attention to serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Slaight Communications — Canada's largest solely owned, private multimedia communications company.
Slaight founded the Slate Family Foundation in 2008. Since then, its generosity has supported health care institutions, social services and arts and culture. With his son, Gary, Slaight established Slaight Music in 2011 to further invest in the Canadian music community and foster Canadian talent. Slaight's wife Gattuso also has her own charity — La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso — focused on patient-centric healthcare innovations since the early 2000s.
With the mogul's dedication to the national arts scene with his philanthropic efforts, Slaight has been honoured with several tributes to his namesake, including the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class artist development program. Most recently, the stage in the main auditorium of the newly revitalized Massey Hall was named the Allan Slaight Stage.
Slaight has also been recognized with a Juno award, a star on Canada's Walk of Fame, an induction into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, an honorary degree from Ryerson — where his name is also emblazoned on the Radio Institute at the university's RTA School of Media — and membership to the Order of Canada.
Needless to say, Slaight's indelible legacy is one that will live on through his manifold contributions to Canadian culture.
See the outpouring of tributes to the Canadian music icon on social media below.
The Canadian music community mourns the loss of a great friend and a giant of a champion. Allan Slaight was a Canadian cultural pioneer and icon whose legacy has changed the face of Canadian music. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family tonight. pic.twitter.com/WqLYoA9zxc— CIMA (@CIMAmusic75) September 21, 2021
On my visit just now, thinking of Allan Slaight who died yesterday. With his wife Emmanuelle Gatusso & the Slaight family, their philanthropy has helped to revolutionize care for those with cancer - and made what I call my 2nd home, a better place @thePMCF @slaightfamily pic.twitter.com/1gzl0lxVcq— Dr. Stephen Brown (@DrSCBrown) September 20, 2021
The Canadian music community mourns the loss of a great friend and a giant of a champion. Allan Slaight was a Canadian cultural pioneer and icon whose legacy has changed the face of Canadian music. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family tonight.— Andrew Cash (@AndrewCash) September 21, 2021
So sad to hear that Allan Slaight, Canadian broadcasting pioneer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, has passed away. Allan was a great supporter Canadian music and musicians, particularly emerging artists, and many other important causes. Our deepest condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/mXLdoVQ4RW— National Arts Centre (@CanadasNAC) September 20, 2021
We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Allan Slaight. pic.twitter.com/7YSR0WTS4i— The JUNO Awards (@TheJUNOAwards) September 20, 2021