Norm Marshall was a broadcasting ‘legend’ who passed away at his Burlington home on November 5, 2008, just shy of his 90th birthday. He and his wife Helen lived in Aldershot for over 55 years where they raised their daughter Janice. Norm had two sons by a previous marriage – Michael and Bill.
Norm began his career in radio as a singer at CKTB in St. Catharines at the age of 13. Back then recorded music was often difficult to find so radio stations sometimes relied on local talent to entertain listeners. While working as a writer with Associated Broadcasting in Toronto, he was discovered by Ken Soble who hired him in 1940 to work at CHML radio in Hamilton. Early in his time there he hosted a live Saturday night CBC coast-to-coast broadcast from Burlington’s own Brant Inn. He blossomed into a consummate professional who masterfully delivered sports and broadcast news across the airwaves In the Greater Hamilton/Burlington area.
It was at CHML where Norm became a huge part of the area sports scene as a play-by-play announcer for the Hamilton Cardinals PONY League baseball team, and the voice of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for almost three decades. Norm made his TV debut calling the play-by-play on the first-ever televised Grey Cup game in 1952 on the CBC Network. The game was later viewed overseas by Canadian troops stationed around the world.
His TV career really began when he joined CHCH-TV in 1954 beginning the night the station officially opened. Sports commentator, play-by-play announcer, evening news anchor for 33 years, Norm did it all. He was everywhere in the area covering sports including Ontario University football, professional lacrosse, and soccer. His secret to success was his incredible wit and humour, preparation, and strict use of proper diction and grammar. Of course, he also had a voice perfectly suited to announcing. One of his peers at CHML once said that Norm had “the greatest radio voice in this part of the world”. He was a natural broadcasting talent who became one of the most respected broadcasters in the country. In 1987 Norm retired as evening news anchor at CHCH and concluded his college football play-by-play television broadcasts with the Yates Cup the following year.
Norm was passionate about all of his pursuits, including teaching and golfing. He shared his enthusiasm and his knowledge of the broadcast industry by mentoring a host of younger generation media students as their radio broadcasting instructor at Mohawk College for 12 years. An avid golfer, Norm was the creative force behind the Christmas Calcutta at Burlington Springs Golf Club, an annual winter golf tournament often played on a snow-covered course.
Norm received numerous awards in his wonderful career but perhaps none more special than the Fred Sgambati Media Award in 1985 where he was recognized for his wonderful contributions to youth sport. He donated thousands of hours while hosting and acting as Master of Ceremonies for hundreds of events, many of them sporting dinners and award ceremonies. What better way to recognize what Norm Marshall offered to local sports than to induct him into the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame.