September 4, 2015

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By Gordon Sinclair Jr.


This time, I'm in ex-Bombers CEO's corner

Someone once asked me if I have ever regretted something I've written.

Yeah, it happens.

Garth Buchko


Garth Buchko Photo Store

Sometimes I've regretted something I've written even if I have no reason to, other than the person in my sights isn't a bad guy. And later, when one considers the impact of the written word on the man and those who love him, there's a sense of sadness. Especially when it didn't end well for him.

So it was with Garth Buchko.

Of course, back then it wasn't just me who was pounding the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' rookie CEO over the protracted construction of Investors Group Field and the game-day frisking fiasco. The frustrated fan base was enraged, too. The slick-looking Buchko was everyone's favourite punching bag when the Winnipeg Football Club was fumbling everything on and off the field.

And after completing just 18 months of a four-year contract that was reported to be worth about $400,000 annually, Buchko was sacked.

Actually, his departure last August was officially described as a resignation, but the timing and who went with him -- the Bombers' woeful general manager, Joe Mack -- left no doubt about how it went down. Why am I revisiting this personal and professional calamity now, just a month after Buchko's 81-year-old father, Ed, died?

In hope of better days ahead for Garth Buchko and his family.

I heard a rumour on the weekend that finally, a full two years after Buchko left his general manager's position at Corus Entertainment's cluster of Winnipeg radio stations to join the circus that was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Corus is looking to finally put someone in the chair Buchko vacated and was never filled locally.

So does that mean Buchko could be returning to his old familiar role at CJOB, Power 97 and Fresh FM? That's what I was wondering Sunday afternoon when I emailed Calgary-based Corus executive Garry McKenzie in hopes of verifying the rumour and another one that went with it -- that Buchko had applied to get his old job back.

Back in March 2012, right after Buchko left the stations he'd led for 16 years, McKenzie was appointed regional general manager for Corus Radio in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton, effectively replacing Buchko without replacing his position. That's why I emailed him with my questions.

McKenzie confirmed they were looking to put a full-time GM back in Winnipeg. He went on to say Corus is in the process of interviewing candidates, internally and externally, and they hope to make an announcement in the next month to month-and-a-half.

"There is a lot of interest in the position and we are taking our time before making a decision," McKenzie added. So was Buchko one of the candidates?

"Yes," McKenzie responded, "Garth is a potential candidate."

When I reached Buchko by text, he declined to comment on that.

But when I left a voice-mail message asking how he had been doing, he did have something more to say. His goal since leaving the Bombers had been to stay away from the media spotlight and the scrutiny that went with it.

No wonder, given the shelling he absorbed and the direct hit that followed.

"I am currently consulting," he added. "I am also working out of Winnipeg Harvest running the charity I started, called Hunger for Hope."

Then he referred with gratitude to those who have stood by him.

"I have seen so much support from many people in the business community over the past six months."

Two of those business people who are friends of Buchko are also friends of mine. One is my wife's cousin, Peter Ginakes, who owns and operates the Pony Corral restaurants that started advertising with CJOB when Buchko was there.

"He's a good guy," Ginakes said. "Like solid. He was a pro at his job, great to work with. If you had a problem, he would deal with it. And he would reach out to his customers."

Similarly, Larry Updike, who worked for Buchko for nearly a decade as the CJOB morning man, has only praise for him as a boss.

"First-rate" said Updike. "He knows his craft very well and he tried to create a really positive working atmosphere in the station."

I got the sense Updike would like to see him back leading Corus Radio in Winnipeg. Ginakes certainly hopes his pal goes back to doing what he does best.

For what it's worth, I'll second that emotion. Garth Buchko was the wrong guy at a very wrong time for the Bombers. But granted the opportunity, he could be the right guy at the right time for Corus Entertainment.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 18, 2014 B1


Updated on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 10:51 AM CDT: Corrects name of radio station.

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