Special Juno honour for alumnus

Broadcast chief, philanthropist and music entrepreneur Gary Slaight, BA’73, will be honoured at the 2012 JUNO Awards.

The president and CEO of Slaight Communications and founder of Slaight Music is the 2012 recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, given by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.  The award recognizes individuals who have made an impact in the Canadian music industry. Slaight will be honoured at the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards on Saturday, March 31 in Ottawa, Ont.

“Gary Slaight’s remarkable intuition in business as well as the Canadian music industry is rare. He’s not only distinguished himself as a music innovator, he has made it his mandate to proactively support our nation’s talented artists through the Slaight Family Foundation and Slaight Music,” said Melanie Berry, president and CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards.  “We are very pleased to recognize Gary Slaight with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for his exceptional contributions.”

As a passionate and tireless advocate of musical talent within Canada, Slaight created the National Songwriting Contest as well as the Canadian Radio Music Awards, now in its 14th year.

Radio has always been part of Slaight’s DNA. He began his broadcast career as the promotions manager at Quality Records and WEA Records, before joining the rock station Q107, where he eventually became vice-president and general manager. Under his leadership, Q107 became not only one of Toronto’s leading radio stations but also one of North America’s leading rock stations.

In 2000, Slaight took over the helm as president and CEO of his father Allan Slaight’s (recipient of the 2005 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award) radio empire, Standard Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s largest private radio network. He oversaw Standard’s extensive multi-media interests including involvement in Sirius Satellite Radio and Iceberg Internet radio. As a staunch businessman Gary Slaight led the company to record profits and negotiated one of the largest deals in Canadian broadcast history, selling Standard’s 52 radio stations to Astral Media for more than $1 billion.

Slaight was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2005 and was named Broadcast Executive of the Year at the Annual Music Industry Awards by Canadian Music Week in 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1998. In 2004, he received the Award for Outstanding Community Service by an Individual Broadcaster from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.  Gary was also honoured with the Humanitarian Spirit Award at the 2010 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards.

Community involvement has always been paramount to Slaight and his family.  He sits on a variety of charitable boards and oversees the Slaight Family Foundation, which has donated more than $30 million to hospitals, the arts and youth-driven initiatives as well as overseas aid.  Among his charitable contributions, the Slaight Family Foundation partnered with MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity associated with CARAS to establish a five-year partnership to annually award six schools in Toronto with $10,000 Band Aid Grants in support of their music programs. Slaight has also been a longtime supporter of the Dixon Hall Music School that provides subsidized music lessons to underserved communities in Toronto, and established the Slaight Family Scholarship for study at Berklee College of Music.

Most recently Gary has pledged $250,000 through Slaight Music to The Unison Benevolent Fund, an assistance and referral program administered for the music industry, by the music industry to provide discreet relief to music industry personnel in times of personal hardship and crisis.

Sponsors of the 2012 JUNO Awards include FACTOR, Canada’s Private Radio Broadcasters and The Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage’s “Canada Music Fund,” Radio Starmaker Fund, National Capital Commission (NCC), Province of Ontario, and the City of Ottawa.