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  Dec. 3, 2001



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Whalen always known for helping less fortunate
By NADIA MOHARIB -- Calgary Sun

Ed Whalen and friends add up the total from a 1994 telethon. -- Calgary Sun files

Ed Whalen Photo Gallery
Ed Whalen was born in Saskatchewan, but the man who moved to the Stampede City more than 40 years ago quickly became the consummate Calgarian.

Whalen, was tall, lean and 21 when he traded university studies to be a voice behind a radio microphone in Saskatoon.

The man who would eventually become a legendary broadcaster said his radio debut was a nerve-wracking experience.

"I ended up with 'I'm 88 degrees and the temperature in Saskatoon is Ed Whalen,' " he once recalled.

Despite that shaky start, Whalen soon carved out his niche as a high-profile broadcaster and would later be dubbed the elder statesman of broadcasting.

In 1955, he moved to Calgary to work in news and sports at CHCT Television, now Calgary 7. Media legend 'Wailin' Ed' spent more than 50 years in the broadcast business.

He was the first and only play-by-play announcer, speaking at 120 words per minute, to call the Calgary Flames games for Calgary 7 until he retired in 1999.

"I'd rather (cover the National Hockey League) than eat," Whalen once said. "I'm not the best ever, by any means, but I think I'm one of the most exciting."

WRESTLING ANNOUNCER

Before the Flames, Whalen earned a global reputation as the voice for the popular, syndicated Stampede Wrestling TV show.

In 1957, he was earning $400 a month when Stu Hart offered him the job as Stampede Wrestling's in-the-ring host.

Whalen always said the 27-year-career got him the most notoriety, but was not among his most 'valued' resume items.

"It was without question the strangest thing I've ever done in my career and gained me the most notoriety," he once said.

Whalen tired of the Stampede's violent trademark.

He was "disgusted" when, in one episode, Bad News Allen used a kitchen fork as a weapon.

In the early '80s, Whalen, who signed off with "in the meantime and between time, that is it for another edition of Stampede Wrestling," signed off for good.

SAVAGE SPORT

"I came into wrestling when it was fun, simple entertainment," he said. "It was the good guys versus the bad guys. It was pure entertainment. Now it has become savage."

Throughout it all, Whalen has been committed to charity. He was emcee, host, or the voice and face behind charities from amateur sports to sick children.

The man who was known as Mr. Nice Guy was the longtime host of the Children's Miracle Network Telethon. Whalen once said Calgary's volunteer spirit kept him here and he certainly added to the gift of giving.

In 1996, he earned the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award for Outstanding Community Service.

Just last month, Sun columnist and former wrestler Bret Hart, for no reason other than "why not?" penned a tribute to Whalen, who also wrote a weekly column for the Calgary Sun.

"It seems Ed lives to improve the lives of others," Hart wrote.

"Ed is a humble guy with a heart of gold. A man of great integrity, voice of reason, a vibrant sense of humour and deep compassion. He is a proud Calgarian and a great Canadian."

One of Whalen's biggest fans is his wife Nomi, who he married in 1962. In many interviews the solid relationship of the pair who raised five children was apparent. They often gushed about a love they never took for granted.

"Ed can't change a light bulb without breaking it, and he has the messiest closet in North America, but I respect him for his modesty and charming nature anyway," Nomi said in 1987.

More on Ed Whalen
Ed Whalen Photo Gallery




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