Media Giant Jay Switzer Passes Away At 61
The highly-respected lion of the Canadian media industry died on Monday. He played a key role in the growth of Citytv, MuchMusic and CHUM, and co-founded Hollywood Suite. Last month he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
By FYI Staff
Canadian media industry giant Jay Switzer died peacefully in Toronto today (Jan. 29) with his family at his side, after a short, but courageous battle with brain cancer, at age 61.
Switzer was born to a life in television, raised by two parents who were legends in the Canadian TV industry. His father was cable pioneer Israel (Sruki) Switzer and his mother, Phyllis Switzer, co-founded Citytv in 1972. 16-year-old Jay's first full-time job was on the switchboard of Citytv.
After getting his MBA from the University of Western Ontario, Switzer returned to Citytv on a full-time basis as Program Manager for Citytv and MuchMusic in 1983. He played a major role in the success of Citytv, and its offspring MuchMusic, Bravo!, FashionTelevision and many other CHUM channels, expanding across Canada and around the world.
Switzer rose through the CHUM ranks, ultimately being appointed CEO in 2002.
In 2010, he co-founded Hollywood Suite, where he served on the Board of Directors as Chair of the Canadian independent, privately owned broadcasting company.
In a press release, David Kines, Hollywood Suite co-founder and President, says: “On behalf of the staff, directors and investors of Hollywood Suite, we want to express our most heartfelt condolences to Jay’s wife, Ellen Dubin, and the Switzer family. Jay was a supportive and encouraging leader whose commitment and belief in the mission and people of Hollywood Suite never faltered, despite the many headwinds facing the broadcast business. His certainty in our success will be sorely missed by both myself and the staff and our industry.”
A recipient of many awards for his commitment to community and country, Switzer was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2017.
As a mentor to countless independent producers and creators of Canadian works for the screen, Switzer is celebrated as a champion of independent Canadian feature film and television production having supported more than 200 projects throughout his career.
Funeral service details will be available here. A public Celebration of Life will take place in the spring. Details will be announced at a later date.
Donations in Jay’s memory may be made to The Canadian Film Centre (http://bit.ly/CFCSwitzer or call 416-445-1446, x227) or to The Phyllis Switzer Memorial fund at Ryerson University (http://bit.ly/RyeUniSwitzer or call 416-979-5000, x6516).
A further tribute in FYI will follow.