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RIP: Lyman Potts, Godfather Of Canadian Recordings

Lyman Potts hired Heather Ostertag as a young woman in her early 20s and that hire at the Canadian Talent Library (CTL) marked her entre into the music business.

RIP: Lyman Potts, Godfather Of Canadian Recordings

By Heather Ostertag

Lyman Potts hired Heather Ostertag as a young woman in her early 20s and that hire at the Canadian Talent Library (CTL) marked her entre into the music business. She eventually rose through the ranks to become president of FACTOR and now runs her own consultancy firm.  This is her remembrance of the Regina-born broadcaster who was appointed President of the newly minted Standard subsidiary Standard Broadcast Productions, an umbrella for the Canadian Talent Library in 1966. Potts went on to become President, Standard Broadcasting Corp. (U.K.), a consultancy for applicants for commercial radio licenses in the U. K. In 1981, he retired from Standard and formed J. Lyman Potts and Associates, a consultancy for broadcasting, recording, music services and copyright.


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Lyman Potts signed-off in Burlington, Ontario on Sunday, December 9 at age 103. Doyen of Canadian broadcasting, a jack-of-all-trades who had done everything, Lyman was the last of the pioneers, best remembered for solving the problem which for radio’s first 40 years have baffled Parliament – how to make Canadian radio “Canadian”. In so doing, Lyman had developed the foundation for a Canadian recording industry and opened the world to Canadian musicians, singers and songsmiths to fame and fortune.

J. Lyman Potts was a Canadian treasure who had a vision for radio that expanded itself to include the development of the Canadian music industry. 

He worked in radio and launched the Canadian Talent Library (CTL), which employed and gave creative opportunities to some of Canada’s finest musicians.  The CTL audio productions included the first-ever recording by Gordon Lightfoot.  He also oversaw recordings by the Ben McPeek, The Laurie Bower Singers, Rob Mcconnell and the Boss Brass, Guido Basso to name a few.  There were almost 300 CTL recordings in  that were produced, including Hagood Hardy ’s The Homecoming album that included the title track that went on to become a crossover hit in Canada and the US and significantly became CTL’s only recording to be a certified platinum seller.  All the masters from CTL are currently stored and available to the public through the National Library in Ottawa.

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During his career, Lyman received many awards, including the William Harold Moon Award from then PROCAN, as well as the Order of Canada for his creation of CTL. In an era of rancour between radio and records, he was respected by both the music industry and Canada’s private radio broadcasters.

I was fortunate in 1977 to be hired by Lyman as the receptionist at CTL. Lyman was generous with his knowledge and showed a great deal of patience in teaching me about CTL, its subscription service and what was involved with the making of a recording. The rest, as they say, is history. I can positively say that I owe my career in the Canadian music industry to Lyman.

Something that many people did not know about Lyman was his other passion - namely trains and Canada’s railway system. He knew all about them and could cite chapter and verse about the different railway lines and the trains themselves.

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He was a kind, and a gentleman with a huge heart and the world has lost a real treasure. Thank you for all that you gave me, Lyman.  My life has been enriched for having worked with you. 

Your student

Heather Ostertag, CM

 

Supplementary reading

Lyman Potts was a founding father of Canada’s music industry

– Fred Langam, The Globe and Mail

J. Lyman Potts: 1916–2018

– History of Canadian Broadcasting

Lyman Potts, considered the Godfather of Canadian recording, changed the fortunes of Hamilton’s CKOC — and this country’s broadcast music

– Joan Little, The Hamilton Spectator

Smith’s Funeral Home obituary, Burlington ON

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