Gerry Phelan Departs VOCM

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

It started on February 7, with this brief status update on Gerry Phelan’s Facebook profile:

“27 years at the helm. Have parted company with VOCM. Now I seek new challenges!”

It was straight out of left field, and took a lot of people by surprise. Gerry Phelan had been news director at VOCM since 1984, before some of you had even been born. I assumed the polar ice cap would be melted and gone, long before Phelan switched off the microphone.

Immediately, people began commenting on his status – yours truly included – all expressing shock at the news and sending best wishes. Last time I checked, about 75 people had left messages.

My in-box soon began filling with notes from readers, asking if I knew what had happened. I didn’t, but had already sent a message to Gerry, looking for comment. I soon received this short reply:

“Thanks for your message. 


I know I am only hot for a day but I really have to focus on what's next. This is a great business and a great province, and I want to find a new fit soon. I have no firm plans.

Can you use a 50 year old weathered newsie? Ha.



One can’t read too much into these things but the fact that Phelan is not leaving to accept another position might indicate that he did not leave of his own accord. I put that question to him, in a reply.

“Parting was mutual,” he said, in his response. “Newcap is a great company to work for. I had my first offer from the mainland six hours after the news hit, but this is my home, and I'd really like to stay in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Gerry has always been a modest, unassuming guy, and, true to form, he requested that I not write anything at all.

“I truly am just another cog in the wheel of life. It was never about me. It was and is always about the listeners and viewers and readers. I will take that with me to my next role too.”

Perhaps the story behind his departure will emerge in the days ahead. In the meantime, I can’t ignore a media story as big as this, and I’m sure Gerry understands. I can only wish the “weathered newsie” well in his next adventure.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Dawn
    March 03, 2013 - 10:06

    VOCM lost two Good men in Gerry and in Bill Rowe.

  • B..Port cove
    February 22, 2013 - 06:42

    Good Luck in your endeavours. Doesn't matter why he is leaving, that's his business. Stay Healthy and Happy, that's the main thing!

  • Anon
    July 25, 2012 - 00:24

    You guys must be kidding me. This guy needed to go. Professionally, he may have knew his stuff but he did not treat the people underneath him good at all. Perhaps this had something to do with his departure. After so long, something gotta give and I knew it was only a matter of time. I have a bit of an inside perspective on this and he was not very kind.

    June 02, 2012 - 07:40


  • Mr. Juannabee
    February 18, 2011 - 07:35

    To Doug Scott - thanks for the background on this. Interesting stuff.

  • Doug Scott
    February 15, 2011 - 13:41

    To Mr. Juannabee: While I don't buy into the conspiracy theory that Clyde Power suggests here regarding Gerry's role in the Money for Nothing issue, it is - nevertheless- interesting that Gerry was the chairman of the panel that made the decision on behalf of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. The council runs as a kind of volunteer agency - it is not an agency of government. Complaints filed against CBSC members (and most radio and television stations in Canada are members) are heard by a volunteer panel. The complaint against Money for Nothing was filed against OZ-FM, and the Atlantic Region Panel that ruled on behalf of the CBSC included Gerry Phalen as chair, and B. A. (Rocky) Jones as vice-chair. Mr. Jones is a Halifax-based lawyer. Panel members (called Public Adjudicators by the CSBC) included Kathie Hicks, a well-known former broadcaster and news reader who worked with a couple of media outlets here (Q-Radion and CBC Radio) and is now COO with Spirit of Newfoundland Productions; Bob MacEachern, President of MacEachern Broadcasting in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, and the General Manager of CIGO-FM Radio; Randy McKeen, News Director of Astral Media Radio Atlantic which operates CKHJ-AM, CIBX-FM and CFXY-FM in Fredericton, New Brunswick; and Roberta Morrison, co-chair of the Black Women's Business Network and co-owner (with her husband) of Black Bear Ice Cream Emporium in Halifax. These are the people who wrote the decision. You can read the decision and the complete bios of all panel members at the CSBC's website at It would be interesting to know if that decision, which Clyde Power suggests brought tremendous attention to OZ-FM, had anything to do with Gerry's leaving VOCM. I am very skeptical that it did, as it would look extremely bad on VOCM management. But the ratings wars could lead to some fairly outrageous behaviour. So, who knows? It might just be true.

    • Rob
      February 16, 2011 - 10:11

      As chair, Mr. Phelan did not vote in the Dire Straits Debacle. As such, there's not much credence to the conspiracy theory.

  • David Kennedy
    February 14, 2011 - 18:07

    I worked in the VOCM News Room with Gerry Phelan in the 1980s.I don't know what's up with VOCM, but the extraordinary excellence of Gerry's work cannot be matched.His dedication to the listeners of VOCM News was remarkable,and again, peerless.I cannot understand how the management of such a successful player in the radio business could let someone like Gerry Phelan slip through their fingers. It has the appearance of an act of idiocy.

  • Mr. Juannabee
    February 11, 2011 - 12:10

    To Clyde Power: You lost me with all the $5 words in your comment, but I am intrigued. Can you explain (in regular 10 cent words) what was Gerry Phelan's role in the "Money For Nothing" affair? Wasn't the complaint lodged against OZ-FM?

  • Clyde Power
    February 10, 2011 - 13:05

    It is entirely possible that Gerry Phelan is a casualty of the Money for Nothing debacle that galvanized consensus public sentiment of outrage at the banning of the unedited version of the 25-year old Dire Straits classic hit song from the public airwaves and resulted in tremendous international exposure for rival OZ FM, the now self-proclaimed "original outlaws of Canadian Rock Radio." I make that remark somewhat facetiously, but the sudden timing of his departure on the heels of the recent firestorm certainly suggests some validity to the comment. In the ultra-competitive environment of terrestrial radio where ratings books drive advertising revenue, which is the lifeblood of the industry, serious financial repercussions can result from the inadvertent provision of free publicity to the competition. I certainly hope I am incorrect given that Mr. Phelan was merely attempting to respond appropriately to a complaint in his capacity as CBSC member. However, larger economic considerations may be at play with perhaps a defensible and legitimate business reason for an end to his long association with the Company in light of the certain embarrassment caused by his involvement in the decision that may have damaged its brand and undeniably presented an exposure windfall to its main competitor.

  • Doug Scott
    February 10, 2011 - 08:31

    Geoff: Thanks for this. I, too, was astonished - even shocked - when I heard the news that Gerry had left VOCM. I would join you in wishing Gerry all the best in his future endeavours. I've known Gerry for more years than I can remember. He was always a stand-up guy. A true gentleman and a great news man. His integrity as a journalist is unquestioned. In his various roles at the national and international levels of the radio and television news directors association he has made an invaluable contribution to the business of news gathering. I'm sure we'll be hearing from him again... even if its a simple comment on the 'Money for Nothing' issue...

    • paul crummell
      February 06, 2012 - 21:19

      hey geoff Long time no see my friend. Did not know gerry but his reputation preceded him. Too bad for vocm Paul crummell