Canadian broadcaster and longtime Muskoka cottager Vasil William (Bill) Evanov, founder and president of Evanov Communications Inc., died peacefully in his sleep on Feb. 28, according to a statement from the company.
Evanov came from humble beginnings as the son of Bulgarian immigrant parents and started his radio career as a salesman at CHIN Radio, working with broadcaster Johnny Lombardi. He later became sales manager for CHIN and then station manager for CING Radio in Burlington before buying his first radio station in 1984. His company now operates 19 stations across the country, including Z103.5, the company’s flagship station which broadcasts from the company headquarters in Etobicoke. The company also broadcasts multilingual ethnic radio stations in over 40 languages, the world’s first LGBTQ radio station PROUD FM, the Jewel radio stations, and others including Christian, French-language and country music stations.
“Evanov Communications is one of the very few independent broadcasters that has persevered and prospered among multi-media, multi-platform competitors. It employs several hundred persons who will miss Bill’s sense of humour, dedication to his craft and example of discipline and passion for radio,” said a statement from the company. “He is survived by his children Paul and Kristina, who will continue to grow the company in his tradition.”
Evanov received many accolades throughout his years in broadcasting, including being inducted into the Canadian Music and Broadcasting Industry Hall of Fame in 2011. At the awards gala, he received the Allan Waters Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented to a broadcaster in acknowledgment of their extraordinary contributions to the broadcast industry.
“As one of the few independent broadcasters left in the country’s largest markets, Evanov has pioneered several distinct formats and become a leader in supporting new Canadian talent,” said award show organizers in a 2011 statement. “He defined dance music as a unique radio format when he re-launched CING FM as Energy 108 in 1990 and took it from 90,000 to over 800,000 weekly listeners.”
Evanov was also a seasonal resident of Muskoka, enjoying time at his cottage in Rosseau and later Milford Bay. He loved boating on the Muskoka waters and attending events like the Antique Boat Show and Bala Cranberry Festival, according to Muskoka411 President and CEO Stefan Ottenbrite, who worked with Evanov in the early days of Muskoka411 when the website was just getting started.
“Working with Bill and the Evanov Radio Group allowed Muskoka411 to rapidly grow and expand quickly when we first started, and I am forever grateful for that opportunity,” Ottenbrite said. “My deepest condolences to Paul and Kristina.”
Evanov’s life will be celebrated in a service at Toronto’s Sts. Cyril and Methody Macedonian-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church at 11 a.m. on March 9. Visitation will be held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery Cremation & Funeral Centres in Toronto from 5 to 9 p.m. on March 5 and from 4 to 8 p.m. on March 6.