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January 11, 2019 6:37 pm  #1


My thoughts on the passing of Mark Elliott

Very sad to hear
that broadcaster Nils (AKA Mark Elliot) has died. Nils understood the power of radio to reach out to people to entertain, inform and help them. I   saw this firsthand as the PD at CFRB when we hired him to host People Helping People, a show that reached out to addicts, alcoholics or people with mental health issues.

His deep compassion for callers was rooted in his been there done that history of an abused gay teenager, alcoholic, drug addict and sufferer of depression. All this while being one of the top broadcasters in Ottawa.

By the time I worked with him at CFRB, he was established as the guy on the radio who helped people most of us would ignore if we crossed paths with them on the street. But not Mark (he’ll always be Mark Elliot to me) who would take their calls and give them a voice long before Bell Media’s annual Let’s Talk campaign.

During the Christmas period he would be on air 14 days in a row taking calls from the lonely, the depressed and his stable of regular callers. For many of them, he was the only friend they had or the only person who cared. Mark treated them on air like family.

And while I may have thought Mark was a one trick poney broadcaster, I discovered he was more than that. When Toronto and most of Ontario was in the dark from a massive power failure, it was Mark Elliot who helped listeners stay calm, be informed and shared their stories on air.

Mark became my go to guy at night and weekends to host breaking news events. He co-hosted with Michael Coren an extraordinary and highly emotional radio town hall meeting on same sex marriage when the country was deciding to make it legal. Coren against and Mark in favour.

Mark helped CFRB win news awards with his coverage. But for him, that wasn’t why he was on the radio. He just wanted to help people. So much so, when CFRB wanted to cancel the show because of budget cuts, Mark did it for FREE until he could no longer afford to put gas in the car to drive in from his cheap Niagara apartment to host the show. Not being on the radio was killing him. I had supper with him and Jarrett one night last year and the sadness in his voice had replaced the optimism he always had when he was on the radio.

And then when it was time to sing happy birthday to Jarrett that night in the restaurant, his mood perked up and I could feel the love these two guys had for each other.

Thanks Jarrett for being there for Mark during the past 20 years. Your love was with him to the very end. My condolences to Jarrett and all who knew Mark and benefited from his kindness and compassion. RIP, my friend.

 

January 12, 2019 10:18 am  #2


Re: My thoughts on the passing of Mark Elliott

Steve, I am glad you could post such a poignant message about our friend Nils. I could have posted one of my own or tacked this on to the main thread about his passing...or I could have just posted in Facebook but I try not to...about anything! I chose to share some thoughts here because you, Steve Kowch, introduced me to Mark Elliott in 2004. I had sold my business and was looking for something productive to do and I’d run into Gary Slaight and had a great chat over lunch where we put away some old rivalries and re-established mutual respect.

You phoned and said “you and Gary are talking again...when do we meet to discuss getting you on air?” Well, we did meet and my concern was how today’s brand of talk radio worked and where to find the controls. So, you told me to go spend the night with your overnight guy Mark Elliott...I’d never met him. He was a big lumbering guy; easygoing; loved to head downstairs during breaks so he could smoke outside the 2 St. Clair front door. I accompanied him every trip. It was there that he gave me his compacted talk radio wisdom. ‘Listen Peter, it’s music radio but the songs are your th\oughts on topics and interactions with listeners...you’ll love it’. He was correct and my ability to update my talk style from the 70s and 80s was largely vested in that advice.

The thing is that, once you got to know him, Mark never left you. Or Nils never did...I recall his decision to get his friends to adopt hIs real name, which I did. We rarely saw each other but we chatted a lot. I looked up the most recent conversation and it foretold what was to come...it was in November. He wrote this:

Sad news last week as I had heart attacks 3 & 4.
I know you'd want to know. Jarrett is taking great care of me so there's nothing to worry about there. But, I am concerned for him with all he has to go through dealing with me and my recklessness.
Haven't I always been a heartbreaking little shit?
Talk soon! Love to you always!
Nils

Wasn’t that just so much him? He has had two heart attacks and his —concerns are entirely for others...thank you Jarrett.

He lived in Niagara Falls, me in Niagara-on-the-Lake...20 minutes away. I should have gone over there and spent some time. Now the opportunity has vanished. But look at the optimism he maintained right to the end! I liked knowing Nils and I am certain that, somewhere, he is out there helping others. Hail and farewell, brother!