Ironically, for a man who devoted his life to television, Larry Isaac’s family didn’t have a TV for much of his childhood.

Born in Winnipeg, but raised in Kansas and Indiana, Isaac found his fix of college football and major league baseball watching transfixed at the neighbours. A sports nut from a young age, he followed Johnny Unitas’ Colts and dreamed of racing Mario Andretti at the Indy 500. At age twelve, he told his parents he wanted to work in sports television.

In 1976, a year after the Isaacs moved to Vancouver, Larry had just graduated from John Oliver Secondary and was working at Safeway. To get his first break in television, he made a bold move.

CKVU, a new Vancouver station, was two months from going on air. Without ever going to broadcast college, Isaac walked into the office of Lorne Hassan, CKVU sports department head, showed him his meticulously-kept scrapbooks of sports research and statistics, and was hired on the spot. So began over 35 years of crafting sports television for Isaac, today considered one of the best producers in the business.

CKVU was the perfect, fertile learning ground. The station encouraged their staff to learn all aspects from typing scripts to editing highlight packages, producing and directing amateur sports for tape delay telecasts, and working the graphics machine.

Casting aside hopes of announcing, Isaac discovered producing—putting a show together from scratch while working with announcers and production staff—was more his speed. That pace would only increase when he later moved to live TV. Few realize the rapid-fire sequence of decision-making required by a producer in the broadcast truck, juggling replays, camera views, storylines, and statistics.

Among Isaac’s earliest credits was original co-producer of the ground-breaking Sports Page in 1977, one of Canada’s first hour-long sports-only highlights shows, which ran for nearly thirty years and set the standard for the type of sports television coverage seen all over the country today. In those days, tapes of footage would be hastily ferried by cab from the Pacific Coliseum or Empire Stadium across town to the editing studio. The taxi bills were huge and traffic jams occasionally delayed highlights from hitting the screen.

In 1980, Isaac moved across town to BCTV where he produced Canucks and Whitecaps broadcasts working beside mentor and co-producer Henry Irizawa. On weekends, thanks to his BCTV boss Bill Elliott, Isaac began working for TSN and soon CTV Carling O’Keefe Friday Night Hockey broadcasts under Johnny Esaw.

In 1984, he set up his own company, allowing him to freelance and branch out even further. Work with Molstar under Don Wallace on Hockey Night in Canada followed in 1986. Isaac later worked twelve Stanley Cup Finals as HNIC’s top senior producer, raising the bar with an inventive, creative style. He continues to produce Canucks, Oilers, and Flames mid-week broadcasts for Sportsnet to this day.

Over the years, he’s worked besides such recognizable announcing luminaries as Howie Meeker, Jim Van Horne, Dan Kelly, Ron MacLean, Chris Cuthbert, Bob Cole, Rod Black, Bill Good Sr., John Wells, Don Wittman, and Geoff Gowan to list but a few.

You name the sport or events, the fingerprints of Isaac, the Gemini-winning producer, are probably on the broadcasts watched by millions of viewers. From eight Olympics to the world track and field championships, world cycling, swimming, college basketball, PGA & LPGA golf, WTA and ATP tennis, even the 1980s Nanaimo-to-Vancouver Bathtub races, his resume runs the gamut.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.