To say someone has ‘vision’ is an overused term these days, but occasionally there are rare individuals for whom this actually rings true.

Vancouver’s Paul Carson was one who saw things before anyone else and then held firm to his beliefs even when others were openly sceptical. Scan Canadian sports television and radio today. Well-known media personalities the ‘Great Carsoni’ discovered as green youngsters and then fostered into polished on-air diamonds are everywhere. Beyond his other accomplishments, they may be his most lasting legacy.

Born in London, Ontario, Carson began his broadcasting career in Cranbrook at age 20 before moving to Victoria in 1973. At that time, the extent of sports news coverage remained limited to three-to-five minutes of short clips on the six o’clock news. There was no TSN, no all-sports radio, no internet. Carson began exploring how to bring more to the sports fan.

In 1980, he began a 19-year run as sports director and anchor of the now-iconic Sports Page, the CKVU, U TV, and Global TV half-hour all-sports recap show that ran every night at 11pm and soon became must-see TV for many in British Columbia. Carson directed the show to focus on the highlights of North American and world sport, but also ensured local high school, university, and amateur sport was covered as well. They did it with a style that was fast-paced, cutting edge, and light-hearted. No surprise, it quickly connected with viewers. This style heavily influenced Canada’s national shows on TSN and Rogers Sportsnet and can still be seen to this day.

“Viewers always used to say, ‘It looks like you guys have so much fun,’” recalled long-time Sports Page host Dave Randorf, who went on to national work at TSN. “Well we did. Every single night.”

The list of on-air personalities Carson first spotted for Sports Page, who went on to local, national, or international prominence reads like a who’s who of Canadian sports media. This list includes Chris Hebb, Barry Macdonald, Don Taylor, Dave Randorf, John Shorthouse, Craig McEwen, Blake Price, Sean McCormick, Dan Murphy, Scott Rintoul, Dan Elliot, Jay Durant, and Shane Foxman. All cite a debt of gratitude to Carson for providing their start.

“Everything I have in this great life of mine I owe in one way or another to Paul Carson,” said Taylor.

After leaving Sports Page in 1999, Carson ventured into the untapped market of all-sports radio, which outside of Toronto had gained little foothold in Canada. In the spring of 2001, as president of Grand Slam Radio, the original steering group that partnered with CHUM Radio, Carson led the creation of Vancouver’s TEAM 1040 radio network. He served multiple roles on the TEAM including on-air personality, community relations leader, events manager, and sales executive. Much of the current growth and success the TEAM enjoys today can be attributed to Carson’s initial vision and groundwork.

Taken too soon by pancreatic cancer at the age of 60 in 2010, Carson’s legacy is secure. Just turn on any sports TV or radio news program in Canada. You won’t see or hear him in person, but rest assured he’s there, living on in the scores that he mentored and the programs that bear his stylistic stamp.

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