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Apr
3
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Cancer Claims Iconic Vancouver Radio Personality Neil Macrae
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By Scott Brown Vancouver Province

Neil Macrae, the controversial and cranky voice of sports for 40 years on Vancouver radio, most of it with CKNW and Rock 101, has died of cancer at the age of 65.

CKNW reports that Macrae died Thursday at his home in Palm Springs, California.

Macrae, who rose to prominence in 1980s as an on-air sparring partner of legendary CKNW morning man Frosty Forst, told Sun columnist Greg Douglas in 2012 that he recognized early in his career that he would have to be different from the crowd to stand out. If that required him putting on the black hat and becoming a radio villain, then so be it.

“If 50 per cent hate my guts and 50 per cent want to listen to me, it means they are all listening. No matter how you cut it, it boils down to ratings,” Macrae said.

His on-air rants frequently rankled the feathers of the people he covered, like former Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke and current Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini.

“Aquilini doesn’t like me calling him Aqui-loonie,” Macrae told Douglas. “He sent me a couple of threatening letters but it didn’t amount to much. I generally read letters like that on the air and let the listeners decide who’s right and who’s wrong. They are almost always in my corner.”

In 1987, Macrae was also involved in a high-profile dispute with legendary CKNW sports broadcaster “Big” Al Davidson, which led to a firing and a lawsuit.

CKNW dismissed the then 62-year-old Davidson for “threatening” Macrae’s life. Davidson said a joke he made during a Canucks-Boston Bruins game was misinterpreted as a physical threat and that Macrae contacted police.

“It was no threat at all,” Davidson said at the time. “The man’s 30 years younger than me, for Pete’s sake.”

Davidson, who died in 1991, later won a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

Macrae’s radio career came to end in 2013 when he was fired by Rock 101, the FM sister station of CKNW.

“I was planning on quitting but instead got a two-month settlement when they fired me,” Macrae said at the time. “I want to thank them for helping me pay for some of my property taxes.”

Macrae was married to Laurie Rix, daughter of Dr. Donald Rix, a legend in Canadian philanthropy and the biomedical field. The couple ran The Rix Family Foundation which donates to charities and major universities across Canada.



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