Michael Woloshen – It’s over!
You may not know his name, but if you’ve watched CHEK Television at any time in the past 42 years, you’ve seen his work many times.
January 2, 1980 was Michael Woloshen’s first day at CHEK as a commercial writer/producer. He came to Vancouver Island from Richmond where he had lived with his family since 1969. Prior to that, they lived in Boucherville, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal where Michael was born.
Her father, Andy Walsh, was a well-known broadcaster in Montreal and Vancouver.
Michael’s passion for television began in the early 1960s, around the age of seven, when he was lucky enough to be in the audience for a local Montreal children’s television show called “The Johnny Jellybean Show”. It aired in the afternoon and was a big hit for CFCF-TV at a time when local television was mostly live.
Michael remembers being dazzled by the lights and cameras in the huge studio. Later he also had a role in another children’s show and like many children of the 60s he remembers sitting at home with his many siblings around their new black television and white.
From then on he was a TV guy. He was also a bit ham.
Michael (left) as Tweedle Dum in On the other side of the mirror.
In school, he participated in music and drama, getting roles in plays like on the other side of the mirror and Tom Jones. Even after graduating from high school, he joined a local community theater for the production of Goodbye Birdie.
After graduating from high school, he went to BCIT and enrolled in their television communication program. On weekends, he spun some dough at Shakey’s Pizza.
After graduating from BCIT, he landed a job with Delta Cable. And then everyone from Michael changed when he saw an advert for a job at CHEK 6 in Victoria. It meant moving to another city on his own and starting a new life.
When he started working in CHEK’s commercial production department, the station was located on Epson Drive, right next to the Cedar Hill golf course.
Michael started out writing and producing commercials for a number of local businesses. Then he got involved in writing the children’s television series, Foufouli with Dale Read.
He also co-wrote and produced Broadbanda comedy/variety show featuring music videos and skits, and everyday things with children’s entertainer Pat Carfra.
Then there was A la cartea cooking show he also co-hosted, the Home Repair Show Home verification with Shell Buseyand Reel Guy, where Michael stepped in front of the camera in his hockey shirt and dressing gown, introducing the movie of the week. You had to be there.
There were also parades. Michael wrote the scripts and produced the CHEK shows for the Victoria Day Parade and, after a time, the Santa’s Light Parade.
Of the countless commercials he wrote and produced, Dodd’s Furniture spots would probably be remembered the most by many. Gordy Dodd was always kind and cheerful, allowing Michael to dress him like so many memorable and crazy movie and TV characters over the years.
Michael with the “cast” of Dodd’s.
For his body of work, Michael has received his fair share of awards from BCAB, the BC Association of Broadcasters, and CanPro, the Canadian Television Festival. Life was good.
During this time the station had moved to its current location on Kings Road, and a few changes in ownership on top of that.
And then one day, it all came to a halt.
Michael, along with the entire commercial production department, was fired. This was a cost-cutting measure as CHEK and a number of other stations across Canada were brought back to market. It was early 2009 when the world suffered the domino effect of the 2008 stock market crash in the United States.
For Michael and everyone in his department, it was devastating.
And yet, over the next nine months, he found a way to self-employ himself, working wherever he could to make ends meet. Even worse news came when CHEK itself was put on the chopping block and was going to shut down completely.
Then, like in the movies, there was the happy ending. A group of investors stepped in and together with CHEK employees gathered their money and bought the station. Michael was the first person to be rehired.
On his first day on the job, he had to travel just to find a chair and a desk to use. But that was the start of the complete rebuilding of the commercial production department, literally from scratch.
As we sat around the kitchen table the other morning (it’s okay, we’re married), I asked Michael what he liked most about his job.
“Assemble all the pieces,” he said. From conceiving the concept to writing, filming and editing all the pieces, and finally seeing the final result, that’s what he likes the most. “I mean, there are a lot of interesting aspects.”
But when I asked him why he wanted to be remembered, he said it all depended on the people he had worked with over the years. For example, he enjoys helping someone who has never been on camera before, getting them to relax and bring out their best performances.
And it’s also about making customers happy. “You have a connection with customers and the goal is to help them with their business and create that message for them.”
But overall, rebuilding the production department from scratch, employing staff accordingly, and creating so many local TV series, has given him the greatest satisfaction in recent years.
I may be a little biased, but I think he did a fabulous job.
On Friday, May 27, Michael moves on to another chapter in his life; to retire after more than 40 years doing what he loves most. You can’t beat that.
So, as Michael has said so many times, “It’s a wrap!”
Irene Jackson is an “aspiring” guitar teacher, musician and general writer living in beautiful Victoria, BC. His website is at irenejackson.com.
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