Johnnie Walters

Canadian television host

1933   -  

occupation: television presenter

John Leigh "Johnnie" Walters (born c. 1933) is a Canadian retired broadcaster and television personality known for his on-air improvisation and sense of humour. He is best known for his long affiliation with CKCO-TV in Kitchener, Ontario.He received his training on American TV and radio, developing his style hosting TV shows in U.S. cities. According to Harold Ramis in Dave Thomas's book, SCTV: Behind The Scenes, the SCTV "Dialing For Dollars" spoofs were based on the show of that name hosted by Walters in St. Louis. His early gigs included radio hosting at WHK in Ohio, and a daily show WLW-TV in Cincinnati with Vivian Della Chiesa, from 1964-68.Walters joined CKCO-TV as the host of Horoscope Dollars, a low-budget show featuring Walters calling area residents at random with a question, the correct answer to which depended on them viewing that particular show. Some of the most entertaining moments came during the time spent dialing and waiting for numbers to connect, as he engaged in informal banter with offscreen crew and organist Pat Ludwig. From mid-1970s to the early 1980s, Walters hosted The Johnnie Walters Show, an hour-long weekday morning program featuring guests, an exercise segment, horoscopes, and a cooking segment. Later, he joined a mid-weekday news/information program with Betty Thompson (Miss Betty from CKCO's Romper Room) and Bill Inkol (CKCO sports director). Walters hosted Trivia Company on CKCO from 1983 to 1988. This half-hour show was done in a game show format, and featured Walters taking a mobile unit on the street asking various people trivia questions for cash prizes that were often accompanied by a "Certificate of Genius". On the latter was written a brief but grandiloquent speech, read on-air by the prize-winner, which proclaimed them "A genius, and certainly not a jerk." Walters frequently reacted exuberantly whenever contestants indicated they might have an inkling of what the answer might be (and sometimes even when they didn't), bellowing his catchphrase, "This guy (or lady) knows the answer!" stentoriously to draw in passersby to the spectacle in front of the camera. The show was revived in 1992 by CFPL-TV in London and CFTO-TV in Toronto and finished production in 1994. Walters was also an occasional fill-in weatherman on the late edition of CKCO news, becoming one of those who wore the classic CKCO red jacket. In 2010, Walters published a memoir about his mother titled A Very Capable Life: The Autobiography of Zarah Petri, which won the 2010 Edna Staebler Award for creative non-fiction.
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