WATCH: Former CJAD 800 traffic reporter Len Rowcliffe dies
Len Rowcliffe, one of CJAD 800's first helicopter traffic reporters during the 1960s and early 1970s, has died.
His family confirms he passed away in Vancouver at the age of 88. He had been suffering from several conditions, including prostate cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
The Montreal native hosted several programs during his time at CJAD 800, but is best remembered as a traffic reporter — a role which was captured for posterity in a 1972 National Film Board film called Trafficopter.
The 10-minute film chronicles Rowcliffe's morning shift routine in what was then known as the CJAD JetRanger, and also captures some breathtaking scenes of early 1970s Montreal, as well as some of Rowcliffe's on-air banter with another legend, George Balcan.
The film also tells of how Rowcliffe had to step away from doing morning and afternoon helicopter traffic in 1969 because the pollution in the air then led to him developing a hole in his lung. Replacing him was a young traffic reporter named Rick Leckner.
"It's always very sad to lose on of CJAD's greats, and there's no question that Len was one of the greats," Leckner says. "He and I worked very closely together. In fact, he was my mentor."
Rowcliffe eventually recovered from his ailment and split the helicopter duties with Leckner for a few more years — Rowcliffe in the mornings, Leckner in the afternoons.
"He was the consummate pro as an announcer, not just as a helicopter reporter," Leckner says. "Always dressed in a very dapper fashion, always had a cap on, lovely moustache...was a true gentleman."