For 33 years, Ron Fournier furnished the evenings of sports fans, young and old. Those of truckers to those of taxi drivers, through those of insomniacs and adolescents who listened to him in secret, a radio hidden under their pillow.
Tuesday morning, at the microphone of Paul Arcand, the colorful radio host announced his retirement. Finished the voice, the lyrical flights and the songs of the good Ron on the air Good evening sportsmen.
“I’m not sad at all. It’s a decision that has been considered, ”said the former referee of the NHL on the program Since we must rise.
Obviously, the health problems he has suffered over the past two and a half years are not unrelated to this swan song. Prostate cancer, placement of two endoprostheses (stents) to reopen coronary arteries 70% and 90% blocked, then lymph node cancer: the legendary host was not spared.
“Four months later, it’s okay. I hit golf balls, I take steps, I cycle. I feel much better, but not enough to come back, ”he explained.
Since Ron, Ron, Ron is a real talker and a sports enthusiast, one wonders how long he will manage to resist the urge to pick up a microphone. If only sporadically.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me. I have maybe 20 years (to live). Why shouldn’t I have great adventures, great projects ?, said the 71-year-old man. My wife Chantale deserves that I spend time with her. I slept three, four nights a week in Montreal and came back to spend the weekends with her. ”
Apparently, so it’s not tomorrow the day before. Ron definitely seems ready to go on the next call. But you don’t have to take his word for it.
A radio institution
With this announcement, a large part of the radio history of Quebec has turned. Hired in the fall of 1987, he hosted his last show on May 13.
Few are able to last so long in this environment where careers are often short-lived. This is why Michel Tremblay does not hesitate to compare him to several big names in radio in Quebec.
“Ron has always been very popular and always generated big ratings. He is an institution of Quebec radio in the same way as Jacques Proulx, Pierre Pasco and Serge Bélair were, ”said Tremblay, sports director at 98.5.
Tremblay speaks knowingly. Involved in the world of radio for almost 40 years, he is the one who, as sports director of CJMS, had the flair to hire him, when he was freshly retired from his refereeing profession.
“It was at the time of the AM war with CKAC. You had to be inventive. I had the idea to put on the air a late-night sports show, said Tremblay. I had had Ron on the phone for about 40 minutes. As soon as I hung up I told my boss he was our man. I liked his tone and his way of expressing himself. He was dynamic. ”
Ron, the captain
It has flowed under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge since Ron hosted his first sports platform. Over the years, colleagues have followed one another, as have the young animators. Some were only passing through, while others held on, taking advantage of the advice of the wise old man of the station.
“He was a real team guy,” said Michel Lebel, research coordinator for Ron’s last four seasons. He is one of the most generous and human beings that I know. On that, he reminds me of Jacques Demers. “
“Ron, he was like the club captain. Like a good veteran, he came to reassure us, encourage us and give us advice, underlined Jérémie Rainville, station host for 14 years. I was blessed to be around and grow up with this man. ”
Over the past few years, Rainville has been one of those who have taken over from Ron when the latter has to be away. Obviously, the shoes could, at times, seem large to fit.
“He is an emblematic figure of Quebec in the same category as Yvon Deschamps. A showman, a genuine person and an incredible storyteller, ”said Rainville, who never fell into the trap of trying to emulate him.
Ron Fournier will undoubtedly be the first, and the only one, not to want to recognize him, but at the microphone of Good evening sportsmen, it was more than just “no worse, no worse, no worse”.