Brian Fraser, a former technical producer for The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll on 580 CFRA and an Algonquin College radio broadcasting graduate, died Thursday, Feb. 25 after a two-year battle with leukemia.
He was 26.
Fraser used his struggle with leukemia to raise awareness about the importance of donating blood, using his following on social media to spread the word.
Friends and professors describe him as humble and helpful.
Dan Mellon, a professor in the radio broadcasting program and program coordinator, says that Fraser had a passion for radio, but like many students who come in their first year, he had a bit of a rough start in the program.
“I said to Brian after the first semester: ‘You know what? Come back again next year. Reset. You obviously have a passion for this,'” Mellon said. Brian did and the second time around he knocked it out of the park. Mellon explains that upon graduating he got a job at Bell Media in Ottawa for 580 CFRA and TSN.
“He was a great guy, very helpful. You know, he was liked by all his classmates,” Mellon said. “He would often try to make himself available to the newer students just to help mentor. Anything that was ever asked of him – whether, by teachers or students – he was always the first to volunteer.”
Callum Fraser, a news anchor and producer at 580 CFRA who is not related to Brian, believes that his co-worker was the best technical producer at CFRA. He could manage many different things at once all while paying close attention to detail.
“Whether it’s playing clips, getting audio, talking to people on the phone, joining in on the conversation, posting audio, or tweeting out things,” said Fraser. “They may seem like mundane things, but to do all those things at the exact same time, while actually listening to the show and making sure you’re engaged was incredible.”
In fact, Fraser, who is a graduate of Algonquin’s journalism program, says the reason he is able to work as a technical producer at CFRA today, is because he was able to watch Brian and learn from him.
David Smith, the producer for The Rob Snow Show for City News Ottawa, says the Brian influenced his career as well. Smith first met Brian during his internship with Algonquin’s journalism program. He did three weeks at 580 CFRA on The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll where he worked closely with Brian. After his internship ended the station offered him a job as a radio board operator – a technical producer.
“I talked to Brian about it and I was like: I’m kind of on the fence about taking this job because I don’t really know what I’m doing,” Smith said. “This isn’t something I really envisioned for myself, I’m not really sure what the job entails. Brian said: ‘look you’ll come and do all your training with me and I’ll teach you everything you need to know and I think you’d be really good at this.'”
When Smith finished all his training, he became the guy who could fill in for Brian if he needed a vacation. Over text or in person, Smith said Brian was a mentor to him.
Zach McGibbon, a news writer and anchor for 580 CFRA and an Algonquin radio broadcasting alumnus, met Brian during their time at Algonquin College.
“We were both sports guys,” McGibbon said. “In our first year, we broadcasted Nepean Raiders games. He was the guy who made sure everything was set up technically, he showed me different tricks. He was that sort of guy who was just a friendly voice. You could always go to him. Just a tremendous dude.”
Brian had a passion for sports which he also carried over to everything he did.
“His passion went through not only just sports but also when he was doing radio,” said McGibbon. “When he put his mind to something he gave it 110 per cent. He put that with spreading of the message of blood donations and being so open he really inspired a lot of people.”
David Smith can’t overstate how passionate Brian was about helping people and being involved.
“The blood donation thing stemmed from – as previously mentioned, his desire to be doing productive things and helping people,” he said.
Brian’s efforts to spread the message of blood donations eventually led to him appearing on CTV National News for an interview with news anchor Lisa LaFlamme.
Callum Fraser remembers watching his friend and coworker appear on CTV a month into the pandemic’s arrival.
“I remember one morning he popped on my screen as they were waiting for Trudeau to start speaking,” he said. “That was just incredible. I remember he was in the hospital I’m pretty sure. I think it was the second time the leukemia came back. I just remember the poise and grace he was able to show in that interview with Lisa.”
Brian is survived by his father Rick, mother Sheila, and his brothers Ian and Tait.