Gary Slaight, whose family built a radio empire in Canada and has donated millions to various music, youth and arts initiatives, will be honoured with the 2012 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has announced.
The award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact in the Canadian music industry, will be handed out at the Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on Saturday, March 31 in Ottawa, ON. Ã¢Â€Â¨In 2005, Gary’s father, Allan, received the same award.
“Gary Slaight’s remarkable intuition in business as well as the Canadian music industry is rare. He’s not only distinguished himself as a music innovator, he has made it his mandate to proactively support our nation’s talented artists through the Slaight Family Foundation and Slaight Music,” said CARAS president/CEO Melanie Berry in a statement.
Slaight is the president and CEO of Slaight Communications and founder of Slaight Music, which was established in order to develop and support Canadian talent.
Most recently, he pledged $250,000 (CAD) through Slaight Music to The Unison Benevolent Fund, an assistance and referral program for musicians and members of the music industry who fall on hard times.
Slaight began his career in broadcasting as promotions manager at Quality Records and WEA Records, before joining Toronto rock station Q107, where he rose to vice-president, then general manager.
In 2000, he took over from father as president and CEO of Standard Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s largest private radio network, which grew to include multi-media endeavors, such as Sirius Satellite Radio and Iceberg Internet radio.
Slaight was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2005 and was named Broadcast Executive of the Year at the annual Music Industry Awards by Canadian Music Week in 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1998. In 2004, he received the award for Outstanding Community Service by an Individual Broadcaster from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB).
As head of Standard Broadcasting, he led the company to record profits and negotiated one of the largest deals in Canadian broadcast history, selling Standard’s 52 radio stations to Astral Media in 2007 for $1.08 billion (CAD).
The Slaights philanthropy is renown in Canada. Gary sits on various charitable boards and oversees the Slaight Family Foundation, which has donated more than $30 million (CAD) to hospitals, the arts and youth-driven projects and overseas aid.
Among his charitable contributions, the Slaight Family Foundation partnered for five years with MusiCounts, CARAS’ music education charity, to annually award six Toronto schools with $10,000 for musical instruments for their music programs.
Slaight has also been a longtime supporter of the Dixon Hall Music School that provides subsidized music lessons to underserved communities in Toronto, and established the Slaight Family Scholarship for study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
Slaight was also honored with the Humanitarian Spirit Award at the 2010 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards.