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Jacob (Jay) Switzer was born in Calgary (ca. 1956) and raised in Lethbridge, AB and Estevan, SK. The family moved to Toronto when Switzer was in his teens. His father, Israel, was an engineer and his mother Phyllis was a journalist. In 1972, Phyllis Switzer (along with Moses Znaimer and two other partners) launched City-TV, a station that Israel Switzer had conceived as a modest UHF service designed to exploit CRTC regulations that all local broadcasters be carried by cable systems.
Jay Switzer’s first real job, at age 16, was on the switchboard at CityTV. He worked as a Media Research Analyst for The Financial Post from 1979-1981, and then, having completed his education (B.Comm from the University of Toronto, MBA from the University of Western Ontario), he returned to CityTV in 1983 as a junior program manager. Since CHUM Ltd. (the company that had bought City-TV in 1978) could not afford to compete with the networks for costly American programs, Switzer instead focused on movies and reruns of youth-oriented shows like Star Trek. In 1984, Switzer co-wrote the license application that would bring MuchMusic to air, and over the following years he was instrumental in City-TV’s expansion into other markets and innovative new services. He also presided over the exportation of such City-TV made programs as FashionTelevision and MovieTelevision to markets around the globe (CHUM was among the first Canadian broadcasters to sell its homemade programs internationally, and to license formats to partners). Throughout the 1990s, Switzer developed more specialty services such as MuchMoreMusic, Star!, Bravo!, and CablePulse24. In 1995, he was named Vice President of Programming for CHUM Television, and in 2002 he became the company’s President and CEO. CHUM was acquired by CTV-Globemedia in 2006 (with the five CityTV stations going to Rogers
Communications for regulatory reasons), and Switzer left the company in 2007.
Jay Switzer currently works as an independent Media Management Consultant. He lives in Toronto with his wife, actress Ellen Dubin.
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Hayes, David. “TV brat.” National Post Business Magazine (May 1, 2003): 64.
Konotopetz, Gail. “CHUM chief tuning in to life’s passion.” Business Edge (March 3, 2005), http://www.businessedge.ca/archives/article.cfm/chum-chief-tuning-in-to-...
Pitts, Gordon. “Station to station.” The Globe and Mail, September 26, 2007, (Report-on-Business)
Lamphier, Gary. “Say hello to Jay Switzer, a man with a mission.” Edmonton Journal, May 2, 2003, F.1.
Vlessing, Etan. “CHUM boss makes graceful exit.” Playback (July 23, 2007), http://playbackonline.ca/2007/07/23/switzer-20070723/
Yaffe, Samantha. “Up close and personal with Jay Switzer.” Playback (December 6, 2004), http://playbackonline.ca/2004/12/06/switzer-20041206/