This episode is dedicated to Brian Smiley, who passed away on May 4 from colon cancer at age 69. (It wasn’t until after this was recorded that we finally learned his real, and not ‘show-business’ age.)

Brian was a special guest on the debut episode of The Great Canadian Talk Show on Kick-FM in 2006 and made numerous appearances over the years. He was personable and witty and well-informed, and slid seamlessly from a career as a print reporter across to becoming the PR face of a not-always loved Crown corporation.

Whether in-studio or on a call, he enjoyed the back and forth with Marty Gold and helping answer questions about Manitoba Public Insurance as its Media Relations Coordinator.

As you’ll hear Marty explain, they became friends long before that, when Smiley was on the sports beat at the Winnipeg Sun. The fun really began when he soon moved to the news side.

There’s a lot of personal memories, a legendary tale about a Top 10 Most Wanted scoop, and emails from Smiley on various topics and people recounted in Episode 43.

He was an unsung hero, going to bat for people wronged by adjusters or supervisors or just miscommunicated files. Raising money within MPI, he rallied the troops to support good causes, one women’s shelter in particular.

Brian and Marty shared a great love of sports, hockey and larger than life characters. You’ll hear about a few of them, including the one that introduced them, and understand how quintessentially Canadian he was.

Smiley had texted us an optimistic message after completing chemo, but sadly he lost his fight. You’ll hear the story of what it was like to be his friend, and how he always had your back.

Here is⁠ the obituary⁠.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, May 24th at 6:00 pm at Sturgeon Heights Community Centre, 210 Rita Street, Winnipeg.


Here are some of the heartfelt tributes posted about Brian Smiley after this episode was recorded:

Michelle Bailey

My dear Brian. Winnipeg Sun days when you were a reporter and I was an intern. When I was in government and you harassed me for “news” days. When you were in PR at MPI and I was in PR at MTS…our daily “who will have the most headlines this week, Bailey?” Our beers at Elephant and Castle to discuss texting and driving initiatives. Those emails “Subject:Monday. Bailey…what’s our plan of action on the press conference for Thursday. Yours in PR hell…Smiley.” We just messaged three weeks ago, dude. You truly were one of the best people I ever met in my career. I will cherish our last email to each other. My heart goes out to your love, your kids, grandkids and skidoo. Thank you for being such an amazing friend and human being. 

Andy Kazina

I grew up with Brian in Selkirk and we played sports together throughout the years. He was a great person to have as a friend. Although we haven’t seen each for a few years I’ve thought of him often and thankful for his friendship. He never hesitated to help people. We have lost a good friend.

Peter Dalla-Vicenza

I worked with Brian when he was an MPI and I was press secretary for Gord Mackintosh. A good guy and a straight shooter. My deep condolences.

Geoff Currier

Very sad news indeed. Brian was one of the truly good people in media and as a comms man.


This is a commercial-free episode dedicated to our friend Brian Smiley. Please share it with all those who knew him in sports, the media and the community at large.