Frank Ryan was born in Arnprior, Ontario, became a teacher, and then moved on to Queen’s University. There, he earned a degree in economics and psychology and developed a love for radio. He helped form the university’s radio station in 1923 and, after graduation, joined Cookfield, Brown Advertising in Toronto. He soon became an expert in using radio as a dynamic marketing tool. His accounts included Campbell’s Soup, Findlay Stoves and Schaeffer Pens.
Frank moved to CKLW Windsor in 1935 where he became Managing Director, and then it was on to Winnipeg as Director of PR for the Hudson Bay Company. During the Second World War, Frank worked for the Federal Government in the Wartime Prices and Trade Board and, later, the Wartime Information Board.
In 1945, Frank applied for and was subsequently granted a license to open radio station CFRA in Ottawa. Now, firmly reestablished in his beloved Ottawa Valley, Frank proceeded to take his fledgling 5,000-watt station to a 50,000-watt powerhouse. Always the promoter, he hired Mac Beattie and the Ottawa Valley Melodiers to perform on the station and, in 1955, gave free rein to Ken Reynolds to form the CFRA Happy Wanderers. Band members Joe Brown, Ward Allen, Bob King, Vince LeBeau and Reynolds became regular visitors in the households of the Valley and made numerous public appearances on behalf of the station. All would go on to prominence in the country music industry and would eventually be inducted into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame.
The financial success experienced by Frank Ryan was shared with his community. As well as his support of country music, step dancing and other cultural pursuits, he was a strong supporter of Maxville’s Highland Games and the Regimental Band of the 30th Field Artillery. It was Frank’s business acumen that guided many organizations to prosper, but he was happiest sitting behind the microphone broadcasting the Farm Report or Valley Notebook. For many years, his devoted wife, Kathleen, supported Frank in all of his endeavors.