Bernie Krill passed away recently.
Now, you wouldn’t likely know who Bernie was. Not many people did .
He was a fine commercial artist who was active in the Toronto advertising community for many years. In addition, he was an excellent handball player, a precise and never ending home renovator, a collector of Coca Cola memorabilia and, above all, he was Muriel Krill’s husband .
A couple of generations of All Canada Radio (now CBS Sales) station sales managers benefitted from the wisdom, persistence and skill of Muriel Krill. You see, she was one of the first women to sell national advertising time in Canada.
Originally from Winnipeg where she met and married Bernie, Muriel came to All Canada after a brief stint with Bob Quinn at Radio Reps. As I recall it, she was hired by Alan Butler to work with he and Ted Pepler in the Radio Division at All Canada at 1000 Yonge St in Toronto. She was their secretary (as they were called in those days).
That was in the early 60’s. By the time I joined the firm as a rep in 1965 Muriel was pretty well in charge of the day to day running of the office and support staff. Over time, it became obvious that she was also running the business side of the radio sales division although Butler and Pepler still had the titles.
If you wanted anything done you went to Muriel. If you needed to find anything, you went to Muriel. If you wanted the name of a contact, the date and time of meeting, a copy of a letter, a file or a presentation you went to Muriel and she would straighten you out.
Bob Alexander, Terry Strain, Bill Hyland, Alex Masson and I had a variety of other secretaries but Muriel was the glue who held the place together.
And this continued for many years. Alan actually got to the point where Muriel knew more about his accounts, clients and buyers than he did. I know for a fact that for many years she would develop the presentations and handle all of the complicated bookings for clients like Coke who bought flighting schedules for different brands on many of our stations. Alan’s name would go on the orders but even he would be quick to acknowledge that Muriel had done all the work.
Reps, whether national or retail, were pretty well all male in those days. If people didn’t think women weren’t smart enough to handle the job, they at least seem to believe that they weren’t tough enough. And besides, with most of the agency buyers being women, wouldn’t they prefer to deal with guys?
It didn’t seem to matter that Muriel, like many other women in the business, was smarter, quicker, more knowledgeable, more dependable and more industrious than many of the men they worked for.
Eventually though, Mary Falconer was “allowed” to actually “handle” some lesser accounts at Standard Radio and because she did it with such class and efficiency Muriel was finally given her shot. At first, like Mary, she was required to be both a secretary and a salesperson. And she certainly wasn’t given the “big shops” to call on.
Well, the rest, as they say, is history. Both Mary and Muriel went on to enjoy many productive years as leaders in the national sales game. Of course, I came to appreciate Muriel both as a dear friend and a great partner in sales when I moved into management at All Canada.
The women who dominate many areas of sales in the broadcast industry today owe a significant debt to women like Muriel Krill. She and others like her quickly proved that they were not only equal to the men, but in many situations, they were more effective.
Mossbacks like me gradually became aware what a wealth of talent was being wasted. Once given the opportunity, women have flourished in broadcast sales, sales management and they are now taking their place in ever increasing numbers in general management and the boardrooms.
Muriel passed away much too soon nine years ago. And recently, as mentioned, her beloved Bernie joined her.
It reminded me that, back in the “old days” one of the dilemmas faced by Muriel as a new, woman rep, was the expected evening entertainment of station sales managers when they made their visits to Toronto. In those days, a rep’s ability to show a station guy a good time was part of his repertoire.
How indeed would a woman fit into this arena.
Well, Muriel solved it. When it came her turn to take a station man out for dinner, Bernie joined them and they had a hell of a time . Bernie became a buddy of many a visiting fireman and most of them looked forward to arguing politics, religion and medicine with Bernie well into the night while Muriel made sure we didn’t lose representation of the station.
They were a team . And they are again.