Peter Olsen is recognized by many as ‘The Morning Mayor’. He has held numerous jobs in his life but is mostly known as a morning radio host at NL Radio in Kamloops where he entertained our small city from 1981 to 2018.
While still in radio, Peter started his career as a photographer on the side. When his radio days came to an end, his photography work became his focal point.
Obviously Peter is an ambitious guy, but who is he as a person? For those Kamloops folks who spent years listening to Peter’s show, here is a more personal view of the man behind the radio, and now, the camera:
“I was born in Munich, West Germany, on April 18, 1954. My biological father died when I was a baby. My mother met my step-dad through an international dating service and we moved to Britannia Beach, BC in 1962 (me, my mom and sister). We left my older brother behind, since he had just gotten married and had a good career. We were all thrown into a blended family with a step-brother and two step-sisters. I spoke no English and they spoke no German, so I learned Charades at a very early age!
I’ve always had a keen interest in the natural world around us and an inquisitive nature about our physical world, that there is a sense of order in all this apparent randomness. This led me to developing a great interest in physics and mathematics, both of which came naturally to me. It also gave me a love of our natural world and all it’s secrets and beauty, which I still explore to this day with my camera.”
Early in his life, Peter worked at A&W in North Vancouver, as a wash-plant operator at an open pit gravel mine on Howe Sound and as a stock-room employee at Woolco in Vancouver. After graduating from high-school, he enrolled in the Electrical Engineering program at UBC. This is when the first seeds of a 44-year-long career in radio were planted:
“Because of my technical interests, several of my friends and I built a pirate radio station in the basement of my parent’s home in North Vancouver, complete with studios and a large broadcasting antenna on the roof. We broadcast once a week, playing our favourite rock
Our downfall, apart from not having a broadcasting license, was advertising our little radio station by placing business cards under the windshield wipers of cars in parking lots around town. This wasn’t an issue until one business card ended up on the windshield of a station manager at a licensed radio station in Vancouver. Two weeks later, we were tracked down by the Department of Communications and shut down. Luckily, we all avoided the Crowbar Hotel, but it did ‘wet’ my appetite for the medium of Radio.”
Peter worked at several stations over the course of his career. After graduating from BCIT in the Broadcast Communications course in 1976, he worked on-air at CJCI in Prince George for about eight months before returning to Vancouver, where he got a job as a talk show operator/producer at CJOR in Vancouver, working with the likes of Jack Webster, Ed Murphy and Pat Burns and the great commercial producer, Al Jordan.
He also pulled the all night show at CJOR for over a year before accepting a morning drive position in Kelowna in 1979. Radio NL came calling in 1981 and Peter moved to Kamloops where he worked as the morning host until June of 2018:
“Radio has always fascinated me. While you are speaking to thousands of people at one time, it is a very intimate one to one medium, if done correctly. Unlike television, radio allows you to paint visuals with words and sounds and allows the listener to use their own imagination.
It’s difficult to pinpoint any specific highlights in my career because there have been many moments over the years that have resonated with me for different reasons. I think the ones that stick with me the most are the ones where I felt I served the public the most, such as during the wildfire seasons in BC and covering tragedies such as 9/11.”
The transition to photography was a smooth one for Peter, who has always taken photos, beginning with being involved in his high-school Photography and School Annual Clubs:
“Those were back in the film days, which taught me about the basics of photography. I think I was drawn to the art of photography for a couple of reasons. First, it is a highly technical endeavour, which appeals to the ‘geek’ in me, and secondly, it is also a highly creative medium, where your only limitation is your imagination.
Olsen Imaging specializes in Commercial photography, in other words, taking photos for business. This can involve architectural images, business portraits, lifestyle photos for tourism and special event photography. Of course, I take more than my share of landscape photos, which is where
started, and this will always hold a special place in my heart.
While being a registered company and holding a Kamloops business license, Olsen Imaging is still a one-man business. I prefer to keep it small because it allows me to better serve my clients and have full creative control over post-production editing, etc. While being chosen as one of the top photographers in Kamloops several years ago in a local newspaper poll, I’m not in it for awards or accolades, but rather, to serve my clients’ needs and engage in something I love.”
Peter is a proud father of two and has been happily married for almost 39 years to the ‘same amazing gal’. In regard to our current COVID-19 pandemic, Peter encourages us to focus on keeping ourselves and the people around us healthy.