Nancy Southern & Ian Allison
As the team who pioneered equestrian sport broadcasting in the province, Nancy Southern and Ian Allison are the first duo to be awarded the Bell Memorial Award. From initial funding of approximately $80,000 to set up Alberta’s first digital TV studio in 1990, Nancy and Ian have grown the studio into a powerhouse, one that reaches a global audience in excess of one billion people through national partners including Rogers, CBC, and CTV, as well as through partnerships with a variety of international broadcasters.
Since opening in southwest Calgary in 1975, Spruce Meadows has raised the profile of show jumping on a provincial, national and global level. Nancy and Ian helped develop the first digital TV studio in 1990, which was quite progressive at the time. Before opening the studio, Nancy and Ian spent as much time as they could learning from the experts.
During the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, the duo had the opportunity to shadow a number of ABC Television producers. The next year, Nancy attended the Electronic Festival in Cannes as a guest of ABC. She used her time to learn about the necessities to build a top-flight studio.
In the studio’s early years it attracted the attention of CTV’s Wide World of Sports, which televised Spruce Meadows’ Grand Prix. This led to the “Spruce Meadows Today” series, which aired on the network for 25 years.
Ian, “the Voice of Spruce Meadows,” lends his talents to the CBC broadcast team covering the Spruce Meadows events, and was the colour commentator for the show jumping events at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was also the co-announcer at the 2017 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
Today, Spruce Meadows Television Production Unit produces over 130 hours of programming for distribution in over 110 countries worldwide. As of 2018, the company’s broadcast reach exceeds one billion people.
Spruce Meadows also produces a litany of printed material annually, including the Show Jumping Guide, Spruce Meadows Tournament Guide, and the Spruce Meadows Program Yearbook.