Switzer was born into the Canadian media world, the son of Israel and Phyllis — the latter of whom co-founded CITY TV in 1972. Switzer's mother gave him his first full-time media gig when he was 16, manning the switchboard at CITY.
Switzer would go on to become a seminal force in the creation of MuchMusic, writing the station's initial CRTC application in 1983.
He worked closely with Moses Znaimer, developing programming for MuchMusic, Bravo!, FashionTelevision and many other CHUM channels.
He served as the manager and director of CITY, MuchMusic and CHUM from 1988 to 1995, before becoming VP of programming at CHUM, then senior vice-president and general manager, and then president of CHUM Television by the end of 2000. Switzer became the CEO of CHUM when founder Allan Waters stepped down in 2002.
Shortly after CHUM was sold to CTVglobemedia in 2006, Switzer left the company and founded specialty movie channels under the banner Hollywood Suite. It launched in November 2011.
Throughout his career, Switzer was awarded the Friend of Women in Film and Television Award (1994), the Queen's Jubilee Medal (2002) and the Canadian Centre for Diversity's Human Relations Award (2005).
He was also appointed to the Order of Canada this past December in a private ceremony.
The Queen's representative in Ontario, Lt. Governor Dowdeswell invests Jay Switzer as a Member of the Order of Canada, recognizing his long service, integrity, & leadership in Canada's broadcasting community. #OrderofCanada #cdnpoli #cdncrown pic.twitter.com/XiKgtk3Xn1— Canadian Crown 🇨🇦 (@Canadian_Crown) December 14, 2017
Additionally, Switzer served on the advisory board for Ryerson University's Faculty of Radio and Television Arts in Toronto since 2012.
Switzer's funeral arrangements will be announced here. A public celebration of his life and achievements will take place in the spring with details to be announced at a later date.
Donations in honour of Switzer can be made to the Canadian Film Centre or to the Phyllis Switzer Memorial fund at Ryerson University.