Signing Off After 25 Years Delighting Calgary in the Mornings

by Bill Brooks, Calgary Herald
Mornings will be missing a certain je ne c’est quoi for those who love listening to the radio – especially XL 103. Legendary radio hosts Don Stevens and Joanne Johnson, as in Don, Joanne and The Coach fame, will be retiring after decades in the biz. Scores of fans and colleagues gathered in Gasoline Alley at Heritage Park Nov 23 to bid a fond farewell to Stevens and Johnson. Jamie “The Coach” Herbison will stay on with two new co-hosts. Pictured, from left, are Don, Joanne and The Coach. BILL BROOKS / BILL BROOKS

After a quarter of a century as Calgary’s favourite morning radio trio, Don Stevens, Joanne Johnson and Jamie (the Coach) Herbison are splitting up. And no. It’s not a nasty divorce. Rather, it’s simply the right time to call it a day. Leave when you’re on top is the conventional wisdom.

On  Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. on their XL103 morning show, Don and Joanne hung up their headphones and said farewell for the last time. Coach will stay on as a co-host and will be joined by Buzz Bishop and Heather Prosak in a new format. A tough act to follow, to be sure, as the chemistry between Don, Joanne and The Coach is a rarity in media — and a 25-year run is unheard of.

Your faithful social scribe had the distinct pleasure of calling into their show Thursday mornings for many years for a segment called Schmooze Man. Heck, I even had my own jingle to intro the piece. But I have this niggling feeling it was thanks to yours truly that the now standard eight-second delay on live radio was implemented. You see, once I was on a junket in Darjeeling, India, and had arrived well after midnight (India time) at the Windamere Hotel — precariously perched atop Observatory Hill high in the Himalayas. The white-knuckle trek to the hotel (did I mention I suffer from debilitating vertigo?) was only achieved thanks to the consumption of copious amounts of duty-free vodka, handily accessible in my luggage. That I called into the radio station to hit my 7:40 a.m. Calgary time spot with my pals Don, Joanne and The Coach was perhaps not a wise thing to do. The jury is still out as to which was higher. The elevation of the hotel or yours truly. Rumour has it the segment was funny — although my recollection as to what was said is fuzzy, at best.

However, I do remember with great fondness the dozens and dozens of segments we did together for all those years and I am truly thankful for having had the experience. And for the scores of Don, Joanne and The Coach fans, mornings will not be quite as much fun now that their show is no more.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered Nov. 23 in Gasoline Alley at Heritage Park to toast and roast Don and Joanne and wish them well on their retirement. A wonderful video featuring a sampling of the many memories, tributes from notables and heartfelt thanks were but a few of the evening’s highlights.

Among the several hundred guests in attendance were: Newcap Calgary general manager Vinka Dubroja; Calgary Jewellery’s Bernard Florence; MLAs Richard Gotfried and Ric McIver with his wife, Kids Cancer Care founder Christine McIver; A Dose of Happiness’ Karen Judge; Olympians Al Coulter and Michelle Cameron Coulter; Children’s Cottage Society CEO Patty Kilgallon with colleague Elisha Jackson; CTV’s David Spence and his wife Susan Spence; Herald/Sun colleague Louis Hobson; Cottonwood Golf Club’s Tiffany Gordon with Kim Schamp; Global National’s Reid Fiest with Cody Parrish; QR 77 Talk Radio morning host Gord Gillies; and Johnson’s proud mom Betty, brother Marc and partner Kim Carrington.

From your friends at the Herald, thanks for the memories and best of luck in the future.



  1. Delighted? Please! The bland leading the bland.
    Calgary’s a radio wasteland.
    CHQR another treasure trove of mediocrity.
    CKUA the only listenable station despite Buba.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here