Veteran Toronto broadcaster John Donabie Retires After 53 Years


After 53 years on the air at a multitude of Canadian radio stations, including an earlier stint in Vancouver, John Donabie has taken retirement.  Gord Lansdell at Northwest Broadcasters informs that he has most recently been hosting a show on campus and community station CIUT-FM 89.5 Toronto.

Donabie was inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame in 2013.  He was hired in 1976 to help CKLG-FM 99.3 Vancouver transition from an “Underground” format to “Progressive Rock” and subsequently change calls to C-FOX three years later.  He returned to Toronto in 1977, and did p.m. drive for two years at CILQ-FM.  Subsequent moves took him to CHUM-FM, CFGM, CFRB, CKFM, CKYC, CISS-FM, back to CFRB, then CJRT, before his volunteer slot at CIUT-FM for the last six years.

In 2016 Donabie was interviewed for FYI Music News, an interesting Q & A which you can access  HERE.



  1. I listened to John when he was on CKLB Oshawa in 1967. He did a Top 40 show in the evening and one of his features was “80 of soul” – 80 minutes of soul & r&b. I lived and worked in Port Perry at the time (north of Oshawa)

  2. Recall John Donobie taking over the “Lookin’ Back” show on CKFM replacing Don Daynard.
    Everyone thought that Don’s boots were too big for anyone to fill. WRONG !
    John did a fabulous job. I would never miss a show and taped many off them.
    I sent John a letter to the effect and he called me to say thanks ! We had a connection with a rare
    neuro-muscular disease “Myasthenia-Gravis” or MG. My wife at the time succumed to it and John’s father (I believe) had it.

  3. Showed up early one saturday to follow John’s show at CIUT. What a surprise to have him answer the door to let me in. Every DJ to ever broadcast in toronto and area opened the door for me. We had such a wonderful chat at the board he missed a couple of cues. If he was a PD I would have been fired for causing the miscues. A true professional and great sport. Don’t forget the Elmvale McDonald’s for your coffee stops travelling to cottage country John. Ask for Joey’s wife when you’re there. I learned more in those moments than I did as an intern at CKFM some 35years ago. Toronto radio had a chance as long as you were on the air! Best wishes and a long retirement

  4. Have caught John’s show on a number of stations, including his last stint at CIUT. I loved that show. He had the room to stretch out. His taste in music is eclectic. He knows what he’s talking about and has a wonderful bag of personal experiences to draw from and share with the rest of us. I will miss hearing John for sure. My Saturday afternoons will be poorer due to his retirement.

    Thank you, John and God bless.

  5. Like reviewer, Storm, I listened to John in Oshawa when he was still a student. Apart from CHUM,
    a friend brought in a Beatle album express delivered from England and ticked off CHUM cause
    someone else had an “Exclusive” bunch of songs they thought were theirs.
    John was a great DJ and had an awesome voice in his small frame. Tell him Don and his other friend John (the 5th Beatle) really enjoyed those days. Would sure like to talk to him again.

  6. I recently came accross an old tape recording on reel to reel of an Music Special hosted by John Donabie on Chum FM. The show was called Rock & Roll A Night to Remember. John played three hours of great tunes from the 50’s and 60’s and told great stories about the artists he was playing. There is even an advertisement for a Frank Zappa and Mother’s of Invention Concert that was coming to Maple Leaf Gardens on my tape recording. He also told us that Seal’s and Croft were originally with The Champs of Tequila fame. All very interesting to me at that time. I really enjoyed John’s broadcasts with his story telling and laid back style. Would John or anyone who is reading this comment be able to tell me the date of when this broadcast was played on Chum FM? Thanks all and keep a rockin!

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