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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

What JJ Johnston Learned from Steve Young

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

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I never worked with Steve Young. I did get the next best thing which was to work with many people who did work with him. JJ Johnston was one of those people, along with Terry Dimonte, Randy Renaud and countless others. This week, the Allan Waters Young Broadcaster Award, (a tribute to Steve Young) will be announced. It goes to a Canadian broadcaster under the age of 30 for their creative contributions on radio and in the community. Past winners include Fearless Fred, Amanda Logan, Rena Jae, Adam Wylde and others. It made me wonder how much younger broadcasters know about Steve and his contributions to radio in North America. So I called up JJ Johnston, someone who knew him very well, and had him paint a picture of the kind of radio Steve created, and the impact on the people he mentored.

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As JJ put it on the podcast, Steve was simply the best radio programmer to ever come out of Canada. He mentored many, including many talented women like Liz Janik and Vanessa Thomas who spoke about Steve and his ability to identify and connect with radio talent.

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Finally, JJ asked me to remind everyone who is going to Canadian Music Week to not bypass the Breakfast Round table on April 20th at 8:15am at the Sheraton. This is an opportunity to meet some of the best minds in radio, have coffee, share ideas and ask questions. And when you are there, let him know you heard him on the podcast.

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And the winner is - Jesse Modz!

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From J.J.: Our chosen recipient has just joined the legendary Gerry Forbes morning show at CJAY 92 Calgary. He is Jesse Modz, recently of HTZ in St. Catharines. Jesse is a great example of today’s young broadcasters or his on-air performance and his master grasp of social networking in which his viral exploits have been covered by major networks like CNN, Huffington Post, CTV, Global News, Much Music and Aux TV. Jesse was a driving force in turning HTZ-FM into Hip FM for Canada Day, in turn raising 15 thousand dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society in the process. Other examples of citizenry include helping to raise over $10,000 for After School Matters, and over $275,000 for Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold Ontario.

Jesse will be invited to participate in the Radio Interactive activities at Canadian Music Week, and will be recognized during the Industry Award dinner on April 19th, and presented his award at the 8:15am Broadcaster’s Roundtable on Friday morning, April 20th.

This year was a banner year for nominations and the choosing process was very difficult. We would like to take a moment too, to recognize the runners up this year: Ruby Carr of the “Ruby and Cruise Morning show” at Z95.3 Vancouver, and Jax Irwin of midday’s at KISS-FM Toronto are the other two broadcasters who pushed the committee so hard in making the final decision.

We thank all those who took the time to nominate all these very worthy Young talented broadcasters. There is a wonderfully growing wealth of Young radio talent in our country.


Radio Nostalgia: Thanks to Andy Frost, Randy Renaud and Chris Parfitt for filling in the blanks on this picture.

UPDATE! L to R: Standing inTop Row: Steve Young, Gary Christian (Aube) Chris Reichardt, Bob McBride, Ted Nugent, Andy Frost, Tim Bradley.

Bent over/kneeling: Terry Dimonte, Terry Klassen, Hugh Malcolmson, Randy Nelson (Renaud).

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