Monday, January 2, 2017

R.I.P.: Longtime Twin Cities Radio Personality Johnny Canton

Johnny Canton circa 1971
Longtime Twin Cities radio personality John Canton, a popular disc jockey at WDGY known as “Johnny Canton,” died Saturday. Canton suffered a severe stroke December 26.

He was 75, according to the Star-Tribune.

John Canton
In 1966, he went to work for the then-popular WDGY 1130 AM, and was nicknamed Wee Gee. In addition to being an on-air personality, he worked as the station’s music director.

The first song Canton played on the air was “Yakety Yak,” by The Coasters. He was also the first disc jockey in the country to play John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” according to the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

After 11 years, Canton moved to WCCO-FM, which came to be known as 102.9 Lite FM, where he hosted a weekend show for years. Canton also was familiar to Twin Citians as the on-air host of “Bowling for Dollars” at KSTP-TV and “Bowlerama!” on KMSP-TV, according to the website for the Hall of Fame.

In 1978, he started the advertising and production firm Canton Communications. He appeared in numerous television commercials and played a ticket agent in the movie “Airport.” He also appeared in the movie “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”

At age 16, Canton got his first on-air job at KLEX AM in Lexington, Mo. He retired from the business in 2011.

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