Six Vancouver DJs prove video didn’t kill the radio star

Shooting six Vancouver DJs at their favourite locales around town, we chart who they are, what they play and how they got on air.

Credit: Christine McAvoy portraits. Lead by

Granville gets the dirt on six Vancouver DJs as they take us to their favourite locales around town


Whoever said video killed the radio star? Well, it was a band called The Buggles. Who? Exactly. Radio is far from dead. In fact, radio is so much alive that it’s becoming increasingly popular, thanks to better-than-ever contest giveaways, social media interactions, broke-a$$ iPods (kidding!) and, most of all, the awesome DJs that make sure you’re listening to great tunes while sharing the latest news, gossip and laughs.


Here we chart a sampling of Vancouver’s DJ talent, each shot in their favourite Vancouver locale by photographer Christine McAvoy. Don’t be shy to post a comment below and tell us who we missed!



Lana Gay, CBC Radio 3 English Bay, West End 8:23 p.m., 10 August 2010


Lana Gay

“It’s funny, a lot of people jokingly call me Lanarama, but it’s just the name of my show (I go by my name when I’m on air).”


Station: CBC Radio 3. The station proudly plays 100 percent Canadian content from up-and-comers.

Show: You guessed it—Lanarama. Lana describes her show as “three hours of great Independent Canadian music, interviews and your take on pop culture.” Her show airs from 2–5pm, Monday–Friday.

Who listens: Proud to be Canadian, the audience for Lanarama includes anyone who into independent Canadian music.

DJ dirt: Lana has been in the biz for around 10 years, getting her start at 102.1 The Edge in Toronto. She has been working for CBC Radio 3 for around two and a half years.

After being raised in the small town of Leamington and spending six years in Toronto, Lana believes that “Vancouver is like the best parts of both places rolled into one. I love Vancouver’s natural beauty, but also the music and arts communities, the plethora of great restaurants and the mild weather.”

Lana describes her radio personality as being a “conversational music nerd who considers listeners to be friends.” Hosting her own show is great because she loves meeting and interviewing artists she admires, as well as getting free albums (“always a plus!”).


The not-so-great part of working in radio? “The hardest part was ‘paying my dues,’ as they say. I worked the graveyard shift for years, which was a big challenge, but also amazing because I learned so much.”


When asked if radio was making a comeback, Lana says: “I don’t think it ever left, it just evolved.”


Music for thought: When asked about her favourite artist right now, Lana had a tough time choosing just one: “Do you have a favourite child?! Japandroids album Post Nothing has been in high rotation all summer. But I’ve also been listening to a lot of Black Mountain, Diamond Rings, You Say Party!, Hannah Georgas, Apollo Ghosts, Dan Mangan, Holy F*ck, Old Man Luedecke and so many more!”


And who is on her “guilty pleasure” playlist? “It’s a double whammy, it’s JoJo covering SWV’s ‘Weak’! Don’t judge!”



Vancouver DJ Maniac Dan

Daniel “Maniac Dan” Cummer, CFRO Co-op Radio – Skate Park, China Creek Park – 5:30 p.m., 10 August 2010


Daniel Cummer, aka “Maniac Dan”


Station: CFRO 102.7FM Co-op Radio. Co-op Radio is a non-commercial, community radio station that supports local talents, as well as introduces listeners to a lengthy list of music genres and political discussions.


Show: Into the Pit. Every Friday, 10:30 p.m.–midnight.


Who listens: Teens to 50 year olds tune into “Into the Pit.” Listeners are “anyone who loves gritty aggressive music from the underground scene.”


DJ dirt: Maniac Dan has been co-hosting the “Into the Pit” radio spot with Jason, “the Crumpler” (not to be confused with “the Crumper,” your local busker who performs hip-hop dance routines while dressed as a clown) since October 2006.


During his weekly hour-and-a-half on air, Maniac Dan and the Crumpler showcase punk-rock, heavy metal and noise rock. The boys have placed a huge emphasis on making sure to spin records from local, independent bands, providing 90–100 percent Canadian content.


Maniac Dan got his alias in 2003, while he was living in Gibsons producing skateboard demos. While he was getting a lift home, his co-producer made a comment in which he called all skateboarders “maniacs.” Hours later, Maniac Dan came up with “Maniac Skateboarders,” and little by little people just started calling him a maniac. Dan believes that, “Everyone is a maniac in some way or another. Crazy is the new normal!”


Maniac Dan loves Vancouver for “its weather, skate parks and all the pretty ladies.”


Music for thought: “My favourite artist right now is every band (local or otherwise) who’s keeping it real, paying their dues and chasing the dream.”



Vancouver DJ Carmen Cruz of 100.5 The Peak

Carmen Cruz, The Peak (with Maslow) – Dog Beach, Spanish Banks – 2:22 p.m., 11 August 2010


Carmen Cruz


Not to be confused with the transsexual adult film star Carmen Cruz who unfortunately shares the same name…


Station: 100.5 The Peak. Ever wonder what all the cool kids are listening to? It’s The Peak, home of hearing for Vancouver hipsters. The Peak plays adult alternative and indie rock, with emphasis placed on under-the-radar airplays.


Show: Carmen entertains your ears and updates traffic details weekdays from 3–7 p.m.


Who listens: The typical listener is “smart, sexy and has a serious passion for music… someone who’s tired of listening to the same few songs on repeat.”


DJ dirt: Carmen has been Cruz-ing the airwaves for almost two years now. Before that, she worked in television, doing everything from writing and producing, to hosting. The best part about being a radio DJ for Carmen is being able to catch the secret shows, crazy after parties, and getting to meet new and upcoming local talents.


Carmen refers to her most embarrassing on-air moment as “The Loogie Incident.” While in the middle of talking, she choked on something and kept speaking, hoping that no one noticed—but they did.


Cruz thinks of her radio voice as coming across as a “natural, sassy, Latina.” She loves the laidback vibe of Vancouver along with the mountain views and salty sea air.


Music for thought: “Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz, Spanish music and I’ve rediscovered one of my favorite albums: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”



Vancouver DJ Dave McCormick, aka Big Daddy, of AM 650

Dave “Big Daddy” McCormick, AM 650 – Jean Beaty Park, Kitsilano – 11 a.m., 16 August 2010 


Dave McCormick, aka “Big Daddy”


Station: AM 650. This station plays the oldies and the goodies. “We probably have the BIGGEST playlist of any station in town—we stay away from the oldies that a lot of our competitors play, a lot which have ‘burnt out’!”


Show: Dave McCormick hosts his shows Tuesdays–Friday at 10 a.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. (ouch).


Who listens: AM 650 is the last AM station playing music in Vancouver, so the audience is “folks who remember when all AM stations played music!” Also, lately the station has seen the typical listener age becoming younger, (i.e., “those in their early 40s and up”) due to a more eclectic music playlist mix.


DJ dirt: A dedicated radio veteran, Big Daddy got his start at the tender age of 14 when he started at CHML in Hamilton, Ontario. He worked after school, on weekends and all summer long, “asking a million questions and staying at the station long after my ‘shift’ ended.” After his family moved to Vancouver, he had a tough time finding a similar job—that is, until the spring of 1957 when he was hired to be the “all night man” at C-FUN when he was just shy of 20 years old. It was there where he learned how to be a DJ, with help from Jack Cullen and Monty McFarlane, both of whom Dave believes our moms will be familiar with. Sadly, “both are now up in the big Juke box in the sky!”


Big Daddy joined the team at AM 650 in late 2008, and has loved living in Vancouver for most of his life: “It’s the best and most fascinating city—the prettiest, and [it has] the greatest beaches.”


He started collecting records at age four, and still has those, plus “a thousand or more since!”


One of the best things about his job? “I love to share stories about the singers and the songs—and talk about other stuff most folks can relate to.”


Music for thought: Dave is a fan of the classics. If he could have dinner with a musician, dead or alive, he’d choose Paul McCartney or Frank Sinatra.



Vancouver DJ David Jones from CiTR 101.9

DJ David Love Jones, CiTR – Maple Tree Square (aka “The Gas Pocket“), Gastown – 7:10 p.m., 6 August 2010


David Jones, aka “DJ David Love Jones”


Station: CiTR 101.9 is the student- and community-run radio station for the University of British Columbia. The station offers a wide variety of interesting shows, with super interesting names, including: “Exquisite Corpse,” “Hot Mess” and “Hypnotic Groove.” With such variety in the playlists and shows, you know there’s going to be something there for everyone—this may be why the radio has an audience of more than 2 million. And local MuchMusic interviewer and garage-rock aficionado Nardwuar the Human Serviette even has a show.


Show: African Rhythms, playing 7:30 p.m.–9 p.m. on Fridays.


Who listens: Anyone with a “deeper appreciation for jazz, soul and Latin music—anyone from ages 19–60 years old.”


DJ dirt: Born in the UK, David first became interested in music and the world of DJing at age 9. In 1975, he moved to Canada with his family, and when he was just ending his teen years, he began working as a DJ, raising money for his equipment through working at record shops. He began DJ’ing in the underground music and club scene in Vancouver during the crazy ’80s.


David got his alias about 25 years ago when lead singer of the Jazzmanian Devils, who David did a lot of gigs with, told him he needed a good DJ name. Thus “Love Jones” was born, and the rest is history.


DJ David Love Jones had his first experience on radio on Mike Johal’s Show on CiTR and has now been working in radio for 20 years. He started his radio career by volunteering at CiTR and ending up getting his own show. Currently, David is also the sole owner of Vinyl Records.


Music for thought: According to the website, the first record that David owned was MFSB’s The Sound of Philadelphia.



JRfm Clay St. Thomas

Clay St. Thomas, JRfm – patio at JRfm/The Peak, South Granville – 10:07 a.m., 16 August 2010


Clay St. Thomas


Station: JRfm 93.7


Show: Clay has been co-hosting “The JRfm’s Waking Crew” show for the past 13 years. It runs Monday through Friday, 5–9 a.m.


Who listens: Anyone who owns a cowboy hat and/or boots, or mainly anyone who loves country music: “People are passionate about the music. I think that’s because: a) Contrary to the stereotype, a lot of country is really fun, goodtime music; and b) Country songs speak about life in a genuine way that other genres don’t.”


DJ dirt: Clay has been working in the broadcasting industry for 29 years, and loves his gig because “the more I laughed at work, the better I did my job that day. How cool is that?”

He manages to balance acting, voiceovers and promotional stuff for JRfm, as well as his full-time job of being a husband and a father. “I’ve also taken to working out at 4 a.m. (before the radio show) so that it doesn’t interfere with family time later on. Yes, that’s insane, but if I’m going to keep a schedule that keeps me looking like I’ve been dragged behind a bus at least I can try to be a semi-fit guy who’s been dragged behind a bus.”


Clay has come a long way from the boy raised on the farm outside of Lancer, Saskatchewan, which had a population of 80 people (“depending on whether or not it’s Sunday and people are at Mass”). However, he has still stuck to his farm boy roots: “If you grew up on the Prairies, you have country music in your blood, period.”


Although he’s one of the most popular country music radio DJs, Clay surprisingly has never been to the Roxy’s famous “Country Night” (although, I don’t blame him with those early mornings!). And even though he’s never had the luxury of spotting a drunken Shane O’Brien there, he did bump cowboy hats with another famous Canuck: “Trevor Linden is the most famous Canuck Country fan, he dropped by our campsite at the last Mountainfest on Kenny Chesney night.”


Music for thought: When asked about his favourite artists, Clay said his all-time list would include: “Johnny Cash, Asleep at the Wheel, Waylon, Dwight Yoakum, Lyle Lovett, Queen, Jellyfish, Squeeze, Ryan Adams, and I’m currently on a major Avett Brothers jag.”


Jess McMahon

Originally an island girl hailing from Saltspring, blogger Jess McMahon lives in downtown Vancouver and writes about the random occurrences of everyday life, music, and events through her blog, The Van Hag. She also works as a communications coordinator for the Whistler-based video solutions company, Epic Mountain Video. Blog | Email