‘I’ve had an enchanted life’: Niagara-on-the-Lake radio mogul Duff Roman receives Order of Canada

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Duff Roman, a longtime Canadian radio host and industry leader, is currently enjoying his retirement with his wife in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where he has lived for more than five years. “I made friends quickly,” he says. “We are all somehow o

Duff Roman was born into a quieter world than the one we know today.

Born David Mostoway in 1938, a child of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, broadcasting technology was in its infancy. Growing up, he had one main source of entertainment: listening to the radio, broadcast from the nearest station in Moose Jaw, over 100 miles away.

“For me, this radio was an opening to the outside world,” he said. “I practiced radio and dreamed of the day when I would find a place in radio.”

Today, 70 years later, this child has not only found his place in life, but he has shaped the Canadian radio and musical landscape for good. David Mostoway grew to become a broadcasting and music giant, hosting programs under the name Duff Roman. This year, Roman is receiving the country’s highest honor for his work: an induction into the Order of Canada.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by your country,” he said, adding that none of his successes would have been possible without the support of his wife Sandra and her family, including his late brothers Nestor and Dan.

Roman’s career has taken him on many adventures, from meeting artists who were part of Toronto’s 60s hippie culture and hosting a hit concert for the Rolling Stones in the 70s to leading CHUM-FM in the 80s and 90s. Today, Roman is enjoying his retirement at his home in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“I look back with pride and I look back with humility,” he said.

Roman began his career bouncing from station to station in Western Canada before meeting entrepreneur Jack Kent Cooke, who invited him to Toronto in 1959 to host a radio show, where he spent the 1960s playing top 40 hits and interviewing psychedelic and folk artists in “the golden age of radio,” he says.

The ’70s saw him join CHUM-FM full-time in 1974 and host a career-defining event: a secret, surprise two-night Rolling Stones concert at El Mocambo in 1977 – according to Roman, it became not so -secret thanks to a leak from the group itself.

“They had to close Spadina Avenue,” he said. “It was amazing, the sea of ​​people there.”

Roman left another mark on Canadian music history in 1982 when he helped found FACTOR Canada, a non-profit organization that funded Canadian artists. He says he believes early broadcast pioneers like him set the stage for Canadian artists like Drake and The Weeknd to succeed on a global scale.

“They stand high on the shoulders of those who came before them,” he said.

When he took over as COO of CHUM-FM in 1984, he helped shift its repertoire from album-oriented rock to grown-up rock music mixed with softer, crowd-pleasing hits. , closer to the Adult Contemporary format that CHUM-FM currently operates. After this change, they became the number one radio station in Canada in 1985.

Roman would later become vice-president of industry affairs for CHUM Limitée and president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. He was inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2001 and 2006, respectively.

After retiring from CHUM Limited in 2009, he moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake five and a half years ago, admiring the town for its place in Canadian history.

“It was a real slice of the nation’s beginning,” he said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he could enjoy Niagara-on-the-Lake’s music scene at live music nights at The Old Winery bar and concerts at The Commons. Today, he says he enjoys socializing with his neighbors, with whom he has become “fast friends”.

“We’re all sort of brothers and sisters here,” he said.

Lately, Roman has been spending a lot of time reminiscing about the years that have passed. Since the Order of Canada was announced a month ago, he says he’s received congratulatory calls from people he hasn’t spoken to in years, bringing back old memories.

“I had an enchanted life,” he said.

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