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‘He loved news first’: Vancouver says goodbye to veteran CKNW host Jon McComb

End of an era in Vancouver radio as CKNW talk show host Jon McComb retires
After more than half a century in the business, radio personality Jon McComb turns off his mic for the last time. Jordan Armstrong looks back on his illustrious career - and what could be next.

After 36 years of helping lead the conversation in British Columbia, veteran CKNW host Jon McComb has hung up the microphone.

McComb hosted his last day of the Jon McComb Show Friday, ending a 50-year career in radio that began at age 17 in his home state of Arizona, before stops at CFUN Vancouver and stations in Portland, Ore., and Montreal.

In 1983, he signed on as a reporter at CKNW, where he made a name for himself first as a reporter, then as the first person to transition from the station’s newsroom to full-time host duties.

READ MORE: CKNW’s Jon McComb announces retirement after 36 years with station

“I feel great now that the decision has been made, it was my decision, my call,” said McComb Friday, adding he won’t miss the 3 a.m. wakeup call.

“I’m going to miss the people I work with the most, they are in essence my second family. Sometimes I spend more time with them in a day than I do with my own kids and my own grand-kids, so you develop relationships with people, and the team around me is the best.”

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McComb’s colleagues remember him as a news man first, always interested in the story and never his own ego.

“He’s always been extremely supportive when he was in the newsroom and when he was hosting,” said CKNW anchor and former news director Gord Macdonald.

READ MORE: CKNW 75th Anniversary Celebration

“He loved news first. He was never really interested in Jon McComb, he was interested in the story, in the guest, and I think that’s why the listeners have always enjoyed his show so much.”

McComb has been upfront about his own mental health challenges, and in his time behind the mic developed a reputation as a fierce advocate on the file.

He is a former board member of the Mood Disorders Association of B.C. (MDABC), as well as an advocate for people with ALS.

Jon McComb hosts final radio show on CKNW
Jon McComb hosts final radio show on CKNW

McComb says he never thought of his job as work, a fact he said was never truer than his years hosting the afternoon drive slot with Phillip Till.

“It was just so easy, the chemistry between us was just so fun, it wasn’t like coming to work,” he said.

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Till, himself in retirement now, was on hand to celebrate McComb’s last day, and wasn’t above razzing his old colleague as he signed off for the last time.

Till said he’ll now compete with McComb for the title of the “laziest man,” and suggested his former colleague look into a gig as a Wal-Mart greeter to fill his days.

“It’s right within his personality. He’s an outgoing chap… I think that’s Jon’s future,” he said.

“‘Ho ho ho, good morning and welcome,’ you can just see it, it’s perfect for him.”

McComb’s wife Kristin has other ideas.

End of an era: CKNW’s Jon McComb retires from the air
End of an era: CKNW’s Jon McComb retires from the air

After decades of early to rise and early to bed, she’s keen on seeing more of her husband, and spending time together with him, their children and grandchildren.

“I’m so glad. It’s going to take a while to become normal again, but I’m very glad,” she said.

“We will just do ordinary things to begin with, walks in the neighourhood, drive places — things we’ve never been able to do because dinner is at 4 o’clock, bedtime is between 6 and 6:30, including the weekends, so it’s sort of like having another child.”

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-With files from Jordan Armstrong