An iconic voice at 680 CJOB has died.
Donn Kirton, who was a well-known personality at the Winnipeg radio station for many years, died at age 87.
The news was made public on Wednesday by the Twin Lakes Beach Association, which represents the community in the Rural Municipality in St. Laurent where Kirton lived for many years.
Kirton had a long career at CJOB, dating back decades, and even after his retirement, he’d pop up from time to time on the air at community events and in commercials.
Former colleague Brian Barkley remembers working with Kirton in the mid-1970s.
“I go back a long way with Donn. I was the young news guy way back in my career back at CJOB, and Don, he of course was one of the radio icons — even then when I was working with him.
“I remember then I was one of the new guys and he was so kind to me, and helpful, and funny with me and he never made me feel pressured even though I was the junior guy and he was one of the senior broadcasters.”
Longtime 680 CJOB sports personality Bob Irving also had fond memories of Kirton.
“Donn was a terrific broadcaster. I don’t think he ever had a bad word to say about anybody,” said Irving.
“You’ve heard this expression before, and it’s kind of cliche … but when Donn walked into a room, the room brightened up. It just did, and people gravitated to him.
“Man, oh man, he really was a special human being.”
Aside from his radio career, the Twin Lakes Beach community — where he moved permanently in the 1990s — was a passion of Kirton’s.
Will Jones, acting president of the Twin Lakes Beach Association, said Kirton clearly loved the region.
“He and his lovely late wife, Norine, were so happy there,” said Jones. “It was their happy place, it was where they felt the most secure. Even after what happened in 2011 — the flood that displaced them for more than a year — they still felt that kinship with the area.
“He wanted to stay, he wanted to continue to enjoy the beach, and that speaks to his love of this area.”
Jones, who said he last spoke with Kirton about a week before he died, described him as the same person 680 CJOB listeners heard on-air.
“Donn personified that radio-man personality. He was that guy,” said Jones.
“His on-air persona is exactly how he was in real life, right down to the big booming voice. It wasn’t a character — he wasn’t playing a character on air. He was himself, and I cherish those memories with him.”