Radio host Joanne Johnson says teacher influenced her life

By Jacqueline Louie
Release Date: July 12, 2010

It was Calgary radio host Joanne Johnson’s favourite teacher who inspired her to go on to a broadcasting career. “Without Mr Cormack’s guidance, I’m not sure I would have ended up where I did,” says Johnson, the morning show cohost of Don and Joanne on Lite 96 FM for the past 17 years.

Dave Cormack, who was a high school drama teacher at Calgary’s Central Memorial High School when Johnson was a student there, taught a course in television production that influenced her career choice in every way possible. That class gave Johnson a taste of what broadcasting was all about. Cormack was the person who told her about SAIT’s Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio Arts program. “He wrote me a beautiful, wonderful recommendation letter to get in,” recalls Johnson, who can’t say enough about what a wonderful teacher Cormack was.

“He’s a hoot, a really good guy—so enthusiastic. He was so animated in the way he taught. He loved the students so much and everybody loved him. It was evident that he affected so many of us in such a positive way. I think it’s his sunny disposition that helped me live every day to the fullest, too.”

Johnson, who always loved music, says she was glued to the radio listening to CKXL in Calgary when she was growing up. She thought broadcasting was “a really cool setting” and got a taste of it in the TV studio in Mr. Cormack’s television production class. For one of her assignments, Johnson called up Ron Barge—star of CFCN’s Buckshot Show—and asked him to come to the classroom studio to do a live on-camera interview. And he agreed.

“To this day, if a student from SAIT or high school calls me, I always have time for them because of what Buckshot did for me,” Johnson recalls. “But without Mr Cormack’s class, none of that would have happened.”

As far as advice for young people goes, “You really have to follow your dreams,” Johnson says. “And if you do find a mentor, be a sponge and take in everything they have to offer.”

“Joanne was always very interested in broadcasting,” recalls Cormack—who retired in 1993 and is now 82 years old—noting his pleasure every time he hears about a former student’s success in life.