"celebrates the swing bands of the 1920's to 1950's"
Host: John Worthington
2pm-3pm MT Sundays
3am-4am MT Saturdays (rebroadcast)
The Old-disc Jockey celebrates the swing bands recorded between the late 1920s and the 1950s, presented by the enthusiastic, encyclopaedic and entertaining John Worthington, himself a radio deejay of the latter part of that era.
You’ll hear a grand balance of original vocal and instrumental big-band music, the obligatory record by Duke Ellington (whom John calls the real fountainhead of it all) and some of the familiar hits of the era. But you’ll also hear many less well-known treasures showcasing the style of the bandleader, or the skill of a particular sideman in the band. You might hear the trumpet of Charlie Shavers, a soloist in Tommy Dorsey’s band and others; a Benny Goodman number in which one or two trombone soloists strut their stuff; or Peggy Lee singing something you’d never have expected. And if you’re really lucky, you might hear one of the many swinging tracks lovingly restored by CKUA’s legendary Old-disc Jockey.
The opening theme is called “Cirrus” and was written by American jazz flautist Paul Horn. It is played by Johnny Pisano and Billy Bean – except for the opening chimes, which were added by former CKUA announcer Herb Johnson sometime in the 1960s. John Worthington still has the set of chimes those three notes were played on!
The closing theme is “To You”, written by Thad Jones and played by the combined Duke Ellington and Count Basie orchestras.
I began my broadcasting career in 1946 as the junior announcer at CFQC in Saskatoon. I came to CKUA in 1949, when it was a small and strictly local radio station operated by Alberta Government Telephones. As an employee of AGT, I was successively announcer, chief announcer, program director and, for 19 years, manager. In 1974, when the operation of the station was assumed by The Alberta Educational Communications Corporation, I became general manager of broadcast operations and moved through the positions of general manager of operations and executive officer.
Also in 1974, The Old-disc Jockey became part of my life, when the then-host of the program left Edmonton. Initially, I was a temporary fill-in while the station looked for a permanent host, but that permanent host just never materialized and I had a permanent hobby! I was honoured to be asked to temporarily resume the helm of the station during the outpouring of public support that led to CKUA’s rebirth after its former masters shut it down in 1997.
Records and the big bands have always been one of my interests, going back to my teen years. Lately, I have also become interested in the marvellous restoration of old records that’s possible these days with dedicated computer software, and some of my efforts in that direction can be heard on the program.
Now long retired and into my 80s, I still love the old music and the old records but, most of all, I love being the Old-disc Jockey!
Our beloved Old-disc Jockey celebrates his birthday on July 27. John Worthington was born 4 months before CKUA was born.
John Worthington in the CKUA Studio, 1970
John Worthington on air, 1950