Roger Ashby retiring from CHUM morning show after 50 years
After 50 years in radio, Toronto radio broadcaster Roger Ashby is signing off.
Ashby announced his retirement from the CHUM 104.5 morning show on Thursday with “mixed emotions.”
“I started in radio when I was 18 and I came to CHUM three days before my 20th birthday,” he said, mere hours after making the announcement.
“Who knew it was going to last this long?”
Ashby has been a fixture in Toronto radio for decades, starting first on 1050 CHUM and later CHUM 104.5.
“I knew from the time I was ten years old that I wanted to do this,” he said.
“My father built me a little radio station in the basement with a couple of turntables and a tape machine and I would sit and talk to the four walls. Then he connected a microphone to the radio upstairs so I could talk to my parents.”
From that basement studio, Ashby eventually found himself at the corner of Richmond and Duncan, and at 1331 Yonge Street, the former CHUM Radio headquarters, where he played music – a lot of it.
“I’ve enjoyed following the charts and I still do, you know. I don’t like all the songs. I never did like all the songs, but I still like today’s popular hit music.”
Along the way, he’s done a bit of star gazing, but two particular ones stand out.
“My two favourites will always be Mick Jagger and Tony Bennett,” he said.
“I was always a big fan of the Stones and he (Jagger) was very giving of his time. Tony Bennett, when I met him, it was like I’d known him all my life. He’s just that kind of individual.”
The last 32 years of his storied career saw him side-by-side fellow Canadian radio and television personality Marilyn Denis.
“Longer than any marriage I’ve ever had,” Denis said with a laugh.
“He’s like a brother to me. I come from a family of four girls, and my sisters, all of them have met him and have said, ‘Oh my gosh, if he was the brother our parents had raised, that would be the guy, it would be Roger.’”
While Ashby might finally get some more shut eye – his day typically starts around 4 a.m. – he says he’s not ready to hang up his headphones for good.
“I’m not retiring completely, I’m just coming off the CHUM Morning Show,” he said.
“I’ll find some other stuff to do. I can’t just ride off into the sunset.”
Chum is a division of Bell Media, which is also the parent company of CTV News.
-- With files from CTV News Toronto's Scott Lightfoot.