Longtime Twin Cities radio personality John Canton, a popular disc jockey at WDGY more widely known as Johnny Canton, died Saturday at age 75.
Canton, of Edina, had suffered a severe stroke Monday, his family said in an online obituary.
In 1966, he went to work for the then-popular station WDGY, which was 1130 on the AM dial, and was nicknamed Wee Gee. In addition to being an on-air personality, he worked as the station's music director.
The first song Canton played on the air was "Yakety Yak" by the Coasters. He was also the first disc jockey in the country to play John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," according to the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
After 11 years, Canton moved to WCCO-FM, which came to be known as 102.9 Lite FM, where he hosted a weekend show for years. Canton also was familiar to Twin Citians as the on-air host of "Bowling for Dollars" at KSTP-TV and "Bowlerama!" on KMSP-TV, according to the Hall of Fame website.
In 1978, he started the advertising and production firm Canton Communications. He appeared in numerous television commercials and played a ticket agent in the movie "Airport." He also appeared in the movie "Mad Dogs and Englishmen."
At age 16, Canton got his first on-air job at KLEX AM in Lexington, Mo. He retired from the business in 2011.
Away from work, he loved to bowl, play golf and pool, and to travel, especially to Hawaii, his family said.
He is survived by his significant other, Janie Meyer, and two daughters, Jonna and Heather. Services will be held in June or July.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747