Radio legend Don Cannon dead at 74

Cannon (bottom left) was well-loved by his WOGL co-workers.
Cannon (bottom left) was well-loved by his WOGL co-workers.
Posted: August 25, 2014

MAYBE YOU WERE in the car, stuck in traffic on some god-awful highway, or thumbing through paperwork at your desk, or dragging butter across a piece of burnt toast in the kitchen.

Either way, you would have heard his voice as you started your day. It was as familiar as your favorite uncle's, both deep and impossibly cheerful.

"All right, cupcake. Let's get a move on it this morning!"

The voice, and the warm, witty asides like that one, belonged to longtime local morning-radio host Don Cannon.

Cannon, who was born Dominic Canzano in Yonkers, N.Y., and went on to make an indelible mark in the radio industry, died early yesterday at Lankenau Medical Center after a "courageous battle," his family said. He was 74 and lived in Blue Bell.

Cannon was part of a 1950s singing group called "The Dreamers" before he landed a handful of gigs at radio stations in New York, according to a website for WDRC, a Connecticut radio station that Cannon called home just before he landed at WIBG in Philadelphia in 1969.

Former colleagues said Cannon's irreverent, conversational approach was instantly recognizable and proved to be a template that's been widely copied by many of today's morning-radio hosts.

He earned a vocal cameo in the first "Rocky" movie, riffing over the radio in the background while actor Sylvester Stallone guzzled a morning cocktail of raw eggs.

"Don always used to joke, 'That was my big cameo, and everyone was so grossed out by that scene, they couldn't hear me!' " said Cindy Webster, marketing director for CBS Radio Philadelphia.

The "Cannon in the Morning" show migrated from WIBG to four other Philly stations before landing at 98.1 WOGL-FM in 1990.

Webster said she worked with Cannon from 1992 until he retired from WOGL in 2004.

"Don was larger than life," she said. "When you walked into the studio, he was always dressed like a million bucks. He looked like a movie star."

Cannon was known as the "Dean of Philadelphia Morning Radio," according to the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.

He was, of course, a member of the Broadcast Pioneers. The organization's website said Cannon worked with hundreds of charities in the region, and was awarded the the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

"Don was the kind of guy who, when he walked into a room, just took it over," WOGL music director Tommy McCarthy said.

The two men were friends for 34 years.

"A lot of people, their persona on the radio is sometimes nothing what they're like in person," McCarthy said. "But Don was the same person you heard on the air that you met in public. He always had a smile on his face, and always had his hand out to shake your hand."

Cannon is survived by his wife, Terri, two sons and two granddaughters. Funeral services are public and will be held tomorrow at Joseph Levine & Sons in Trevose.

On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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