From the very first night of Sportstalk and continuing for the next thirty years, Richmond’s Dan Russell opened with his signature line, “Pleasant good evening.”
It almost always was just that for Russell’s large pack of loyal listeners who came to enjoy his engaging on-air style, intriguing interviews with well-known figures from the sports world, and, of course, open phone lines for callers to dial in and become part of the show themselves. It proved a winning formula that made Sportstalk not only the most popular sports radio talk show in BC for years, but also from 1984 to 2014 the longest running in Canada.
By age eight, after receiving a transistor radio for Christmas and hearing Jim Robson call a Vancouver Canucks game and later witnessing a CKWX disc jockey work on location at the PNE Fair, Dan knew his career path was in radio. Soon he was hosting his own pretend radio show in a homemade basement studio and practicing play-by-play into a recorder in cold hockey rinks.
He later graduated from BCIT’s broadcasting program and got his start as the first on-air voice of CISL 650 in his hometown. Over the next 35 years, Dan became one of the most respected members of Vancouver’s sports media landscape, best known for pioneering modern late-night ‘sports talk’ radio in BC. Russell’s Sportstalk ran for over 1500 weeks with over 7500 shows and 25,000 guests on CJOR (1984-88), CKWX (1988), CFMI (1989-97), CKNW (1997-2013), and CISL (2013-14). In 1989, Sportstalk became the first weekday talk show in Canada to air on FM radio.
At the same time, Dan also pursued play-by-play broadcasting, eventually calling hundreds of WHL games on radio for various stations and on television for Shaw and Sportsnet, as well as Canucks pay-per-view broadcasts. He also hosted CKNW’s Canucks broadcasts for five years and wrote a column for the Vancouver Sun in 2000-01.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.