The Vinyl Cafe host and author Stuart McLean dead at 68

stuarmclean.jpgCBC Radio host Stuart McLean wrote more than a dozen books. (Ben Flock)

Stuart McLean, bestselling author, humorist and host of CBC Radio's The Vinyl Cafe, died on February 15 at the age of 68, just over a year after his skin cancer diagnosis. McLean suspended his radio show in December 2016 to focus on cancer treatment.

For 40 years, McLean told stories on the radio. He began his career making documentaries for CBC Radio's Sunday Morning. In 1979, he won an ACTRA award for his work on a documentary about the Jonestown massacre.

McLean later joined CBC's Morningside as a columnist. He published his first book, a collection of essays from that column called The Morningside World of Stuart McLean, in 1989.

As the host of the variety show The Vinyl Cafe, McLean's storytelling talents entertained the country for over 20 years. Dave, Morley and the cast of fictional characters that populated his program were regular fixtures in Canadian homes. The show, beloved for its heart and humour, became an institution.

McLean published 10 books based on stories broadcast on The Vinyl Cafe. Three of them, Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe, Home from the Vinyl Cafe and Vinyl Cafe Unplugged, won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, Canada's most prestigious prize for humour writing.

Starting in 1998, McLean took The Vinyl Cafe across the country, regaling live audiences with classic holiday stories like "Dave Cooks the Turkey."

After winning the Stephen Leacock Medal for the first time in 1999, McLean made a humble confession on CBC-TV, saying "I don't understand at all what it is I do or why the stories are funny."

He added, "A good story is a story that, if someone left before telling you the end, you would be apoplectic... What happens next? Go on!"

A public tribute will be announced at a later date. A CBC Radio One special dedicated to Stuart will air on Thursday, February 16 at 1 p.m. (1:30 in Newfoundland).

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Time Now for the Vinyl Cafe Story Exchange by Stuart McLean
Revenge of the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks by Stuart McLean
Extreme Vinyl Cafe
Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
When We Were Young by Stuart McLean
Welcome Home by Stuart McLean
Vinyl Cafe Diaries
Vinyl Cafe Unplugged by Stuart McLean
The Morningside World of Stuart McLean
Vinyl Cafe Turns the Page by Stuart McLean
Home from the Vinyl Cafe of Stuart McLean