DNTO, long-running CBC Radio show, ending in May

Long-running Saturday afternoon radio show Definitely Not the Opera (DNTO), hosted by Sook-Yin Lee, is ending its run in May, after 22 years on CBC Radio One.

Storytelling program hosted by Sook-Yin Lee to end after 22 years on the air

Filmmaker, musician and broadcaster Sook-Yin Lee has hosted CBC Radio One's DNTO (Definitely Not the Opera). since September 2002. (CBC)

Long-running Saturday afternoon radio show Definitely Not the Opera (DNTO), hosted by Sook-Yin Lee, is ending its run on May 14th, after 22 years on CBC Radio One.

"I feel proud of what we've done and indebted to my team, our listeners, guests and all the strangers I've met on street corners — who opened the deepest parts of their lives and shared them with us. That profound generosity is what humbles me and it is what I'm grateful for," Lee said in a statement.

The filmmaker, musician and broadcaster, who joined as host in September 2002, is slated to begin a new CBC project, while the show's Winnipeg-based producers are at work developing a new program.

"DNTOhas had a great run. Its continued popularity for more than two decades is a testament to the creative talent of the team and everyone who has worked on the show over the years," said Susan Marjetti, executive director of radio and audio for CBC English Services.

"It was time for a change, and we are excited about the new projects we have coming."

Pop culture beginnings

DNTOdebuted in September 1994 as a pop culture magazine show targeting a young audience, with its name a cheeky reference to Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, which aired on sister station CBC Radio 2 in the same time slot.

Original DNTOhost Nora Young was joined by early contributors such as Rex Murphy, Ivan Fecan, Mary Walsh, Laurie Brown and Guy Maddin, focusing on entertainment through reviews and features exploring music, comedy, movies and culture.

'I feel proud of what we've done and indebted to my team, our listeners, guests and all the strangers I've met...who opened the deepest parts of their lives and shared them with us,' said Lee, seen here in New Orleans in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina. (Sook-Yin Lee/CBC)


Over time, the program transitioned from offering cultural coverage to become a home for personal storytelling and short radio documentaries, as well as interviews and first-person audio essays.

DNTO has won three Gabriel Awards, which honour "outstanding achievement in media that entertains and enriches with a true vision of humanity and a true vision of life."

"I've had so many incredible moments working on DNTO," Lee said, highlighting episodes where she took David Suzuki and Bruce Cockburn bowling, visited the northern Manitoba community of Pukatawagan and attempted to entice strangers to sing with her as just a few of her favourites.

There was also Lee's "social experiment"  when she and colleague Nick Purdon attempted to crash a private party during the Toronto International Film Festival 

"While I hid at the bottom of a recycling bin, Nick wore a uniform and a headset while barking orders into a walkie-talkie about  an 'urgent recycling matter on the fourth floor.' Winding between celebrities and paparazzi, he ushered me down the red carpet with determination. Everyone jumped out of our way because it was an 'emergency!'" Lee recalled.

"When we hit the end of the red carpet, Nick flipped open the lid and unceremoniously dumped me out on the ground. That's when security swarmed us."

The final episode will feature a listening party highlighting the program's most unforgettable moments. The penultimate episode on May 7 will tackle the theme "the power of gratitude" and include feedback from listeners and special thank-yous.

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