British Columbia

'Everything is funny': Former CBC Radio host Arthur Black diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

Arthur Black, humourist and former CBC Radio host best known for the program Basic Black, says he has months to live.

Black spent 19 years as host of Basic Black, one of CBC Radio's most popular variety shows

Arthur Black, seen in a 2002 news piece about his retirement, has announced that he is dying of pancreatic cancer. (CBC)

Arthur Black, humorist and former CBC Radio host best known for the program Basic Black, says he is dying of pancreatic cancer.

In a blog post, Black, 74, writes that he is facing his end after being diagnosed with "the Mike Tyson of Cancers."

"So what's it like to get what amounts to a diagnosis of 'terminal' from your doctor?" he wrote. "Like getting smacked by a giant Nerf bat, initially. It rocks you back on your heels and yet it doesn't hurt. Not yet."

With his trademark wit, Black outlined the shock of the diagnosis and his plans for what he says are his last months.

One of those plans is to read 30 or 40 books "before I hand in my library card for good."

Arthur Black wrote on his blog that he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has months to live. (

'Everything is funny'

Reached on the phone Friday night, Black said on his current "journey," the cancer will determine his plans. He says he's cancelled an engagement and is making room for doctors' appointments.

He said his family and the Salt Spring Island, B.C., community where he lives have kept his spirits up in a way he didn't expect.

One thing that will keep him busy for some time is documenting his experiences on his blog.

"As my agent said to me, 'You've been saying for the last few years  you've got nothing to write about now. Now you do.'" he said. 

"And indeed, it's a huge undertaking, one I have no choice in anyways. So it'll be an adventure."

And of course, his sense of humour is keeping him company.

"Everything is funny. It really is. It's like the freezing when they put in a needle. If you can get past that, it's really not that bad."

Basic Black host Arthur Black gives Deb Goble a tour of the many treasures ready to be swapped with listeners at CBC Vancouver. 1:49

Award-winning humourist

In addition to his radio work, Black had a syndicated humour column in Canadian newspapers and wrote numerous books. 

He won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times with his latest in 2006, for the book Pitch Black, a collection of stories about "offbeat and eccentric characters."

Black got his start with the CBC in Thunder Bay in 1972.

Basic Black was a Saturday morning staple on CBC Radio for 19 years, ending in 2002 when he retired. It was one of the network's most popular variety shows, heard by 600,000 listeners every week.

"It was a cavalcade," he said of his CBC career. "But it's always been fun. Better than having to work for a living."

As for how he'd like to be remembered?

"I don't know. That seems kind of grandiose at this point," he said. "If I can ... hiccup their lips into a smile, that would be nice."

One of Canada's most popular radio variety shows is going off the air. Basic Black is signing off after 19 years and Arthur Black is saying goodbye after 30 years with the CBC. 2:20