Rick Moranis Was A Toronto Disc Jockey Before Making It in Comedy

‘Rick Allan’ stayed up all night bringing you the hits
Rick Moranis Was A Toronto Disc Jockey Before Making It in Comedy

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“CFTR, firing up a brand new Doobie for you, Brothers!. It’s 1:06 with ‘Long Train Runnin’’ because you asked for it at 870-9181. This one’s for Mimico, that’s right!”

That’s Toronto disc jockey Rick Allan coming at you all night long with 1973’s hottest hits. Comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff recently shared this clip of a silver-tongued devil we later came to know as Rick Moranis. While neither Allan or Moranis opted for a long-term career in radio, it was the comic’s first foray into show business. 

“I got a job spinning records for deejays when I was in high school, so the appeal was the fact that it was paying $3.00 an hour,” Moranis told IGN back in 2006. “It was an unusual and very exciting and fun job.”

That led to producing shows and then landing the all-night shift at CFTR at only 19 years old. Fair to say he wasn’t full-on Moranis at that point. “I think my voice might have been up a little. Half an octave higher than it probably needed to be,” he admitted. “I think I was stiff … until I got very comfortable performing myself.”

The radio station programmed his playlists, but young Moranis was already defining his musical tastes” “Obviously the dominance of what was called rock at that time, having been exposed to all the music of the 60's from the British Invasion, Motown and the California sound of the Beach Boys,” he said. “That led to discovering some of the more interesting bands that were coming out of England and the States that were doing what became known as album-oriented rock. The AOR format. Be it Led Zeppelin or Genesis or American bands like Spirit, or the early Steve Miller Band. Jethro Tull.” 

Moranis fell in love with radio picking up huge American radio stations, whose signals carried further in the wee hours. “It was early in the evolution of FM radio in those days, and the nature of the transmission signals was such that you could pick up the big 50,000 watt stations out of Boston, out of Chicago, and places even further away than that just because of atmospheric and weather conditions,” he said. “I was mesmerized by big-city American radio — those formats, those styles, hadn't been picked up by Canadian radio yet.”

While Moranis mimicked the patter of the big-city stations he loved, his radio career was short-lived. Like many DJs in both America and Canada, he was a victim of new managers bringing in new guys. He didn’t give much time to thinking about another radio job. “I was still finishing high school and on my way to college,” he says. “So I didn't even see broadcasting as a career choice. I grew up in a culture, in a household, in an environment where I was under the impression that I would have to do something professional and in the words of my parents, ‘legitimate.’"

You know. Like comedy.


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