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Larry Updike, legendary Winnipeg broadcaster, has died

A legend of the Winnipeg radiowaves has died.

Larry Updike died Thursday after a recent cancer diagnosis, his family confirmed. He was 69 years old.

The broadcaster’s voice was familiar to Winnipeggers who tuned in to the many programs he hosted in a career that spanned multiple decades and stations across the dial.

“Larry had such a legion of followers, whether from his music or from his radio,” said his long-time friend Brian Barkley, who co-hosted CJOB’s morning show with Updike.

“I knew him for so many years and I knew his layers.… He was just multifaceted in so many ways.”

After being ordained as a church minister at the age of 21, Updike transitioned into a career in radio in the 1980s.

He hosted the long-running Tom and Larry Show with Tom McGouran, on 92 CITI FM through most of that decade. In the 1990s, he moved on to CJOB, where he worked for nine years as a morning host.

“It was an information show, but we also had huge amounts of fun,” Barkley said. “I was always the victim of his teasing and I would respond in a way and this. But people really, really enjoyed the humour.”

Updike was inducted to the Manitoba Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in 2009. He hosted CBC Radio’s afternoon show, Up to Speed, from 2010 to 2013.

Besides working in radio, he was a musician and had degrees in theology and philosophy from the University of Winnipeg.

Updike was a spokesperson for charitable organization Siloam Mission before working for CBC. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal for his advocacy work with non-profit War Amps. 

‘He was making radio, and he was so good at it’

Ahead of a news conference Thursday, Premier Wab Kinew — who also previously worked as a broadcaster with CBC Manitoba — paid respects to his former colleague. 

“I had the immense privilege of getting a chance to work with him when I was a journalist, and in particular during the flooding in 2011,” the premier said.

“One of the great things about Larry is that he was such a pro. He had the flow and natural ups and downs of an interesting conversation. He wasn’t just reading a list of questions — he was making radio, and he was so good at it.”

Updike announced on social media last week he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and was undergoing surgery.

On Thursday, many fans took to Facebook to pay tribute to him.

Barkley said many people will remember him for his humour, including during times when humour was hard to find, as during the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“People contacted us, a number of people, listeners, and said … ‘Can you make us laugh again?'” he said.

“He would come on and bring all kinds of things on the show, whether it was news or humour, whatever it was.… I just absolutely loved every morning doing the show with him.”

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