Denise Donlon, television producer, host, record label head, activist and member of the Order of Canada, is to be honoured with the 2018 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at a gala dinner on March 24 in Vancouver.
Toronto-born, she started her career as a music booker on the university touring circuit, eventually joining the Feldman Agency in Vancouver and then leaving to join the then-nascent Much Music in 1985 as one of their VJs. As a TV personality, she hosted early music programs like Rock Flash and first made her mark as producer of the influential and then cutting-edge culture series The New Music. In 1992, she became director of music programming for the channel and was named VP and GM in 1997. A year later she successfully launched MuchMoreMusic (M3).
From 2000 to 2004, Donlon was the president of Sony Music Canada where she led the company and a team of over 300 employees and became the third woman to head a major record company in Canada.
In 2008, she was named executive director of CBC Radio's English-language services. She left the CBC in 2011 and from September 2013 to April 2014, Donlon hosted the TV program The Zoomer which she co-hosted with Conrad Black (known in the UK as Lord Black of Crossharbour).
In November 2016, Donlon published her autobiography Fearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances), a daunting task given the fact she was constrained by three separate confidentiality agreements tied to former employers.
The celebration of her numerous accomplishments and advocacy will be held the evening before the official Juno Awards broadcast at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on March 25.