Montreal’s radio community is in mourning this weekend, with the news that Andre Maisonneuve, the morning and afternoon host on Mix 96, has died of cancer.
The Ottawa Citizen has a story on Maisonneuve, speaking to his brother and a long-time friend.
Outside of Montreal, Maisonneuve was better known as “Katfish Morgan”, and for the past decade worked at Live 88.5 in Ottawa. The station, owned by Newcap Radio, posted a tribute to him on Saturday.
Maisonneuve worked in radio for 18 years before getting a gig here in his hometown, at stations in London, Ont., Calgary, Halifax and Toronto. In 1998, he was named the morning man at Mix 96, along with Ted Bird. A year later, Bird reunited with Terry DiMonte on CHOM and Maisonneuve was paired with Nat Lauzon. (They notably inaugurated their new show by driving a Zamboni to Toronto, which garnered them some media attention in small towns along the 401.)
Lauzon, who had also worked with Maisonneuve at Mix 99.9 in Toronto a couple of years earlier, took the news particularly hard. Even before he died, she had often shared cherished memories of the Andre and Nat show on her Facebook page.
I asked Lauzon for comment about her friend’s passing. She didn’t want to talk on the phone because of her fragile emotional state, so she wrote this to me instead:
In a terrible year where we have lost so many of the greats, I consider Andre among them.
Andre could do anything. He was that rare blend of uber-talented jock but with the kind of vulnerability that allowed listeners to know him as a person, too. He was warm, kind, interested, creative and genuinely, naturally funny. On the air, Andre would take you places that were silly and ridiculous, then grow them and explore them without fear. And if they bombed, so what? And if they were winners, so what? The joy was in getting there, the reward was in trying. He was never afraid to be the foil or take chances. But more so, he was happy to stand back and let you shine. He could trust a moment and let it breathe instead of filling it will noise. He knew how to work WITH people, on the air. He was a careful listener and built the moment instead of clamouring for punchlines. (I don’t need to tell any “radio person” how rare a quality this is.)
He was a master of voices, with an impressive and ever-expanding stable of impersonations and characters. In a radio age, where so many “bits” come packaged from prep services, we wrote our own. Because Andre could handle any special voice requirements those bits entailed — from impersonations to accents to singing … it was endless, often surprising even himself! We laughed. So much. Andre had a winning, engaging laugh.
What I’ve said here of course, is all radio-related and barely scratches the surface of who he was personally (and at one point, I hope to write more on that), but it’s not difficult to find echoes of these same sentiments from across the country, from folks who knew Andre at various points in his lengthy radio career.
Andre was my colleague, but he was also my big brother and my teacher and my friend. His is a huge loss to radio — but also to those who loved him. My heart breaks for his two amazing kids, who he was fiercely proud of. I am hardly alone in admitting that losing him has me roiling with grief and anger. Very simply, I adored him. I will love and miss him always.
Maisonneuve and Lauzon broke up (work-wise) in 2002 when the station’s lineup was shuffled and both moved to other parts of the day. He went back to the morning show in 2004, paired with Lisa Player. In 2005, Maisonneuve moved to Ottawa for the launch of Live 88.5 (CILV-FM) and became Katfish Morgan again. He stayed there until just recently, when his disease forced him off the air, though he didn’t publicize that fact.
The station’s tribute reads in part:
Andre was a great broadcaster, a tremendous team player and a fearless leader.
Andre gave birth to LiVE 88.5. He “lived life large” and he was an absolutely magnificent human being. He taught us all to live in and for the moment. All those that enjoyed the pleasure of his company on and off the air knew and felt that he was always “present.” We built an entire radio station on those very same principles.
Andre was a truly loyal friend to all who knew him. He had a real zeal and a “lust for life” like no one we have ever known.
Maisonneuve’s colleagues in Montreal and elsewhere shared tributes to him on social media. Here are the some of them:
André had all the hallmarks of a true radio professional; passion for his craft, love of music and a beautifully seasoned sound on the air. One of the funniest co-workers I ever had, he was a bon vivant and a father of two, who will be missed by many fans, friends and family members who came to love and respect him in Montreal, Ottawa and across the country. R.I.P. — Pete Marier
Godspeed, André Maisonneuve. RIP to a great friend, father and broadcaster.
— Ted Bird (@manofbird) October 21, 2016
As per his wishes, there will be no memorial service for Maisonneuve. Just many grieving friends in the radio industry.