David Mostoway (a.k.a. Duff Roman and Digger Dave), CM, radio DJ and executive, independent record label owner, producer (born 1938 in Swift Current, SK). Duff Roman started in radio right out of high school before moving to Toronto in 1959. From 1965 to 2009, he worked for CHUM Limited, first as a popular DJ and then as an influential executive. He also founded Roman Records — which released music by David Clayton-Thomas, Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, and The Paupers — and was the founding president of FACTOR in 1982. A Member of the Order of Canada, Roman has been inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.
Early Years and Career
Growing up on the Prairies, David Mostoway fell in love with radio. Late into the night, he tuned into programs coming from far away and dreamed of one day hearing his voice on the air. In 1955, he landed his first job as a radio disc jockey with Medicine Hat’s CHAT, where he worked under the moniker Digger Dave. His star rose rapidly. A series of DJ jobs followed in Swift Current (CKSW), Winnipeg (CKRC) and Edmonton (CHED).
In 1959, Jack Kent Cooke (future owner of the Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers) recruited Roman to Toronto’s CKEY. Cooke suggested the DJ needed a new on-air name and Duff Roman was born. (Duff was a nickname Mostoway’s older brother had for him, while Roman was a nod to his younger brother’s given name, Raymond.)
In his early years in Toronto, when he was not on the airwaves, Roman embedded himself in the thriving local music scene. He opened an after-hours club in Yorkville called Brave New World, directly across the street from CKEY. That’s where he first met David Clayton-Thomas and befriended Levon Helm and The Hawks (who later became The Band). Roman became Clayton-Thomas’s manager and founded his own record label, Roman Records. In addition to The Hawks and Clayton-Thomas, Roman Records released singles by Little Caesar and the Consuls as well as The Paupers, a psychedelic rock band Roman briefly managed.
Career at CHUM
In 1965, broadcaster Allan Slaight hired Roman to join 1050 CHUM-AM for weekend shifts. During the heyday of AM radio, Roman became a household name. In 1974, he joined CHUM-FM full-time and remained there for most of his career, moving up the ranks to work as station manager and general manager.
In 1984, Roman was promoted to CHUM’s operations manager. During his tenure, he led the station’s transformation from a rock format to an adult contemporary format. CHUM quickly grew to become the most listened-to station in the Toronto market. In 1984, he came up with a new format at CHUM-FM: 50 per cent rock and 50 per cent soft rock. The new format was dubbed “adult rock” and later came to be known as Hot AC.
On 4–5 March 1977, Roman booked and emceed a pair of secret shows by The Rolling Stones at the El Mocambo in Toronto. The show was billed as a private April Wine concert for around 300 CHUM contest winners. Margaret Trudeau, the then-wife of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, also famously attended. The recordings of these legendary shows were released for the first time in 2022.
In 1982, together with three radio companies, the Canadian Independent Record Production Association and the Canadian Music Publishers Association, Roman co-founded FACTOR (the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings). He was the not-for-profit’s first president. It had an initial operating budget of $200,000. Today, FACTOR has an annual budget of more than $20 million to support recording artists, songwriters, managers, labels, publishers, event producers and distributors in the Canadian music industry.
In the 1990s, Roman served as chair of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. He was also a trailblazer in reviewing and developing policies for the launch of digital radio in Canada.
Film and Television
Roman teamed up with award-winning producer David Brady and Canadian music archivist Jan Haust to produce a three-part documentary series, Yonge Street: Rock & Roll Stories. It aired on the Bravo! Network in March 2011. As of April 2022, the trio was working on a new documentary titled Levon & the Hawks: The Birth of the Band. It chronicles the journey of Levon and The Hawks from Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band to members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Roman served as the chair of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) radio board in 1994, as chair of the CAB’s joint board from 1996–98, and as co-chair of the CAB's digital radio rollout committee in the late 1990s. Later, he served as a member of the Advisory Council for Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University). As of April 2022, Roman was still serving on FACTOR’s board as director emeritus. Since moving to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2016, he has volunteered with a community action group that works to preserve a historical landmark in the area.
In 2019, Roman received the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS). The award “recognizes individuals whose work has significantly impacted the growth and development of the Canadian music industry.”
Duff Roman officially retired from CHUM Limited in 2009, but he has not stopped working. He is a partner in e-Radio USA Inc., a company that has developed a technology that repurposes FM radio waves to remotely activate and deactivate energy sources to reduce electricity waste. He is also working on the Roman Records Presents collection, a project to restore recordings from the birth of the Toronto Sound by such artists as David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears) and The Shays.