Trickster DJ Scruff Connors is knocking on heaven's door, and he's still trying to scam the rest of us. Don't go, Scruff
By MARK BONOKOSKI

Shortly after the legendary and notoriously outrageous radio jock Scruff Connors was diagnosed with bladder cancer late last year, he had a picture taken of himself lying in a casket, and then posted a proposition on eBay's auction block which he hoped would raise $100,000 US.

Instead he had to settle for L6 from a man living in England.

Scruff Connors' sense of the absurd remained intact, even as his life was becoming a huge question mark.

Having been told initially that his cancer was "high grade and likely terminal," Connors downloaded his coffin picture onto the Internet -- "Scruff in a box," he calls it -- and offered to do what "UPS, FedEx and Purolator cannot do."

He offered -- to the highest bidder -- to deliver a post-mortem message to the buyer's favourite departed loved one.

"This is a one-time offer," he wrote. "Act fast!"

When word first got out that the 53-year-old Connors -- born in Toronto as Jeff Newfield -- had come down with a cancerous tumour, there were enough skeptics in the radio industry to, well, more than fill the Mayflower.

And not without reason.

Last heard on Toronto 640 (then Mojo), a founding wildman at the old Q-107 Morning Zoo and a shock jock long before Howard Stern, Scruff Connors made his on-air reputation pulling off hoaxes that defy most imaginations, using that distinct voice of his, one that comes through the mike as a cacophony of gravel, gargle and smoke.

Back in 1989, for example, while morning man at CHTZ-FM in St. Catharines, he told listeners that he had arranged for the Mayflower to make its way to nearby Port Dalhousie in time for Thanksgiving, thereby giving 40 faithful listeners -- contest winners, all -- the opportunity to have Thanksgiving dinner on the very ship they presumed that had brought the
Pilgrims to America.

When they showed up at Port Dalhousie, however, what was waiting for them was a 53-foot Mayflower moving van.

IT WAS A BOAT?

"How was I supposed to know the Mayflower was a boat?" asked Connors.

A few months later he did it to listeners again.

After refusing day in and day out to play anything by newly-arrived heartthrobs, New Kids on the Block, because "they were wimps and I was a rocker," Connors used the boy band's upcoming gig at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum as the opportunity to yank more chains.

Claiming a change of heart, Connors told listeners he had convinced "new kids" to come to the radio station the next morning and, as a result, almost 2,000 fans showed up, many skipping school to see their teen idols.

Five limos pulled up, five chauffeurs got out and, from the rear passenger seat, out came five young mothers with their newly born babies in their arms.

Yes, the "new kids on the block" had arrived.

Scores of fans rushed the station's lobby, forcing security to safeguard the building. "Scruff's an asshole," was probably the kindest graffiti.

And then there was the 1995 Super Bowl.

Now working at a station in Winnipeg, Connors offered 30 members of the "Good Listenership" a chance to go with him to watch the Super Bowl in Miami.

There were some 1,200 faxed entries.

Connors phoned each of the 30 winners and told them to meet him at the Winnipeg Airport at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday and, according to him, they "showed up wearing sandals and Hawaiian shirts, all set for some fun and sun."

A jetliner sat on the tarmac, and the excitement among the contest winners was palpable. Trouble was the plane was going nowhere, but the bus next to it was -- a bus destined for Miami, Man., two hours down the road, and the cramped setting of the Chatterbox Lounge, where the television was a 19-inch black-and-white.

"How was I supposed to know Miami was in Florida?" asked Connors.

The station suspended him for a week. Connors says he suspended himself. "I needed a vacation," he says.

Despite all the hoaxes, and there are legions of them, Scruff Connors' cancer is no hoax. Whether it's the miles that are to blame, or simply fate, the hard-living Connors is now in a fight for his life.

"Scruff is going through some rough, rough times," says J.J. Johnston, not only a friend, but the station manager at AM 640 who had to let Connors go late last year when the station changed its Mojo "talk radio for guys" format.

"He's got a battle ahead of him," says Johnston.

Having burned more money than bridges during his up-down, up-down career, Connors is now staying at the Newcastle home of station receptionist Jamie Lott and her husband, Ken Colley, longtime friendship being the key.

"He's quite the handful," Lott admits, and then laughs. "But I don't want to see him on the streets."

When station manager Johnston said Connors' recent times have been rough, he was not understating the facts.

Because of a fall, Connors tore both rotator cuffs and now needs twice-weekly home care because he cannot raise his arms much beyond his waist. And then, a few months after being shown the door at Mojo in July of last year, he had two heart attacks in quick succession and underwent a quadruple heart bypass.

"Not being in radio is what did it," he says. "I've been in radio since I was 15. It's all I know.

'ALL I CAN DO'

"It's all I can do."

A few weeks after his bypass surgery, Connors went for a follow-up appointment with his cardiologist and, on the way out, he stuck his head back in the door and casually asked, "Oh, by the way, does it mean anything if I've been pissing blood for the last two weeks?"

And that led to his diagnosis of bladder cancer -- "a tumour the size of my hand," says Connors. "And apparently treatable, not terminal as first thought."

For the last two months, he has been administered a drug geared to increase his body's natural defences. He calls it "liquid plumber," and describes it in such a fashion that the listener gets queasy.

Next month he begins chemotherapy and radiation treatments, his spirits bolstered by a weekly visit from a nurse who monitors his progress, and a social worker who helps him psychologically face his cancer.

"To be honest, I could die tomorrow and be happy," says Connors. "I had the best Christmas ever. I reunited with my 21-year-old son, Tyler, who I hadn't seen in years . . . messy divorce, don't ask . . . and that meant everything to me.

"That's why I wanted $100,000 for delivering a loved one's message to the Great Beyond.

"I wanted to leave the money to my son."

Scruff's Address:

PO Box 20026
Newsastle, On
L1B 1M3

jeffreydnewfield@hotmail.com  

Copyright © 2005 - Jesse Dylan and Gene Valaitis. Tell everybody, especially people who love saying things
 like, “that will never work” and  “didn’t they listen to the focus group?", they need a good laugh.