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
Connors' sense of the absurd remained intact, even as his
life was becoming a huge question mark.
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."
offered -- to the highest bidder -- to deliver a post-mortem
message to the buyer's favourite departed loved one.
is a one-time offer," he wrote. "Act fast!"
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.
not without reason.
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.
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.
they showed up at Port Dalhousie, however, what was waiting
for them was a 53-foot Mayflower moving van.
was I supposed to know the Mayflower was a boat?" asked
months later he did it to listeners again.
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.
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.
the "new kids on the block" had arrived.
of fans rushed the station's lobby, forcing security to
safeguard the building. "Scruff's an asshole," was probably
the kindest graffiti.
then there was the 1995 Super Bowl.
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.
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."
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
was I supposed to know Miami was in Florida?" asked Connors.
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.
quite the handful," Lott admits, and then laughs. "But I
don't want to see him on the streets."
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.
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."
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?"
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."
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.
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.
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.
wanted to leave the money to my son."