Stuart McLean, host of the popular CBC Radio program The Vinyl Cafe, has died at age 68. The news comes months after McLean announced in December 2016 he was suspending the show to concentrate on his treatment for melanoma.
McLean spun off The Vinyl Cafe – about a fictitious record-shop owner and his family, friends, and neighbours – into a series of bestselling books, most recently 2015’s Vinyl Cafe Turns the Page, which was longlisted for the 2016 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. He was a Leacock favourite, having previously received the prize for Home from the Vinyl Cafe (1999), Vinyl Cafe Unplugged (2001), and Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe (2007). In 2012, McLean was named an officer of the Order of Canada. He received the Retail Council of Canada’s Libris Award for lifetime achievement in 2014.
Over a period of 27 years, McLean published 14 titles with Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. Penguin Canada publisher Nicole Winstanley says in a statement:
“E.B. White talked about that ineffable place where tears meet laughter. That place where you can’t trust your emotions, where you find yourself falling from one to the other. When we find ourselves there, White said, we find ourselves close to the big hot fire that is truth. With his instantly recognizable voice, wisdom, tender humour, and enormous care, Stuart McLean brought so many Canadians to that truth, laughing and crying along the way. He made us feel as though we were part of his delightfully idiosyncratic Vinyl Cafe family, and in so doing, he brought us all together, connecting us with stories of road trips, musical memories, and neighbourhood adventures. That lovely little family will remain in our hearts, as will Stuart.”