A fond farewell to CityNews660 traffic anchor Trace St. John

After more than four decades across many stations, covering everything from news and sports, to traffic and music, beloved Calgary broadcaster Tracy Garbutt is hanging up his mic.

Known to CityNews660 listeners as Trace St. John, and to Sportsnet960 listeners as Trace Ventura, the treasured voice in the institute of the commute is retiring.

Some dedicated followers may also know him as Racy Dave Tracy.

His last day on the air (for now) is Thursday, March 28. You can listen live to hear is last traffic report at 5:51 p.m.

Trace got his start in 1979 with CHFM and stayed there until 1982 before moving to CJAY 92.

He got to work in music at both of those stations where he says he “did lots of music interviews with some famous people sometimes.”

After CJAY began downsizing in 1993, Trace was hired across the hall at Mix 1060 where he worked the morning show as ‘Kooter the boss’s son’, a play on Arnold Horschack’s character from “Welcome Back Kotter.”

“[The] hideous voice was exceptionally freeing,” he recalled.

Trace eventually became music director of the station, which had transitioned to Calgary’s New Rock Alternative — Mix 1060.

In 1996, the station switched to ‘oldies,’ and most of the crew was let go — including Trace.

He took the opportunity to explore a new place and moved to Vancouver, where he did music and weekend news.

Trace recalls fondly his time as the on-air escort for “Larry & Willy’s Toughest Contests” where he would take contestants to fulfill the Tough Task of the Day, which included bungee jumping, changing contestants’ names to inappropriate ones, inseminating cattle by hand, doing stand-up, water-skiing in deadly waters, and even going through U.S. customs with sex dolls.

A tribute to Trace St. John on his retirement

Once again the subject of inevitable downsizing, Trace came back to Calgary in 2006.

He says the intention was to get out of radio, but he’d heard of an new all-news station that was in need of staff.

That began the legacy of the great Trace at CityNews660.

At first, he did everything — news, sports, traffic and more.

When the morning traffic reporter went on maternity leave, the drive reporter moved to mornings and Trace slid right in.

He has been reporting on the crush of the rush, the chaos on the concrete, and the pandemoniumn on the pavement, ever since.

A graduate of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) radio program, a Calgary Stampeders season ticket holder, and a big fan of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, Trace is a big part of the fabric of the CityNews 660 newsroom.

Kelly Turner, who worked with Trace 30 years ago at a rock station in the city says he will be missed very much.

“Even back then everyone loved Trace! He is just as funny and clever today, and is truly one of the nice guys of radio,” she said.

Long-time 660 afternoon drive anchor Pete Curtis echoes that sentiment.

“Trace was just as fun to work with, as the fun he was having on the air. He was just as entertaining in the newsroom, as he was in the traffic booth. But at the same time, the consummate professional. I mean, what more can you ask for in a co-worker?”

660 mid-day anchor Lisa Grant calls Trace a rare gem.

“He’s one of my favourite people of all time, not just to work with but as a human. Sadly, listeners could only have a small taste of his incredible talent. His quick wit and great sense of humour are just part of it. He can do pretty much any accent, create hilarious voices and do some serious spot-on impressions!”

Always around with a funny accent, a perfectly-timed sound effect, or a quirky joke, Trace lights up every room he walks into.

The CityNews660 newsroom will be a bit dimmer without his daily presence, but the crew is happy his light shined among us for all these decades.

To the jolliest of fellows, happy retirement!

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