Toronto radio personality known for love of new music dies at 58

Dave "Bookie" Bookman, a well-known Toronto radio host, died early Tuesday. He was 58.

Indie88, a Toronto FM radio station billed as "Toronto's New Alternative," announced his death in a post on its website on Tuesday. Bookie was a host at the station.

"We're devastated to announce the passing of our friend and colleague," the station says in the post.

'Toronto has lost a music scene legend'

Listeners and musicians are paying tribute to Bookman on Twitter, saying Toronto's music scene has lost a passionate and knowledgeable man who loved independent music in Canada.

Members of Canadian band Sloan said they were "shocked and saddened" to hear of his death.

"He was a massive supporter of ours from the first time we met in the very early '90s. Toronto has lost a music scene legend."

Steven Page, formerly of the band Barenaked Ladies, said: "I met him first at a show by his band The Bookman when I was 17. He was later one of BNL's earliest supporters while at CIUT and then CFNY. He was one of the greats."


Alternative rock group Lowest of the Low agreed, saying: "We were always lucky to have him in our city. Rest well, old friend."

Moe Berg of The Pursuit of Happiness said Bookman was a "hero of the Toronto music scene and a wonderful guy."

Bookman 'exuded knowledge, truth, opinions'

In an article on Indie88's website, Josie Dye, a morning host at Indie 88, said Bookman was extremely knowledgeable about Canadian music, helped bands such as Billy Talent launch their careers and was well-known in Toronto as a talented radio interviewer. She said he was a close friend.

"He wasn't hired for his charm, his looks, or his voice," Dye writes.

"He didn't work his brand, or promote himself. He exuded knowledge, truth, opinions that mattered that had foundations in research and love for music. Bookie was never defined by a genre or a stereotype and cool was never in his vocabulary.

"He never lost vision of the music that unites us and even the word 'Indie' was too pigeon-holed for what he brought to the music scene."

Dye said Bookman was not only a colleague, but also a mentor.

"There was part of Bookie I wish we could all learn from. His convictions were strong, and his moral compass was tight. There was no grey area with Bookie; he knew what was right and what was wrong. It was challenging at times to be his friend knowing that he would always call you out when your compass slipped," Dye writes.

Bookman won Unsung Hero Award in 2018

In June 2018, Bookman won the Canadian Independent Music Association's Unsung Hero Award. 

The association said in a news release on June 4, 2018 that Bookman was "known for dragging indie music out of the nineties and into the ears of Toronto and all of Canada as the original tastemaker."

Bookman lived the "Canadian Music life'" during his years at 102.1 The Edge and Indie88, the association said.

According to The Edge, Bookman worked there from January 1999 to December 2012. After that, he was the midday announcer at Indie88, where he started in 2013, and hosted its Sunday Morning Rock Show

The association described Bookman as one of Canada's top radio interviewers, discussing music with everyone from Dave Grohl to Ray Davies.

Bookman introduces the Rheostatics at Massey Hall in Toronto on March 30, 2007:

The association said Bookman was also a "champion of emerging artists" through his "nu music nite" at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern on Tuesdays. 

In April, Indie88 said on Instagram that Bookman "fell ill" and was "under the care of doctors." In a later post, it said he was in serious but stable condition. 

Bookman was born on May 30, 1960 and died at 12:45 a.m. on Tuesday "peacefully," Indie88 said.