Local History Advent Calendar 2018 – Day 18 – Jennie Wong
When I am researching one topic I often come across random historical tidbits that I think might be interesting to research one day. These tidbits sometimes end up as full-fledged stories and sometimes they just stay as random historical tidbits. I have collected quite a few, so I thought it might be fun to present them in the form of “treats” for a local history advent calendar. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Vancouver history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.
Day 18: Vancouver’s Jennie Wong was the first female and first Chinese-Canadian disc jockey in Canada…
In 1948 Jennie Wong was one of three finalists in the CKWX-Teen Aid Disc Jockey Contest. The contest was co-sponsored by The Vancouver Sun’s Teen Town Association where Jennie was an active member of the Chinese Y Canteen. Each of the three finalists had their audition tapes sent to a panel of judges consisting of Freddie Robbins, a New York City disc jockey, crooner Frank Sinatra, and orchestra leader Claude Thornhill. Though she was ranked #3, Jennie was given a half-hour Saturday afternoon program on CKMO that she called “Jennie’s Juke Joint”. On her program, Jennie would introduce the popular music of the day made by artists like Frank Sinatra (her favourite), Kay Starr, Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole. This made 17-year-old Jennie Wong the first female and first Chinese-Canadian DJ in Canada.
Jennie was the older sister of local author Larry Wong. After she married in 1950 and moved from Vancouver, Jennie worked for CBC Edmonton for a time and then later started her own business doing theatrical and television make-up in Edmonton. Jennie died in Edmonton in 2011 at age 79.