Lisa Canning Plays Deejay by Day, Rick Dees’ Sidekick by Late Night
Lisa Canning has a talent for juggling. You won’t find her at Venice Beach tossing around chain saws, bowling pins or flaming torches, but the 24-year-old television/radio announcer keeps two full-time jobs up in the air with amazing grace.
“It starts at 4 in the morning,” Canning says of job No. 1. As a deejay at local rap station KDAY-AM, “I’m on the air from 6 to 9. Then I work out. Then I come here from lunchtime until about 6:30.”
“Here” is the set of ABC’s “Into the Night Starring Rick Dees,” where Canning, late-night television’s first female on-air announcer, serves as Dees’ enthusiastic sidekick.
“We’ve got a great relationship,” she says of Dees. “There’s also a mutual respect there. He’s become a superjock.”
Canning, who grew up in the Virgin Islands, got her start in professional radio at 17, when she got a job at a station in St. Thomas. Although she had worked at her high-school station, “I was scared to death,” she says of her first few times on the air. “For a long time all I could say was the time and the temperature. Then I would script everything I said.”
After stints at stations in Orlando and St. Louis, Canning sent an audition tape to KDAY. “I knew they would just throw it in a box somewhere,” she says. So she used her rent money to fly to Los Angeles, where she persuaded KDAY’s program director to hire her. She’s been at the station for four years and is its No. 1 deejay.
Canning, who has appeared in commercials and has had guest roles in “A Different World” and “Homeroom,” ultimately aspires to be an actress. “I also go to acting class twice a week,” she says. “I go at night. When else would I do it?”