Skip to content

Fundraiser set for beloved Victoria radio host battling with Stage 4 cancer

Radio host Dylan Willows to be celebrated March 19 by artists whose lives he’s touched
Dylan Willows at the All Ways Home Festival at Starlight Stadium in Langford on September 4, 2021. (Adam Lee/

Beloved Greater Victoria radio host, Dylan Willows, who signed off his last on-air broadcast on Feb. 15 due to advancing cancer, is being celebrated at the Royal Theatre on March 19.

Willows was a radio broadcaster for 22 years, spending two decades on The Zone 91.3. At 25, he was diagnosed with uveal melanoma, a rare form of ocular cancer that eventually took his eye. Despite beating the cancer, it re-emerged last year, coming back aggressively and reaching Stage 4.

“I’m now facing very limited time and unfortunately that time can’t be spent at the radio station here anymore,” Willows said on air on his last day on The Zone.

Willows, or “Big D” as many affectionately call him, was the director of The Zone’s Band of the Month program which promoted countless Victoria acts.

Many of those artists are uniting to make the fundraiser a heartfelt night to remember, with Jon and Roy, Miina, Astrocolor (duo set), The Bankes Brothers, Vince Vaccaro, Liinks, Acres of Lions, Tyler Harvey and Mike Hann, and Deep Sea Gypsies set to perform.

Proceeds will go to Willows and his family.

The fundraiser takes place at the Royal Theatre, with the venue donated by The Royal and McPherson Theatres Society.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to Big D, for two decades of service to the local music community via V.I.C. Fest (which he co-founded) and the Capital Ballroom (which he co-owned) to his tenure at The Zone,” read the press release.

Tickets cost $34.75-$58 and go on sale Thursday (Feb. 29) at 11 a.m. through the Royal McPherson box office 250-386-6121 or Doors are at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. for the all-ages fundraiser.

Celebrating Dylan Willows

Since his announcement on air, fans, friends, family and other community members have expressed their grief and gratitude for the radio host.

“We never met Dylan. We don’t have a friendship. Yet, my wife and I are in tears listening to his goodbye as if he was a friend. For the past 10+ years, we listened to him and Jason every morning. He brought so much laughter and joy to our mornings,” said Reddit user hook_falls.

“I woke up and looked forward to listening to you. You are an amazing human. Loved by many and you certainly have left your mark on the world,” said Rob McNutt on Facebook.

Willows has been an advocate for cancer, joining the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team in 2008 and speaking openly about his battles, something listeners have appreciated.

“As someone living with cancer, I’m so grateful that Dylan has chosen to be public with his diagnosis,” said Reddit user emslo. “Too many times people fear being open about having cancer, and we only find out after they’ve passed away. This is how we fight stigma, build compassion, and grow as a society.”

Jason Lamb, who Willows co-hosted with for 16 years, was by Willows’ side on-air when he made the difficult announcement as both fought through tears.

“We just had something right away you and me. We didn’t do radio the regular way and I’m never going to have that again,” Lamb said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m really going to miss you.”

“Just know that the two of us have always held each other in the highest regard and loved each other so much off the air and on the air,” Willows said to listeners.

“I’ve dedicated my entire life to being on the radio and don’t regret one millisecond of it,” he said in his closing remarks. “It’s all about love, it really is and that’s all we need to focus on.”

READ MORE: Tour de Rock riders receive official jerseys as 1,200 km charity ride nears

Dylan Willows, who is battling cancer, recently left The Zone as radio host after more than two decades. (Courtesy The Zone)

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
Read more