Don Wittman

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Don Wittman
Wittman 2002.jpg
Wittman broadcasting the 2002 Winter Olympics
Donald Rae Wittman[1]

October 9, 1936[1]
DiedJanuary 19, 2008(2008-01-19) (aged 71)
Other namesWitt
OccupationCBC sportscaster

Donald Rae Wittman (October 9, 1936[1] – January 19, 2008) was a Canadian sportscaster.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Herbert, Saskatchewan, Wittman attended the University of Saskatchewan and got his start in the field of broadcasting as a news reporter with CFQC radio in Saskatoon in 1955.[2]


Wittman began his long association with CBC Sports on January 1, 1961. He joined CBWT's supper-hour news program 24Hours in 1970 as sports anchor alternating with Bob Picken. He also worked on Winnipeg Jets television and radio broadcasts.[citation needed]

During the late 1970s–early 1980s, Wittman hosted Western Express, a half-hour weekly program broadcast in Western Canada which consisted of lottery ticket drawings for the lottery of the same name. The format of the series included Wittman co-hosting with media and community personalities from towns and cities across the region and conducting interviews in-between ticket drawings. (Western Express later changed its name to The Western and converted to a scratch-card lottery format).[citation needed]

Four-storey building clad in white and grey siding, and a memorial plaque for the hostage incident
Israeli Olympic team's building in the Olympic Village

During the Munich massacre crisis at the 1972 Summer Olympics, Wittman and Bob Moir crawled through a hole in a fence to access the Olympic Village and give live reports, while posing as medical staff on the 1972 Canadian Olympic team.[3][4] Wittman and Moir were 50 metres (160 ft) away from the Israeli Olympic team building, and could see the nine hostages sitting in a circle, guarded by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. They filed radio reports to the CBC, and remained on location all day until the hostages were loaded onto a bus.[5]

In a 1994 interview, Moir discussed the decision to sneak into the Olympic Village by saying,

"We were young and stupid, I guess. [Wittman] and I have always done things like that. We always went after the story."[5]

As a sportscaster, Wittman covered many sports including athletics, baseball, basketball, golf, and was most known as a commentator and announcer for the CBC's CFL coverage, on Hockey Night in Canada, and for major Canadian and international curling tournaments.[2]

Famous events covered by Wittman include Donovan Bailey's 100m sprint world record at the 1996 Summer Olympics[2] and the infamous brawl between Canada and the Soviet Union at the 1987 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.[citation needed]


On January 19, 2008, Wittman died as a result of cancer in a Winnipeg hospital surrounded by his family.[6] He was seventy-one years old, survived by his wife, Judy, two daughters, Karen and Kristen and a son, David.


Wittman won two ACTRA awards,[2] was named Broadcaster of the Year by Sports Media Canada in 2002,[7] and named to the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 2003.[8][9] He was inducted into the CBC Sports Hall of Fame in January 2008.[10] Wittman is an "Honoured Member" of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1990.


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary: Donald Rae Wittman". Passages. 20 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  2. ^ a b c d "Don Wittman - CBC Sports". CBC Personalities. CBC. Archived from the original on 2007-02-09.
  3. ^ Keyser, Tom (November 18, 1995). "Wittman: The don of TV sportscasters is a class act beyond words". Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alberta. p. 47.icon of an open green padlock
  4. ^ King, Randall (March 16, 2001). "Witness to terror". Winnipeg Sun. Winnipeg, Manitoba. p. 25.icon of an open green padlock
  5. ^ a b Rud, Jeff (August 27, 1994). "Munich massacre changed the way we view Games". Times Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. 11.icon of an open green padlock
  6. ^ "CBC Sports' Don Wittman dies". CBC Sports. 2008-01-19.
  7. ^ "Don Wittman, CBC Winnipeg – 2002 – Award for Outstanding Sports Broadcasting". Sports Media Canada. Archived from the original on 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
  8. ^ "Inductees". Canadian Curling Hall of Fame. Canadian Curling Association. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
  9. ^ "CBC's Wittman to join curling hall of fame". CBC Sports. 2003-03-06. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
  10. ^ Sinclair, Gordon Jr. (2007-12-15). "Sports icon Don Wittman faces the battle of his life". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2007-12-15.[dead link]

Further listening[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
CBC Television Lead Curling announcer
Succeeded by
Preceded by CBC Television Lead Curling announcer
Succeeded by
Preceded by Stanley Cup Finals Canadian network television play-by-play announcer
1985-1986 (Wittman called games in Edmonton in 1985 and games Calgary in 1986 on CBC
Succeeded by