Mark Dailey, 1953–2010
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Mark Dailey, 1953–2010

Mark Dailey started working for Citytv in 1979. Most of Torontoist’s readers have known him as the “voice of City” for their entire lives, as has this writer. His death today at the age of fifty-seven due to complications from kidney cancer leaves a deep void in Toronto’s media landscape.

Mark Dailey was the Voice. Capitalization is required when describing him. More than a few people confessed to me, over the years, that they would have had sex with Mark Dailey sight unseen based solely on that voice: that powerful, controlled bass tone that could be dead serious or impishly mischievous as the moment required. Of course, Dailey was actually quite good looking, so probably these people wouldn’t have sacrificed greatly to experience the Voice up close. But they would have, if it was necessary.
Dailey was a part of Toronto life for thirty years. Citytv promos like “Your Federation Station” or the cheesy-but-fun gimmick weeks City used to run before it went corporate. When a movie sucked, Dailey was entirely willing to admit it. And when he slyly intoned “viewer discretion advised” just before the Friday night Baby Blue movie, he did it in a way that made it clear he knew exactly why you were watching.
But he wasn’t all subtle snark. When a movie was great, Mark Dailey could sell it like no other. When City snagged the rights to the first television broadcast of Dirty Dancing back in the late ’80s, beating out all of the major American networks as well as CTV and the CBC, Dailey introduced it with an extra-emphatic “only on Citytv.” He was proud of the little station that could, and it showed every day in his work.

“One interesting thing about Toronto was that, during its exciting period, it came with its own narrator. He died today.”

Doug Saunders

Of course, Dailey was more than just a handsome voice. He was a journalist, specializing in crime stories in his early days before City realized what they had and started using him more prominently as an anchor and news host. He helped start up CrimeStoppers because he felt an obligation to protect society, no doubt due to his background as a former lawman in Ohio. Dailey reputedly got offers from absolutely everywhere for work: the other Canadian networks, American networks—it was even rumoured once or twice that the BBC had made offers. But he stuck with the horse that brought him until the end. Even after Rogers bought out City and reduced it to a shell of its former self, Dailey remained, giving the remnants of the once-great ChumCity empire credibility like only he could. He was and is irreplaceable.
There will be other announcers, of course, but Dailey defined an era of Toronto television that is almost entirely gone. Very soon now, there will be no more advertisements with Dailey intoning “Citytv. Everywhere,” in his usual fashion, and the world will be a little less grand.

CORRECTION: DECEMBER 6, 2010, 11:10 PM This article originally cited CTV as the purchaser of Citytv; in fact, it was Rogers. (Thanks to @Mondoville for noticing this.)