There’s only one radio DJ who also happens to have set three world records in powerlifting.
Such is the uniqueness of Susan Knight, the program director and mid-day host at Q103.1 Radio in Kelowna and a force to be reckoned with in the realm of deadlifting, back squats and bench press.
“They just happen to be two completely different pieces of my life,” said Knight with a laugh. “For instance, I only wear a wrestling singlet powerlifting, not to do my radio show (Knight in the Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays).”
Knight has worked for decades as a self-described “free spirit and radio nomad.”
It’s a career that’s seen her voice on the air in at least nine cities, from Fort Erie, Welland, Chatham, Sudbury and London in Ontario to Squamish/Whistler, Victoria, Calgary and Kelowna.
However, Kelowna has been a repeat performance.
She originally worked as a morning host at Sun FM in Kelowna from 2005-11 before heading off to do a three-year stint in Calgary with Up 97.7.
“I’ve had fun and enjoyed every community I’ve worked and lived in,” said Knight. “But Kelowna did draw me back. It’s a special place that I definitely consider home.”
Knight loves radio for how all the pieces fit together.
“I’ve worked in promotions, on air, as a music director and assistant program director,” she said. “It’s great to see the big picture and how it all contributes to the final product that goes out over the airwaves.”
Besides hosting her mid-day show, Knight has also been the acting program director for months. A promotion will see her become the program director permanently on May 1.
Dual duties as an on-air personality and program director allows Knight to have her own four hours of fun daily on the radio, contribute to the overall sound of the station and mentor younger DJs.
Radio has also given Knight the opportunity to volunteer with the station's Kids Care charity and the Elizabeth Fry Society.
“Elizabeth Fry is a phenomenal organization. But, what they do is dark (helping women, girls and children affected by poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness and crime), so it’s hard to talk about and sometimes hard to get donors. But it’s so rewarding when you can and do help.”
Knight is also the centrepiece of the Surfing for Smiles fundraiser that sees her wakesurf behind a boat for nine hours solid on Okanagan Lake, from Vernon to Penticton. This September, when she hits the water, will mark the fundraiser’s third annual gathering.
The first two benefitted the Gospel Mission and Kids Care. This year, she hopes to help raise $10,000 for the Central Okanagan Food Bank's Basics for Babies program.
In her mid-30s, Knight started training to be able to do a half-Ironman race. As preparations progressed, she became incredibly strong, but her running got slower and slower.
“My trainer suggested I try powerlifting instead of the half-Ironman,” Knight remembers with a chuckle. “I was never fast or agile, so I’m so glad I found a sport where I fit in and can have success. When I talk with kids thinking of getting into powerlifting or just starting powerlifting, I tell them the same thing.”
In the masters class in her weight division, Knight has set world records for bench pressing 170 pounds, deadlifting 385 pounds and 375 pounds in back squat.
“The records are nice and I do enjoy the accolades and competing at an elite level,” she said. “But that’s not why I powerlift. I do it because the only person for me progressing in the sport is me and that’s very satisfying and good for your self confidence.”
Editor's note: Every week in this space with Top Forty Over 40 we profile a businessperson over the age of 40 who is having a great career and giving back through mentoring and volunteering. The series is presented by BDO Accountants and Consultants, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and The Daily Courier. Nominations are now closed. An event honouring all nominees will be held June 21 at the Delta Grand hotel.