Dini Petty is a Canadian icon. Her legendary career began at age 11, when she was cast in a National Film Board production Who Is Sylvia? Entertainment roots in her family run deep, as her mother opened Canada’s first talent agency, Molly Petty Producers Services, and her father opened one of Canada’s first animation houses, Gord Petty Film Technique.
Dini made aviation history — and her first indelible mark on the public’s consciousness — when, at age 22, she got her commercial helicopter pilot’s license and began broadcasting from a pink Hughes 300 helicopter for CKEY radio, logging some 5000 hours while doing traffic reports.
In 1979 Dini traded in her flying suit to become part of the original, groundbreaking CITY Pulse news team at CITY TV. Beginning as a general reporter, Dini was soon co-anchoring the 6 o’clock news, then solo-anchoring the 5 o’clock news, while hosting a daily talk show, which became and remains CITYLINE. It set broadcast records for the size of its viewing audience.
Ten years later, the opportunity to host a national talk show took Dini to CTV, where The Dini Petty Show became the longest running talk show in Canada’s history, earning her the nickname “Canada’s Oprah.”
Dini’s contribution to Canadian television has been recognized with six Can Pro Awards and four Gemini Nominations, for her talk show and documentary work. She pulled no punches — her film Incest: Scandal in the Family, was just the second documentary ever done in Canada on the subject. Having a Baby documented the pregnancy of Dini’s second child, Nick, from amniocentesis through delivery, a first of its kind. She is also the recipient of the NATPE International IRIS Award and several others for her decades of charity work.
Charity work has been a lifelong passion. As a teenager, Dini raised money going door-to-door for local charities and organized Christmas parties at shelters for children and youth. When TV gave her a public platform, she used it to start Coats for Kids while at CITY, a campaign still going today. The Pregnancy Youth Line was one of Dini’s early initiatives, where she worked with CHUM radio to run spots offering assistance to pregnant teenagers in need.
For over two decades Dini has been involved with international aid. A spokesperson for Amnesty International and Christian Children’s Fund, Dini hosted infomercials that began one of the organizations’ most successful campaigns ever in Canada. For Amnesty International, that also included the USA. Most recently Dini has traveled to Africa and the Far East, documenting Canadian doctors who work in developing countries.
Dini has conducted between 15,000 and 20,000 interviews. It’s that ability to connect with people that makes Dini such a powerful presenter. She speaks from the heart, with an insight into the human condition that few can claim. She communicates authentically, insightfully and compassionately, always exhibiting great humour.
In recent years Dini has turned her love of poetry into a best-selling children’s book The Queen, The Bear and the Bumblebee, which inspires children to “Be who you are, because there’s only one you.” Over the last few years Dini has toured her one-woman show A Broad View to rave reviews.