I love doing radio interviews — especially on CBC Radio.
There are a lot of famous people working there — really nice famous people. That’s the one thing I love about CBC — the nice people you hear on the radio are just as nice in person.
I do most of my CBC work in Toronto and the only drawback is the robot mail guy (or girl?). It’s not nice at all. It's an actual robot that delivers the mail. Mind you, it looks more like an enlarged-shopping cart or a mini Zamboni moving around via remote control — but it is a robot. On its front there’s a sign posted “Move It or Lose It.” When it passes by and you want the mail, you simply touch it and it will stop. Sounds simple enough — but I find its attitude not as friendly as the radio folks'. The darn thing keeps taking turns too sharply or knocking into chairs and getting stuck; and when you go to help it, the robot tries to deliver you mail. Once, for pure enjoyment, I decided to say something nasty to it when it rolled past my booth. The darn thing turned around and came back at me. The whole studio laughed hysterically as I ran away.
And imagine this, I'm running to the washroom to pee between live interviews with Goose Bay and Sudbury affiliates, having literally three minutes to do the act, and there is the robot, blocking the washroom door. I tried to move it to the side, and it tried to hand me a mail package. I panicked and used the women's washroom instead, and thank goodness I didn't run into anyone like Sheila Rogers in the stall — even if she is a really nice person.
Most of the radio I do is live, which is something I prefer — most of the time. I remember when my daughter was four; I was doing a number of live radio interviews from home, averaging one or two every morning. My wife, Alana, would make sure our daughter, Kyla, stayed downstairs with her while I went upstairs to do the interviews over the phone.
Everything went well — until Collingwood’s Peak FM called. A couple minutes into the interview Kyla wandered upstairs, pulled on my pant leg while I was talking live on radio, and asked me a question: “Dad, what’s the place in Canada that rhymes with vagina?”
Needless to say, I didn’t give her an answer right away. The host of the show wanted to — but Alana, listening online downstairs, discovered where Kyla had gotten to when she heard her sweet little voice on radio and was able to take her back downstairs before she repeated the question.
I was in the CBC Radio syndicate studio in Toronto again the next day. I was to do 14 interviews from coast-to-coast during a four-hour stint. How it worked was pretty cool. Hosts from various Canadian cities — Whitehorse to Charlottetown — would phone in one at a time, interview me for 10 to 12 minutes, leaving me a two- or three-minute interval to prepare for the next interview. It’s a hectic pace for sure; but the main advantage was in doing the interviews away from home — and away from Kyla’s possible off-key questions.
But like I’ve stated before, my life never goes as planned. Yes, you guessed it. The first city to phone in for the radio interview was Regina.
When the host announced himself and where he was calling from, I had a giggle fit for the first minute or so. The host didn’t find my story behind my uncontrollable laughter very funny… but I certainly did.
The best ever radio misadventure, however, was my battle with the moose. The story was initiated on a canoe trip down the Kopka River that flows out of Wabakimi Provincial Park and into Lake Nipigon. It was a three-week trip and CBC Radio had scheduled a number of live interviews by satellite phone.
It was an amazing trip and made for amazing radio. The river was remote and wildlife sightings were unsurpassed. The host of the show was happy, except for one thing — he wanted a moose story. We saw 11 bears, five bald eagles and a close encounter with a skunk. But no moose.
I had one more interview scheduled with CBC at the conclusion of the trip. The plan was to load up the vehicle at the take-out and then drive to a nearby lodge so I could make use of their landline (the satellite phone was acting up).
My canoe-mate, Andy Baxter, and I happened upon a moose feeding along the roadside not long after we started the drive to the lodge. I was desperate for a moose encounter for the radio interview, so I pulled over to take a picture. Andy called me an "idiot tourist" and warned me of the dangers of photographing moose along the roadside.
I stood my ground when the moose initially started to charge; not believing it was a real threat. When it was only a few metres away, and changing its gait from a gallop to an all out sprint, I suddenly changed my tune. I ran my ass off, making a beeline back to the truck.
What was I thinking? If I had come across the same animal while out on a trip and not by the side of the highway, I would have admired it from a distance, not blindly walked up to it snapping photos as if it was a supermodel.
A few seconds into the chase I realized that being part of the high school running club was far behind me, but the moose wasn’t. He was closing in and the only thing to do was to start zigzagging in hopes of confusing him.
It was the blast of a logging truck’s horn that saved me in the end. Not my buddy Andy. He was too busy laughing uncontrollably and trying to figure out how to turn his video camera on. The moose jolted with the sound of the horn, zigged when I zagged and gave up the chase as quickly as it started.
I’m an idiot. I really am. I’m quite a safety fanatic while out on a trip. It’s a philosophy that’s kept me alive many times out there. There are times, however, the moment the trip is over I find myself forgetting all those over-the-top security measures, as if being reconnected with civilization makes it all okay again. Who am I kidding?
We arrived at the lodge in time for my last CBC interview, and I was able to add a moose story for the host. It was such an elaborate narrative; however, you could tell the host didn’t totally believe me. After all, it’s radio. I could have spun a tale of spotting a Sasquatch if I really wanted.
The logging truck driver came to my rescue, again. He called in to the radio show and backed up my story. “I’ve never seen a man run so fast in my life,” he declared.
I love radio.