Saturday, May 30, 2009

You know you're living in residence when...

... … your first morning, you try to exit the wide berth of large doors leading to the street and you’re blocked by a gaggle of pre-teen boy scouts lugging sleeping bags and duffel bags. They’re standing still, all looking up to the counsellor standing in front of them. He’s lanky and stern-looking, with a salt-and-pepper beard and a Tilly hat. He’s glaring down at the group and saying, in a contemptuous voice,

“Whoever that was, stop passing gas in public. It really isn’t polite.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why I will never pee in the Amazon

This week’s assignment: researching for a quiz for the Backpacker Battle show this weekend.

Pete, one of the show’s producers, tells me to start with freaky animal and/or world travel facts.

“You know, like, the Amazonian pee fish,” he says in his British accent.

“The what?”

“Google it, you’ll figure it out.”

Hoo boy.

Note: once you’ve been traumatized by the description of the candiru’s feeding habits, you have to read this. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while…

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The best way to spend a Sunday afternoon

I’m sitting in a radio studio on the second floor of the CBC building on a Sunday afternoon. As the clock above turns to 4:04:40, a 20-second countdown begins to flash in red.
3, 2, 1…

“I’m Rex Murphy, and you’re listening to Cross-Country Check Up.”

Cue epic music. And my skwinkling.

I’ve been listening to CCCU for as long as I can remember. My dad, a huge Rex Murphy fan, had me tuned to the show before my young, sponge-like brain knew what it was absorbing. I remember many afternoons in dad’s art studio, wrapped in an old plaid workshirt and painting many a watercolour while my father worked away beside me at his easel with his acrylics. I was his de facto audience when he needed to rant on the week’s topic. And, while most of it likely went in one ear and out the other as I toiled away on my next unicorn masterpiece, I like to think that my young mind grasped at least a bit of Rex’s wisdom along with my dad’s lectures. Well, that and a strong affection for the music of Tom Cochrane and the Eagles.

Mere seconds after Rex gave the week’s topic, the three phones to the right of the production booth jumped to life.

“Hello, this is Cross-Country Check Up. May I ask where you’re calling from?”

The booth worked like a well-oiled machine, with the phone operators taking careful notes on yellow cards that were then handed to the producer, who would vet the callers and arrange the lineup. The cards then made their way to the senior producer, who would enter the information into the computer that would send it to Rex in the studio.

My friend Jeff, who gladly came along when I promised Rex Murphy, looked around wide eyed. “It’s like an election war room.”

The energy of a live call-in show is remarkable and very different from pre-recorded shows or even live studio shows like GO. And there’s a healthy feel of democracy to it as well, which warms my young idealistic spirit.

When I got to meet Rex after the show, I could barely keep up. The man is so sharp, it’s frightfully intimidating. But such is the price one pays for meeting one’s heroes, I suppose…

Saturday, May 9, 2009

First show: Meg and Sheila, BFF

Week one’s theme: The Awkward Show. Almost too apt for our intrepid intern.

The concept is a bit much to explain in a blog, but revolves around a previous show of GO where a singer from Hamilton, Tiny Bill Cody, wrote a song about Sheila Copps called “Sheila Dreams of the Water”—that is quite awesome, albeit with some questionable lines. This time, Sheila confronts Tiny Bill about his song… hence the awkward bit.

Of course, Sheila has to be kept from the audience during the first half of the show, so who is in charge of keeping the former Deputy PM company? That’s right, yours truly.

I can say quite fairly that I’m generally a pretty big fan of Sheila. As a young woman (well, according to my grandfather at least) with an interest in politics, I think it’s natural to take an interest in strong female politicians and Sheila’s longstanding political career is one of many reasons to admire her.

So, of course I can’t help myself as I hand her a glass of water:

“Wow, this is a bit of a flashback”

Sheila looks confused. “Oh really?” she asks politely.

“Yeah, well I used to be a Page—“

“Oh, in the legislature?”

“No… no, in the House of Commons… in 2004.”

“Oh really?”

Cue 45 minute private conversation with Sheila about politics—from university funding to female representation on Parliament Hill (from sculptures to the House)—and a variety of topics in between.

It was when she entered the radio studio and related many of Brent’s questions to feminism that I realized I may have primed her a bit for where she would direct the show.

When she used the word misogynist, I was fairly certain I had.

One more point for the feminists. Now if only I can get the next guest to talk about vaginas…

Also notable: Sheila and Tiny Bill Cody’s duet of reconciliation: Funky Disclaimer. You can also listen to the episode here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A heartening welcome

Day One of my CBC Toronto internship.

I walk into the senior editor’s office, slightly drained from the morning’s Dalet Plus training session.

“Hey Meg,” says Dave, “how was the morning?” He points to a man sitting on the couch next to his desk. “Have you met Brent? This is Brent Bambury, the show’s host. Brent, this is Meg, our summer intern.”

Brent is reclining into the armrest, appearing completely at ease in a t-shirt, jeans and a pair of red Chucks. He has a disposable camera in his hands.

“Hi Meg,” Brent says casually, waving the camera as a hello. “I’m taking photos of people eating today. So, if you don’t want an awkward and unflattering picture of you shoving something into your mouth, I wouldn’t eat anything around here.”

I think I’m going to enjoy myself at GO.

Monday, May 4, 2009

In the Big-ish City

So it's been a busy two weeks since my last post. I had two fabulous weeks at CBC Radio in Ottawa... there's something about sitting in the newsroom seeing your heroes on a regular basis: Rosemary Barton leaving for the Oliphant trial as I head in for work; Keith Boag talking about Jamaica at the morning meeting; Don Newman winking at me as I come back from lunch with a huge Laura Secord ice cream cone.

When I wasn't staring in wide-eyed wonder, I even learned a bit about current affairs radio programming. And managed to land a big interview for last week's show as well. So I was able to leave on a high note... yes, still a lowly intern, but I'm the little intern who could!

Trying to pack and say goodbye to everyone made everything pretty hectic... but I somehow managed to get everything packed and make it to my train yesterday evening. And while I know I'm going to miss Ottawa in the summer— the canal, the Market, the jogging paths— I was welcomed to Toronto with a gorgeous penthouse loft apartment in the Village by one of my fabulous roommates, vegan chocolate cake and a big, comfy bed. So maybe the Big Smoke won't be so bad after all?

... Of course, I had doubts when this morning I awoke to the fire alarm. With the roomie gone, I dazedly grabbed the keys and my bag. Suddenly, the penthouse didn't seem so glamorous as I made my way down the stairs...

Then the announcement: false alarm. Go back to your lives, citizens... Which would have been great had my keycard worked.

First morning in Toronto: locked out of my apartment in my PJs. And, of course they're the pink pajama bottoms that say "one tough cookie" and have angry-looking chocolate chip cookies on them.

Down to the rental office— it seems that my messy hair, pajama bottoms and sleepy look convinced them I wasn't trying to break in— and I got my new keycard. People on the street looked at me like I was a hobo. A hobo in really cool pants... I hope.

Tomorrow I start internship #2... and I get full-on radio software training! This should be an improvement over my yelling at Dalet when it wouldn't do what I wanted until Chris, the tech guy, got annoyed by my expletives and came to fix it for me.