Home > Uncategorized > My 15 minutes, part 2: the spoken word

My 15 minutes, part 2: the spoken word

October 14th, 2011

I had never been interviewed on television before, and I was going to dive in to the deep end: a national show on a major network.  Fortunately, the setting was anything but adversarial.

A man … needs to be recognized. To be questioned, and listened to, and quoted just once. This is very important.

— Juror #9 from “Twelve Angry Men”

I’m not sure how Canada AM found out about the trip, but Kristen, a producer of the show, contacted me via email almost a month before the Puck Daddy story.  My best guess, based on an analysis of server logs, is that either reddit or StumbleUpon was the source.  Regardless, Kristen invited me to talk about my trip on Canada’s most-watched national morning show.

Initially, the interview was supposed to be live, but at the last minute it got bumped to being taped.  That was fine.  Less pressure.  My only concern was that it would never air if it didn’t turn out to be interesting.

I showed up at the main CTV studios in Toronto at about 8:30 a.m, about 20 minutes earlier than needed.  My interview was scheduled to taped at 9:10 a.m. — just after the conclusion of the live show — and I didn’t want to be late.  A young woman (a production assistant, maybe?) met me in the lobby and let me back to the makeup room.  As the world learned in the Nixon-Kennedy debate, even guys were makeup on TV.  Fine by me.  It’s no secret that I don’t have the best skin in the world, but HD cameras are brutal.

After the ladies in the makeup room cut a few years off my face, I went to the green room where Iron Chef Cat Cora’s entourage was watching her live cooking segment.  Or at least, it was nominally about cooking; most of her groupies were actually there to make sure that she pushed a particular line of cookware.

In time, the cooking was done, and with it, the show.  The green room cleared out, and a different PA came in with a wireless lavaliere mic, the better for me to be heard.  A few minutes after that, the first PA came back in and brought me to the Canada AM set.

“Bring your mug,” she told me, gesturing towards my cup full of water. “It will look better if you have one in front of you.”

“Ok.”  Trust the expert, I guess.

I took a seat, and Seamus O’Regan, one of the Canada AM hosts, sat down across from me.  We made small talk for a bit.  I was a bit surprised when he noticed that my brown sweater was an Icebreaker shirt.  “Great shirts,” he said, going on to mention how he had worn them when he went to Antarctica and was impressed by their ability to stay stink-free.  I nodded my agreement, hoping that it wasn’t a subtle message that my shirt was starting to smell; it had been weeks since it had last been washed, such was its anti-stink power.

On Canada AM (like Good Morning America, but in Canada) being interviewed by Seamus O'Regan in Toronto

A producer said, “Ten seconds,” the set went quiet, and the interview began.  Almost immediately a teleprompter problem caused it to stop, and after a quick reset, we began the second attempt.

The interview was about as low-pressure as interviews get, but I still managed to get off into the weeds a bit.  Oh well. Not too bad for my first time on TV.

After a few minutes, the interview wrapped up.  I thanked Seamus, he wished me best of luck on my travels.

I went back to the makeup room to clean off my face.  The PA gave me a different mug as a souvenir, and I went out the door and onto the road.

Me being interviewed on CTV Ottawa Morning Live by Kurt Stoodley in Ottawa

As luck would have it, I got a second chance with TV the next day in Ottawa.  Erin, a producer with CTV Ottawa Morning Live, tweeted me an invitation to appear on that show.  It turned out that CTV stations in certain markets made their own morning shows instead of playing the national Canada AM feed, and Ottawa was one such place.

They had found out about my journey from the Ottawa Citizen story, which was published before I actually made it to Ottawa.  They were unaware of Canada AM’s segment until I told them.

I was struck by how different the local approach was compared to the national program.  There was no makeup room, the lighting was much simpler, and the entire operation seemed more laid back.  That’s not meant to be pejorative — it was really easy to relax on the Morning Live set.

I parked outside the studio, walked in, found that the couch set for the morning show was right next to the door, and sat down on a nearby different couch to wait.  No green room this time.  There was an extensive spread of donuts, muffins, and coffee set out, and I was told to help myself, but I decided to hold off until after the interview lest I spilled on myself.  Speaking of which, I was wearing the same shirt as for the Canada AM interview.

Why did I go with my brown long-sleeved shirt instead of my black long-sleeved shirt?  I did some research ahead of time, and I learned that black isn’t a good color to wear on television.  Earth tones are best.  Brown is an earth tone.

After about 15 minutes, Kurt Stoodley, one of the morning hosts, came over and started talking to me about the trip.  It was a mock interview of sorts, in that he seemed to be testing lines of questioning and probing for interesting anecdotes.  After a little bit of this, we went up on the set and sat down. Less than a minute after that, the interview began. Live. (Posted on YouTube, too.)

Honestly, I find it excruciatingly painful to watch video of myself doing anything.  I’ve mentioned this before with regard to video of me playing hockey, and the same feeling seems to apply to interviews.  I have a very hard time seeing irrefutable proof that my execution in something is flawed.  Still, as with hockey, I know that my interviewing skills will not get better unless I face my errors head-on.

I think the Morning Live interview went much better than my Canada AM interview, mostly because I had the practice of the Canada AM interview behind me.  About four minutes after it started, the interview came to a close.

I grabbed a muffin and some coffee and got myself caffeinated enough to head upstairs to the studios of The Team 1200, a popular Ottawa sports talk radio station.  There, the “3 Guys on the Radio” J.R., Steve, and Jungle Jim talked with me for almost 10 minutes about my trip.  I know that because they posted the recording; in real life, it felt like only a couple of minutes.  Even though it was recorded for posterity, the broadcast itself happened live.

It was my first radio interview (ignoring a token book report back in grade school), and I think it went well.  I haven’t quite found my radio voice yet, but that’s something I can work on.

That left me wondering when the Canada AM interview would air.  It was taped on a Wednesday.  The interview didn’t air Thursday, and it didn’t air Friday.  Monday was a holiday (Canadian Thanksgiving), so the show was reruns.  I gave up hope and figured that somebody had decided the interview wasn’t worthy of broadcast.  Tuesday afternoon, I wrote a short email to Kristen, the Canada AM producer:

Hi Kristen,

Even though it’s looking like my interview is not going to air, I wanted to thank you for the opportunity. I enjoyed being at the studio and seeing how the show is done. If nothing else, I now have a souvenir mug. 🙂



To my great surprise, she quickly responded (in part):

Your interview actually aired this morning in the 800 half hour – and it looked great!

Wow!  I had slept through it, but fortunately the CTV News site posted my segment.

So, will that be the last of my TV and radio appearances?  No.  I taped another radio interview a few days ago (not sure when it will air), and I’ve received some indications of interest from a TV station that’s still a bit distant on my path.

Eventually, the attention will die down, but that’s okay.  If I’m ever interviewed again on radio or TV for some reason, I’ll be that much more experienced.

  1. Halfcent
    October 14th, 2011 at 16:06 | #1

    So cool! Congrats!

  2. Jeff
    October 14th, 2011 at 18:40 | #2

    @Halfcent Thanks!

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