A discussion with a Canadian media icon

Jess Buick, Contributor Ω

“It was the best show on the tour so far,” according to CBC radio host Stuart McLean after his sold-out performance at the Sagebrush Theatre on Oct. 14 in a post-show interview with The Omega. “One of the things about the show that makes me the happiest is that people of all ages get it,” Stuart said. The audience can feel it too, as throughout the theatre there were people from as young as seven to as seasoned as 90. During every performance, Stuart invites one lucky youngster to come on stage and assist him in giving a prize to the oldest and youngest person in the audience.

“Everybody seems to find a place they can connect with each through the show, and that’s one of the things that makes me the happiest,” he said.

The audience this particular night was very involved and participatory. At one point Stuart went way off script and started answering questions that members in the audience were yelling out. The musical guest was Harry Manx, a local British Columbian folk singer/songwriter who was absolutely incredible.

Stuart prides himself on having musical guests who have grown and flourished as musical artists on the Vinyl Café such as Matt Anderson, Dala, and Danny Michel.

“I feel like we’re doing more than just putting them on the show — we’re helping other performers,” Stuart explained.

Anxious student-journalists always want to hear something to comfort them, to assure them that their efforts aren’t for nothing — maybe one day they’ll make a difference — and when asked about the future of the industry, Stuart obliged.

“If journalism dies, our democracy will die,” he said. “The profession is changing and going through a transition” he said, adding, “there will always be stories and news and it’s up to your generation to be the storytellers.”

“If your heart is in journalism, set out to learn as much as you can. Follow your heart, it will lead you to the right place,” he said. Speaking with this Canadian idol of many, it was easy to absorb his passion.

“Journalism is writing the first draft of history, it’s one of the most important things,” he said.

I for one have no remaining doubts after seeing one of the giants in Canadian media do his thing and share his enthusiasm for the industry.