Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Never say Never: Lessons from Becky Coles - Newstalk 1010



Newstalk 1010 producer Becky Coles paid a visit to her alma mater today, and spoke to the 2016 graduating class of Radio Humber.



Becky opened up her talk by asking the class if there was a certain radio format they wouldn’t ever work in. A few of the students responded, which led to the greater discussion of encouraging them to ‘never say never’. 


‘Never saying never’ is a sentiment echoed by most seasoned radio professionals – who – like Becky – rise to the occasion and work where they can get a job in radio – regardless of job description and content format. Becky reflected on how she didn’t expect to be a traffic reporter, work in promotions or do morning radio. The reality is – she worked in traffic, she worked in promotions and continues to work in morning radio. In her words – ‘ I like to live, support myself, and … eat.’

In the 14 years of working in radio – another reality Becky faced was being restructured out of employment twice. The first time she had a hard time with the experience, and was hard on herself - wondering what more she could have done to be kept on with the company. The next time it happened – she realized that being laid off or restructured  is a reality of this business, and no matter how hard you work –when your number is up, it’s up.


Good advice for the graduating class who may very likely face this ‘reality of the business’ one day themselves. The important part, says Becky - is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from the experience and try again. And never say never.






Sheila Walsh, Mar 30 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I was there: Jerry Agar

“I was there.”

The three most powerful words a talk show host can say, according to Newstalk 1010 host Jerry Agar – who visited the Radio Humber class of 2016.

“Being there – in the heart of story – even for just 10 minutes – offers first hand perspective and credibility."

That was just one piece of advice Agar offered this group – most of whom will be pursuing on-air work when they finish their studies in 7 weeks.

The self-described hard-core conservative also suggested that everyone in the class “find their true self and figure out who you are and what you believe it. Just be YOU.” Agar shared that it wasn’t until the year 2000 when he discovered his ‘true self’ and made the transition from  music DJ to very successful, no holds barred talk radio host – a role that has taken him to many cities in the US – including Chicago and New York.

But that success didn’t come right away, and Agar reinforced to the class how important small town experience is to big time achievement. “Go small – get experience, fail – and then move on. It’s how you build credibility. Nobody goes to Swan River, Manitoba for their ‘second’ job”.

Agar also touched on acclimatizing to the community you serve – and how important honesty and transparency is. He used himself as an example: while new to the Toronto landscape , Agar – on the air - mispronounced Toronto’s Queens Quay (pronounced key not quay).  When corrected – he acknowledged his wrongdoing, and in true Jerry Agar fashion then asked the audience– ‘why the hell is it spelled that way then?” Something most Torontonians probably question as well.

Jerry Agar was viewed by the class as refreshing and passionate – honest and insightful. On his combative talk show technique, he said  ‘ I’m not trying to win, I’m trying to have an interesting show’. It was very evident that in person – as on-air - Agar is truly an interesting person -  to listen to -  and learn from.


Sheila Walsh, Mar 10, 16 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chris Pottage - Producer Perspective

‘A good producer is always happy to help” 


Wise words from veteran Toronto radio producer – Chris Pottage – who visited the Radio Humber Speaker Series today (#RBDSpeakerSeries).  Pottage – who heads the Roger’s Radio Creative Department in Toronto – offered many wise words to this group of students – most of whom are radio producers and writers in training.

He advised the group to ‘do things that terrify you’, and he reflected on a time when he was thrown into a situation he wasn’t trained - or prepared - for: producing and mixing a live artist feature on the former Toronto country station CISS Country. The baptism by fire intial session was disastrous, and Chris pleaded with his then boss to never have to do it again. Her response – something that is still heard today – was ‘no money – you’re the man’. 6 months later – producing that live music feature was the highlight of Chris’ job.

Another key point Chris hit on was to be receptive of constructive criticism. ‘The person who pats you on the back and says good job – nothing else – is not helping you improve your craft’. He offered that someone who takes the time to properly critique you shows they care, and that they want you to get better.

Chris has survived much radio turnover in his career – and attributes it to something he advised the students to focus on:  a great work ethic, 'a great attitude, a yearning to improve your skill, and staying humble’.

Asked by a student what superpower he would like to possess – Chris answered ‘super attitude man’; I think it was evident to the audience that he already has that superpower.


Sheila Walsh, Mar 9, 2016



Friday, March 4, 2016

'Going Home' - reflections on post, post-secondary

Going ‘home’ today” was how Global TV reporter Mark Carcasole described his return to halls of Humber College.

How nice is it that our Radio Humber graduates reflect on their time in college with such warmth? It's an undeniable and indescribable connection that many alumni – myself included – feel each time they walk through the doors of their alma mater. And the Radio Humber program is very lucky that so many alumni offer to come back, share their experiences, offer advice - and make a re-connection with – perhaps – a simpler time?

Mark – from the class of 2006 - was the veteran of the nine Radio Humber graduates who returned to Humber College today to speak to the Radio Diploma Class of 2016 – who are a mere 8 weeks away from finishing up that ‘simpler time’ (although they don’t realize that yet).

Joining Mark on our ‘Grad Panel talk’ was Shemroy Parkinson from Kiss 92.5, Leah Abrahams from Newcap Radio Toronto, Phil Hong from Humble and Fred, George Tsilfidis from Newstalk 1010, Amanda Santos from Country 105 and her brother Quin Santos (our first brother sister graduating class!), Brent Gunning from Sportsnet 590 The Fan, and Nicole Rodgers – most recently of Indie 88.1

The session opened with this question: ‘What was the biggest learning curve 6 months post-Humber?’’
Answers varied – but essentially the common theme with the group was:
1.      You need to be a good multitasker
2.      You need to have an excellent work ethic
3.      You need to be passionate about what it is you are doing
4.      And perhaps most importantly – you need to be patient,     because the opportunity you’re waiting for is worth waiting for.

The current students had some very insightful and intelligent questions for the panel: “what’s the fine line between being confident and arrogant”  “how do I get noticed” “how can I make opportunities for myself”...


As someone who has had the pleasure of having each of these men and women in at least one of my classes over the years, it is very fulfilling to see that these young talents – who were diamonds in the rough not so long ago – are shining brightly and living their dreams. AND – that they like to come ‘home’.

SW, Mar 2016