CBC personalities talk broadcasting and self-disclosure at IFOA

by Iain Reid

Saturday was CBC Day at IFOA. Personalities from the public broadcaster appeared throughout the morning and afternoon. I found my way to the Lakeside Terrace for the last session of the evening. The latish start (9pm) obviously didn’t dissuade the crowd. Most of the chairs were filled when I arrived. I found a single spot near the back.

© readings.org

It was the DNTO readings, hosted (appropriately) by Sook-Yin Lee. First up was Nora Young, host of Spark. Young read a fascinating section from her book, The Virtual Self. The book examines how our immersion in the digital world is altering the rest of our lives. “Seeing yourself as unexceptional can be very profound,” she said.

Young was followed by Wiretap host, Jonathan Goldstein. Goldstein, known for his dry wit and deadpan delivery, didn’t disappoint. His reading about attending the birth of his nephew had the crowd in throes.

Last to read was the host of Q, Jian Ghomeshi. Ghomeshi began with an impression of his father before reading a charming excerpt depicting his 14-year-old self trying to muster the courage to call his older crush on his family’s communal phone.

After the readings Lee sat on stage with the others. This was the first literary event I’ve attended that featured a panel of all radio hosts. There was a noticeable ease and level of comfort in their performance not always seen at readings. There was also a thread of camaraderie that ran through the event and added to the casual manner of the discussion.

The funny and interesting assembly became more group-discussion than one-on-one interviews. It varied from how much CBC censors their other work to how much each reveals about themselves to broader questions of journalism and broadcasting. Goldstein claimed, “I’m not a broadcaster.”

Young said, “I conceal just about everything. It’s not in my nature to talk about myself.”

Ghomeshi explained that, “people do this (broadcasting) different ways.” He talked about how he made it a priority to adopt a more conversational tone to his interviews. Goldstein added, “I do my best work behind people’s back…in the darkness of the studio, like mould.”

A spirited Q&A capped off the evening. By now it was 10:30 but people were still hoping to ask questions. Always a sign of a pleased and engaged audience.

Visit readings.org for more event listings. Follow Iain Reid on twitter at @reid_iain.