George Stroumboulopoulos speaks at DCMA, discusses his TV and radio career with locals

March 23, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

Canadian television and radio personality George Stroumboulopoulos was at Dufferin County Museum & Archives this past Sunday, speaking about his life, experiences and fascinating career and interviews with people from all walks of life.

For two hours, Nanci Malek, the museum’s marketing and promotions co-ordinator, interviewed Mr. Stroumboulopoulos, giving a Q & A about his life and career. A friend of Mr. Stroumboulopoulos, she said she wanted people to get to know him. “I wanted in this day and age of media, celebrity and not-so positive messages out there, I wanted you to meet someone who promotes positive, consistently.”

Mr. Stroumboulopoulos has an extensive career on radio and television. He was formerly the VJ for the Canadian music channel MuchMusic (now Much). He hosted the CBC television talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight from 2005 to 2014. From 2014 to 2016, he anchored Hockey Night in Canada.

Since 2005, he has hosted The Strombo Show, a music-oriented free-form radio talk show, airing on the CBC Radio 2 network, although it’s not recorded in CBC’s main studio, but in his own home. The show has a wide range of music personally chosen by Mr. Stroumboulopoulos, and live performances and guests, including Queens of the Stone Age, Patti Smith, Gord Downie, and City and Colour.

In a separate interview with the Citizen, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said he became interested in radio while listening to Q107 and The Edge. “I grew up listening to those DJ’s and just buying into that lifestyle.”

Asked how he got into radio, he said that as a motorcycle enthusiast he went to get a course calendar at Humber College in Toronto to get his motorcycle licence, flipped through it and saw radio production. “It’s the only school I applied for, the only program I applied to, and I got in, weirdly. I didn’t know that I would.”

Though he always wanted to work in radio and media, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said there was “no reason for me to think that I could. I wasn’t worried about the fact that I couldn’t, I just didn’t know there was a path to this.”

He explained that The Strombo Show began as a result of his love of music, when he had a website and would post songs he liked for people to check out, and it got to a point he had so much music, he realized, “That’s a show.”

Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said the radio show is the toughest thing he’s done, but “I live and die by that show,” as being on the air is easy for him, because “I’m very comfortable being myself in every situation, that’s good or bad.”

When the subject of Hockey Night in Canada came up, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said it was a different experience, but one he wanted to do.

“I didn’t worry so much about how it ended or where it was going to go, that’s not as interesting to me as can you do it… I just enjoyed the moment, so I was able to be very present for everything.”

When asked about his most memorable moment with Hockey Night, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said it was once when Montreal Canadiens got eliminated from the playoffs. A big Canadiens fan, he recalled watching the game as they were being eliminated, and hearing the producer tell him he was on air in ten seconds. “I had to walk, sit in that chair, grip the table, and just pretend nothing happened… act like it didn’t bug me.”

When discussing Orangeville and Dufferin County, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said he had a radio teacher from Humber who had done a morning show radio station on DC 103 in Orangeville, and he and other students would go there. Though most memories evolve around the radio station, he also remembers, “mostly partying, in a field.”

Ms. Malek mentioned he’s interviewed multiple celebrities and politicians, ranging from Sarah Palin, Matt Damon, Samuel L. Jackson, and Will Ferrell. Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said in interviews he wants to be surprised. “If I walk through life as if I know what it should be like, then I’m wasting my opportunity.”

Asked to recall one of his favourite celebrities from his television show, he mentioned actor Tom Cruise. He explained that he had a motorcycle accident a week before interviewing Mr. Cruise, had a broken collarbone, and left the hospital with the collarbone still broken. Before doing the interview, Mr. Cruise came to see Mr. Stroumboulopoulos, and hearing about his broken collarbone, he showed him his own collarbone injury from a motorcycle.

Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said a package was delivered to his place, two months after the interview.

“It’s a black leather binder, with all this motorcycle racing information and it was a card that said ‘we need to keep you alive. Call my friend. He’ll train you. Tom.’ The bigger the star, often the nicer.”

When asked how he got an interview with Prince Charles, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos explained he was kayaking in California, when out in the ocean, he got a call on his cellphone saying Prince Charles wanted to do an interview in two days, but at his royal residence, Clarence House, in London.

He described Prince Charles as warm, thoughtful – “all the things that never get represented in the media … He is the most interesting person I have ever come across.”

When asked how he made Prince Charles comfortable, he said it was being himself.

“I can be proper, I understand how to be respectful, but I’m not going to fake it, and I think those kinds of traditions are important, to a degree.”

When the audience was given a chance to ask a question, one wanted Mr. Stroumboulopoulos to describe the interview with Kermit the Frog. “It was so weird,” he described. “The craziest interview I’ve ever done in my life.”

Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said when doing the interview, and looking into his eyes, “It occurred to me I’m looking at plastic.” He said Kermit was about positivity, and enjoyed showing it to others, as everyone’s face in the audience, young or old, “was a six-year old.”

When asked about one person he could go back in time to interview, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos said delta blues player Robert Johnson, because “he’s the guy that essentially invented the music I love.”

Currently, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos is working on a new interview television show, a talk show online, and potentially do a movie, although it needs “reworking” as it’s “very bleak.”

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