My Impromptu Interview with George Stroumboulopoulos

As I strolled through the John Street entrance of CBC studios yesterday afternoon, I crossed a threshold from the outside world—the world of streetcars and frostbite—into a world of possibility—the world of television broadcasting. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be on set during the taping of  George Stroumboulopoulos’ New Year’s Eve show.

While the CBC technitians fiddled with the computer (they were setting up for a live interview with You-Tube sensation Anton Dobson), Strombo fielded a few questions from the audience. Here’s what George had to say when Lady Medusa asked about radio and television broadcasting and the future of Canadian communication.

George explained that we need to realize that as broadcasters, we’re just one brick in a long roadway of media communication. The infrastructure of media is changing, and rather than trying to see where the road is headed, journalists need to focus on laying their brick, on making their small sound. We need to understand how we, as journalists, are part of a larger discourse, an ongoing conversation that has been taking place since the early days of radio. When I asked George where he thinks he stands in the roadway of Canadian broadcasting, he shyly shoved his hands in his pockets and said modestly, “that isn’t my place to say.”

I asked George if he had any advice for aspiring journalists. Impulsively, he answered, “Do what you love.”

“Television is easy” he told me. “All of this—” (he gestured to the CBC set)— “is easy. In order to get here, however, you have to figure out what you want to talk about. You have to figure out what you want to say.”

During Strombo’s interview with actor Gordon Pinsent, I leaned forward intently; As much as I was interested in Pinsent’s answers, I was more interested in Strombo’s questions. An excellent listener and conversationalist, Stombo aims for his new show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight to be casual and conversational, in opposition to the stuffy and highly-edited recordings in more sober media. Strombo doesn’t script his interviews, he just lets the conversation flow. “We frame interviews” he tells me, “but we don’t script them. That’s what makes us different.”

Most of all, Strombo told me not to hold out. He believes that the price for admission into the world of broadcasting is doing and being everything you are right now, tonight—not tomorrow, or the next day, but tonight.

Thank you, George, for your insightful opinions, and please keep in mind that Lady Medusa is single.

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13 thoughts on “My Impromptu Interview with George Stroumboulopoulos

  1. may i say you are reading too much into george answers ? he gets asked the same crap everynight. so while you think he is genuis, he has already answered that questions several times over. Tell me, what is the difference between “scipting” an interview and “framing” an interview ? That seems like some slick double talk to me.

    • Hi! Thanks for engaging with Lady Medusa.

      While I agree that I’m putting George Strombo on a pedestal, I would argue it’s a well-deserved pedestal. You’re not the first person I’ve encountered who fails to appreciate what this man has done for Canadian broadcasting. Strombo has built and empire, and he’s paved the way for young voices in Canada. I think I pretty clearly understood what he meant, and even if he gets asked these questions all the time, that doesn’t diminish the validity and vibrancy of his answers.

      The difference between “framing” and interview and “scripting” an interview is pretty clear, but I’ll elaborate: A “scripted” interview has every word and inflection written down on paper (the script), and the interviewer and interviewee simply read from the monitor. When a journalist “frames” an interview, she sets up the themes and topics that the conversation will touch upon without actually “scripting” the language. There’s a difference.

      One more thing— if we’re going to use Orwellian terms, let’s use them correctly, shall we? It’s “double-speak,” not “double-talk.” Consult your 1984.

  2. Maybe I LIKE the term double speak instad on double talk. Anyone who puts George on a pedistal doesn’t even deserve to insult my writing style.

    George interveiwed Tom Green, halfway through the conversation George asked him about the evolution of species …. I thought, wtf ? What a weird question that came out of nowhere. It’s not like Tom is some climate change scientist person …. well, Tom had an answer all ready.

    OHHHHHHHHHH, what do you know, it was a bit right out of Tom’s new comedy show. Isn’t that exactly what a Jay Leno or Letterman woud do, only better ?

    • Dear Loser Girl: While Lady Medusa invites conversation and even confrontation, she’s not interested in petty debating. I like George Strombo, and I admire what he has done for Canadian journalism. You obviously don’t feel the same way, so we can agree to disagree. I like the Tom Green clip, though, so thanks for sending it.

  3. One day you will grow up, Lady Medusa, and look back on this as your “Jonas Brothers” stage of mindless fan idolatry.

    Your descriptions of almost everything, including having to lean forward to better understand George, are hilarious and sad.

    Actual journalism entails some degree of objectivity, and not the head-over-hells, blind to the obvious, views you state here.

    I usually enjoy reading these encounters George has with his mindless, can’t-think-for-themselves fans.
    Entertaining in several ways. Just a matter of time before each fan realizes that Strombo is not at all that special and that what he does is in fact a worse job than most interviewers – HA – he actually wants you to think and believe that what he does is “different from others”. Yeah, like Mansbridge, Ghomeshi, Larry King … hahahaha … sooooo different.
    And you are sucked into to believing he’s actually saying something that makes sense.
    How can you be so empty-headed and unable to think for yourself?

    He has built an empire?
    I have never heard a low rated TV show described that way before. That is funny beyond words.

    https://twitter.com/#!/allansorensen

    • Hi Allan, and thanks for engaging with Lady Medusa.

      You write as if you’re an insider in the industry, or as if you’re a writer or journalist yourself, so I’m interested in your opinion. First of all, I’m wondering how you think it benefits the conversation to tell another writer she needs to “grow up” when she’s simply expressing the way she feels? Or, to call a fellow writer names such as “empty-headed”? I admire Strombo, and I think we can learn from him, so why hate? The tone of your response is not in the spirit of collaborative communication that Lady Medusa tries to foster. In fact, it’s outright mean, and you come off sounding both unprofessional and kind of jealous towards Strombo’s success.

      There’s no such thing as objectivity, and Lady Medusa is in no way pretending to be objective. Lady Medusa narrates her opinion grounded in her body and her experiences because there’s no such thing as externally verifiable truth; all we can ever do as writers is occupy the first-person “I” of our stories and own that perspective; objectivity is an illusion.

      Namaste,
      LM

  4. Good come back MedusaFAN !
    Although it doesn’t really hurt when the person makes fun of themselves first.

    George says “Television is easy” he told me. “All of this—” (he gestured to the CBC set)— “is easy.” Is that really a man giving his all to his job ? If his interviews weren’t as …framed as they were, they wouldn’t be as easy as they are.

    I have to agree with Mr. Sorensen that George’s “empire” is built with toothpicks and low ratings.

    The ony brick George can lay on the yellow brick road of journalism is the one that leads to munchkin land, where of course he is the mayor.

  5. What do you admire about Strombo?
    That he demanded a long-term contract with a CBC desperate to attract a younger audience, then proceeded to attract no ratings whatsoever until the show couldn’t even support itself and had to be cut back to half of what it was?

    Do you admire how “different” his interviews are compared to every interview on a hundred channels every hour.
    Do you admire how most guest use the show as a warm-up rehearsal before going on American shows?

    Do you admire George’s skill in hiring people who are better educated and able to think and so write his “Debriefing” monologues for him?

    Are you thinking that you would find it impossible to do these things? That it would never occur to you to ask Robert Plant – “can you tell us about your new album, which is the only reason you’re sitting here and putting up with this in the mistaken belief that it will actually make a difference to your sales?” – and how did that work out? Your lousy album bombed, yes?

    The biggest scam of all of it is that George labels himself a journalist.
    How many guests on his show come on while having a son sitting in prison facing a long term sentence? 50 or just one in six years? Kind of a rare thing, don’t you think?
    So what did the man who isn’t afraid of a tame tiger ask Michael Dougles?
    About his son, or about his movie? What did the fearless journalist do?

    I can think of a hundred brighter and funnier people in Canada who could do a better job than Strombo, and easily get better ratings.
    A show that is based on getting celebrities to promote their products is not exactly an original concept, but it is the easiest show to do.
    No one is tuning int tonight to see and hear Strombo. It’s only about the guest.

    An EMPIRE! you mean because he also has a radio show on late night on Sunday when BBM’s can’t even be bothered to measure the audience because that time slot is so insignificant. OOOOH, what an empire!
    Is he starting a newspaper and publishing house next?
    The guy can’t even fill a tweet without the help of others, has never written a paragraph longer than two sentences yet claims his “blog” is just a hub of excitement for a thriving community. Where do you see evidence of a community on his CBC web page?

    Strombo is full of it, and totally oblivious to just how dumb he is when he speaks off the top of his head.
    Did you know, Lady Medusa, that if you take the word injustice and remove two letters you get the word justice?
    George can teach you and future broadcasters smart stuff like that for you to go home and sit and think about.

    99.9% of Canada can’t stand the strombo act, yet you think that because he’s on TV he must be a better, smarter person than you.
    That is not at all true.

    I’ll bet you every interviewer on TV thinks they’re better than George, and they are.
    Try Bill Maher and Jon Stewart if you want an education instead of wasting time with a guy who thinks Hulk Hogan’s daughter’s new CD is of national interest and importance.

    He sits on a red chair for sixty shows then all of a sudden he’s out gawking at polar bears from a safe distance – what is that all about?
    If George were so concerned about the world around him then why hasn’t he interviewed you? or gone out to see the suffering and triumphs that other Canadians are living through and try to understand the human condition instead of pretending that the most important thing for you TONIGHT is to learn what an American celebrity is selling.

    And his radio show is the lamest show you will ever hear.
    No one, absolutely no one listens to his show and he was a total failure in radio. No station would put him on the air because they’re are not in business to LOSE money.
    Only the CBC can get away with a show no one watches.

    And he’s lying to you. He doesn’t just merely “frame” a question.
    The way a question is asked, the precise wording, is very important, and George has them written down and prepared. He has to be careful how says things so as not to offend anyone and hopefully get them back again. And indeed most of them are on over and over again.
    He actually sends publicists tapes of his interviews to people thinking of coming on so that they will see how “safe” it is to be interviewed by George
    We promise, no uncomfortable or difficult questions!

    And he lies to his home audience, changing shirts to make it appear that na interview is being conducted on the same night (TONIGHT!) when it was done days earlier. Whe he says so and so will be here, he means a tape will be played but you’re not supposed to know that. So someone has to keep track of his shirt changes or he’d be screwed.
    He actually lied flat out with Nickleback making them pretend along with him that they had already been inducted into Walk of Fame when it was days away.
    And then he has the audacity to claim that he’s NOT a phoney! Everything he says is straight up!

    No, Strombo is no one to emulate or copy or worship. He doesn’t even know his own mind.
    But he can “inspire” others.
    They can look at him and go “if an idiot like that can get a show then so can I”.
    “That looks like the easiest job in the world”.

    And for that, George, thank you.

  6. “So someone has to keep track of his shirt changes or he’d be screwed.” So true ! It is George’s same shirt rouse. The only part that is tonight – is the debrief. Except for the debrief on Friday because that is taped on Wednesday.

    Losergirl wants to know why you refer to yourself in 3rd person Lady Medua ?

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