The new host of CBC’s Q talks about what he’ll change post-Ghomeshi, and what he won’t.

Episode Rundown

[00:02:43] “Shad how many times have you been asked about the fact that you once said dope on the CBC?” Jesse

“Ya that’s a real point of conversation surprisingly enough, in I’d say 50 percent of my interviews.” Shad

“He said dope and someone tweeted that he didn’t like it. Shad do you plan on saying dope on the CBC again?” Jesse

“It’s instinctual you know if I hear something that’s dope, I might say that it’s dope. I think that most people can understand me from context.” Shad

“You know what they’re really asking right?” Jesse

“Uh huh, ya.” Shad

“They’re not asking if you’re planning on saying dope on the CBC, they’re asking if you plan on being black on the CBC.” Jesse

[00:03:41] “I’m going to be who I am. I’m a rapper. I’m a young black male and I’m a rapper. That’s my background, it’s where I come from. If I’m in a conversation with another rapper about a rap song I’m going to probably use a little rap slang. That’s hopefully not too jargonistic for people, I think again they can understand me from context.” Shad

[00:04:17] “There’s still a lot of CBC diehards over 60, they’re still mad that radio 2 isn’t playing classical all the time and they are angry when the hear anything from hip hop culture, and I don’t think they see that there is a racist aspect to that. They feel like it’s the encroachment of I don’t know some sort of American thing, I don’t know but you are going to hear from them.” Jesse

“Ya I understand that I will definitely hear from them. I still like to think the best of people, I like to think that generally speaking the audience is thoughtful and empathetic and they can follow, and they’re actually interested in following what I’m saying. And there will be people that aren’t interested. You know as you said it’s kind of an old conversation to a lot of us as far as hip hop and its merits. I can’t really engage with it because it’s just so old to me, I don’t know what to really say.” Shad

“They’ll get use to it or tough shit.” Jesse

“Exactly.” Shad

[00:05:50] “You were interviewed by Ghomeshi, and you said in that interview that award shows shouldn’t be about celebrating celebrities. That you would rather be shining a light on people who are doing great things but who aren’t already getting a lot of attention. And that’s a great ethic, that’s a very public radio ethic that you expressed.” Jesse

[00:06:10] “Q is into celebrities, I think it’s the first CBC show to really embrace celebrity culture and they’re really into booking big stars and it’s a major part of what the show has been and why it took off.” Jesse

[00:06:42] “But on public radio like I’m paying for Q, you’re paying for Q, everybody is and I can’t think of one good reason why public radio should be apart of the celebrity hype machine. Can you?” Jesse

“It shouldn’t be apart of the celebrity hype machine at the same time people care about celebrities, right? So I think there’s an opportunity there to go somewhere in conversation that is of value. You know beyond celebrity hype. Certainly, if it’s just celebrity hype I don’t feel like I’m doing my job.” Shad

[00:07:31] “Q is the arts and culture show of CBC. I want to hear celebration of artists that I wouldn’t otherwise know. I don’t understand why there are these big American celebrities who  are always on a promotional tour for their new album or book or something.” Jesse

“Interesting.” Shad

“I’m asking you if that going to keep happening or if you’re going to reorient things?” Jesse

“I don’t know. I’m not particularly opposed to having famous people on there. You know, I think that the stories that matter. We talked about arts and culture, sometimes the stories people love are excellent of course right, I mean the two things aren’t incompatible and I think there can be some value there. I think it would be disingenuous to have Paris Hilton on and say we’re talking about sort of a celebrity culture and is it vapid or not. But I don’t think it would be disingenuous to have let’s say someone else who’s really famous and have a really human conversation. I mean they are a human being at the end of the day and they’re a person people care about so maybe there is an opportunity there to go somewhere in conversation that is interesting. If it is just turns into celebrity hype then I deserve to be out of a job, that’s for sure. But I don’t think that being a celebrity in it of itself makes you kind of not worthy of public radio and means inherently that you don’t have anything to offer to the platform. I wouldn’t go that far. I’m not interested in hosting a celebrity hype show that’s for sure. I would hope that I would be out of a job.” Shad

[00:09:04] “As mixed up as Q got with the industry and as important as it became as a place for artists to get on the air. A lot of stories you know in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations there are other things that came to light. And it was obvious that Ghomeshi was really mixed up with some dirty showbiz stuff with his management getting their own artists on the air to promote acts that you know they had an interest in and then you’d start to hear lights all over the CBC. And I was hearing that, that was kind of Ghomeshi engineering that and then there was that Tom Petty thing, where Petty gave him $5000 to fly to L.A to interview him. (See full article here) Just a lot of paola stuff back and forth. I’m just wondering you know where you stand on that kind of stuff and I’m sure you’ve got a lot of people you being in the Canadian music industry for years, who are like oh now we’ve got a connection to Q.” Jesse

“Ya you know that’s already started, I mean everyone from people I know to people I don’t know at all pitching me stuff. It’s one of those things where you have a lot of responsibility you have an opportunity to give a platform. I mean of course I don’t unilaterally make decisions about who goes on the show or not, I have to pitch like every other producer. And I’m sure they have their friends and conflicts of interests as well, I think that’s just something everyone has to navigate. But I think if we keep in mind the mandate of the show, the mandate of the CBC and kind of have a sense of integrity around that, that should go a long way because it certainly is a lot of responsibility there. There’s the opportunity to give some people some shine.” Shad

[00:10:39] “You know the show should reflect your tastes in some way. I think you’ve said that there’s going to be more hip hop on the show, I think that’s great, I think that CBC’s done a terrible job of promoting hip hop but it’s like where do you cross the line into and it’s a small country, like you know conflicts of interests and people who you have personal or professional relationships with, it’s tricky stuff.” Jesse

“It’s totally tricky stuff I don’t know too much about the organizational structure or the protocol and the accountability measures that are there but hopefully there are some because that’s something for me and all of our producers. You know it’s a responsibility for sure. Cause ya we all have our tastes, we all have our even our sense of what’s important and at the same time you’re trying to serve an audience, you know it’s complicated, it’s certainly not easy but ya none of that paola stuff, I mean that’s over, and that would certainly be out of the question, but ya that will be something to navigate for sure. It’s important.” Shad

[00:11:40] “As it got more popular it started to veer away from just arts and culture.” Jesse

[00:12:08] “It wasn’t within the wheelhouse you expect and that was a problem when the journalism wasn’t questioned because then there was internal CBC stuff where they’re like well officially it’s not a news show so it can’t get subjected to our news standards and everything got kind of messy there and I’m wondering if there’s any correction you have in mind, Iike are you going to be talking about major news stories of the day or are you going to refocus on arts and culture?” Jesse

“I think everything has to kind of go through that arts and culture lens. Relevance is important you know if something happens, we want to talk about it but I think it’s got to fall somewhere within the parameters of arts and culture for it to be a Q thing. I wouldn’t be too comfortable straining outside of that.” Shad

[00:13:05] “I’m just wondering like what are you bringing to it, like when you listen to the show would you say man they need to be doing more of this and not that and it bugs me when this happens or I really wish I can hear more of this. Like is there something guiding you as you step into the job?” Jesse

“Ya there is something guiding me but it’s less that you know I think it’s more of a sense of, I think that the show is important you know my general opinion of the show was always that this is a show that I can talk to my best friend’s parents about who are in their 60s and I can talk to my neighbours about who are my age and you know my peers about. So that’s what I always thought was really interesting about the show and the value of it and that appealed to me. It was less like I want to change the show and make it my own and make it better.” Shad

[00:14:02] “When the opportunity presented itself I was just kind of like this is a really cool show. It’s an important show. You know the learning is incredible. It was more those things as far as what I want to do with it I’m really not there yet, I kind of will have to lean back and lean of the rest of the team as far as what needs to happen, how the show needs to evolve at least in the short term, and I think then when I have my feet under me and I have a sense of a better sense of the job, I’ll have more to contribute as far as direction goes. But as for right now that’s kind of what’s guiding me, is I think that it’s an important show and I think it’s a cool show, it’s an opportunity to have some interesting conversations and show something about the human condition, about excellence in art and culture, you know all that stuff is just interesting to me.” Shad

[00:14:53] “Give me one concrete thing you’re going to change. Tell me you’re going to change the set, because it looks like a dungeon bordello like you got to do something about that.” Jesse

“Ya, ya the set is definitely going to change while I was in there, I was just like this is kind of cavernous and like sitting alone at that desk and trying to read an intro was so hard for me. So I know they want to brighten it up and I’m definitely all for that.” Shad

[00:16:13] “It’s like the only national arts and culture show in the country, like there is not much music anymore. It’s like the only place for stuff to get exposure and the problem with you putting too much power in the hands of the organization, is that the organization has fucked it up so terribly in so many ways I’m sure you’re getting a kinds of advice and you’re getting pushed and pulled in all different direction. I just wonder what you can say about the culture you’re stepping into there.” Jesse

“Well in my very, very brief experience you know I was actually really surprised at how lively the team was, you know just full of energy and optimism and bright ideas, I was kind of floored man. I was there in late January, I don’t know if they turned a corner sometime you know not too pretty close to that or something, but the culture that I’ve observed so far and again like I have super limited experience was pretty awesome. As far as what you were saying earlier I definitely have no choice but to lean on the team at least in the short run cause they have the experience, they know how the show needs to evolve right away. I’m the host, I’m the face of it, at the same time I kind of feel like the show’s not really about me. You can tell me if I’m wrong but I kind of feel like people tune in because they get interesting guests and interesting stories and as far as me, they’ll increase their familiarity and they’ll either come to love me or come to hate me and kind of that’s that.” Shad

[00:18:06] “When you’re on CBC you’re there everyday and CBC personalities do become that rare thing the Canadian celebrities. And I think we’re seeing that it’s dangerous, and it’s especially dangerous when you’ve got your face is going to be up on the posters and maybe they’re still going to do a 40ft thing in the atrium. And then you’ve got people on your team who are on like 2 week contracts such a power imbalance there.”Jesse

“Totally.” Shad

“That being a fucked up dynamic in a lot of different parts of the CBC and not just Q.” Jesse

“You know it’s funny I don’t think I really had a sense of it until last week to be honest.” Shad

“What happened last week?” Jesse

“When they made the announcement last week and it was all on the internet and I’m still doing the interviews about it, that was the only time it kind of really set in that like ya people develop a relationship with you across the country where you are kind of quite public. You know my career in music thus far has been pretty, you know I’m in my little corner of music i enjoy my career but I can certainly like enjoy normal life and that might change.” Shad

[00:20:27] “Ghomeshi acted like he loved everything and I get it the shows not arts criticism it’s arts exposure, it’s arts celebration, I get that is why I would suck at it. Nobody asked me but I’d suck at it. It didn’t matter what he had on if it was country music he loved it, if it was hip hop he loved it, Canlit, poetry, I don’t know foodie blogs, death metal ukulele music, it didn’t matter, whatever it was they were the most wonderful person he was interviewing, they were just fantastic. Nobody likes everything and nobody can be liked by everyone and that’s the sense that I got like I didn’t believe him that he liked everything and I was very aware of his need to be loved by everyone. And I don’t know what the other thing is but I think that just being real is a challenge when you’ve got that job.” Jesse

“Yes, certainly with such a broad audience you know what I mean. It’s like which version of me should I be. And I think also, there’s this tension I don’t know of you feel this with your interviews but someone comes on and they are your guest so you can’t hate them, you can’t what they do, you’ve invited them there. It wouldn’t make any sense to invite someone on and then you know be like I kinda…” Shad

“You can’t shit on your guest.” Jesse

“No you can’t, so there is that tension there and you know I think on top of that I’m a nice guy so, you know I’ve already told the team listen you’re going to have to hold me accountable here because I’m a nice guy, I’m not usually inclined to ask people difficult questions at the same time that’s my job now. So I’ll have to do a lot of learning there, because ya audience’s don’t really like that they can see through it, and it’s not interesting and it’s not real. And there’s’ a responsibility there too to call things out that need to be called out and talk about things that need to be talked about, that’s the job, that’s the public service.” Shad

[00:21:53] “It’s not that you can’t say anything as a radio host but there is that pressure to be all things to all people.” Jesse

“Well that’s the big difference right? Like when you have your own show for example or when you have your own music or whatever your creative expression is, you can take those stances and craft them exactly how you want to and it’s totally a different thing from hosting. That’s part of the craft that I’ll have to learn and get better at for sure. But it’s an interesting challenge cause they’re your guest, you know you can’t invite someone into your living room and then they’re like why the hell did you invite me here man, this is the worst.” Shad

“Well you know, I think it’s like you can’t love everything but you can be curious about everything there’s no problem with that.” Jesse

“Mhmm, mhmm. You know I feel like hosting is kind of like MCing too in that there is a lot of different ways to be good.”

[00:23:08] “You know, I don’t have the Ryan Seacrest gene of being super excited about everything but I can be curious and interested and hopefully I have my own way.” Shad

[00:23:28] “But man what an interesting job, what interesting work like I just couldn’t turn it down.” Shad