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People and places: Sheila Coles

J. School lecturer and person who is up before the sun by CBC
J. School lecturer and person who is up before the sun
by CBC

That one friendly voice in the morning

CBC Morning Edition host Sheila Coles spoke with the Carillon about her time behind the microphone and getting bitten by the travel bug.

What’s the secret to hosting a radio show well?

Coffee (laughs). Lots of coffee. I’m not sure I can answer that other than telling you that you’ve got to be curious and enjoy hearing peoples’ stories. When I was trying to get in journalism school, they asked me – this is many years ago – why I wanted to be a journalist. I told them because every day is different. You learn something different every day, and I’ve always been really curious about what makes other people tick. That hasn’t changed in all these years. People are capable of doing the most reprehensible and the most admirable things you can imagine, and I never get bored of looking at what makes people tick.

You said you have the best job in journalism. Why?

Well, because of that. I get to talk to different people every day. I’m not an expert; I’m a jack-of-all-trades. I’m not an expert in any particular field, but I get to learn a little bit about all sorts of different fields and human nature every day. I have a friend who’s a lawyer. He finds his job has its ups and downs, but he told me once that I have the best job because I get to just have coffee with people every day. I said, “Yeah, and they’re the most interesting people because every one of them has a story!”

I guess I can make an assumption based on your coffee answer. But is there anything you don’t enjoy about your job?

(Laughs) The hours. If I could do The Morning Edition from, I don’t know, 9 ‘til 10 or 10:30 that would be nice (laughs). People assume that you get used to waking up at four in the morning, but you never do (laughs). The hours are hard, but apart from the hours, I love the time that I’m on air and I love the people that I work with. We have a superb team. I get a lot of credit when things go right, but the credit actually belongs to the people I work with. I work with such great people. It’s a really great team and I enjoy working with them. I enjoy working with people who have a great sense of humour, great ideas and great motivation.

Is there any other career that you’d like to try?

Oh boy. I did try another career before this. I was a teacher for a couple of years, and I enjoyed that. Even in the past few years, I’ve taught at the journalism school, and I really enjoy working with the students… Certainly teaching appealed to me.

What’s something else that your listeners might not know about you?

Hmm. If they don’t know it about me, it’s for a good reason and I’m not going to tell you (laughs). I don’t know! Mainly, I’ve got the travel bug in a big way. I took six months off work last year and went to Asia for four months, and I just had two weeks off and went to Belize in Central America. I’ve got the travel bug in a big way and spend a lot of time browsing the Lonely Planet books in Chapters, thinking about which trip is going to be next. I’ve always been very curious about the world and seeing other parts of the world. Now that my kids are older and they’ve left home, the opportunities are opening up more for travel.

What’s the next destination?

I’ve never been to Italy. I would love to spend some time in Italy, but there are a lot places in South America that are high up on my list, too. I’d love to spend a month or so in Ecuador, ideally with a little side trip to the Galapagos Islands. I very much want to spend some time in South America, and I did start taking a Spanish class, which is something people wouldn’t know. But I’d have to improve my Spanish vocabulary if I want to spend a month in a Spanish-speaking country (laughs). Very much Central America, very much Ecuador, and also Italy and Portugal are high up on my list, too.

About Ed Kapp