This summer planning on an follow up interview with Toni Marie Wiseman, in the meantime thought I’d go back to 2009. We chatted then and it aired over a 2 hour episode of the program.
I also had the interview transcribed in 2009. Originally it was divided up over a week but here I’ll put it all in one big post. Going back and reading the old posts I found out I posted it while she was on vacation in Costa Rica. This week she’s also on vacation, but close to home.
This is not a word for word transcript since I did some editing to make it easier to read. Reading an interview is much different than listening to one. This whole post is over 7000 words so sit back, relax and take your time. First part was how she got into broadcasting.
ROB: Welcome to the show, Toni.
TONI: Thank you very much for having me Rob.
ROB: I know myself as an Army Brat, I moved around a lot. And you moved around a lot on the east coast.
TONI: I did, yes.
ROB: So, how was growing up in different towns over the years?
TONI: You may feel the same way, when I was growing up I found it quite difficult. Being in a place for two years and then moving. Having to leave friends behind make new friends, and start all over.
But now especially because of the work that I do with NTV I find that having moved around, really allowed me to feel connected with each part of the province.
When I have to talk about a particular event that’s happening in Corner Brook I can relate to that. Because I lived in towns like Corner Brook, Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.
While it was difficult when I was younger, it was really a blessing. It’s allowed me to find out much more about the province. Many people don’t have the luxury of having lived all over the place. So, it’s a good thing.
ROB: I got used to it pretty quickly. By the time I was five I was in three or four towns.
TONI: The only sad thing is when people that I know, some of them have friends that they’ve had since they were three or four.
And I don’t. That’s what I think I’ve missed out on. I don’t really have any friends that I’ve had for years and years. But I have lots of great friends now, so, I’m none the worse from my ordeal, I suppose.
ROB: I know you went to Memorial for one year and then went to journalism school.
TONI: I did. And that was my father’s idea. I was a very shy girl. I was always very young for my age. Probably five years younger emotionally than my peers were. When I went to university [Acadia] first I got sick. So, I had to move home.
Then I went to MUN [Memorial University]. You may have found this too, because I moved around so much, my parents, especially my mom were kind of my best friends. Moving away from them for the first time I found quite difficult.
My first year at Memorial University I didn’t do as well as I should have. Or I could have. And a lot of it was home sickness.
My father said, “Well, how about you take a year off and take this course? It’s a broadcasting course. This is kind of what you want to do. Take the year do the course. And if you really enjoy it then maybe you’ll be more motivated.”
I thought, that’s fair, so to my dad who’s been paying for my education. So that’s what I did.
Began in September of ’86. By December, we were shipped off to various parts of the province to do some on the job training. I was sent to Corner Brook, where my brother lived at the time. And I did so well there that they hired me.
I realized that this was something that I really wanted to do. I was quite lucky.
I started working full time at CFCB in Corner Brook just a few short months after I started the program. Then I made a transfer to Grand Falls Windsor to a VOCM affiliate station. After that I went to the head station 590 VOCM in St. Johns.
Basically I was working with another affiliate station with VOCM called VOFM as the morning traffic person. You drive around and tell people if there are slowdowns or if this road is closed.
I had to be at work for four in the morning which I found quite difficult. It’s one of those jobs that can tire, can wear on a person after a while. It was a great entry level job, but it’s not the most creative job you can do in broadcasting.
I was getting a little bored, when the opportunity arose that I could apply for a job at NTV and I did.
In this part of the interview, Toni Marie starts about the differences she found when switching from radio to TV. But we start off with the day she went in for a job interview with NTV.
TONI: I was quite nervous since didn’t know if I was a television kind of person. Radio as you know is so much freer in many ways.
In many ways you can be more expressive physically than you can on TV. On TV people can see if you talk with your hands a lot. In radio they don’t see that.
One of the first things I had to do was read news on camera. I’d read news but never from a teleprompter. And the teleprompter that day wasn’t working. So, I had to kind of cheat. Where you look down and look up at the same time. Of course I didn’t have any experience in that. So, I thought I had done a terrible job.
But the next day they called and offered me the job. I guess they saw some potential and nearly twenty years later I’m still there.
ROB: I’ve used the teleprompter a couple of times when I took TV broadcasting at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Have a few memories of when the teleprompter would break down. And then we’d have to do exactly what you said, read off the script.
TONI: In many stations they have an auto-cue person. A a tech person who controls the teleprompter for the news anchors. Which means somebody else controls the pace of your reading.
People who have worked at other television stations and come to work for us find our set up very peculiar and aren’t used to it.
At our station we get to control it ourselves. I control the speed myself. And I find it works quite well, because I read a lot faster than most people. I’m not waiting or anticipating when the teleprompter or auto queue is going to move.
Also it gives you something to do with your hands when you’re on television. As I said, you can’t talk with your hands like you do in radio so it gives you something to hold when you’re there. That’s the one thing people say when I interview them is, “What do I do with my hands?”
When you’re anchoring a newscast at our station at least you have that problem solved for you.
ROB: What was the hardest part of the transition from radio to TV when you started? I guess it’s getting used to people recognizing you on the street instead of by your voice.
TONI: Well, yes, a lot of that. And also in radio you don’t really have to dress up.
A lot of what I’d done in radio was overnights when there isn’t a lot of management around. They don’t care if you wear blue jeans and a T-shirt. You can’t wear that when you’re on television anchoring the news.
Radio is live and television is live, but they can see terror on your face. You can hide nervousness fairly well on the radio. You can’t on TV.
And it’s all those sorts of things that you don’t really pick up until you see yourself television. “Why do I tilt my head when I ask a question? That looks so foolish.”
I still love radio and a lot of the time I miss it. Radio is more personal in many ways. When people listen to their favorite radio announcer they really feel a warm, fuzzy connection to that voice.
When you’re on television they kind of view you in a different way. Many times over the years I have felt as if I’m just the person in a box. And when I’m in public and people look at me sometimes they don’t say, “Hi” to me. They stand a couple of feet away and talk about me to their friends, in a polite way. But as if I can’t really hear them, because I’m still inside this box.
ROB: I’ve heard stories over the years of people phoning various TV stations and instead of talking about the stories their comments are on the person’s hair or the wardrobe.
TONI: That happens a lot. I like to think that I don’t know why they do that. But I do that as well, if I’m watching a television show. I might say, “Ooh, I don’t like that dress that that woman is wearing.” But when it happens to me, I get kind of offended or bothered by it. I guess it’s just human nature.
And I think we have to understand that if we want people to welcome us into their homes that we are opening ourselves up to so much more than that.
If we are trying to make a personal connection in our program, we then have to accept the fact that they’re going to be quite personal with us.
But, it can be tough. You really have to develop a thick skin. And I still don’t have a thick skin.
So, if somebody calls and they say they didn’t like my hair. It really bothers me. I laugh it off and I say, “Okay, I’ll style it differently tomorrow.” When I have naturally curly hair, but I straighten it most often for television, because it just looks nicer.
But every now and then I will wear my hair curly. Once a gentleman sent me a comb in the mail and asked that I comb my hair.
TONI: I was devastated. But I’m sure he meant it in the nicest of ways. And if he had seen my actual reaction he probably would have felt bad. You have to realize that people really don’t mean any harm. And when they give you criticism they really mean it to be constructive criticism.
They may think they’re talking to their friend. “Hey, that’s Toni Marie. She’s in my living room every night. She’s been there for twenty years. I think I have the right to tell her if her hair is bad.” You have to try and get over it.
Today’s part of the interview starts off with the reach of NTV. If you’ve wondered why their weather forecast always mentions Tampa Bay, Florida when they show North America there is a reason. Also how she switched to covering Entertainment.
ROB: Now for those who might not have the seen the station. You have several jobs. You are a news anchor, Sunday evenings and noon hour weekdays. And you do the weather reports, 6pm Monday to Thursday.
TONI: Which are live. Actually they’re live hits in the community. And I read radio news still. I also write a bi-weekly column for our sister magazine called the Newfoundland Herald. That’s over sixty years old now.
We have a lot of viewers in Ontario and throughout the country.
A lot of Newfoundlanders moved to Ontario twenty, thirty years ago. I dare you to find somebody from Ontario who doesn’t know someone from Newfoundland.
We are on satellite, on Bell Express Vu and Star Choice. So, we’re seen by Ex Patriot Newfoundlanders across the country and in the United States as well. They get to stay connected with home and see how Newfoundland has grown up quite a bit since they’ve left.
ROB: I know at least in some cities that NTV has also started popping up on digital cable. Ontario, Alberta among some places.
TONI: The oddest thing happened to me several years ago. I was visiting British Columbia, which is a beautiful province. I was on Vancouver Island and with some people who lived in Nanaimo. We went into a big box store and in the television section, NTV was on. That was a little strange. But it was really nice.
ROB: It’s also on in the Caribbean.
TONI: Yes, and in Tampa Bay, Florida. A lot of people across Canada and Newfoundland winter in Florida. Because of that I guess there’s a market for it.
ROB: I found that station online, I think about a year ago. And they even have a live stream, you can technically watch NTV online. They show, the Noon news and half of the 6 o’clock news. I was here at the station one night, just before my show. And I thought to try the feed and I watched a half hour of the news here on the computer. I think it’s mostly Greek programming of all things.
TONI: Yes, it’s a Greek television station.
ROB: So NTV is all over the place.
TONI: We are. I’m sure when Mr. Sterling, started this station many decades ago he never dreamed it would be seen around North America.
I’m sure he wished it would but it’s come a long way. And people are really embracing the station. We have fans across the country who have no real connection to Newfoundland. They stumbled on it and enjoyed watching our news.
Before stations went digital, when everything was still analog people could pick us up anywhere. We used to get fan mail from places like Montana and Kentucky.
We got a photo from a nudist colony. Because many years ago we would say, “If you’re watching us from somewhere else in the country or throughout North America, send us a picture of your group. And we’ll put it on TV.”
Well, that picture we couldn’t actually put on TV but we did mention it.
ROB: I know you have won several awards for your other job you at the station covering the local arts scene. You have also Entertainment News, which a program you tape during the week and airs on Saturday nights.
TONI: That’s right.
ROB: So, this must be one of the more rewarding parts of the job. Helping support music and the arts.
TONI: Absolutely. I would dare you to find a person who at some point in their childhood maybe didn’t want to be a rock star, or an actress or a dancer. I wanted to be all of those things… unfortunately I don’t sing very well. I don’t act very well. And I really am not a very good dancer.
So, for me to be able to meet all of these artistic people is such a thrill. To be able to sit down with someone like Teresa Ennis who is such a talented and beautiful woman. To talk to her about her music is fantastic.
I remember when she and her sisters were first signed to Warner Music. We were at an East Coast Music Association conference. And they were very young girls at that time. They kind of looked at me like a big sister for that moment in time. We all kind of bonded during that weekend.
And then they were signing their first record deal. It was really exciting for me too, and emotional. Even though I’m supposed to be this hardnosed TV person, I do get caught up with the people I interview. It’s great to see how well Teresa has done. It’s a beautiful thing to have been able to watch her grow since the beginning.
Damhnait Doyle is another. The first time I interviewed her, I guess she was about eighteen years old. And I mean she’s another fantastic talent. And to see how far she’s come.
ROB: What was it like doing your entertainment reports when you started? I know originally you were doing news and then moved over to covering the arts.
TONI: Yes, which was great for me and for the station. We’re supposed to be these hardnosed kinds of people in many ways. You’re not supposed to become personally involved or care about the people you interview.
It was quite difficult for me doing news stories and having to ask people questions that made them uncomfortable or made them upset. I really wasn’t that great at it.
If I was interviewing somebody and they didn’t want to answer the question I wouldn’t ask the question another way like most smart news reporters will do. I would just kind of say, “Oh that’s okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ask you that question.”
That doesn’t fly when you’re a news reporter, at least not with the news director. They thought that I was a great writer and that I could read and speak well. That I had great creative ideas, but probably not for news.
They allowed me to explore the entertainment field. They didn’t have anyone covering entertainment on a full-time basis at that point. That became my new job, in addition to the anchoring roles and radio roles that I had. But it was great. I’ve been doing that now for many years. And I think it’s the best thing that ever could have happened to me or for the company.
[This part was before 2010 Junos] First is a chat about the previous Junos in St. John’s, which is returning to town in 2010.
Thanks to Brent from The Lever Pulled for this comment on the MySpace page. I assume Brent was the one from the band who posted it. [Yes, the old MySpace page]
“Toni is only young but she’s already a legend in Newfoundland media and a big part of Newfoundland culture. That’s not an exaggeration. Mention the name Toni-Marie to ANYONE in this province and they know who you are talking about.”
Which shows how down to earth she is with the red carpet story she had at the last Junos.
ROB: One of the big events years ago was the Junos in St. John’s, which are coming back next year. From what I’ve heard that week there was a lot of partying going.
TONI: What happens at the Junos in St. John’s, stays at the Junos in St. John’s. I’m kidding.
It was great fun. We got to meet a lot of people. In Newfoundland people aren’t afraid to say hello to you. When you go live on location in Newfoundland you kind of expect the unexpected. It was just before the live telecast show, the red carpet walk.
Before that started happening for the mother network [CTV], I was doing some live remotes for our newscast that was happening. And there were reporters from across the country. Some of the top entertainment reporters from all the major stations.
And a young guy came out to vacuum the red carpet while I was speaking. And I didn’t flinch, because it was his job.
When I stopped that particular live remote, which was probably thirty seconds to a minute, all the reporters basically jumped on this poor young fellow.
‘How could you do that? She was live.’
And I kind of had to get in there and say,
‘Listen, it’s his job. He has to make sure that red carpet is clean before the live telecast. What I’m doing isn’t necessarily as important as what he is doing.’
They just kind of looked at me like, ‘What? What?’
I said, ‘Well, his job was that he was sent out here to vacuum that carpet.’
But they couldn’t understand how I was able to keep focus while a vacuum cleaner was running.
The TV people from the big cities can learn something from her. Then we talked about the weather hits. Don’t be surprised if you see her lugging around equipment if you see her around town.
Onto a memory of talking to Great Big Sea when they started out. Which leads into talking about Alan Doyle/Russell Crowe and the Robin Hood movie they’re in. Which left an opening for me to bring up that we both are big Monty Python fans.
TONI: When I do my live remotes a lot of people are surprised that it’s only myself and usually Dan Lake. Dan the camera man as we affectionately call him.
We don’t have a lighting person or a makeup person or a sound person. We don’t have someone to carry the equipment for us. I’m on the ground duct taping cables as well as Dan is. We’re used to having to do everything.
Being on our own, very little will throw us at this point. And if it does we just make it part of the show, because it’s live television. I think the viewers at home like to see that. I’m sure when I was reading and the guy came out to vacuum the carpet, everyone watching TV at that point thought that was the neatest thing they’d seen. Here is this young guy about seventeen years old out with his little vacuum cleaner.
ROB: Talking about the live hits sometimes you community ones and other times they just stick you outside in the snowstorm. I read you thought the people stayed tuned to the weather on bad nights just to see you outside in the storm?
TONI: Yes, and see the Tammy Faye Baker eyes. It can be really uncomfortable.
But it’s funny, when I first started doing the live remotes I was in my twenties. And all I cared about in my twenties as most of us women do when we’re in our twenties. Not all, but many. We want to look pretty.
We’re not going to wear a big bulky jacket to make us look heavier. We’re going to wear the teeniest little jacket we can get away with. And we’re going to try to have the hair perfect and everything, and I couldn’t possibly wear a hat.
Well, now that I’m considerably older than twenty, I wear a full snow-suit now. I just want to be warm and dry and comfortable. And when I’m warm and dry I perform better too.
ROB: Was this winter a bad one, worse or better than usual?
TONI: It was a lot colder than usual. So, I had to deal with that quite a bit. I started wearing the ear muffs along with the snowsuit. But we didn’t have as much snow as we had in previous years. I mean one year we had about six, seven feet of snow. In one snow fall we had seventy-four centimeters.
ROB: That’s a lot.
TONI: That’s a lot.
[Not a typo we said the same thing]
TONI: This year you know our worst month might have been thirty. This was a good winter, but very cold.
ROB: I did notice some storms where the snow is swirling around and blowing in your face.
TONI: And it takes your breath away. Because the camera is such an expensive piece of equipment we can’t throw away the camera to save me. So, it’s the other way around. I’m positioned in a way that it’s not so much that I look my best. But it’s so that the camera doesn’t get blown over or damaged from all the snow.
That usually means I’m in the most uncomfortable place to be. But I guess it’s almost like an actor on a stage and you have a prop to work with. And the prop makes you do different things.
When I’m out and there isn’t a whole lot to talk about other than the fact that I’m standing in a raging blizzard. Then the blizzard is my friend, because I have plenty to talk about. And people like to see weather people in weather.
That’s what we’re supposed to do. We understand how horrible the weather is. They can feel fine when they complain about it or if I complain about it, because they know I’m in it too.
I’m not in some cozy perfect little studio with a green screen behind me, which we have done from time to time. But in the major snowstorms I’m outside. I’m outside braving the elements as everyone else will have to do when they get out and pick up that shovel.
ROB: Wtih all the various jobs you have at the station, you must enjoy the mix. Every day is different, so to speak.
TONI: Every day is different and the same. I meet different people every day. That’s the best part of the job. I do an entertainment report or two every week, but it’s always somebody different. It’s fun. I feel guilty sometimes, because I have so much fun doing the work that I do.
It gets back to what I was talking about earlier, a feeling of attachment to what’s happening in the arts community. That adds to the fun, I really get caught up in how people advance.
I mentioned Teresa Ennis, but the first time I had interviewed Great Big Sea, they had never won any awards before. And they had been nominated for an ECMA.
We were at Alan Doyle’s house at the time. He and Sean McCann were there. And I saw like this little ornament on a mantelpiece. I handed it to them and said, ‘Okay, pretend for me that you’ve just won your first ECMA. And what would say?’
Of course the first thing they said was, “We’d like to thank God.” Because that’s what everybody says, which was nice.
It was funny to see and I still have that tape. To remember that and be a part of that and their excitement. Now to see them as grown men with families.
Alan Doyle now starring in a movie with Russell Crowe, who’s apparently one of his good buds. And I can say that I knew them when.
ROB: I’ve seen pictures online of Robin Hood. Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett I believe are in that movie. Alan is over there for I think about six to nine months.
TONI: Alan, oddly enough or maybe not that odd, he plays kind of like a minstrel does he not? Like a roving musician. And his name in the film, I believe is Alan A’dayle.
ROB: Kind of like the singing character from Holy Grail.
TONI: Yes. “He is brave sir Robin.” I think it’s quite fitting.
ROB: Slightly off topic, we’re both Monty Python fans. I guess you can’t use that in any report on NTV.
ROB: I know The Meaning of Life is your favorite one.
TONI: I do like the Meaning of Life. I’ve seen it so many time that usually when I watch it now, I do need to watch it alone, because I recite the entire movie. It’s not good, when there are other people in the room. And Monty Python, I think it’s brilliant humor, as I know you do.
TONI: Very intelligent, but a lot of people don’t get it. They just think it’s too foolish to talk about. When I’m singing some of the songs that are in the film that we won’t sing now, on this wonderful radio station people think I’m a little crazy.
ROB: And all the guys in Python were university educated.
TONI: Yes. We’ll have to watch these sometime. One of my co-workers Larry Jay, who anchors the Sunday evening news with me, is also a huge fan of Monty Python. I think he can recite even Flying Circus, the television program itself. He can recite I think everything they’ve ever done.
ROB: I was watching a few months ago the DVD of Holy Grail with John Cleese’s commentary. He had a story about meeting an American football player in the 70’s. The player said him and a teammate were big fans of Holy Grail.
One game they’re just getting crushed by the other team. It’s getting near the end of the game. They’re in the huddle said “What should we do?” One guy whispered to the other one, “Run away. Run away.” And they started cracking up during the next play. John was amazed that this silly thing they wrote for this movie were being used by these players during a game.
TONI: Maybe they could all sing the Lumberjack song. That might do well.
Once in an email to me at the end she said “talk to you later, Sir Not Appearing in this film”. If you get that reference you know why I was impressed. A one line joke in Holy Grail.
Next section goes to a more serious part. As part of a TV report Toni Marie spent a few days in the Women’s Correctional Facility in Clarenville.
ROB: A few years ago you had an report where you spend a few nights in a women’s correctional facility. That must have been an incredibly interesting few days.
TONI: It was. I got the idea from watching a story from an American network where a really well known news anchor did that. She went in and stayed in a women’s correctional facility for a few days.
I called a few people that I knew in the Justice Department. Some of them pulled a few strings for me. I was able to stay a few nights in a minimum security women’s prison in Clarenville.
Myself and a female camera person went. We weren’t strip searched or anything, but had to shower when we got there. Gave them our civilian clothing and wore hand me down clothing that they had. At first we had to wear that. Then they laundered our clothing and gave it back to us.
We slept in a cell and ate with the inmates. At first when we got there we were quite nervous.
But most of these women weren’t in there for violent offenses. They were in for fraud and that type of thing. We learned pretty quickly that we weren’t in any physical danger.
It was really emotional to speak to some of these women. To find out why they were doing the things they were doing. Most of these women were moms and missed their families tremendously. They had photographs and letters from their children. It was really heart wrenching.
Very few of them acted as if they didn’t deserve to be there. Most of them said, “Look, I have committed these crimes. And I’m serving the time.” That was an interesting thing, because usually you think that everyone is going to say they were wrongfully convicted. But we didn’t get that.
One woman was serving a much longer sentence. She was convicted of manslaughter for having killed her common law husband. Through the interview with her, and in the trial it came out that he abused her quite a bit. This was her way of trying not be attacked this particular night.
She picked up small kitchen knife. When he came towards her she poked at him to get him away. Knife went in and nicked his heart, he died instantly. Could’ve gotten him in the shoulder, but she didn’t. It wasn’t premeditated.
From talking to her we found out that she’d been abused in every way possible since she’d been about four years old. Practically every relationship she’d been in with a man had been abusive in some form or another since she was that age.
She had very low self esteem, and ended up finding herself in this sort of relationship over and over again. I guess she was at the breaking point. It was heart wrenching for her. She also had a child that wasn’t able to see her for years. So, it was really tough.
One of the interesting things is something that I’m sure has changed. The only work duty that these women could do was to repair the uniforms from the male prisoners. They sewed buttons or knitted socks. That was their job. Which is a little bit sexist that they weren’t able to do other things.
When we packed up and got ready to leave we were saying goodbye to the women. This is my soft news person again, I started to cry.
The inmates said, “Why are you crying? You get to leave here. You know, we’re the ones that have to stay. Why are you upset?”
And I said, “Because I almost feel guilty.”
You know for me it was, “Oh look at Toni doing the bad girl thing for two or three days. And I get to hang out with you guys.”
I always knew in the back of my mind that I could leave in a few days. In some ways I almost felt as though I was taking advantage. Even though I thought I was sincere when I was leaving I had a real guilt about me.
ROB: The fact you were kind of coming in and do the report.
TONI: And then leaving again. But one of the women said, “Well, you are the first reporter who’s actually stayed here. Most just come in and do a quick interview and leave. At least you ate the food that we ate. You sat at the table with us. And you were as bored as we were for the last three days.”
That was really nice. They actually made me feel better, which is funny since I was the one getting out.
About six months later I was walking through a store in one of the malls. One of the women I met she was very funny. Very clean humor, just genuinely hilarious.
Walking through this store and all of a sudden I hear this voice. And I know right away it’s her. She was about fifty feet away from me. She says, “Gosh I haven’t seen you since we were in prison together.”
Everyone in the store just kind of stopped and looked at me and thought, “Oh my. I didn’t know Toni Marie was in prison.” But she did it for the comedic affect, it was funny.
This was a short part I ran out of time to play in that particular episode but I played on another show, her talking about St. John’s.
TONI: St. Johns has become very cosmopolitan. It’s not a large city by any stretch about 195,000 people. But there’s so much to do here. You can go any night of the week and see live music or a live theatrical performance.
We’ve got a beautiful new facility, called the Rooms. That houses the provincial art gallery, theater and archives. It’s fantastic.
I love St. Johns. I can walk by myself downtown at midnight and feel pretty safe.
I knew during one part of our chat, Toni would try to “turn the table” at one point. I steered it back to it being about her eventually. LOL.
TONI: But we should talk more about music, because you have a fantastic show, Salt Water Music. And I know that now it’s kind of the place to be for Newfoundland and Labrador and east coast artists to be played. Maybe I can kind of turn the table on you a little bit and ask if there’s anything maybe you want to know about some of your favorites or some of the people you’ve interviewed or played on your wonderful show?
ROB: You’ve done a lot of interviews with people, I’ve talked to like Ian Foster and Teresa Ennis.
TONI: Fergus O’Byrne too I believe.
ROB: Yeah. For Fergus you were partly responsible for that since we did the Newfoundland Herald interview then you were talking to Fergus during one of the weather hits.
You mentioned the interview and got my contact information and that’s how I got the interview with Fergus. So, thank you for that.
TONI: After I wrote that article a number of artists contacted me and wanted to know how to get in touch with you. Because you’re doing such a great service. Obviously every musician wants to have their music played on any radio station that will take them. But the unique thing about your program is that it possibly reaches a larger audience.
They get to play their music now for people who maybe hadn’t heard Teresa Ennis’s solo album since she was no longer with the Ennis sisters. Or maybe had never heard Fergus O’Byrne talk on the radio. Especially when you told me that wonderful story about your inspiration for Salt Water Music came from Ryan’s Fancy and from the death of Dermot O’Reilly.
Fergus will probably be one of the first to admit that their first stop in this country aside from Newfoundland was Ontario. Ryan’s Fancy did quite well there. It was great for Fergus knowing that there was somebody who was helping to keep great east coast music available to people in that part of the country.
ROB: Before we go, Toni, any favorite songs from Newfoundland artists that you’ve been listening to?
TONI: I think you know this but my boyfriend Kenny Butler is a musician. He does have a beautiful song and I believe you play it on your show.
It’s called Breathe the Air. It’s a beautiful song. And so, I’d love to hear that one.
There’s another one and it’s by Ron Hynes, which I’m sure everyone in your listening audience is familiar with.
The wonderful Ron Hynes, a man of a thousand songs. Years ago many people will remember the Ocean Ranger, which was an oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland that sank on one horrible night around Valentine’s Day.
He wrote a song about that disaster and about the people left behind. The song is called Atlantic Blue and it is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. It’s so beautiful that I don’t think I’ve ever been able to listen to it and not cry. So, you could play that one for me too, if that’s okay.
[After playing those songs]
ROB: Your favorite song is one from the 80’s, is there a particular reason why that song became your favorite?
TONI: You’re talking about No One is to Blame, Howard Jones.
I think it’s just a very peaceful song that back in those days was around summer vacation. Probably came out when I was close to the end of high school. It’s just a very relaxing beautiful song.
And it talks about life too. No matter what happens, we can try not to hurt people but in the long run no one really is to blame for where their heart goes, where their heart leads them. I like that one.
ROB: I know you have a copy on vinyl.
TONI: I do. I wonder where I got that.
ROB: I don’t know.
TONI: Maybe a really good friend of mine in radio might have been able to track that one down for me.
TONI: Rob, thank you so much for inviting me on this show. I hope I haven’t bored you or your listeners too much. You’ve got such a fantastic show there, I’d hate to do anything to jeopardize it.
I want to thank you, not just for inviting me but for creating this wonderful show, Salt Water Music. I know that people not just in Newfoundland and Labrador appreciate that you’ve done this. But throughout the east coast of Canada, the artists who get to be played on this fantastic program.
I’m your numerous listeners love it too. And I know they appreciate that you’re bringing the east coast music back to Ontario.
ROB: I try my best. So, thanks for that. And thanks for joining us, Toni.
TONI: Thank you. You take care.
One last part was Toni’s story about saying Patrick Roy the wrong way on the radio. For this section if you see “Roy” it is the proper way to say it as in Patrick Roy. If you see “ROY” in caps it is ROY Rogers.
ROB: Since we’re on the radio what’s the first thing that comes to mind from doing radio?
TONI: I could tell you a really funny story, since you’re also involved in sports and I know you would appreciate this story quite a bit. I had been in radio for a while, I mostly was a DJ. I played music, did voice commercials and that sort of thing. Also I had written some news and a bit of sports. But I hadn’t done a lot of sports. Normally there’s a sports person.
This one summer someone from our sister station OZ FM went on vacation for an extended period. They needed someone to read news, sports and weather. Not being an avid sports watcher, I was not quite familiar with all of the names.
This one particular newscast I was reading, I came across the name Patrick Roy. I asked my producer the proper way to pronounce it. Now, I’d assumed it was Patrick Roy.
I said, “It’s Patrick Roy isn’t it?”
He says, “How’s the last name, spelled, Toni?”
“It’s spelled, R-o-y.”
My producer said, “Well, it sounds like ROY to me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Would I steer you wrong?”
“No, I’m sure you wouldn’t, Bill.”
We recorded three newscasts during each one I called Patrick Roy, Patrick ROY.
He knew the difference and was having some fun with me.
That probably happened about nineteen years ago. And I still have men who come up to me now, and ask me how Patrick ROY is doing.
The next day after work I was so embarrassed. Bill who’s a veteran of radio thought it was the funniest thing.
I guess OZ FM was kind of the cutting edge FM radio station at the time, and got away with a lot more than other radio stations would.
So management wasn’t upset with me they thought it was a little funny.
And kind of sweet, you know…. “Aw, the young girl.”
I asked Bill why he did that. And he said, “Well, they don’t say it’s Roy Rogers. They say, ROY Rogers.” Which really didn’t make it any better.
That ends the 2009 interview with Toni Marie. Since then Toni Marie and Kenny have had a daughter named Grace. Here is Toni and Grace from October 2012 promo for the Jamarama.
Obviously we’ll have new things to cover the next interview, being a mom being number 1. And she is the new anchor/host for NTV First Edition at 5:30pm local time in Newfoundland. To listen to the interview just click on either hour of that episode and you can download or stream it.