By Nancy Delorey
Sarah Burke is a recent graduate of Fanshawe College’s Broadcasting-Radio Program. She spends her afternoons on London’s Best Rock FM 96 and the occasional weekend on 1021 The Edge in Toronto. She explains the love for her job comes from people – the people she interviews, the people she connects with, and the people she meets.
What is your current title?
FM96 Afternoon Drive Announcer at London’s Best Rock FM96 / Part-time Swing Announcer at 102.1 The Edge Toronto
What exactly do you do for FM96?
I host the FM96 afternoon show weekdays from 2-6pm covering current events, music news, and sports to cater to a male dominant rock audience. I often interview guests from the community or FM96 bands. For instance, Colin Mochrie from “Whose Line is It Anyway” was on the show before his “Improv All Stars” performance at Centennial Hall this week. Monster Truck guitarist Jeremy Widerman was on the show, prior to the band playing before the Blue Jays versus Yankees game at the Rogers Centre. The frontman and guitarist from Finger 11 came on the show live from Mount Brydges Rockin Wheel music festival. The story is much the same with my content for 102.1 The Edge as I prepare for a role in a larger radio market. On average I fill-in for one weekend a month in Toronto to help relieve announcer vacations and time-off.
What's it like working in radio?
Radio is kind of like day-camp. Yes, you have somewhere you have to be everyday and you may need to prepare a lunch, but you always look forward to it. Radio is really a daily conversation about what the people in your audience are already talking about. When the Blue Jays are on a winning streak, across the country people are freaking out that their only Canadian baseball team could finally be making the post-season this year. When 69 year-old Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister announces that he’s switching from Whiskey to Vodka, “for his health”…every guy who grew up on Motorhead is laughing. Everyday I ask myself these three questions: 1) What are people talking about today? 2) What can people relate to that’s going on in my life right now? 3) How can I make someone smile?
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of the gig is talking to people. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the guitarist or the singer of the band. Sometimes the best part of the gig is talking to a Londoner you’ve never met on the phone, who shares your same love for the Toronto Maple Leafs and calls to tell you how excited he is to have Mike Babcock as the new coach. Sometimes, it’s a couple of guys starting the night shift in a factory that call to say they have the station blasting at work. Sometimes, you end up hosting a charity event and sometimes, you’re introducing a band on stage at a music festival. It’s different every day and it’s always exciting.
Name the coolest thing you have been able to do?
I’m going to have to narrow it down to three
Interviewing Dallas Green of City and Colour
Watching Neil Young rock Budweiser Gardens from Tie Domi’s suite
Doing live radio shifts on the radio station I grew up listening to, 102.1 The Edge.
How has your time at Fanshawe impacted your career?
The Fanshawe Broadcast-Radio program has always been noted as one of the best in the country and that’s the reason that radio stations are quick to accept your request to intern or look at your resume before others. They know you already have the necessary skills. The program basically has you job shadowing as you conduct interviews, learn to edit them and make contacts in the community.
What has your time at FM96 taught you?
My time at FM96 has taught me that broadcasting is not about the host and being in the spotlight. It is always about the listener, your #1 client. If you’re telling a personal story on-air, a listener MUST be able to relate or it’s not worth telling. If you can keep your listener informed, engaged and entertained, you’re doing it right.
Reprinted with permission from Fanshawe College Alumni News. All rights reserved.