Reporting Live (on TV!) from Major’s Hill Park

One of Ottawa‘s most distinguishing features, the Rideau Canal is a designated Canadian National Historic Site and was recently nominated as a World Heritage Site as well. Connecting lakes and rivers between Ottawa and Kingston, the Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America. Its locks have been open for business since 1832. Several tourists were enjoying the view until all of us got distracted by an oversize groundhog that was sitting quite relaxed on one of the walkways, chewing away on some leafy branches that had been blown down by the wind. He was not at all deterred by our fascination for him.


A groundhog dinner

Well, my serene afternoon was going to come to an end shortly since I was scheduled for a 3-minute live appearance on Ottawa’s primary news channel, CTV. This might not be a big deal for someone else, but for me personally it was my first television appearance. To be beamed live through Canada’s capital on the 6 o’clock news was a very exciting, yet nerve-wrecking experience.

Max Keeping, CTV Ottawa’s news anchor and Vice-President of News Programming, had suggested that we do a live interview from Major’s Hill Park where he would ask me several questions related to travel in Canada. He would of course be located in CTV’s Ottawa studio. Max and I had met earlier this year at the 26th Annual Bedzzz Race where he was the emcee of this charity event.


The satellite truck was standing by

Indeed, Max is renowned all throughout the National Capital Region for his community involvement and he has helped to raise more than $100 million for important causes over his 34 years at CTV Ottawa. He makes appearances at more than 200 community events a year and is a recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Order of Canada, the Ontario Medal of Good Citizenship, a 2003 Gemini, the 2004 Ottawa United Way’s Community Builder of the Year, and dozens of other awards.

No wonder I was nervous in anticipation of a city-wide televised interview with such an illustrious personality. As time drew closer to 6 pm I had to make two nervousness-induced trips to one of the port-a-potties on Major’s Hill. About 20 minutes to 6 pm I located the CTV satellite news truck and I went up to the camera man to introduce myself. He outfitted me with an earpiece and a miniature microphone that went on my jacket with a transmitter box mounted to my back. Once I was wearing this equipment I realized there was no turning back, I was going to be on TV, no matter what.


All wired up, ready to go for the interview…

I have to admit I was hugely nervous as the camera man started to position me in different locations in front of the bright spotlight he had set up. From about 6 pm onwards I started to hear the live newscast in my earpiece and the producer of the show occasionally came on to fill me in as to how much longer it would be. She had a surprisingly calming influence on me. Time seemed like an eternity, but finally at about 6:15 pm I was live on the air, with Max Keeping, Ottawa’s most popular newscaster.

He asked me several questions about travel in Canada, and in particular whether I thought that higher gasoline prices would or should have an effect on travel in Canada. I answered frankly, stating that despite higher gas prices it still only took me about $60 in gasoline to drive to and from Ottawa. Canada as a whole and Ottawa specifically, is a great travel destination, since there are always so many things going on as evidenced by my own tight schedule during the Tulip Festival and it is still very affordable to travel and explore destinations within Canada.

Well, the butterflies started to subside and a few minutes later my on-air interview was finished. I felt exhilaration and relief at the same time and thanked the camera man profusely for the professional support he provided to me. I also thanked the producer who came on one more time to let me know that things had gone okay.

By this time it had started to drizzle a little, so I put my rain jacket on and headed for another round of excursions around Major’s Hill. The place was getting busier. A local singer was creating renditions of various Avril Lavigne songs and a young band, the Diableros, took to the stage who were going to be followed by two more musical performances as part of the Get Out! Ottawa Citizen Concert Series.

I crossed the street and strolled through the ByWard Market to my dinner destination, Bistro 115, where I would get to chat with the owner and find out more about another one of Ottawa’s hospitality entrepreneurs. At the end of this exciting, action-packed day I was looking forward to a good conversation and a nice quiet dinner.

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