A conversation with radio host and author Erin Davis
Today is World Radio Day and my guest today is the longtime host of 98.1 CHFI’s Morning Show, Erin Davis. Erin is a 2020 inductee into the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame, an emcee, a keynote speaker, and an author.
1. I often like to press the rewind button when I meet someone for the first time. Can you tell us when you decided to go into the broadcasting industry?
I was in my final months of high school with no concrete plans for my future and I’d signed up to hear two speakers on Career Day, but both were full. So instead, I heard a professor from the local community college talk about their radio program. It was like a lightning strike and I knew this is what I’d been getting ready for: keep in mind this was 1980 and radio wasn’t really a career option for women yet. So I was wedged in for an audition, got into Loyalist College and had landed a job two months later (while I continued my studies)!
2. How did you feel during & after your first experience on the radio?
I really don’t remember anything but terror. I did a show at the Loyalist College radio station, misfired a song and said “sh*t!” My prof later said to me, “Uh, Erin, we don’t usually say ‘sh*t!’ on the radio.” And I never did it again!
3. Is there a moment you will never forget on CHFI?
SO many really great moments and memories. But the one that will forever stand out in all of the worst ways was being in Jamaica getting set to do a 6 am start for our remote broadcast, going out to the lobby to see why my husband was gone so long for a phone call, and learning that our only child – daughter Lauren – had died in her sleep at age 24. That moment on May 11, 2015 will forever be seared into my brain, obviously.
4. How would you describe being on the W Network on a television show ‘W Live with Erin Davis’ compared to the radio? Do you have a favourite moment from the show?
I always enjoyed doing television – hosting two years of a nightly program on Rogers Television before there were a million other options – and that season of live TV on the W Network was a fun, rewarding challenge. Ultimately it didn’t succeed; some gal named ELLEN started her show at the same time, on the same date! I was doomed but cherished the experience. Nothing compares to the immediacy of radio though; you do it and you’re done and you’re not relying on 14 other people to be ready to go when you are. Also, in terms of appearance, the radio is much more forgiving when you’ve had a sleepless night!
5. What was it like to play the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre in December? Any tips you can give to theatre students?
I loved that challenge. But I came away from it with a metaphor for life: the nights I was nervous and worried, I should have been enjoying it. I should have taken in every second instead of focusing on the knowledge that the director had wanted a better-known actress for the part but was overruled. I was constantly second-guessing my right to be there. Just enjoy every moment! Lighten up and have a good time!
Bonus (Just for fun):
6. Do you still have sleep deprivation? Explain.
No sir, I do not. I sleep until 8 or 9 every morning, stay up as late at night as I want. Some early morning hosts keep those hours on weekends and for the rest of their retired life; not I. Sleep is something I promised myself all of those 30+ years of pre-dawn hours. I’m happy to say I’ve kept that promise!
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