Ted Woloshyn on his 47 years in radio and on life in general

    Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    Ted Woloshyn has been in the radio business for 47 years. He is among the most recognized voices on the Toronto radio waves, having had shows on CFRB-AM for ten years, on Newstalk 1010 for eleven years and having also worked at CFNY-FM, CILQ-FM and CKFM-FM. Prior to Toronto, he worked at Brampton, Peterborough, Montreal and Hamilton stations. Anyone who heard at least one of his shows knows Woloshyn’s dry sense of humour – he received a Juno Award nomination for Comedy Album of the Year in 1982 after he released his comedy album It’s Not the Heat…It’s the Humility in 1981. But Woloshyn is not just a radio personality: since 2007, he writes a monthly opinion column for the Toronto Sun.

    After eleven years at Newstalk 1010, Woloshyn is now doing his own podcast on iHeart Radio. His first seven weekly shows featured such guests as a chef and a television personality Massimo Capra, a former CTV anchor Lloyd Robertson and a former CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge.

    With guests of such calibre, it’s no wonder that Woloshyn’s new show is guest-driven. In this show, he tries to uncover how his guests got to where they are and why they wanted to go to where they got, as well as what kept them going, what’s behind their longevity. “I’m really more fascinated by the human spirit”, said Woloshyn.

    So, what defines a successful person, how do people reach big things? “I think passion is important. Discipline is important. I think love of what you’re doing is important. There is an old adage, ‘If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life’. These people work extremely hard, but they enjoy what it is. And they still managed to maintain a work/life balance in their lives. I interviewed Lloyd Robertson: he’s been married to the same woman for 60 something years. He has had an incredibly successful career and still managed to keep himself grounded. That I find quite fascinating,” said Woloshyn.

    Woloshyn is a symbol of career longevity himself. He wanted to work in radio since he was nine years of age. When Woloshyn was halfway through his studies at Seneca College, he had an opportunity to work at a radio station, and the head of the program told him that he would learn more on the job than at college. Since then, it was radio and media in general for Woloshyn. As he has done stand-up comedy as well, at one point, he had to decide which business to put the emphasis on. Woloshyn chose radio as something “a little bit more structured and a little bit more reliable”.

    Woloshyn’s comedy talent has not been wasted either and shines through his radio work. But in his interview for New Pathway, done by Uliana Hlyncak exactly seven years ago, in October 2014, he said that he doesn’t do jokes: “No, because I didn’t do jokes per se. In my comedy work, I wrote material based on observation. Observational comedy is really what it was, not the kind of jokes you would find in a joke book,” told us Woloshyn. Still, he uses humour in his programming: “Humour makes it easier or more palatable for those who are listening. Especially if it’s self-deprecating”.

    With all those who don’t do talking on radio or television, Woloshyn shared the secret of how to speak in front of the microphone without interruptions: “Well, there have been many times when I have in fact thought about what it is that I wanted to say and how I was going to say it. You try to be as well prepared as you possibly can but there are times when that’s just not humanly possible. There are different crutches that presenters lean on when they’re burning time on air. It’s just a matter of doing it for such a long period of time that after a while it becomes almost a natural reflex. Some people, I think, are probably generally more gifted in that area than others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that just because they can articulate better that their content is necessarily better than the next person’s.”

    Who is the best public speaker that Woloshyn has ever heard, we asked. “Probably one of the most amazing public speakers that I’ve ever seen, who unfortunately just passed away, was General Colin Powell. I saw him speak probably 10 years ago and he spoke for 45 minutes, without any notes whatsoever. He was quite incredible. He was funny, he was poignant. He was serious. He was very committed to what he was saying. I just thought, well, I don’t know if I’ve ever possessed that kind of talent,” said Woloshyn.

    What does Woloshyn think of nowadays politicians, especially as compared to the old school of leaders? “Most recently, I find so much of what they say is just repeated and repeated. Whenever they tell me ‘we’re going to be transparent’, the only thing transparent of our politicians telling you that they’re going to be transparent is the fact that they’re so transparent you can see through them. There’s a lot of politicians I admire but I don’t think there’s any politician that inspired me to want to be a politician. Or that I would say as someone that had great influence on me,” he said.

    Woloshyn thinks that politics has become “extremely ugly”, which is “very detrimental” to society in general: “I don’t think that in many cases these people work to benefit society because if they were they would work together and they don’t seem to be willing to work together. Except in exceptional times like when the pandemic first hit. Further along, we got more politicized and it reached the point now where we have divided this country. In the past, I don’t think that politics and politicking was as ugly as it is today. Today sometimes I just turn my television or my radio off, I don’t even want to listen or to watch”.

    Woloshyn writes a column for a right-wing newspaper, but is he right-wing himself? “It doesn’t mean that I am [right-wing]. It’s not like people ask you when you come to write for the paper, who you vote for, and you can’t say this or you can’t say that. No one has ever told me at any radio station or at the Toronto Sun, what my political beliefs should be and no one has ever stopped me from writing to the left or to the right. In general, yes, their editorial board tends to be right of center, but are all the columnist in the paper right of center? No. Nor are all the columnist in the Toronto Star left-wing,” said Woloshyn.

    Woloshyn has had first-hand experience with COVID-19; he spent ten days in the hospital in spring 2021. Although he is now completely cured and has no lingering effects, he has become a strong advocate of vaccination. We asked him, what would his message be to those who don’t want to get vaccinated. He said: “They believe that COVID and vaccines are a hoax. Well, I can tell you something, having spent ten days in a hospital I had a pretty hard time with COVID. COVID is not a hoax and it’s not the flu. I’ve had the flu. COVID is like having a flu and being hit by a truck at the same time. For those people who continue to oppose vaccinations, I think you’re being foolish. But that’s your choice. If you decide you’re not going to be vaccinated, then you shouldn’t have the same privileges as those who are because you’re putting other people’s lives at risk.”