Sheila Coles announced she will be leaving The Morning Edition on CBC Radio One after hosting the top-rated morning show for 24 years.
Jill Morgan, host of CBC News Saskatchewan, sat down with Coles to ask her about her decision to leave.
This interview has been edited for length, clarity and context.
Do you have some favourite memories from the early years?
SC: When I started working here as an intern from the journalism school, we had typewriters…. The wire copy, which now of course is all on the computer, would be rolled up on the floor and I’d have to rip through it looking for Saskatchewan stories. There were ashtrays on the desks, and a lot of guys, especially, sitting around with their feet up, smoking cigarillos. It’s hard to believe that even then, some of the assignments tended to veer toward the softer assignments for the women that were in the newsroom.
You’ve said you have the best job in journalism in Saskatchewan. Why is that?
SC: It is because you meet different people and hear their stories every day. And just the privilege of that, of people trusting you with their stories.
What’s the hard part of your job?
SC: Everybody who comes on the radio has a truth and it’s trying to get at the truth of that person’s experience…. It takes listening, which is a really underrated skill, it takes compassion, and it takes picking up on visual cues, maybe body language. Whoever the guest is, they come with a truth, and some give it to you freely, some you have to work a little bit harder to draw it out.
You bring such intelligence and grace to those interviews. Did that come to you early on or is that something you developed?
SC: I guess you build a confidence over the years. When I started, I certainly didn’t feel that way. I would actually go home almost every day and beat myself up over the one thing that went wrong because in two-and-a-half hours of live radio something’s going to go wrong…. I had such an excellent, supportive team around me to help me build that confidence. And it’s still the same today. If I worked with people who were hypercritical or who gave me poor material to work with, it would be a whole different story.
Take me through a bit of the emotion and the decision making to leave this position.
SC: What felt like a fairly easy decision to begin with, it’s been hard. Part of it might be looking through rose coloured glasses at all the wonderful things that I’m leaving behind. I know that I’ll miss the fact that by 9 o’clock every morning… I’ve had a good intellectual workout…. At first I thought, I feel so sad, maybe I made a mistake, but I’ve come to realize that making a right decision, that’s right for you, and feeling sad can coexist.
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