You know those moments when you say to yourself, I've made it? This was one of them. Let me start at the beginning.
Backtrack to 1985; I was brand new on air at MuchMusic and the hottest group on the planet was Duran Duran. As it happened, their availability to do a live interview happened to fall on my shift. The higher ups weren't thrilled at the idea of me conducting the interview, and let's face it: I was untested and a live scenario could be disastrous. However, one of the beloved qualities of the MuchMusic management team back in the day was their throw-caution-to-the-wind mentality. "F*ck it. Let's see how she holds up."
It was a go. And that's when the fun started.
I was nervous — so nervous I could barely think. Outside the Much studios, hundreds of screaming girls waited outside to get a glimpse of Duran Duran. It was intense! The interview ended up being a spectacular piece of entertainment. Simon LeBon and John Taylor were captivating; playful, smart, and sincerely kind. Rather than just a staid interview, Simon and John put on a show. They fooled around with me, shooting me with a water gun, threatening to throw a cake at me. It felt out of control and chaotic. What you couldn't know by viewing the show was that Simon was constantly glancing my way to see if I was okay with the madness. It was subtle but every few minutes we would lock eyes and I'd give him very subtle nod to let him know "I'm good. Let's play!" Rather than making me look foolish (which he could have), he included me in the shenanigans and made me a hero in front of my bosses and the envy of pretty much every Canadian girl. When Duran Duran came back for a second interview a year later as Arcadia, it was a no-brainer that I would be the one hosting. I will never forget that unspoken kindness which became one of many defining moments of my career.
Fast forward 30 years (how the hell did THAT happen?), and Duran Duran releases its most successful album since their early days and announce a huge tour. YMC Parenting Expert (and my friend) Andrea Nair calls me all excited to tell me she bought tickets to the show and she was bringing me as her guest along with her sister and girlfriend. They were all HUGE Duran Duran fans and were so excited to relive their teenage crushes. That's when Andrea and I started plotting. Since we're going to the show, why not see if we could get backstage and film a reunion of sorts with Duran Duran? Andrea jumped into action tracking down the management contact info. Then I crafted an email complete with photos and videos of those early Much interviews. A week later, Duran Duran's manager emailed me back to say yes!
We arrived at the Amphitheatre in Toronto and found ourselves waiting with crews for ENow and ETCanada. They were loaded down with all kinds of camera and video gear. We had our our iPad and tripod. I started to get a little nervous. We were ushered to a backstage area to set up and wait. Andrea and I got to work setting up our iPad and tripod and instead of waiting for the band to show, we just started to broadcast the scene unfolding around us. We were like kids in a candy shop! For me, it felt like the old days at Much when anything could (and would) happen with live TV. But this was new to Andrea and she was trying to hold it together and appear to be professional. But when John Taylor and Roger Taylor showed up, Andrea fangirled. It was hilarious and so much fun for me to watch this confident mom of two become reduced to that teenaged girl who papered her bedroom with Duran Duran posters.
The interview with the band went well. Although there were significantly fewer crazy shenanigans probably because Simon wasn't on camera with us, there was still a playful energy. The band talked about their new album Paper Gods and mandatory music related topics. It's a tribute to the band's longevity that this is their most successful album in a couple of decades and that most of the live audiences already know the lyrics to their new tunes. But more interesting was getting a glimpse of John and Roger's personal lives and the band's evolving relationship with their fans as they chatted quite openly about their family lives. It ended with John Taylor taking a selfie with me live on camera, a far cry from tech available back in the 80's.
All in all, our live Facebook chat was a new way for Duranies to connect with their devoted audience.
You can watch the whole thing here:
On a personal level, it was this interview, not the ones in 1985 or 86 that has become that defining moment in my life when I said to myself, I've made it. Back in the Much days, I was an employee of a company and had access to rock royalty as part of my job. Really, I felt no deep personal achievement back in the day other than I had done my job properly. Fast forward to today, as I stood backstage amongst my traditional broadcasting peers, it became apparent how powerful the YMC Community of moms I started a decade ago has become. Based on our reach, we're now able to access the same stars as traditional media and are able to broadcast live with bare bones technology plus a whole lot of heart. So I want to thank the Duran Duran gang for agreeing to this reunion and book-ending an amazing evolution in my career, as well as highlighting an exciting shift in power for grassroots story tellers like us to tell our stories in bigger and better ways. I have a feeling the best is yet to come.