CBC Digital Archives

A 'sleeping' cricket with Stuart McLean

For three hours a day, five days a week – for 15 years – millions tuned in to CBC Radio's Morningside and Peter Gzowski. Despite Gzowski's dishevelled appearance, this beloved radio host cast his folksy charm across the country. When Gzowski died in 2002, Canadians paid tribute to the broadcaster whose stammering informality and comforting voice had become a symbol for Canada.

"He's not well," says Gzowski looking at the cricket Stuart McLean has brought into the studio. The "sleeping" cricket is just one of a long list of bargains McLean has purchased for one dollar. In the middle of McLean's account of all the things he has managed to buy - toothpicks, city water, penny matches and chalks - the cricket's relaxed state results in both Gzowski and McLean breaking down in fits of uncontrollable laughter. "It's him it's not me," says McLean, gasping for breath in the in the middle of their gut-sucking, out-of-control laughter. 
• Stuart McLean was inspired by Danny Finkleman's report 10 years earlier. Finkleman had gone out and purchased bargains totalling a grand total of $1.25. Listen to the original report by Finkleman, which aired on This Country in the Morning on Nov. 9, 1973.

• Both Gzowski and McLean were certain that they would be criticized for their giggling fit. But the only criticism they received was from listeners who said they had driven off the road from laughing so hard along with them.

• Stuart McLean went on to become a best-selling author and the much-loved host of his own show The Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio.

• During his Morningside shifts, Gzowski set his alarm for 4:44 a.m. because he liked the symmetry of the numbers. When Morningside grew in popularity, Gzowski set his alarm for 4:14 a.m. in order to read the increasing volume of listeners' mail.

Morningside mail became an integral part of the program. Gzowski referred to the tons of mail he received from listeners as a kind of village bulletin board for the nation. Shelagh Rogers, Gzowski's most frequent guest and fill-in host, debuted on Morningside reading listeners' mail on air with Gzowski. The best letters were published, along with impressions and short fiction inspired by Gzowski's daily CBC Radio program, in a series titled the Morningside Papers.
Medium: Radio
Program: Morningside
Broadcast Date: Feb. 17, 1986
Host: Peter Gzowski
Reporter: Stuart McLean
Duration: 13:47

Last updated: October 1, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Barbara Frum: Pioneering Broadcaster Part 2

The sudden death of Barbara Frum on March 26, 1992 shocked Canadians. The loss of one of the c...

Barbara Frum: Pioneering Broadcaster Part 1

The sudden death of Barbara Frum on March 26, 1992 shocked Canadians. The loss of one of the c...

June Callwood: Canada's Conscience

No one was excluded in the world of June Callwood. The celebrated journalist/activist with a "...

50 Years of Olympic Broadcasting

From Melbourne to Montreal, Munich to Mexico City, the CBC has roamed the planet to beam Olymp...