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Public vs. private Peter Gzowski

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.

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"I'm probably not quite as nice a guy as I try to present myself on the radio for three hours every day," Peter Gzowski admits to CBC's Pamela Wallin. The warm, cordial and fatherly figure on the radio has a reputation for being brusque, aloof and cutting in person. "I'm very shy," says Gzowski defending himself from the accusation that he turns his folksy charm on and off with the microphone.
• Gzowski has been dubbed Captain Canada and Morningside the glue that holds the country together. But the host and his show are not without their detractors. "If Morningside, which is listened to by less than 15 percent of the entire nation each day, is all the glue we've got, we might as well be trying to bind the Titanic with Bondfast."
(Mondo Canuck by Geoff Pevere and Greig Dymond, 1996).

• In an article titled "The Dark Side of Saint Peter," published in the Ryerson Review of Journalism (Spring 1997), Dave Cameron questions Gzowski on his reputation for being a "soft" interviewer, rarely challenging his guests. "The too-friendly criticism is made too often," says Gzowski. "People confused politeness with friendliness."

• "I learned early that if you're not interested in a subject, you should fake it. And it's extraordinary how if you fake interest, it actually gets interesting... But sometimes that doesn't work either. Sometimes it ain't there, and you just want to say, 'Who cares?'"
(Peter Gzowski: An Electric Life by Marco Adria, 1994)

• "I've been on Morningside twice, and both times I was struck by the difference between his on-air and off-air personalities. On air, he was warm and friendly. Off air, he was indifferent. I know he has all kinds of information to synthesize -- I understand that. But it would have taken very little to be warmer and more welcoming," says a guest interviewed in "The Dark Side of Saint Peter" by Dave Cameron.
Medium: Television
Program: Pamela Wallin
Broadcast Date: May 29, 1996
Guest(s): Peter Gzowski
Host: Pamela Wallin
Duration: 3:46

Last updated: March 27, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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