Shad named new host of CBC's Q

Juno-winning hip-hop artist Shad will become the new host of CBC’s cultural affairs radio show Q, which will retain its name as it relaunches in mid-April.

32-year-old is a multiple Juno-nominated artist

Interview with Shad, incoming host of CBC's cultural affairs radio show Q 7:57

Shad will become the new host of CBC’s cultural affairs radio show Q, which will retain its name as it relaunches in mid-April.

The 32-year-old is a multiple Juno-nominated artist who has drawn praise in Canada and the U.S. for his humour, passion and originality, winning in 2011 for Rap Recording of the Year.

Born in Kenya to Rwandan parents, Shadrach Kabango was raised in London, Ont., going on to earn a business degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Simon Fraser University.

His first full-length release came in 2005 with When This Is Over, and he broke out in a major way on the follow-up The Old Prince, which was nominated for a Polaris Prize. His most recent release was 2014's Flying Colours.

"Joining the Q team is an honour," Shad said late Tuesday. "My mission in music has always been to make a unique and positive contribution to culture and to people's lives. This is an exciting opportunity to pursue that same mission in a new way, alongside a brilliant, passionate team."

Cindy Witten, interim executive director of CBC Radio and Audio, said that management conducted an exhaustive search for a new host, looking at more than 200 people.

'An original thinker'

"We were looking for someone who is an original thinker, curious and emotionally intelligent," said Witten. "Also, a good conversationalist who is witty and fast on their feet. We wanted someone steeped in arts and culture in this country.

Juno Award-winning MC Shad has been named the new host of CBC cultural affairs program Q on CBC Radio. (CBC)

"We found there were different points of connection with the guests when the host was a creator or an artist themselves."

The show has been searching for a permanent replacement host since the CBC fired its original host Jian Ghomeshi. He was dismissed after managers said they viewed "graphic evidence" that Ghomeshi had physically injured a woman. The former host is currently facing sexual assault charges.

"It was a difficult time last fall and it is behind us. We’re excited to introduce Canadians to their new host and a fresh and lively Q," Witten said.

Despite the shadow the Ghomeshi scandal cast on the show, Shad says it didn't really cross his mind when deciding whether to take the post.

Hosting Q "was so compatible with my mission in music," Shad told CBC News Network's Heather Hiscox on Wednesday.

"At the same time, it's certainly a situation to step into, and my thoughts are mainly with the team and how they're doing coming off of that."

Show to keep its name

Although there had been questions as to whether the show’s name would change, Witten said CBC focus groups revealed that a large majority of listeners wanted the name of the show to remain the same.

The new show will have more musical performances and will be less structured, with a more conversational tone to allow more live spontaneous moments.

Shad's first morning behind the mic as the official host of Q takes place on April 20.

As a guest host, the musician and broadcaster flagged Kanye West or U.S. President Barack Obama as potential "dream guests." But when asked who he'd like to interview in his inaugural episode, the modest MC deferred to the show's team.

"There's so many voices out there," Shad said. "Fortunately Q is at a level where they can bring those people in."

"Whoever has the most insightful, poignant, compelling insights into the human condition and the conditions we live in ... That's who I want to have at the desk."

Q is heard twice daily (10 a.m. and 10 p.m.) on CBC Radio One, and on more than 170 public radio stations across the United States. For more information about the show, or to listen to past episodes, see the official Q website.

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