DNTO's top 10 Manitoba memories
Sook-Yin Lee and her team found good times in almost every corner of the province
Did you know that DNTO, the national CBC Radio program that airs for the last time this Saturday, May 14, at 3 p.m., was created and produced in Winnipeg?
Our most recent host, Sook-Yin Lee, is based in Toronto. But most of the production team, including all of its leaders, worked out of the CBC Manitoba headquarters on Portage Avenue.
For that reason, DNTO has always been a bit Manitoba-centric. We're proud that we recorded more live shows in Winnipeg than any other city in Canada and featured more storytellers, comedians and musicians from Manitoba than any other province except maybe Ontario.
DNTO's Manitoba team is already developing a new, national, 100 per cent made-in-Manitoba program that will debut in the months to come.
But in the meantime, we want to share our top 10 Manitoba memories from the Sook-Yin Lee era (2002-2016).
10. Will Sook-Yin Lee Show? When Sook-Yin got hired to be the new host of DNTO, she hibernated in Winnipeg for a long winter of learning how to make radio. One day, posters started popping up all over town for a show at the venerable Royal Albert Arms hotel called Will Sook-Yin Lee Show? The night of the event, Team DNTO trundled down to the Albert with Sook-Yin and watched her rock the house with a miniature keyboard.
9. All our shows at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. We recorded a ton of live shows in theatres across Canada — from Vancouver, B.C., to St. John's, Nfld. — but our most memorable ones were right here in Winnipeg, at the Gas Station Theatre, during the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. Many of the folks we featured on that stage are familiar to Manitobans. Among them: Rosanna Deerchild, Niigaan Sinclair, Mike Green, Dean Jenkinson, Rodrigo Beilfuss, Alix Sobler, Bill Richardson and Marc Kuly.
8. Bowling with David Suzuki and Bruce Cockburn. Sook-Yin took two of Canada's living legends to Academy Lanes and discovered that a) Suzuki is squeamish about wearing bowling shoes ("You mean I have to put someone else's shoes on?!") and b) Cockburn is a surprisingly good bowler.
7. So many Manitoba musicians. When we asked Rosie Fernandez, a DNTO producer based in Toronto, for her favourite memory of the show, she cited her meeting with Mexican-Manitoban band Mariachi Ghost. She said she loved seeing them blend 1970s progressive rock with traditional Mexican music and instruments. Other Manitoba musicians who have chatted and performed on DNTO over the years are John K. Samson and his former band the Weakerthans, Christine Fellows, JP Hoe, Vikings, Nathan, Royal Canoe, Yes We Mystic and Flo.
6. Visiting Shoal Lake in the lead-up to Alcatraz Week. CBC Manitoba's Ismaila Alfa crossed the channel to Shoal Lake just as the lake was freezing over and right before the community's big funding announcement. As guest host, Ismaila played bingo like a local and even spiked a few volleyballs at the community's weekly recreation night.
5. Live show at Academy Bar and Eatery. We like to say we discovered Randy Bachman's gift for radio storytelling when we booked him for this raucous show at the dearly departed Academy. Unfortunately, much of Canada missed this one, since the Pope died that afternoon and we got pre-empted in western time zones!
4. Funny people. Lots and lots of funny people. DNTO has been a home for some of Winnipeg's brightest comedic talents. As Lara Rae posted last week on Facebook after she found out that DNTO was ending, "CBC can be a dog-eat-dog place but DNTO was always an oasis." Some other local funny folks who have appeared on the show (and even written for us) are Trish Cooper, J.D. Renaud, Dean Jenkinson, Big Daddy Tazz, Stephen Sim and the late, great Mike O'Brien.
3. All aboard the #DNTOExpress! We've recorded shows in some pretty unusual locations but the weirdest (and let's face it, most fun) has to be the show we produced just last month on a moving Winnipeg Transit bus. Local CBC traffic reporter Trevor Dineen held court with storytellers like shawarma king Obby Khan and a twin brother-sister musical duo, Roger Roger.
2. Yahya Samatar and other newcomer voices. We're pretty proud of the work we've done to highlight the diverse voices of Winnipeg's newcomer community. Rockstar refugee Yahya Samatar, who swam across the Red River last summer to come to Canada, is the most recent standout, but others include Ali Saeed, Gibril Bangura, Musa Hazara, Yuly Martinez, Gertrude Hambira and Doaa Abukhousa.
1. #DNTONorth to Pukatawagan. Last year, DNTO headed in a tiny plane to Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. Sook-Yin sang "Pukatawaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagan!!" with sturdy locals, hunkered down at the band office with Chief Arlen Dumas and dropped in on her northern radio doppelganger DJ Lalou.