CBC Saskatchewan's Sheila Coles to hang up her headset

Thousands of Saskatchewan people will have to find someone new to wake up with as Sheila Coles — the longtime host of The Morning Edition on CBC Radio One — prepares to turn off her microphone at CBC Saskatchewan.

Host of top-rated The Morning Edition to do final show on Dec. 15

Sheila Coles, former host of CBC Saskatchewan's The Morning Edition, is receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Radio Television Digital News Association's prairie region. (CBC News)

Thousands of Saskatchewan people will have to get accustomed to a new voice to wake up to as Sheila Coles — the longtime host of The Morning Edition on CBC Radio One — prepares to turn off her microphone.

She is refusing to call it a "retirement."

Instead, it was the promise of another adventure — to live in the Galapagos Islands for three months with her sister — that convinced Coles to leave what she has always referred to as "the best job in journalism in Saskatchewan."

Coles began her career at CBC Saskatchewan as an intern. She was told she may be doing filing, which didn't sound like much fun.

Sheila Coles began working at CBC Saskatchewan in the 1980s as an intern. (CBC)

But then short staffing led her to be sent to her first news conference.

"It was a brand new concept. There was a man there talking about something that was new to all of us and was definitely new to Saskatchewan — and it was setting up a food bank," she remembered.

"It was seen as something temporary. The food bank has been here ever since."

The Morning Edition host Sheila Coles and radio news anchor Ted Deller raise money for food banks during the annual Comfort & Joy show in front of a live audience at the CBC galleria. (Stefani Langenegger/CBC)

Coles said her new job hosting The Morning Edition, in 1993, was also to be temporary.

"When I was hired in this job, I'd never stayed in a job for more than two years. And I remember thinking: I'm going to have to give this one at least three," she said.

"I didn't think any job could hold a person's attention and heart for that many years."

She ended up hosting the morning show for 24 years, following a decade in the newsroom.

Sheila Coles was gifted a white hat from Calgary fans during Grey Cup festivities in 2013.

A friend of hers once joked that all she did for a living was have coffee with people every day.

"And I said, 'Yes. And I get to have coffee with the most interesting people," said Coles. "I love hearing people's stories and I love that they trust me with their stories."

Sheila Coles interviews elder Noel Starblanket during a live broadcast from Regina's new mâmawêyatitân centre in September of this year. (CBC)

"Few people truly understand how much skill and inner resolve it takes to do what she does so well each and every day," said John Bertrand, CBC's senior managing director for the Prairie/North region.

"It's not just the unorthodox hours and the dark, cold Prairie mornings, it's knowing how (and the work and energy it takes) to give yourself over to the audience; to serve the interests of others over yourself; to be the humble but determined voice of a community and a province as diverse, expansive and dynamic as Saskatchewan.

"Sheila has done all that — and much, much more — with a deep sense of professionalism, curiosity and compassion. She is an amazing person, a passionate public broadcaster and she will be deeply missed."

Coles will host her last show on Dec. 15.