Ismaila Alfa named host of CBC Radio's Metro Morning, talks about power of 'simple questions'

Alfa is coming to Toronto from CBC Manitoba, and says he looks forward to exploring a city he's always loved from afar with fresh eyes.

Nigeria-born, Prairie-raised host moving from Winnipeg to Toronto

Ismaila Alfa will officially step into the Metro Morning host chair on Monday, Aug. 24. He spoke to CBC Toronto anchor Dwight Drummond about what he's most looking forward to. 4:59

Ismaila Alfa is the new host of CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

Alfa, who has been hosting the show in recent weeks, officially begins at the end of August. He takes over from Matt Galloway, who now hosts The Current.

Alfa is coming to Toronto from CBC Manitoba, and says he looks forward to exploring a city he's always loved from afar with fresh eyes. His first plan: plugging into Toronto's vibrant music scene. 

Music, Alfa explains, has always been his way to connect with various communities to hear their concerns. He said he can't wait for the day when people come up to him in the crowd (after COVID-19, of course) to suggest possible stories and issues to cover. 

"I want that relationship with the people of Toronto," Alfa said.

"I do feel this show is a major responsibility, and I'm ready to shoulder that," Alfa said.

WATCH | Ismaila Alfa gets into the groove at the 2016 Winnipeg Folk Festival:

The new host of CBC Radio's Metro Morning was at ease and in his element as he introduced the Dirty Catfish Brass Band at the folk festival in 2016. 3:31

At CBC Manitoba, Alfa worked his way up from being an intern with no formal journalism training to hosting shows, including Scene, about arts and culture, and the afternoon show Up to Speed.

Alfa has also written several online pieces on topics like Black History Month and racism in his hometown since joining the public broadcaster in 2008.

A 'winding road' helps Alfa connect with audience

Alfa was born in Zaria, Nigeria, before moving to Edmonton at the age of eight. "I've had a winding road," he said with a laugh.

Ismaila Alfa officially takes over as host of CBC Radio's Metro Morning on August 24. (CBC)

Those travels, Alfa said, will be key to connecting with the GTA audience — a huge portion of which has also moved here from other countries or places in Canada.

Sure, it might lead to some questions about Toronto that sound simple, but "sometimes simple questions bring about the most truthful answers," he said.

Alfa said he's looking forward to working with the show's award-winning team of producers, and looks forward to learning about Toronto's most intelligent and interesting people.

"The biggest and best place to do that is on Metro Morning," he said.

Alfa's official first dark-and-early morning in the host chair is Monday, August 24.

Ismaila Alfa says he's looking forward to discovering the people and places of Toronto, and being a newcomer himself, he can understand the actual experience of the many residents who've come to Toronto and contribute to life here. 6:41


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