Why George Stroumboulopoulos is awesome

George Stroumboulopoulos interviews Douglas Coupland Jan 26, 2011.

I brought my students from Centennial College’s Joint program with the University of Toronto in Advanced Interviewing to take in a taping of the show formerly known as “The Hour” at the CBC headquarters in Toronto last night. We do this every semester with this course, since George is one of the best known interviewers in Canada, and has the most successful late night television talk shows in Canadian history, or as he likes to say, THE longest running one (seven years and counting.)

It’s always a thrill for the students, even before they line up in the atrium of the CBC — some were in the cafeteria, and nearly spilled coffee on George!

During the preliminary set up to the taping, George asked people in the audience who was the journalism student who tweeted him that day? Natalie Sequiera raise her hand, and acknowledge it was she.

Another student Kyle Larkin, asked Strombo if he knew the TV show “Family Guy” had a parody of him. At first, I was worried Kyle had it all mixed up, as George said wasn’t it a parody of George Stefanopoulos, former US political advisor and now television broadcaster? But Kyle stood his ground and Strombo was impressed.

Another student, Maryam Shah, won the nod for the person who had travelled the farthest to see the show: Pakistan! She totally destroyed those confident people who came from Port Coquitlam, B.C and Edmonton. I was hoping Natalie would say Kenya, but she didn’t!

During the show, George interviewed director James Cameron (“Titanic” and “Avatar”) by remote, and had Canadian journalist and artist Douglas Coupland in studio to talk about crowd sourcing, privacy, technology and the future of privacy. It was a fascinating interview that was scheduled to air that night at 11:05 p.m.

You can watch the epidsode here:



As a teacher, I loved watching Strombo interview Coupland. He used lots of the techniques which we talk about in class all semester, especially for broadcast interviews: silence (dead air), probes, game playing to peak a celebrity guest’s interest and engage them, primary questions, statements, body language, physical contact, tremendous research.

I also appreciated hearing Coupland, as I quickly borrowed from the local library here in Richmond Hill, Coupland’s new book Player One, which was printed for the Massey Lectures on CBC Radio last fall. A lot to think about in that book, as he talks about the themes of humanity, environmentalism, dependence on oil, and relationships.

My students will now have to analyse the interview in minute detail, they did have a sheet to follow during the taping, and will answer questions about how well or not well Strombo did as an interviewer. I told his it was worth 5%.

At the end of the taping, many students got to spend some up close and personal time with George, including some time for photos, as he is always generous with his time when students come to his studio.

Now I see Jessica Moy is thanking George and Douglas Coupland for being at the taping, and they are tweeting back and forth with the pair, all this is moving on Twitter. Social media and crowdsourcing rules!

A great experience. Can’t wait to read the students’ assignments.

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