COVER STORY: EVAN SOLOMON

The CTV host on the move from Mid­town to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal

Village Post - - Contents - by Macken­zie Pat­ter­son

Cana­dian jour­nal­ist, for­mer Vil­lage res­i­dent and me­dia per­son­al­ity Evan Solomon be­came the new host of CTV’s Ques

tion Pe­riod, a weekly political af­fairs show based in Ot­tawa, in Septem­ber 2016.

Now that Solomon has been host­ing Ques­tion Pe­riod for a lit­tle over a year, he’s branched off to add his own talk ra­dio show to his re­sumé. The Evan Solomon Show, Bell Me­dia’s first daily syn­di­cated talk show, pre­miered Sept. 5 across the coun­try on sta­tions in Mon­treal, Ot­tawa and in Toronto on New­stalk 1010, as well as other mar­kets.

Solomon says the idea be­hind the show is to bring to­gether Cana­dian cities in a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about is­sues that af­fect the en­tire coun­try.

“We need to have a con­ver­sa­tion about things that are go­ing on across the coun­try, not just what’s go­ing on in our cities,” he says. “We’re try­ing to get the coun­try talk­ing to each other be­cause the truth is we all have a huge im­pact on each other and we need a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about that.”

The show cov­ers ev­ery­thing from po­ten­tial drug de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion to the suc­cess of hor­ror movie It, and Solomon says it’s this wide va­ri­ety of wa­ter-cooler top­ics that will make the show stand out.

“Our goal is to get at what mat­ters. There are a lot of ways to get at what’s real: some­times it’s a fact, and some­times the truth is an emo­tion,” he says.

Solomon says he re­cently in­ter­viewed a Cana­dian stranded in the Caribbean, ter­ri­fied for his life, as well as an HIV suf­ferer who was charged with ag­gra­vated sex­ual as­sault for ac­ci­den­tally leav­ing a part­ner in the dark about his con­di­tion. He says he hopes to bring more real sto­ries like this to the fore­front of the show.

“Our show is all about peo­ple with skin in the game, not just talk­ing heads who have an opin­ion. So when you’re lis­ten­ing to the show, you’re think­ing this mat­ters to peo­ple; they’re bet­ting their life on it.’”

Al­though he and his fam­ily left their Hill­crest neigh­bour­hood home and re­lo­cated to Ot­tawa eight years ago, Solomon re­mains con­nected to Toronto.

“My fam­ily is all there, so we go to Toronto a lot and we love it,” he says.

Solomon grew up in the York Mills and Yonge Street area of Toronto and at­tended Cres­cent School from Grades 7 to 12. He says his years at Cres­cent were some of the most for­ma­tive of his life, and he’s made last­ing friend­ships with some of his for­mer teach­ers.

He even­tu­ally bought a house at Har­bord and Bathurst, and then he and his wife,Tammy Quinn, moved to Daven­port and Christie where they raised their kids across from Hill­crest Park.

Now set­tled in Ot­tawa, Solomon says he’s hon­oured to be the cur­rent host of CTV’s third old­est TV se­ries.

“It’s a real honour to host an ab­so­lute land­mark show like CTV’s Ques­tion Pe­riod. The peo­ple who have sat in that chair are some of the great jour­nal­ists, Bob Fife, Craig Oliver, Ed Green­spon, Jane Taber, Kevin New­man.These are phe­nom­e­nal jour­nal­ists, all of them,” he says.

Solomon says that over the past year, since he’s been host­ing the show, he’s cov­ered some pow­er­ful and cru­cial global is­sues. From the na­tional car­bon tax to the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump and its ef­fect on NAFTA, Solomon says they’re al­ways aim­ing to tackle some of the most im­por­tant is­sues to the coun­try and the world at large.

“Ev­ery week we try to have an in­ter­view that moves the ball for­ward,” he says. “It’s kind of like that brunch where ev­ery­one’s jacked up on cof­fee, and all of a sud­den a re­ally pas­sion­ate de­bate breaks out and peo­ple are on two sides. The difference with Ques­tion Pe­riod is you get that de­bate and then we get to say ‘Great points. Here’s Bill Morneau, the fi­nance min­is­ter. You can ask him di­rectly.’”

As a stu­dent at McGill Univer­sity, Solomon had the fore­sight to know the key role re­li­gion still plays in the world’s pol­i­tics. Solomon says he was drawn to study Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture and re­li­gion be­cause of his de­sire to know what makes the world tick.

“I was al­ways in­ter­ested in how peo­ple or­ga­nize them­selves in a so­ci­ety through the sto­ries they tell. Back then it was in­ter­est­ing be­cause no­body thought about re­li­gion as one of those driv­ing forces,” he says. “I re­mem­ber cov­er­ing 9/11 in New York, and it was kind of like re­li­gion burst back through the win­dow and ev­ery­one was, like, ‘Oh this is one of the fun­da­men­tal driv­ing forces in our world. We bet­ter un­der­stand it.’”

Solomon stayed busy dur­ing univer­sity play­ing sports and writ­ing plays for the McGill Play­ers’Theatre. He says he al­ways knew he wanted to be a jour­nal­ist, and af­ter a year free­lanc­ing in Hong Kong, he came back to Toronto to start his own magazine with a friend, An­drew Heintz­man.

“It was a real funny time in Canada where a lot of young writ­ers, jour­nal­ists and thinkers were try­ing to start stuff up. It was a startup cul­ture back then,” he says of the ’90s. “We dis­cov­ered there was some­thing go­ing on with this In­ter­net thing. The web hadn’t even come out yet, and so Shift be­came a magazine about dig­i­tal cul­ture.”

In 1999, Richard Szal­win­ski, pres­i­dent and CEO of BHVR Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, bought Shift magazine. Solomon moved on to write a novel called Cross­ing the Dis­tance, which was pub­lished in 1999, and be­gan his ca­reer as a ra­dio and tele­vi­sion host with the CBC un­til his con­tro­ver­sial de­par­ture in 2015.

Now, with two kids, two na­tional talk shows and a weekly col­umn for Maclean’s magazine, Solomon has his hands full. The me­dia per­son­al­ity says he’s not plan­ning on slow­ing down any time soon — the world of daily ra­dio never stops.

“In daily ra­dio and tele­vi­sion, it’s ‘That was a great show, what are we go­ing to do to­mor­row?’ I work with some great peo­ple, and that is the great thing about the job — work­ing with the team and try­ing to make some great pro­grams ev­ery day,” he says.

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