Media Darling: Karl Lohnes

Karl Lohnes is a design
journalist of all good things related to the home. He reached millions of
viewers for eight years while appearing on America’s This Small Space on HGTV and was one of the founding editors of
Style At Home magazine, with which he was associated for almost 15 years. 
He is currently the
on-air home decor expert for CTV’s Canada AM and The Marilyn Denis Show, offers
up a monthly style report on CHUM FM’s
All About Style with Marilyn Denis and is the weekly home columnist to Metro
in Canada and the United States. He is a popular speaker at consumer/
trade design shows and is an avid shopper. Lohnes also runs a private design and
décor consulting business and loves to cook, bake and entertain.

Twitter: @KarlLohnes

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
The world of media fascinated me from a very early age, especially magazines; those names on the mastheads were like gods to me. I thought editors of a magazine were the ultimate in media power, then I started to work for some only to realize they are everyday people making a living. I studied  marketing and advertising in college and fell in love with design/decor in my mid-twenties. I worked at advertising agencies, for a major bank and the phone company before realizing that wearing a tie was not for me. I started my career in design by working at furnishings store Urban Mode on Queen St. in downtown Toronto. 
Where would you like to be five years from now?
In five years from now I hope to have expanded my media reach through newspapers, television, radio and magazines. Truly, the only worth that a media personality has is how many people they can speak to. 
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
In the design world, the best thing you can do is look and listen…It’s the only way to predict trends and absorb the vibe on the street. In media, the best thing you can do is be humble and not expect everything to happen overnight.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
My favourite media outlets are airplane magazines; they incorporate culture, city buzz, travel, food, fashion but rarely decor…They tend to be nice monthly capsules of what’s happening out there. 

Best interview you’ve ever had?
About me: The Washington Post. They coined me ‘The Dr. Phil of Decorating’. I lived off that nickname for personal appearance booking for about ten years. Best interview I’ve conducted? My interview with Diane Von Furstenburg when she launched her home decor line. I realized that the more famous someone is, the less they actually have to say publicly. 
The very first time I appeared on Canada AM. I was promoting Thanksgiving turkeys and the interview segment went horribly wrong. Its one of my biggest career lessons; stick to what you are best at and don’t try to be something you are not (like a turkey expert!).

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Stay focused on your passions and incorporate them into your work. All of a sudden, work becomes a good reason to wake up to each day. 
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you want respect, you need to treat everyone the same…Whether you are nice or an ass; just be consistent. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Your media contacts will always outlive your client contracts.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Getting follow up after I’ve publicised your client’s product. Its a very rare thing to get a thank  you these days. 

I hate?
Having to deal with three different PR contacts for the same media opportunity; the senior account director who secures the opportunity, then an associate account manager that sends the information, then the intern who tries to communicate with me

I love?
Having a weekend brunch or coffee with one of my PR contacts. It shows they go far beyond 9-to-5 role in their career.

Hopefully my own book really soon…Until then, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s 782 pages long so wish me luck.

Best place on earth?
The Jasper Park Lodge Resort. A magical place where time stopped in the mid-1950s.
Dinner guest?
Martha Stewart; although we have dined in the past, I have never cooked for her at my house.
Any and all of my editors for making sense of the messages I write.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Olson Recipe Maker…Helps me with my cooking, baking, food prep etc. Couldn’t live without it when at the grocery store.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean; peeing in the water becomes less guilty.

Voicemail or email?
Email; it means I can respond any time of the day or night. 

Media, Darling: Sandra Martin

Toronto freelance journalist Sandra Martin specializes in parenting
and personal finance — two very hot topics. In her previous role as executive editor of
, she appeared regularly on television news and current
events programs to discuss everything from diapers to drinking underage.

Before joining Today’s Parent in 2005, Sandra worked double duty as personal finance correspondent for Global TV and as a reporter with the Financial Post. She also launched the National Post’s FP Weekend money section. Prior to that, she spent nearly five years at MoneySense magazine, where she developed a reputation with TV and radio producers as an approachable, understandable on-air source.
Since then, she has appeared often in television broadcasts, including Citytv’s CityNews, Breakfast Television and Cityline, CTV’s Canada AM and News Channel; CBC’s The National and NewsworldThe Mom ShowET Canada; Global Ontario’s News Hour, as well as the now-defunct Morning News and MoneyWise personal finance magazine. She has also taped segments for Til Debt Do Us Part on Slice.
In print, her byline has appeared in ChatelaineMoreCottage LifeReader’s DigestMoneySense and PROFIT magazines, as well as the National Post and The Globe and Mail newspapers.
Sandra holds a degree in journalism from Ryerson University and has also completed the Canadian Securities Course. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two young daughters.

Twitter: @SandraEMartin

you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the

Once I was honest with myself, yes, I always wanted to be in the media. But
for a long time, I tried to be practical, entertaining the idea of becoming (in
this order): an architect, an accountant and a technical writer. Oy.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

For the first time ever in my career, I don’t have an answer to that – and
it feels really, really good. This spring I gave my notice at Today’s Parent,
after nearly seven great years. As much as I love the brand, am invested in the
brand, it was time for me to move on and challenge myself with something
different. Don’t get me wrong; I bawled like a baby when I handed in my letter
of resignation; it was a really emotional move for me. But in the media,
stagnation is the death of creativity. And if you lose your creativity, you
might as well kiss your career goodbye.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

I graduated from journalism school at the height of a recession, and except
for, well, now, I’ve never been without a salaried job. My newbie mantra? Work hard. Be humble. Speak up when you have an idea. And don’t stay in one place
too long. (See, I almost didn’t take my own advice.)

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?

My addiction to is becoming a bit of a concern for all those who love me. I think they’ve
nailed everything that my demographic wants in a shelter mag; the interiors are
a little bit quirky and totally approachable – the rooms don’t look as though
they’ve been staged to an inch of their lives. Plus you get to see the
homeowners; you get to know them, as well as their spaces.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m a music fan (and wannabe guitarist)
– and I love music trivia. and are two of
my go-tos.

Best interview you’ve ever had?

You mean in the course of researching an article? The biggest thrill has to
have been when I was granted 20 minutes on the phone with David Cronenberg, who
was promoting the premiere of his film M. Butterfly at TIFF. He ended up
speaking with me for an hour.


Either I haven’t had a complete train wreck, or I’ve wiped it from my memory
in order to protect my sanity.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Why don’t you just do it.”

What rule(s) do you live your life by?

It sounds corny, but I treat people I work with – bosses, peers, those who
report to me – the way I’d like to be treated. I take it as a huge compliment
when people come to me with their problems, and I respect the fact that they’ve
chosen me to confide in. Also, I hope to live my life with no regrets. That
goes for my interactions with people, as well as the path I choose for myself.
I don’t ever want to look back and say, “What if I had….”

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?

Don’t rely on email programs. I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve
received addressed to “Sandrae” because my Today’s Parent email
address uses my first name and middle initial squished together. If you start
out misspelling my name (which is really, really easy to look up), you’ll have
to have some phenomenal pitch to win me back.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.

Hmm, I can’t pick out just one, but I really love when PR pros work with me,
like a partner. If I come to you all flustered because a hole has opened up at
the last minute, and I need a high-res image for the magazine, or props for a
TV shoot, I’ll so appreciate it if you’re willing to scramble with me to put
together what I need.

I hate?


I love?

Free stuff.


I’m coming down from a bunch of back-to-back rock bios; for some fiction, right now I’m reading In One Person by John Irving. He’s one of my favourite
authors ever.

Best place on earth?

That depends on my mood. Today I’m going to say New York City (I feel like
my people are there, and I can’t believe I’ve never lived there). Sometimes,
I’ll say a remote woodsy place. I’ve never been to Tofino, BC, but I just know
I would love it there.

Dinner guest?

Dave Grohl.


Ever since I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I’ve had a helluva
lot of admiration for Rebecca Skloot. Every journalist should read that book,
and remember what the pursuit of the truth is about.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

I could not live without BlackBerry Messenger, but I’m afraid other media
types will think I’m terribly uncool for saying that. There’s nothing I
download more enthusiastically than music; I feel like I need to backfill my catalog
with some of the seminal albums I didn’t grow up with (my family was very pop).
Maybe Some Girls by the Rolling Stones?

Pool or ocean?

Pool. I’m not a strong swimmer, plus I’m a control freak – so I like knowing
the edge is never more than a few strokes away.

Voicemail or email?

Email. One hundred per cent.

Media, Darling: Richard Crouse

Richard Crouse is the regular film critic for CTV’s Canada AM and its 24-hour news source News Channel. His Bravo show, In Short, runs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. Crouse was the host of Reel to Real, Canada’s longest running television show about movies, from 1998 to 2008, and he is a frequent guest on many national Canadian radio and television shows. 
His syndicated Saturday afternoon radio show, Entertainment Extra, originates on NewsTalk 1010 in Toronto. He is also the author of six books on pop culture history including the best-selling The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, its sequel The Son of the 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen and the upcoming Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils. Crouse also writes two weekly columns for Metro News and is the pop culture reporter for The Morton Report
Photo by James Heaslip.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I didn’t have aspirations to be on television or radio, but I did want to be a writer. The idea of sitting in an empty room with just a typewriter and my imagination was very appealing to me. Ironically, I ended up doing pretty much exactly the opposite of that. The radio and television jobs I took were originally meant as a way to get my name around so I could get published, then it all kind of morphed into one large amorphous pan-career that combines several very public jobs—the TV and radio gigs—with the more solitary writing jobs.  

Where would you like to be five years from now?

Five years from now I’d still like to be able to spend time alone with a typewriter and my imagination, but I’m afraid I’ve gotten used to the outside world, so I’d also hope to be seeing five or six movies a week and reporting on them for radio and TV.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Be patient. The world of media is changing at the speed of light and while it is easy to think that your career should be moving at the same pace, establishing yourself in media takes time. Be patient and be persistent. It’s been my experience that the people who were able to remain standing the longest are the people who were able to create interesting, fulfilling careers. 
Once you have established yourself, the best advice I suggest is following the ATM theory… Always Take the Money. If someone offers you a gig that doesn’t involve nudity, clowns or children, take it.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I’m a bit of a media junkie. Even though I have an iPad glued to my side at all times, a well-used and well-loved laptop for when the going gets rough, and a home computer you could launch a spaceship with, I prefer reading newspapers to getting my info online. We get newspapers delivered everyday, and on the weekends the pile of papers in front of the door threatens to barricade us inside.

Having said that, I’m a bit of a social media junkie, with an out-of-control Twitter habit and I check several websites everyday. For industry news, I look to and for the best, but crankiest movie commentary on the net I go to www.hollywood-elsewhere and Jeffrey Welles. I can only imagine he’s a very unhappy man, but his acerbic style is addictive. 

Best interview you’ve ever had?
I did a show called Reel to Real for 10 years and when it was said and done it was estimated that I did about 4,000 interviews with actors, directors and writers. I was thrilled to spend an hour chatting with special effects legend Ray Harryhausen, chuffed to joke around with Woody Allen, and I can tell you definitively that Angelina Jolie and Beyoncé are the two most beautiful women I have ever touched professionally. There are so many memories. 

Francis Ford Coppola told me, in a way that moved me very much, about his love of cinema. In a Barbara Walters moment I once made Mark Ruffalo cry on stage during a Q&A and one time, Harrison Ford took my dare and called me “Canada’s most beloved and intelligent film critic” before an audience of 500 people. He pronounced it bee-love-ed. I loved that.

Worst interview you’ve ever had?

One of the most uncomfortable interviews happened not because of the subject, but because of the crew. I was in New York to interview John Malkovich for a film he had directed. As usual I was dressed in a suit, complete with a tie and silver tie pin. It was about 40 degrees Celsius in the city that day and even hotter in the hotel room we shot the interview in. I hadn’t met Malkovich before, but I knew he designed his own clothes and lived in France. Sure enough, I walk into the suite and he is dressed to the nines, reading a French newspaper. We do the interview and it goes well. As I’m getting out of my chair, Malkovich says, “Stop. I want everyone to have a look a you.” I have no idea what is about to happen. Neither do the camera, makeup or sound people. They all stare at me. “This,” he continues, “is a man who came dressed for work today. This is a man who wants to be taken seriously. This is a man who commands our respect.” It was hot in that room already, but I’m guessing I was at least 10 degrees hotter under my collar than anyone in the room when I noticed that the people he was talking to were all wearing weather-appropriate T-shirts and shorts. I backed out of the room, afraid the dressed down (both literally and figuratively) crew might go crazy from the heat and take out their frustration with Malkovich on me. Based on the red-faced looks the crew were shooting my way I was convinced my tapes would be sabotaged and blank when I got back to Toronto. Luckily they weren’t.

The worst interview ever was one I did with a very famous Italian director during TIFF a few years ago. He was arrogant, disinterested and my 35th interview of the day. I asked one question, let him ramble on and while he was talking, read my notes for the NEXT interview. Every now and again I’d nod or say, “yes, yes…” to give him the idea I was paying attention, but he was so self-involved he didn’t even notice I had already moved on to the next subject. 

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Never wrestle with pigs. You’ll both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” Or, “never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

They’re both movie quotes, but they both speak to me in different ways. 

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. My word is all I have. Well, that and a fabulous head of hair.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Know your press. I cover movies and the film industry so don’t clog up my inbox with pitches for publicity for sports teams, best beauty tips to take your look from day to night in under five minutes or dog and pony shows. Not interested. This business thrives on personal relationships so let’s all get along and treat one another with respect.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve had many wins with PR people. My job relies on a good back and forth with a core group of publicists and over the years I’ve built up good relationships with many of them.

I hate… Boredom.

I love… In no particular order: the sound of Ray Charles’s voice, the moment I realize I’m watching a great movie, the word “jackass”, the way my girlfriend still gets excited about going out for dinner, the cover of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, jukeboxes and a perfectly poured Guinness. 

Reading? Just Kids by Patti Smith. A must-read for anyone who loves good, heartfelt writing.
Best place on earth? The cocktail bar at Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard with Manny making giant bourbon Manhattans for me and my friends. 

Dinner guest? Anyone who appreciates my usual recipe for cheese puffs.

Hero? Anyone who has figured it out.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? Sit or Squat. It has the uncanny ability to find the cleanest and closest bathroom to you no matter where on earth you are. And it’s free!

Pool or ocean? Pool, but only if it’s filled with champagne.

Voicemail or email? Voicemail for when I want to speak to you, e-mail for when I don’t.