Media Darling: Marichka Melnyk

Marichka Melnyk has worked at the CBC since she was 18 years
old, which was a long time ago now. Following ten years in national television
news, she switched to local radio where, among many other opportunities, she
presented the daily Go-2-It arts/community segment on the Toronto afternoon
drive time show Here and Now. She became producer of
Here and Now in 2007 and
is now safely behind the scenes away from the microphones.



Twitter: @Marichka

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

Pretty
much always seemed to be in the cards. I liked to write, and since I wanted to
make a living, journalism seemed the easy way to make both those things happen.
Even more, I like to talk… so although I didn’t go into broadcasting with a
plan to be on air, getting into radio and doing the Go-2-It segment was a
lot of fun and felt natural. I consider myself more of a producer than a
journalist. I like crafting a show and creating illusions and using
 theatrical elements, but am glad to have the journalistic training and
critical thinking for news judgement. 
If I was
going to do it all over again, I think I might have tried engineering. But I’d
have to be better at math.


Where would you like to be five years from
now?

Still here
– no one else does what CBC does – but producing a different show perhaps;
something new, with a lot of creative elements and useful, interesting
information. Or perhaps producing and hosting the world’s most fascinating,
popular podcast. A one-woman radio service!


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
At the
start, try everything, and see what suits. I spent ten years in television news
before I figured out I should switch to radio, but doing a lot of different
jobs in TV served me well in moving forward and clarified what I liked and
didn’t like to do. Also, learn to appear calm and in control, even when you’re
not. When I was working my way up, I noticed that the people who stayed calm and composed when all hell was breaking loose always seemed to
project the most competence, and carried the most credibility. And now, when I
look at new hires and interns, I find I am impressed by the ones who don’t get
freaked out or panic or flap around when things inevitably get crazy. They may
be scared on the inside, but as long as they don’t show it, they instil confidence in their colleagues. 
My favourite advice that I got when I was starting out: Always carry a
clipboard or notebook around so that even if you’re just going to get a coffee,
you look busy and like you’re on a way to a meeting. It works.


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

I like The Star for a current overview of what’s going on in the city, the Globe and Mail for  thoughtful explorations of issues both large and small, and the
National Post for a bit of irreverence and spicy writing. For kicks, I like
Entertainment Weekly, an actual journalistic take on pop culture, and the
Atlantic Monthly is my favourite brain food. 
CBC is
always on, but sometimes in the car I pop between 1010 to check out the
competition, and 99.9 for fun driving music and to keep current. TV is all over
the dial…I’m more loyal to series like Mad Men and House of Cards and Game of
Thrones
than to networks. 


Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
After so
many years and so many conversations, I can’t think of a particular best or
worst interview. I can say that my favourite interviews in general are the ones
with smart people who are slightly loose cannons, who can surprise you and make
you laugh with offbeat perspectives or commentary in between their useful
viewpoints (former MPP Peter Kormos comes to mind as a good example). Or the
ones that tell a story that keep you hanging and listening and waiting to hear
what happened next. The worst interviews are those that are vague, or get
lost in jargon, or stay firmly on message track and never loosen up to let the
real person come out. Those conversations are so boring and unhelpful, they
literally make me cringe.


Best
advice you’ve ever been given?

It sounds so cheesy, but honestly, the most important thing is to be nice to
people. It’s an easy thing to forget…but when my father, who was possibly the
nicest man in broadcasting, passed away, I realized from the numbers of people
who came out to speak well of him how rare it can be, and how much that
matters. You interact with a lot of people every day; make those encounters
as pleasant as you can, and leave the other person feeling good as much as you
can. You never know how the smallest nicety, or the most fleeting rudeness can
be well remembered, but the longer you live, the more you realize how those
passing impressions can come back to haunt, or help, you down the line. It
actually matters, and it pays off professionally and personally in ways you can’t
even imagine.



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

“Live
happily ever after” sounds like a fairytale, but “live
happily” is actually pretty doable. That, and “open every door”. I tend not to turn down experiences or learning opportunities, and try everything
new I possibly can. It keeps things fun and interesting, and you never know
when you might trip over your next great passion. I have a bracelet engraved
“Do More” that I literally got from a cereal box purchase, but I
actually really like that sentiment. You can always do more, in everything.


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

Know who
you’re pitching to, and what kind of show it is. It is frustrating, and wastes
both your time and ours, when you put effort into a pitch and then have to hear
that that is not the kind of story our show does (i.e. it’s national, or
commercial, or too visual, or the guest isn’t available until after we’re off-air, etc.). Figure out how to skew your pitch to our tone/mandate, so that your
pitch becomes an opportunity for real storytelling, rather than a sell job just
to get a company name out there.
Another
critical tip: if you’re going to put out a press release, HAVE SOMEONE READY TO
SPEAK TO IT! There is nothing more infuriating than being asked to consider a
story, being persuaded by the copy to call up in hopes of getting an interview,
and then being told the principal talker is out of town or unavailable for a
five minute chat. Better to wait till the main speaker is available, than to
send out a release that can’t be followed up on. 
Also,
remember we’re radio. If you have audio material – clips, music, sound effects
— send them. We love that stuff.



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

I can’t
name them all because there are so many I’d hate to risk missing one, but I
have had a lot of luck with PR pros representing arts, and particularly
theatre, in this city. I love the reps for both a major arts festival, and a
local theatre company who each asked to meet with me and introduced me to their
lineup with an eye to finding interesting stories we could build conversations
around. Together we found concrete ways to showcase various productions in
meaningful, colourful and interesting ways that served both our objectives, and
the listeners. 
I also
deeply thank the many PR pros who know our show and needs and are efficient in
delivering opportunities for interviews, background material, and the guests to
studio in a painless, hassle free manner. Our show is a small, fast-moving
little shop, and we are grateful to the PR pros who make setting up an
interview easy.

I hate?
Oversleeping.
If only it didn’t feel so good to be lazy.


I love?
Travel
travel travel, and not just visiting places but really hanging out and getting
to know them. When I win the lottery, it’ll be a one way ticket around the world
for me. 
Also,
stationery. I have a weakness for beautiful notebooks and fountain pens.


Reading?
Everything from fun novels like Dave Barry’s Insane City to The Canon, a layman’s tour
of scientific theories and principles. My favourite genre is literary
fiction: I really liked The Paris Wife, and well written historical
non fiction; Devil In the White City is one of my all-time favourites.


Best place
on earth?

In a car, on a roadtrip somewhere new and interesting with my husband. 


Dinner
guest?

I never
know how to answer that one. 


Hero?
I don’t
know if I have one. I admire different people, from my parents down to my girl
scout troop, for different things.  


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

Groupon
and the other group-deal apps. I am a sucker for all the new experiences they
offer — so far this year alone they’ve led me to Pilates, horseback riding,
snowshoeing, and Kangoo jump classes. And the list continues!


Pool or
ocean?

Pool. The
ocean is noisy (although wave jumping is admittedly really fun).


Voicemail
or email?

Email.

Theatre
show or cultural event you’re most looking forward to this year?

BOOK OF MORMON. I’ve heard so much about it for so long, I’m dying to see what all
the fuss is about, and I love Trey Parker’s work. He’d be one of those great
smart, funny loose cannons that I bet would make a fascinating interview. Him, I’d have over for dinner!
RACE at Canadian Stage is another show I’m looking forward to, because I’m curious
to see Jason Priestley act (on stage) and love pretty much anything by David
Mamet.
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Media, Darling: Adina Goldman

Adina Goldman is
senior editor at iVillage Canada,
the web’s oldest and largest content-driven community for women. Most of her
career has involved writing, editing and producing digital content for various
media properties, from television (CHUM/CTV) to public radio (CBC Toronto). She
is passionate about the intersection of technology and storytelling. As someone
who’s kept a blog for 12 years and obsessively updates her social media feeds,
she finds it weirdly difficult to write her own bio. But perhaps that’s because
she’s writing it in the third person…
.



Photo credit: Rannie Turingan



Twitter: @ponyup @iVillageCanada 
Website: iVillage.ca, www.happyrobot.net 

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

I went to school for
creative writing, but oddly they were not snatching up poets at recruitment
agencies. Like so many kids with English degrees, I did some freelance and
copywriting, and even played with the idea of advertising. But I was really
lucky with timing, because this thing called The Internet happened. And there
was suddenly a niche of web content where they kind of let you do your own
thing, as long as you put it on the “Web Page”. I hope it’s not a passing fad.

Where would you like
to be five years from now?

I want to be working
wherever people are playful with new technology platforms and using them to
tell great stories.

Any advice for people
getting started in your industry?
This is the best time
in history to share your creations. Make stuff yourself, get your voice out
there and build your community! If you’re reasonably sure you’re in the right
field, imagine the future of your industry five years from now, and point your
efforts in that direction.



What are your
favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I think much of what
we consume these days is via social media. We rely on our friends to recommend
parse the daily deluge of information. That said, we are CBC radio
junkies at our house, but I listen to a lot of NPR podcasts when I’m cooking or
on the go. I love all the city blogs, like Torontoist
and The Toronto Standard
for their creative local coverage. For writer-y stuff, I love The Rumpus, The New Yorker and The Walrus.
My sister co-founded 972Mag.com, a great and
popular alternative source for Middle East news.

Style: I am a sucker
for The Sartorialist.com
(although there are so many amazing Canadian
fashion bloggers
). Music: 3Hive.com. Huffpo
does a snacky mix of popular culture and current events. Food52.com is my favourite recipe resource
these days. Also, I read People
Magazine
religiously. Channing Tatum FTW.



Best interview you’ve
ever had?
I used to be web
producer for SPACE, so I had
the opportunity to meet and interview people who are a Big Deal in the genre
universe but often go unnoticed in the mainstream. They were the coolest
interview subjects hands-down because they had such a great sense of humour and
humility about their celebrity.

Worst?
Isn’t there only such
thing as a bad journalist? Maybe I need to do more interviews.

Best advice you’ve
ever been given?
Use fewer adjectives
and avoid restaurants where they have pictures of their food on the menu.

What rule(s) do you
live your life by?
Don’t believe
everything you read in the comments section.

What’s the most
important tip you can give PR pros?
If you want me to
take a product seriously, avoid writing about it in pink comic sans font. Send
attachments rather than embedded images in the email body. And maybe try to
look a little dishevelled every now and then when you see me so that I don’t
feel like such a schlump.

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

I have so much
respect for the PR pros in my life. How are you always so nice and remember my
name? How do you always look so polished? How do you not suffer from post-event
social fatigue? I can’t pick a favourite, only to say that the best experiences
always have a good measure of authenticity and genuine enthusiasm for the
client.

I hate?
Misused apostrophes.

I love?
People who sing when
they ride their bikes.

Reading?
I recently finished Wild
by Cheryl Strayed.
Oprah and I have excellent taste, it is a stunning read. Caitlin Moran’s How
to Be a Woman
was hilarious and edifying. Read it now if you’ve ever hemmed
and hawed when asked whether you’re a feminist.

Best place on earth?
Cooking dinner with
my family, listening to music, my five year-old singing along at the top of his
lungs.

Dinner guest?
Oh, I love to host
dinner parties. Would you like to come?

Hero?
Funny you should
mention this. I am in the market for a new hero. Accepting applications
via my twitter feed @ponyup.

Favourite app (or
whatever you are downloading these days)?
I recently used the Couch to 5K app (C25K) app for
nine weeks and it turned me into a (slow but dedicated) runner. If you know me
at all, you will appreciate the mystical power of this app.

Pool or ocean?
Am I holding a cocktail
in this scenario?

Voicemail or email?
I check my phone
messages once a week. How patient are you?


Media, Darling: Paige Dzenis

Paige Dzenis is the
associate online editor for FASHION Magazine, where she covers all things
beauty, the latest wardrobe choices of Kate Middleton, parties and fundraisers
across Toronto and other pop culture moments. Paige also paints her nails on a
weekly (if not more frequent!) basis for FASHION’s Nail Corner column which
features designer and trend-inspired nail art designs.




Twitter: @paiiige, @fashioncanada
Website
www.fashionmagazine.com/blogs


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

Yes! I started writing at a young age – shout out to the Town Crier newspaper
for giving me my first column (all about pre-teen life) when I was 11 – and did
a B.A. in media studies, always thinking that post-grad I would end up in
journalism. However, I started a working in advertising as a copywriter and
then creative director. I could have easily continued down that path, but after
five years I decided it was “now or never” and, well, here I am.


Where would you like to be five years from now?

Hopefully in Toronto, but I’ll have lived in another city/country between now
and then. I also have always wanted to have kids at an early age, so… babies!


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

You won’t want to hear this, but: it’s all about being in the right place at
the right time. Practically speaking, start working, no matter what the job is.
My first full-time job was being a secretary for Saudi Arabian engineers, but
those skills got me in the door for my next job, and so on and so on. Entry
level jobs are extremely hard to come by these days, but once you have a few
years of work experience under your belt – no matter the company or
industry – it’s much easier. And, just like in high school and university, extra
curriculars are everything. Be involved in the industry you want to work in,
make connections, do social media properly and it will all work out.


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

CBC Radio is my everything. I have my morning routine down to an exact science
based on whatever segment Matt Galloway or Anna Maria Tremonti is doing.

Online, I check Buzzfeed, Gawker, The Cut, Toronto Life, Slate and a whole slew
of blogs constantly, but generally any breaking news comes through Twitter.


And TV-wise, I’m obsessed with Law and Order SVU and my PVR records such
classics as The Voice, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, Person of Interest
and Nashville. Oh, and I’m rewatching the entire series of Gilmore Girls right
now.


Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?

I always love backstage beauty interviews. I’m into my third season covering Toronto Fashion Week and World Mastercard Fashion Week and it doesn’t matter how crazy it is, the makeup artists
and hair stylists are always so enthusiastic and energetic. It’s contagious.

Worst interview… basically any time an “exclusive” turns into a PR saying “Oh,
we ran out of time so now five of you have to go in together and can ask one
question each.” Come on!


Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“The girls who ask for orchids get orchids.” It’s from my mom, and basically a
mantra about making sure your goals and objectives are known not only to
yourself, but to anyone who could influence your life. Works for both your
career and personal things.


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

I try to always be positive. It’s not necessarily a “rules of attraction”
thing, but I don’t believe in dwelling on negative emotions. Keeping a smile on
will always transfer into making someone else’s day, whereas sour puss-faced
people are the most uninteresting and uninspiring people to interact with. I
also never use the word ‘jealous’ because it really just means “I wish I could
do that thing too but I refuse to take control of my life and make it happen.”


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

When you’re sending an invite to an event, please include a text version of the
details with your invite jpg. I hate transcribing tiny text from an image when
making a calendar reminder. Copy-paste is so much easier!


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

I once tweeted with a friend about a nail polish colour she was wearing and a
week later it arrived on my desk. No hashtags or @brandnames were used–just
the genius monitoring of a PR pro.


I hate?

Product samples that arrive in too-large boxes and with unnecessary,
over-the-top press materials. Throwing these things directly into my recycling
bin hurts my soul.


I love?

Horses! Will someone send me a horse, please?


Reading?

Um, I tend to keep many things going on my nightstand at once. Right now it’s:
the latest issue of Descant, the third Game of Thrones book, The Omnivore’s
Dilemma
and a teen fiction series by the Go Fug Yourself girls.


Best place on earth?

Texas. Houston, Austin and Marfa.


Dinner guest?

My sister and I cook dinner for our parents every Sunday night and it’s pretty
perfect.


Hero?

My mom. She has progressive MS and yet everything I said earlier about avoiding
negativity and staying positive? I get that all from her.


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

WhatsApp. I’m an Android girl, so WhatsApp is the only way to get my emoji fix.


Pool or ocean?

Ocean! Or pool! But lakes are beyond terrifying.


Voicemail or email?

Email. Though as long as you’re not calling to make sure I received an invite
or a package, please call.


Fashion week show you’re most looking forward to?

Joe Fresh. It just hits the right notes every single time.

Media, Darling: Christopher Frey

Christopher Frey grew up in Toronto, and got a degree in Religious Studies from U of T. After graduating and earning money through medical experiments to finance short films, he lived in Osaka, Japan for almost two years; then came back to Toronto to co-found and edit Outpost Magazine (for more years than he cares to mention). 


Frey is a two-time National Magazine Award winner. Since 2006, he’s been freelancing for the likes of The Walrus, Azure, Canadian Geographic, the Globe and Mail, CBC Radio and Monocle. All this was done while being mostly itinerant, traveling abroad and researching his non-fiction book Broken Atlas, which will be published next year by Random House. Frey is currently the Editorial Director of the Toronto Standard and Toronto correspondent for Monocle. Toronto Standard has earned 5 nominations and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards, more than any other online-only publication. Winners will be announced in late October.



Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
First, I wanted to be a writer. Then I realized what really appealed to me more broadly was telling stories and sharing concepts or ideas or other peoples’ experiences. Which also meant figuring out that writing isn’t always the best way to tell a story or idea, that depending on the particularity of the subject matter, another medium might be more suitable — say, a photo, film, a song, a poem instead of prose, an illustration or graphic.

I got into magazines and became an editor because I felt it was the best way to combine most of these things. And I loved collaborating with other people in creating the package it all comes in. Now because of hypertextuality, and the ability to embed sound, video and animation, it’s the web, minus the tactility and portability. I guess the next thing is to see where tablets take us… But I still do love print magazines dearly.


Where would you like to be five years from now?
Writing and making documentaries, dividing my time between Toronto and Brazil — probably Rio, but Sao Paulo has better food and my friends there are comparatively more sane. Or Istanbul.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Write something every day, develop a routine. Read as broadly as possible. Learn another language or two. Travel. Or at least walk a lot, and learn to observe.


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
The New Yorker, The Economist, Monocle, BLDGBlog, Design Observer, Foreign Policy magazine, Q and Ideas on CBC Radio.


Best interview you’ve ever had?
Tie: David Byrne and artist Vik Muniz.


Worst?
Henry Rollins for The Varsity at U of T. This was twenty years ago, long before Rollins became a talk show host. I was a huge Black Flag fan as a teenager but figured he’d be difficult. His best friend had just been killed when the two of them were ambushed outside their home. When the phone interview started I was getting nothing but angry, monosyllabic answers. 

Then I noticed a handbook to depression on the desk I was using and it contained a depression questionnaire — a checklist to determine how clinically serious one’s depression. I asked Henry if I could give him the questionnaire and he agreed. So I still got single word yes or no answers, but at least I was able to shape the article into something revealing based on what he gave me. It turned out that he was moderately optimistic after all.



Best advice you’ve ever been given?
As for something someone said to me personally, nothing comes to mind. But there’s this bit from a George Saunders essay: “Fuck concepts. Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Oy vey, I could use some rules.


What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Think like a journalist.


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve been mostly focused on international reporting for the past four years, so I hadn’t had much recent experience with PR pros until we started the Standard. I can say honesty goes far — both in terms of being up-front about whether an interview request can be accommodated, or when asked to describe off-the-cuff what it is they’re promoting. 

It’s not about decoding whether they themselves like something or not, just whether it’s a right fit for us. Having said that, I’ve liked working with Virginia Kelly, Debra Goldblatt and Rebecca Webster all of whom are not just charming but very knowledgeable about what it is they’re representing.

I hate?

A lack of generosity and openness.



I love?
Haruki Murakami, being in a canoe, playing hockey, the movie Reds, mountain biking with my friend Lorne Bridgman, Japan and Brazil, JG Ballard, William Eggleston, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Caetano Veloso. Improvising in the kitchen. The core writers who have bought into the vision we have for the
Toronto Standard. The last few pages of the James Joyce short story The Dead which pretty much says everything that will ever need to be said. I should probably add my parents and friends because I don’t see any of them nearly enough. I am a bad man.

Reading?
Simon Reynolds’
Retromania, Luc Sante’s Low Life (for the third time), Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.


Best place on earth?
I haven’t found it yet. But right now I’m missing this record store-cum-live performance space in Rio’s Lapa neighbourhood called Plano B.


Dinner guest?
Filmmaker and video artist Chris Marker.


Hero?
Ryszard Kupisinski.


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I use apps, but I can’t think in terms of one being my ‘favourite’.

Pool or ocean?
Lake.


Voicemail or email?
Normally, when I think of people communicating with me, I’d say email. But these days, as an editor and journalist with deadlines, I often find myself hectoring writers to just pick up the damn phone and call somebody already.