Media, Darling: Pay Chen

Pay Chen is a TV host, writer and producer
who got her on-air start at OMNI-TV in Toronto, sharing short infotainment
segments in prime time and late night. Her favourite pick-up line during those
years was, “You’re the last woman I see before I fall asleep.” 
She’s also the former host of Breakfast
Television Winnipeg
on Citytv, and hosted programs for G4TechTV, The Biography
Channel and is seen nationally on the popular preschool series,
4 Square (it was a show before being known as a place
you can check-in).

Pay is currently The Bachelor Canada
Insider for iVillage.ca and The Bachelor Canada, where she’ll dish the dirt on
what’s really happening on the show, set to hit your screens this fall on
Citytv.

She has written for children’s television
shows and is currently writing for an animated series. Her passion for all
things local and edible have lead to regular food columns for the Toronto Standard, Metro newspapers and contributions to iVillage.ca.

Pay used to be very skilled at the ukulele.
Website: www.PayChen.com
Twitter: @PayChen

Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
I had always wanted to be a teacher and
then became really interested in working in children’s television. After a few
years of doing educational TV and programs, I decided to go back to school to
get my teaching certificate. I was accepted into a post-grad program in
Australia and was making plans to move when, on a whim, I applied for the host
position at OMNI. I spent seven years at OMNI and never made it to Australia.
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
I’d like to be Tom Cruise’s fourth ex-wife. Or you know, happy. Loving what I do and
still feeling challenged by it.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
A lot of people ask me how to get a job
on-camera. That’s a tough one. You don’t necessarily need certain skills.
Sometimes people are hired because they have the right look. I worked in
production and was writing before I was hosting. It gave me a true
understanding and appreciation for the process of making television. Also, when
you know how to produce segments and direct shoots, it’s harder for people to
bullshit you later as a host. To do well, you need to understand what others do.
My first job was as a production co-ordinator. I did the running around,
photocopying and tedious schedules. I have a lot of respect for good
co-ordinators and production assistants. They hold the show together.

Also, be willing to learn what other people do.
You won’t build that show yourself.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own?
 
I leave those 24-hour news channels on all
day. They repeat the stories every 15 minutes so after the third time seeing
the same story I always think, “I knew that.” And I feel really smart. 

I also have a fondness for the CBC because it
had such a strong influence on my childhood. My brother and I learned to speak
English by watching TV. CBC, PBS and Magnum P.I. formed us as people. 
I also watch a lot of Food Network. It’s no
secret that I would love to host and produce a food show.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
I can’t think of just one, but the best
ones feel like you’re shooting the breeze with a friend. The laughs are genuine
and you’re sad when you have to wrap.
Kids and teens make up some of my most
rewarding and memorable interviews. I used to be a story researcher on a teen
show. We dealt with some heavy issues that affected kids (violence, eating
disorders, bullying, drugs) and kids don’t filter or edit what they say the way
adults do. They are brutally honest.
Worst?
Sometimes you interview people who don’t
want to do press and you can tell they’d rather be somewhere else.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
As a host: Be yourself.
As a writer: Read it out loud.
As a producer: B-roll. There’s never
enough.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t be an a**hole. Be kind. Be helpful.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
Know the show I’m working on or the column
I write when you pitch. I’ve had people pitch me ideas when I was on BT and not
realize we were a LIVE morning show. Also, it might be one product that you’re
pitching to many outlets, but let me know you’ve considered my audience by
suggesting an angle that suits what I’m working on. I’ll feel like you did me a
favour.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve had many great experiences! I tend to
work with the ones I like over and over again. I count many PR pros as friends.
The ones who understand that TV is about visuals and good speakers. You want
promotion and I want content, so let’s make it work. 
Good PR people and good hosts have to be
great listeners. We both talk and “sell” for a living – sometimes you just need
to shut up and listen.
I hate?
Rudeness. When people have a sense of
entitlement. 
The sound of girls shuffling their feet
when they wear Uggs. Will they fall off if you pick your feet up? 
The smell of boiled hot dogs.
I love?
Kind people. Those who do things without
expecting anything in return and those who do it without drawing any attention
to themselves. 
Plain chocolate cake, no icing. Things in jars. Seriously, it’s an
obsession.
Reading?
Scripts. But I want to reread Tina Fey’s Bossypants. “Over! Under! Through!” – That’s great advice.
Best place on earth?
Anywhere I can have my closest friends,
access to cheese and dessert.
Dinner guest?
I would love to get Tina Fey, Ellen
DeGeneres and some of my best friends together because we’d laugh until we
hurt.
Hero?
Christian Bale as Batman. Wait, I didn’t
answer this correctly did I?
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
I’m an Instagram addict. I post photos of
lattes and nailpolish like everyone else.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean. I grew up in Nova Scotia. I miss the
sound and the smell of the ocean. Not the bad smells. I don’t miss those.
Voicemail or email?
Email. I hate long voicemails and I’m
usually running around when people call so I’m only half listening.
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Media, Darling: Jeremy John

Breakfast Television Winnipeg host Jeremy John wakes Winnipeggers up with a smile each and every
morning!


John’s love of storytelling and meeting interesting and
diverse people makes him a perfect fit for Breakfast Television. A Brantford,
Ontario native, John graduated from the Radio Broadcasting program at Humber
College in Toronto. Prior to joining the Citytv team, John has held a variety
of radio and television positions including stints at Rogers Television, 680News, CHFI, The Fan 590, KISS 92.5, 97.7 The Beach, SunTV, and A Channel.
Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his family,
watching live theatre, and is a fan of just about any sport including hockey,
basketball and football. He is also a proud supporter of various local
charities including The YMCA, The Salvation Army and The Humane Society, as well as
local community theatre.
A few fun interesting facts you may not know is that John once worked as a giant jelly bean, got punched by “Tiger” Williams and put in a
headlock from John Cena, swam in a pool of cranberries, acted in a live weekly
theatre soap opera and competed multiple times in the World Championship of
Rock, Paper, Scissors.


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon? 
I wanted to be an actor. I thought that Canadians just
move to Hollywood and become famous.  Ended up in theatre school, hung out
with a lot of unemployed actors and decided to give radio a try instead.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Here. In a bigger house. With nicer clothes. 
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be ready and able to do anything. Learn as many skills
as possible. The person who can write and host and shoot and edit will
get the job sooner than the person who can do less.
Also be a solution person, not a problem person. If
there is an issue, bring it to the boss. But make every effort to bring a
solution along with you. It may not be the perfect solution but the boss
should see you as a person who always has an answer
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own? 
I watch/read/listen to all the local stations, newspapers,
blogs. I also am a big fan of lots of the CBC programming, sites like
reddit and boing boing
      
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Cheech and Chong were fun, so were The Wiggles, but for very
different reasons. I’m a huge Blue Jays fan so interviewing Hall of Famer
Roberto Alomar standing in the infield of Shaw Park was a very big deal to me.
Plus, he was super nice and hung out telling stories before and after the
interview.  
Worst?
Anyone who complains about having to get up early to be on
our show. Sorry, honestly I am, but we’re here and ready for you. The least you could do is put on a happy face for the camera.
  
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Fire it before it quits – a Roz Weston from KISS 92.5 quote
talking about my rapidly receding hair line. I started shaving it that weekend.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Family first. Fifty years from now I won’t regret not
putting in more overtime. I would regret missing a T-ball game or an
afternoon at the park.
  
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Make me understand how this is a benefit to my
audience. Focus on how this will improve the life of my audience and the
rest takes care of itself. The single focus should be the benefit to the
viewer.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
Whenever the PR folks give me choices. Give me
different ideas about how to present your info. You know your product, I
know our show. Together we can make great bit of TV!
I hate?
People who make my job harder. If you do your work
properly, than I can do mine.
I love?
Making the control room laugh, intentionally or not. It’s great to hear the very busy people (who normally aren’t really giggly)
laughing at something I’ve done.
Reading?
Right now? Christopher Moore’s Sacre Bleu and Stephen
Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
Two books at the same time, you ask? One in the upstairs
bathroom, one in the downstairs bathroom. Hey, you asked!
Best place on earth?
In the stands with my family at the ball park.


Dinner guest?

My wife. I know, you think I’m boring right. But
she’s really fun, she likes me a lot and I don’t get to see her nearly
enough. If I have to make a second choice, I would pick Eddie Vedder
Hero?
Terry Fox. It’s a cliché for a Canadian to say that,
but he’s a hero if ever there was one. A teenage kid who did so much for
cancer research.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
New stuff every day. Right now playing Monsters Ate My Condo, and Sid Meyers’ Pirates! 
Pool or ocean?
Pool – I hate jelly fish.
Voicemail or email?
I can ignore emails easier, so I prefer that. If you
need to get a hold of me, you should probably call.

Media, Darling: Candy Signorini

Candy Signorini is the fashion and beauty producer for the Gemini award-winning show CityLine on Citytv. 

CityLine, currently in its 26th year, is the longest running and most successful daytime show for women in Canadian history. Hosted by Tracy Moore, CityLine engages, entertains and informs viewers across Canada with its unique live format and daily themed approach. As familiar and trusted guest experts visit the set, viewers are treated to professional tips covering such topics as décor, entertaining, fashion, beauty, home and gardening.

Twitter: @CityLineCA

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?  
It has to have an appropriate angle for the show and its format. So, that means you have to know (and watch!) the show so you understand how we cover topics. Do your research. We’re looking for the “wow” factor – what makes your product unique? Why would our viewers be interested? 

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals? 
A quick response to our requests, having good product info and being able to provide relevant guests that could appear on-air. That means someone who’s not only media savvy, but someone who can be entertaining while providing good consumer information. 
If we’re covering an event — make sure there are strong visuals for us to shoot. One-on-one interviews in a hotel room are just too “dry” for our format. It needs to be fun, interactive and interesting.  
What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Not knowing the show format. Believe it or not, people have pitched us on guests we already regularly use on the show! Don’t pitch us things that aren’t relevant to our subject matter.
And, clogging my in box with big files/attachments. Those get deleted right away, often unread.
My pet peeve:
All the follow up, whether by phone or email. We’re all looking for great ideas, so if we’re interested you will hear back. Time just doesn’t allow us to respond to every email. 

If you’re sending a “save-the-date”, please include the time of day that I’m supposed to be saving! 
Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
Magazines, newspapers, television all have different time lines. We often get info too far ahead or too late for us to do anything.