Mackay Taggart lives for early mornings, if for no other reason than the excessive napping they permit. After getting his start as a high school radio intern and part-time traffic reporter, Taggart headed east to attend university.
After four years in Halifax, Taggart graduated with a Political Science and International Development Studies degree from Dalhousie University. He returned to Toronto as the evening and weekend talk show producer at NEWSTALK 1010 CFRB.
In 2008, Taggart took a year-long hiatus from Canadian radio to work in Sierra Leone with the NGO Journalists for Human Rights. Upon his return from Africa, Taggart rejoined the team at NEWSTALK 1010 to co-produce Moore in the Mornings with John Moore and serve as the Assistant Program Director.
In the spring of this year, Taggart left radio to help produce The Morning Show with Liza Fromer, which debuted on Global this fall. The Morning Show airs weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
The short answer: Yes. I’ve always been a news junkie and always wanted to be a part of the action. The beauty of working in news media is that you feel like you work in whatever field is dominating the headlines that day – politics, finance, sports, entertainment – it’s always changing. I studied political science in university and used to think that I might want to work in diplomacy…little did I know, working with TV talent often requires more diplomacy than any other type of career.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to still be working in a capacity where I get to be creative and inventive in my role. I love working in Toronto media, though I’ve often thought of one day going abroad and seeing another part of the world through a journalistic lens.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Reach out to people. You’d be amazed how easy it is to get access to some of the top people in the field simply by picking up the phone and asking people to lunch. If your objective is simply to pick someone’s brain, you’ll rarely encounter resistance. The key to having a successful career in media is being smart, being curious and being engaged. All the other skills will fall into place.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Tough question! There are a lot. I tend to get great local ideas from talk radio. I pick up the magazine Monocle for the production value and the aesthetics. I find online news aggregators like The Daily Beast really helpful, and I rarely let a Sunday go by without watching 60 Minutes and downloading the latest podcast of the public radio program This American Life.
Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
I had the chance to interview a lot of Canadian athletes while covering the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Their passion, enthusiasm and dedication was inspiring. You’re going to have to get a couple beers in me if you want to hear about the worst!
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Work hard and play hard.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Know the show/outlet you’re pitching. Don’t simply go on the website, consume the product and pitch accordingly. Be short, be direct and don’t be afraid to follow up.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
There have been many – usually involving last minute requests and great executions on the part of publicists. Most recently, I remember we had a high-profile guest bail at 9 p.m. from the next day’s The Morning Show. I happened to be out at an event when I got the last minute email stating the cancellation. A couple of minutes later, as luck would have it, I ran into Michelle Lewis of Fleishman-Hillard. I began venting about our drop out and within 15 minutes, she had two or three great back-up guests standing by. Not sure if I mentioned it to the rest of our production team, but she was definitely the one who saved the show that day.
Hearing my alarm go off at 2:15 a.m. every weekday (worst part of working in morning television).
Fresh powder on a ski day.
A bio on former Pan-Am CEO Juan Trippe – a fascinating look into a business icon, but I’ll be honest: I was inspired by watching the cheesy TV series.
Best place on earth?
Lamu Island, off the coast of Kenya.
Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes.
My dad is pretty awesome.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Voicemail or email?