Shelagh Rogers, that honey–voiced icon of Canadian radio, got her start here in Kingston. She was hosting a classical music program at the Queen’s University radio station when, during a very long song, the phone rang. It was the program director for the local country and western station offering her a job. She thought it was a joke. She hung up on the caller. Luckily he called back. Shelagh said “Let’s give it a try,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1980, Shelagh joined CBC Radio, becoming sidekick to the inimitable Max Ferguson and part of the wildly popular Humline Trio on Basic Black. In 1986, she interviewed Peter Gzowski about his plans to raise money for literacy through golf, and Peter then invited her to read the listener mail on his program Morningside. Soon, she was sidekick to Canada’s most popular radio host, heard daily on Morningside.
Shelagh went on to become a charming and provocative host in her own right. She hosted local current affairs programs before becoming the founding host of The Arts Tonight. In 1995, Peter Gzowski dubbed her Deputy Host of Morningside. In September of 2000, she began two years as host of CBC Radio’s flagship daily current affairs program This Morning, which morphed into Sounds Like Canada.
Shelagh is now the voice of CBC’s only Canadian literary arts program, The Next Chapter, where she gives listeners insight into the hearts and minds of Canada’s creators. “I love hosting the show,” she says, “because I get to talk to two of my favourite kinds of people: Canadian writers and songwriters.”
Shelagh is a tireless champion of Canadian literature. She is an honourary member of the League of Canadian Poets and also hosts the annual Writers at Woody Point Festival held every year in Bonne Bay South, Newfoundland. In 2010, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada “for her contribution as a promoter of Canadian culture, and her volunteer work in the fields of mental health and literacy.”
She is also a passionate ocean swimmer and doesn’t feel the cold at all, as evidenced by her many New Year’s Day polar–bear dips. She speaks widely about mental health and literacy. In the spring of 2008, she received a Transforming Lives Award from the Canadian Association for Mental Health. In the fall, she was named a Champion of Mental Health and also received the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award of Merit. She has a John Drainie Award for Significant Contribution to Canadian Broadcasting, an Honourary Doctorate from the University of Western Ontario and a Certificate for best spring–roll maker and egg cracker from Mitzi’s Sister Restaurant in Toronto. All this, and a graduate of Queen’s University, too.