Live television is fast, real and honest. I often joke that working in this industry is perfect for my short attention span. LIVE TV isn’t always pretty though. A lot can happen. Over the years I have been caught in raging storms, I’ve been hoisted to the top of a Cirque du Soleil tent, I have been privileged to experience intense “Bucket List” adventures as part of my day job. I have also had innumerable embarrassing things happen in front of our viewing audience. I have been groped by a lemur, have plucked bees off of our cameraman who was being stung while doing a segment with a beekeeper, and extinguished a fire when the same cameraman’s microphone was a little too close to a candle during a Valentine’s Day Romance special. We’ve recovered from ridiculous bloopers, dealt with crazy behind the scenes challenges, like generator fires on top of our satellite truck. You name it, we can laugh about it, after the fact. Through it all, I feel so incredibly fortunate to be the caretaker of people’s stories, passions, triumphs and to have given voice to topical and meaningful issues. Through this job, I have interviewed world leaders, spent time with personal heroines like Jane Goodall, met Oprah (a most memorable 45 seconds I might say), shared laughs with Canada’s most celebrated authors, and had a chance to meet, interview and highlight thousands of people who create ‘goodness’ in our community. Through television, I have met some of my dearest friends and embarked on the most exhilarating, and terrifying, experiences.
How long I have been doing this? I started at the station as a third year journalism student way back in 1989. I did an apprenticeship and returned to, what was then, CJOH, later that week to pick up my demo-reel of stories. That’s when the weekend newsroom producer looked up, a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and growled, “Are you working this weekend?” I quickly, and keenly, said, “Not officially, but I am available.” That’s how it started. After a few years as a general news reporter, I had the chance to host, “Midday Newsline”, a two-hour live news and lifestyles show. Live TV just felt right. Getting paid to be my naturally curious, and interested, self, felt like a gift and I have always felt so gratitude-filled. I believe everyone has a story. I get to hear many of them while at the farmer’s market, standing in line at airport security, or in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. I can walk to pick up a soup or salad for lunch and come back with a menu of ideas. Those simple conversations sometimes make their way to our program. I get to share them with you, our viewers.
I began hosting this lifestyles magazine in 1995, years before YouTube, FaceBook, and Food TV. We felt we were a vehicle to connect people, to shine a light on talents, triumphs, and even tragedies. “Midday Newsline” evolved into “The News At Noon”. In our hourly program, unique to this market, we are able to offer the latest breaking news and weather, and my portion of the program can be a little bit of everything. There is cooking, fashion, some inspiration, and a chance to highlight organizations and difference- makers. We have some regular contributors and many guests who are working publicly, or quietly, helping make things happen in health, social justice, volunteerism.
I feel so incredibly fortunate to live in this community. The Ottawa region is a gorgeous and generous place. I love the people, their creativity and the landscape. Kathie and Marlene invited me to the “Coffee Talk” table to chat about that landscape. Landscape painting, that is. They are two of my most enthusiastic fans. About five years ago, I started painting. I have long admired artists, interviewed artists, and collected the works of artists. When I moved to New Edinburgh, I found myself sharing a yard with landscape artist, Gordon Harrison. Stars and strokes aligned and I became his student. He became a dear friend and mentor. He taught me to see colour, mix colour, and how to sketch. He then left me to find my own style. Gordon is a generous teacher, as his many students will attest. Our first few lessons were annual weekend retreats. I took a painting lesson at his wonderful Pine Point Lake House where we celebrated our July birthdays. Setting up a studio at home in Chelsea was a huge affirmation that, yes, expressing myself quietly at a canvas was a beautiful balance to my very busy, and talkative, day job. I see inspiration in the Gatineau Hills. Most of my canvases are floral landscapes. Many of my paintings feature sunflowers, reminiscent of my years on my Pakenham farm. Hollyhocks remind me of my grandmother, and childhood on the East Coast. I really enjoy painting Queen Anne’s Lace because it’s tenacious, yet delicate.
It means a lot when people describe my pieces as joyous. Art is supposed to make us feel something, and joy is an energy I’m happy to share.
It was a pleasure to spend some joyous minutes chatting with Marlene and Kathie. We have been friends for years. Marlene is an artist in her own right; a fashion trailblazer, a philanthropist, a business success, always ready to make women feel their best. And, yes, she has been my long-time fashion go-to. Kathie Donovan has been a friend and colleague for almost three decades, although she is timeless. As a broadcaster, Kathie celebrated the creativity of others, and she is so creative in countless ways. She now shares her gifts helping others discover theirs. She is an author, a motivational speaker, and fortunately, my neighbour and friend. Kathie and Marlene know that while I love learning about others, I am, believe it or not, kind of shy when it comes to talking about myself. Those gals loved making me fidget in the coffee-talk chair. :) That’s ok, though. In doing so, they reminded me that it’s good to feel a little bit vulnerable; that it’s important to step out of your comfort zone. It’s there that you will find what brings colour to your world.
To reach Leanne about TV: Leanne.email@example.com
To reach her about art: firstname.lastname@example.org
Her website (with new images on the way): www.leannecusack.com