Ian Leonard: Canada Export, Chief Meteorologist at Fox 9 Minneapolis
Updated: May 31
Ian Leonard is the Chief Meteorologist at Fox 9 in Minneapolis. Sadly, this is a channel that I do not get in Winnipeg. Ian and I worked together on Stony Plain Road in Edmonton back in the 90's. What I didn't know is that he is a second generation broadcaster, grew up around the TV station and there was a moment in 2002 when he and his wife Christy decided to take a chance and head south.
In this episode you will hear about Ian growing up in Edmonton and being apart of television at an early age. We share a few stories from 90's, weather related ones too including the Pine Lake tornado which I had completely forgotten about until we walked that part of memory lane. We also discuss how Ian has made pivots and transitions in how he presents the weather and what social media tool are most important to him now.
There is also a lot we did not discuss including his battle with cancer....
and the extensive role he plays working with the Special Olympics. Here's an example.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:00
The Sound Off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10
Ian Leonard is someone I worked with back in the 90s in Edmonton. He was a TV fixture in that city for over two decades before making the jump down south. Today he works for the Fox Nine affiliate in Minneapolis KMSP as their chief meteorologist. Now, unlike other weather talent who did not evolve with the technology and delivery of weather over the years, Ian has and is now a leader in the space. He's going to tell you how he did it. And now Ian Leonard joins me from his home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. You've never been arrested?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:00:45
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:48
How about fined?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:00:49
Well, yeah, every time I go back to Edmunds and there's a thousand traffic cameras and I either get speeding tickets or red light tickets because driving in the United States of America is entirely different than driving in the country of Canada. People go 30 or 40 miles an hour in a parking lot. That's just the way it is. I go 30 or 40 miles an hour on the White Mud Freeway and I get a ticket.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:19
Did you grow up in Edmonton?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:01:20
Yeah, I grew up in the west end of Edmonton, a neighborhood that borders the North Saskatchewan River right there near the Quenell Bridge. I grew up in a Rio Terrace, which back in the day was I think it was developed when I was born in the mid 60s. So it was one of those neat, cool neighborhoods and now it's kind of one of, the neighborhoods that I think time is sort of forgotten. I think it's going through a bit of a gentrification. But yeah. I grew up in the west end of Edmonton. Went to Rio Terrace Elementary School. Every time we would go back with my daughters for something to go and see family, we'd go around the neighborhood. And it got to the point where we would visit Edmonton and I'd say, hey, let's drive around the old neighborhood. And now my daughters are like, no, we're good. We've seen where your friends used to live. We've seen where you crashed your bike. We've seen all the places. So for me, that's where I grew up. I always tell people where my home is, is wherever my wife and family is. So my home is Minneapolis, but I grew up in Edmonton.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:24
I didn't know this, and I feel like I should have known this. But you're a second generation broadcaster. Your dad was in broadcasting.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:02:32
Yeah. So my parents emigrated from England in the 50s. But before they came over, my father sang opera and my mother was a Chorus Line dancer. So my parents, obviously a fairly theatrical family, but once they came to Canada, my father was also a sign painter in Manchester, England, and came over and they needed an artist at CFRNTV, now, CTV Edmonton. He started working there in the 50s and he never got rid of that performance bug. He did radio programs. He was a theater critic on CKXM, which I think became the Bear, I'm pretty sure and he was the color and play by play guy for the Edmonton Drillers and the NASL. So he was always a big part of broadcasting and he never stopped singing. I was the kid who grew up, literally grew up in the television station. I would run around behind the scenes when everyone was doing everything else. I was the annoying little kid who was saying, look at me. Whether it was behind the scenes of Popcorn Playhouse or the CFRN News or hanging out in the green room where all the jocks I mean, all the jocks used to be live. And I got to hang out with All these amazing old performers, the Eric Nevilles and the Ed Kays and anyone from Edmonton who knows broadcasting would go, my God, those are amazing names from the past. I was the son of performers and coincidentally became a performer myself. People in the US talk a lot about how there's a lot of Canadians who are very funny and they're in the arts. And I tell everybody, and I don't know, there's no scientific data to actually back this up, but I tell people it's because in the heart of the Edmonton winter, when it's 35 or 40 below and there's huge snow drifts and you're a kid, you're not going out. Your parents didn't really go out back in the didn't have heated seats and heated steering wheels and remote starts. So you stayed home or you went over to a neighbor's house, and the deal was you entertained each other or you entertained yourselves. And that was a big part of my family. That's what we did growing up. We entertained each other. I think that's where my bug came from.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:48
That's become a bit of a recurring theme on this show. We had somebody on from Seattle a few weeks ago and talking about the Northwest being a place where people are inside quite often, and a lot of the creativity bug will come out. I've mentioned Winnipeg a few times, being the home of Neil Young, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and the Guess Who, because what are you doing? You're inside Portage Domain, 50 below. We're jamming.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:05:11
I think there's something to it. I don't know how you would ever be able to prove something like that, but I think it makes a good. point that maybe we've gone away from that in today's day and age. I mean, you're in Winnipeg right now. I'm in Minneapolis, we're talking like this, but we're not necessarily together as much. The old living room parties or the parties in your basement around your little tiny corner bar, I don't think those happen as much anymore. I think we're always waiting for the perfect day to get outside and have a backyard party, which we have all the time and I love. I love having people in my house. I love being entertained by people or having entertaining conversations or it turns into music trivia or karaoke or something. And I think in some way, obviously, we're coming out of the pandemic, maybe that has something to do with it as well. But I think we don't gather and entertain each other so much as go out and wait to be entertained. I'm more of a, hey, come over, let me entertain you. Let's all sit around. I don't care if we're drinking or reading or we're just hanging out. Look, that was a Canadian out. Did you see that? They just pop in every once in a while.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:15
How do you manage to keep that off the air? In Minneapolis,
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:06:15
I have a little tiny red light in the back of my head that starts blinking every once in a while. So here's a good one. So, when I first moved to America in 2003, and I was doing tornado coverage and I was talking about straight line winds, deracho winds that had blown over big 18 wheelers on I 80, it was a vicious storm. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and I was on the air and I said a bunch of semis had blown over. And people are like, what is that? You mean a semi or semi? And I was playing hockey, of course, guy from Canada comes down to Iowa and I get to play hockey and guys are like, dude, you talk really funny. And there was a guy from Winnipeg who sat me down and he said, let's go over a bunch of stuff. And so a sticker that you put on your car is a bumper sticker.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:15
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:06:15
Decal. No, a decal. And I call it a deckle. And they said it's a decal. And the black top that goes on parking lots, well, that down here is asphault. And I grew up in a British house where it's asphalt. And there are just some words that are really hard for me to click away. A parcade. You go to the airport in Winnipeg and there's probably a parcade, right? Well, here it's a parking ramp. And a parcade is just a long strip of a street where you park your car. And so, over the years, you just learn to have the Canadian side of your brain, Shh quiet. You're not Canadian side of the brain to be quiet right now. It's the other side of the brain that's going to talk. And then the American side of the brain comes through and uses the proper words. But there are times when it slips out, like motorbike and motorcycle. Motorbike is people look at me like I'm cross eyed. They're like what's a motorbike? Well, a motorcycle. No, that's a motorcycle. It's a motorbike. Well, anyway, you get where things are going here.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:23
When I moved to Edmonton in 1994, the one thing that I knew was because all I heard about was it's cold and it might be boring for somebody who was coming from Montreal, which, by the way, it was cold, but it was certainly not boring. However, I knew that I'd be spending a lot of time working on being on the radio because that's what I did. I'd be at the radio station all day. Everything I did was radio related. I sometimes think that, to your point about creative places, that being inside and socializing, and you'll spend a lot of time honing your craft and getting good at what you do.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:09:00
And that's exactly the point. I think your creative juices are honed because you're forced. I mean, look, nothing against sunny and 75 degrees in San Diego, but when you're always out rollerblading on the boardwalk or surfing or hanging out with people outside, I think Mother Nature is kind of pulling you off course. More often than not, you're forced inside when the wind is howling and it's snowing. And I think that helps hone whatever skills you're trying. Maybe you're a master carpenter, right? So you get really good at putting together cabinets and using miter saws and all that other sort of stuff. But if you're using a different talent, if you're using a talent of your voice or your brain or you're an actor or you're a writer, I think Mother Nature does you a favor by keeping you inside.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:47
So you grew up on Stony Plain Road, effectively, because that's where the TV station was. That thing was way out on the outskirts of town when you were growing up, and now it's sort of been sucked into the city a little bit, but wow, it's almost like you grew up on the farm.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:10:05
Yeah, there was no West Edmonton mall. There was really no west you know where the TV station was, where CFRN now CTV Edmonton. It was a gravel road. It was basically developed to look like an old log cabin. Yeah and that's where my father worked. There are still hallways in that building that are original, which is always bizarre for me because I would walk down the old hallway in television sales and think, this is the hallway I used to run along with my dad's partner at the time at CFRN in the art department. His name was Al Thompson, but just an awesome guy and he had a daughter, Suzanne and we were the same age and we were the little kids that grew up in the television station together. And I always used to remember, and this is the hallway we used to play tag in. And then I'm walking along that hallway, I'm like, I work in this building. And when I first started working in that building, I was always known as Peter's son. And after my father retired and a couple of years later, it became, oh, you're Ian's dad, because my father wasn't in those hallways anymore. So it was a pretty big realization to me as as we went through the fact that my father and I had both worked in that same building for, I think, some total of 45 years which is really cool when you think about it. It's a long time for a father and son to have gone through the same building.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:29
What year did he retire and what year did you start?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:11:31
Dad retired probably 90, 91. And that's when I had come in, and that's when everything was beginning to change. My father was an artist. He used to hand draw the maps for the news back in the 70s when they'd say, well, there's been a terrible accident on 156th street and 76th Avenue and there were no computers. The camera cut to a hand drawn map. And that's what my father did in the art department during the day, worked for news and obviously the television station creating logos and sets and things, but computers came in right at the end of his career. And it was a daunting task, anybody who's toward their end of their career to adopt something new like that. But I think my dad just sort of knew. And in the meantime, my dad had always been a set designer. And that became more of his passion as he retired, was set design. And I would go and I would help him paint sets at night when no one was around. And we'd paint these iconic cityscapes in the background or trees to make it look like a forest out the window of the back of the set.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:34
So I'm thinking back at some point, the radio and the TV stations were owned by different entities. And I think I know when I got there in 1994, it was owned by Standard Broadcasting. I can't remember who owned CFRN at the time. Maybe it- was who did?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:12:54
I think it was Electra Home.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:56
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:12:58
So it went from Dr. Rice, who started the radio and TV stations way back in the 50s, this old, elegant British man who my father worked for who was just a wonderful man who treated the employees amazing. I remember my father told me a story when he had TB in the he had to go to back then, they called it, I don't know, the Sanitarium or something. It was hospital for people with TB. And my mom didn't know how the family was going to survive. And Dr. Rice called and kept paying my father's salary out this whole time. My father was in with TB for months and months and months. And that's kind of that old school ownership back in the day. But it went from Dr. Rice to, oh, man, there was a Canadian company that bought them, then Electra Home and then Bell Media. And I think it's still Bell to this day.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:46
It is correct. And by the way, and they own both the TV and the radio now.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:13:52
Wow. Yeah I mean, when you came from Montreal, CFBR the Bear, right. It was such a juggernaut. It was a really exciting time to be in that building, both working on TV and seeing what you all were doing with radio and talk about upsetting the fruit basket and setting local radio, if not the national radio scene on fire. It was really cool for me to be near that and see that creativity that you talk about coming from Montreal and being locked in the radio station. And coming up, what are we going to do next? Who are we going to hire next? What are we going to do? I always think back to when you're first coming up in any business, it doesn't matter what it is, it could be construction or radio or TV or acting or accounting. I think when you're coming up, the camaraderie is so great because everyone's doing that same thing and working those same crazy long hours. But when there was a moment to hang out, it was really cool to hang out together.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:49
What was your first job at CFRN? Did you go straight to weather?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:14:52
No. Okay. My first job technically was commercials. My father would call my mom and say, they need a ten year old boy for a Lido Chinese food commercial and it's shooting at 3:30 today. And my mom would wait for me, and I'd walk out of school and she'd say, come on, we're going to the TV station. I'll do your hair when we get there, and I brought this shirt for you. And I would be in a Lido Chinese food commercial where I'd be like the little kid on camera who would have a bite of rice or an egg roll and say, this is great. And I remember, I think my first time I did that, I think I got a check for like $25. I was getting paid to eat an egg roll. It's like the kid who hangs around the backstage long enough, you get to become a roadie. I think it was just the fact that my dad was always pushing for me and trying to help me. So my first gig was wanting to get into news. When you think back to CFRNTV, back in, the people who were on the news were the most respected. It's like every single one of them in many different iterations was like Walter Cronkite. They were amazing news people and journalists, and there's no way a dorky little kid like me, who liked more entertainment than anything else, could even hope to be a part of it. But then when I look at that, I'm thinking, well, maybe I don't want to be on news. When I would see what the reporters would go out and the hard facts and the ups and downs of that job, I mean, the things that reporters cover to this day. And I always thought, well, weather is the one thing that looks like it has a degree of performance to it, a degree of performance mixed with science. And way back when we started calling it we, me and my father, started calling it that. Weather was more infotainment. I've always used that word to this day because weather doesn't have a script, there's no teleprompter for the weather. It's basically creating the forecast, doing the math, and then making ostensibly what is a really fancy PowerPoint. But that PowerPoint are those really fancy nifty graphics that are behind us on the green screen. And there is a degree of performance to passing along that information. And to this day, I can look up to heaven every day and say, thanks, dad, it's all about infotainment. So no. My first gig was doing some rock video stuff where I think for me is where I learned how to talk to people because somebody would say, hey, there's a band coming to town. Would you like to talk to them? And I'd say yes. And you'd get a press release. And it would have eight talking points about the band. And I'm confident that most people would sit down with that band in a little room somewhere and basically extrapolate on those talking points. And you could see it the first time I ever talked to a band, I could see it in the eyes, they're like, oh, God, here we go. He's going to go the talking points. And they would have the very canned responses. They were great. I mean, it was a well rehearsed dance. And I started thinking, there's got to be a better way to this. And you bring up Burton Cummings earlier, The Guess Who and I'll never forget he was doing some album or something, and I got a chance to interview him and he brought in a little electronic keyboard and he was sitting there, and we put a solo spot on him. And I was off to the side. And in the middle of the interview this is in the studio in the middle of the interview, he lights up a cigarette and my producer walks over and says, there's no smoking in here. And his handlers from the record company walked right up to the producer and said, he's Burton Cummings. And Burton Cummings just kept smoking during the interview. And that's the way it was. And I think I learned a lot about entertainment and dealing with people and talking to people. And I think I've tried to bring that somehow into what I do every day on the news. The way I interact with the co-anchors, the way I read people, the way I interact with news reporters. When we're talking about climate change or flooding or tornadoes or straight line winds or heat waves, I've always tried to make sure that it doesn't become a talking point.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:03
Yeah, actually, I think back to the 1987 tornado in Edmonton, which was big news, and you can't obviously do your regular forecast around that sort of infotainment, but I remember that being a big. The 80s were really big in Edmonton. I mean, the Oilers and then the TV news, you're all superstars, and Daphne and Darryl and just the incredible personalities that were on the television in that time because really it was the only game in town.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:19:32
Yeah. And it was a different time. There were limited channels, although we were starting to get us cable feeds from Washington. So you could watch ABC and NBC and CBS, but you never turned to them for news. You watched your primetime programming from the US. But you're right, if you were near a TV and it was 06:00 p.m., I'll tell you that television was turned on and it was locked on CFRN. And they were stars. They were big stars. Daphne Kune and Darryl McIntyre and John Barry and Al McCann. They were the quintessential television stars of Edmonton, Alberta. And I don't think you can ever cook that again to make it like that because there are just so many options out there for whatever you want to watch, whether it's news or weather or entertainment or movies. Here in Minneapolis, we started a new Fox National Weather Channel about six months ago out of New York, and you want to talk about trying to slay the dragon, the Weather Channel is massive. It's a huge part of people's vernacular, and working against it is something that we've done very well. But I would imagine that's what it was like in Edmonton in the 80s when you were at ITV or CBC, and every day you probably show up and go, we got to go up against CFRN again. And they had the reporters like Janice Johnson and Bob Mciuk and Fred Kazakov. I can't believe these names are even coming into my head. That's amazing. Earl Morgan. Do you remember Earl Morgan? He had a sign off. Earl Morgan, he had this crazy voice. I can't even do it. But all these people who were the TV stars of the day, and rightfully so, it was a great place for me to come up and learn about broadcasting and learn about journalism and learn about television. But back then you could also smoke on the news set or in the TV station and it was a different time and a different place. A good time and a very good place.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:21:46
The Sound Off Podcast.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:48
I remember were in our twenties and just being surrounded by all the talent. But it was so good to see these careers ascend throughout, you know, the decade. So I think of Carrie Doll, who worked her way from weekends and then eventually got the 06:00 news anchor position. You yourself, I think you were starting on weather on the weekends and then eventually you found your way into the 06:00 p.m. package, which of course, is where you wanted to be. So I just love seeing all the careers take off throughout the decade. By the time we get to the end of the 90s I think a lot of us will take that sort of next jump into our we're in our thirties at this point and we're looking to make moves. When did you know it was time to leave Edmonton?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:22:31
I didn't. There was no moment that it was like, AHA I had always been a part of, we have all these organizations the National Weather Association, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the American Meteorological Society, all of these organizations and they have conferences. I met somebody at the conference, it must have been 91, 92, who was an agent, and he said, hey, your stuff's really great. If you ever want to think about making a move to the United States, let me know. And I'm like, no, I'm going to buy a house in Rio Terrace right, right where I used to walk the streets as a little kid. And I'm going to work for the rest of my life on CFR NTV, and hopefully I'll make enough money to buy a cabin on Pigeon Lake and go out to the cabin on weekends. And my daughters will go to Rio Terrace elementary and eventually Stratford Junior High School and then St. Francis Xavier High School. All in Edmonton's, West End, all the places I went, that's what's going to happen. And there was one day where I'd been watching back in the day you got tapes, right? There was no real internet to be able to watch much. There was no YouTube. So watching tapes, we used to get these tapes that would float around of the best people in the business at the time. And many of them came from America. And I started thinking to myself, well, those guys and girls are really good, but I think I'm that good too. And I think that's a big thing now when you're coming up in the business, it's like being a baseball player. You think, Well, I'm pretty good. Why am I not playing at that level? I can play with those guys. Or whether it's figure skating or hockey or ringette or professional poker, whatever your thing is. I think everyone always thinks, why I want to play at that next level. I want to play against the best. And I think that was my moment. Lo and behold, probably six months after in about 2001, just after 911 into 2002, we started getting job offers. And that's great. It's almost like being at a dance and everyone's asking you to dance and it makes you feel really good. But we never thought right at that time that we were going to do it. There was no, this is what we're going to do. Start packing the boxes, make sure everything's ready to go. There was never any of that. My agent always said, anybody who wants to talk to you, you have to go talk to them because you never know where they're going to end up one day. And if you make a good impression, you make a friend. It could help you down the road. And so I said, okay. And we got a call to go to a job interview in Iowa. I'm like, Iowa? Honey, honey, go get the atlas. And we're like, okay, well, we'll fly to Iowa. And we flew to Minneapolis, where we had to connect to fly to Iowa. And as we're walking along the gates, the planes, as you're looking out the window and you're walking down the airport, the planes are getting smaller and smaller until finally you're getting on a ten seater. And that was the flight we took to Iowa. And it was great. They were wonderful, and it was just a terrific place. But they made me an offer and we left. And I said to my wife, here's what they want. What do you think? And we have probably one of the biggest fights we've had in our marriage in the Minneapolis airport at TGI Fridays because I thought it wasn't that bad a deal. And she's, like, not moving to Iowa and she was right. But when we got home, we'd said no. And so they kept calling, and the offer got better. We started thinking, yeah, we could do this, man. It was a great place. It'd be a great place to raise a family. And we said yes. And the rest is history. It's hard when you think about leaving Edmonton, the only television home I'd known, the only home I'd ever known and a place where all my friends were and we weren't in this new day and age yet. Where the cell phones we had back in the late 90s, early 2000s, they were rudimentary at best, even for texting. Never mind shooting pictures and keeping in touch and FaceTime and YouTube and all that sort of stuff. So it was like, my gosh, we're moving to a different country. And I'll tell you, to a person, the people at CFRN were so supportive, and they were like, you go, man, this is going to be great. It was awesome. And you mentioned Carrie and Darryl, monsters in the industry, who I learned so much from, but we learned so much from each other together.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:59
And full disclosure, we work with Carrie on her podcast, and I, in a million years, would have never, ever thought that Darryl would be back behind the microphone doing radio at 630 Chet.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:27:12
I mean, they are both so inherently talented. And I don't mean to be able to put a microphone in their face and talk and have a good voice and be able to carry a conversation and make things happen. I mean, talented with people, being able to just talk to people and be real. John Barry, may he rest in peace, he told me something way back in the 90s when I was coming up, and he said something that sticks to me to this day, something I still tell my interns when they start for the summer, don't fake it. Because the one day that you're either too tired to fake it or you forget to fake it or you don't quite fake it as well as you have been, that's the day everyone will realize that you're not the person that you've been faking it all along. So I've always said to people, look, if you like me, that's great. But if you don't, this is me. This is who I am. The guy you see on TV is the guy who's at home in the basement trying to paint boards to put baseboards on the wall, or coaching my daughter's soccer team, or buying groceries at the local store. And that's something that Darryl still has. That's something that Carrie still has. I hope to this day that I still have it. Just be real, just be a regular person. And they're so awesome. They're the best at what they do. And it's funny to say that, knowing that I used to share the anchor desk with them and at the end of the day, they're just really good people.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:45
I am thinking back to some of the people that have to some of the people that went through CFRN, who went on to careers in the States. I think of Pat Kiernan.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:28:56
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:56
Leslie Miller. There are lots and to that I never really sort of made the connection. That why so many Canadian personalities do wind up down in the United States. Mark Criskey comes to mind. I think he's at KTLA. John Roberts, Fox News.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:29:15
Here's what I've always told people. I think we have such a especially Western Canadians have such a round pleasurable, for all intents and purposes, a flat accent. When you talk to somebody from the Ottawa Valley and there's the outs and abouts and things like that, and Eastern Toronto, there's definitely more of a Canadian a Canuck accent. But I think western Canadians have just such a flat accent. They could be from the Pacific Northwest or Montana or Oregon or all these other places. And I think when Canadians come here, we're very studious to where we're going and what we're going to do. Like JD. Roberts, when I see him on the air, I always tell people in the studio, I'm like, he used to be at Much Music. And people go, what's much music? And I'm like, oh, right, let me tell you about it. It was the MTV of Canada was great, but I remember J. D. Roberts back in the day and now he's John Roberts and he's really good on the air because I think he's really, really studious. Like Pat Kiernan, like Leslie Miller, like Mark Christie. These are all people who study and try and make their art better every single day. I try and do the same thing. I think the day you start phoning it in is the day you pretty much hang it up.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:27
I want to say you were in Des Moines, Iowa. Is that correct?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:30:31
No. Most people think about Iowa and they say Des Moines.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:36
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:30:38
No, not Sioux City. So I was divided into two halves in terms of television markets. Think about Alberta with Edmonton and Calgary and Red Deer sort of the little younger brother in the middle, but not much of a TV market. Edmonton has a northern half, calgary has a southern half in Iowa. Des Moines has pretty much everywhere I 35, which goes right down the center of Iowa and areas to the east. And I worked in sorry areas to the west, and I worked in eastern Iowa in what we call a fractured TV market. So it was Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Dubuque. So we really had kind of it would be like if Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Lloyd Minster were all in a market, but they were all regarded as the number one city in that market. So there was a lot of traveling around and a lot of farm, a lot of farmers. So it was a lot like for me to go to Iowa from Alberta. It was these major centers, but surrounded by good, hardworking farming folks, and it was a good launching spot for me. I love Iowa to this day. I love the Iowa Hawkeyes. Our best friends live down in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It's a marvelous, wonderful state. But when you travel and you just say to people, they say, Where are you from? I'm from Iowa. They say, oh, is that potatoes? You're like, no, that's Idaho. It was great. I loved it there. We loved our time there. And we were really lucky that the company we went to work for valued hiring a Canadian and bringing a Canadian down and everything that that encompassed. You know, as a Canadian, you can't just go, I'm going to go work in America and just step across the border and start working. There's a lot of paperwork and there's a lot of lawyers and all that sort of stuff. And the company we came to work for, a company called Breakcom Broadcasting, understood all of that and jumped through all the hoops and did everything for us and made it seamless for us to literally step across the border and start working.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:33
And what came after Iowa.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:32:36
Right where I am now, Minneapolis. So living in the Midwest and Iowa and the upper Midwest here in Minnesota, I don't think a lot of people who don't live here or who aren't true weather geeks understand how much severe weather we get here in spring, summer and fall. We have more than our share of tornadoes and straight line winds and severe thunderstorms. Back ten years ago, Minnesota led the nation in tornado touchdowns. So there's a lot of really active weather around here, and tornado coverage is not like it was in Edmonton, not like during the 87 tornado or the Pine Lake tornado, of which I was on the air during the Pine Lake tornado at CFRN here. It's less about actual stone cold hard ratings, more about public service and doing the right thing and being on the television and getting that information across and being the calm voice in the heart of a storm there where people can get hurt and lives are taken and property is wiped out. And so in Iowa, the longest time I ever spent on the air was over 10 hours on the air and we had like 29 tornado touchdowns in our little corner of the world in the eastern half of Iowa. And that tape had made its rounds. As a news director, I think it'd be like talking to somebody in radio and they've been on the air doing breaking news on the radio for seven or 8 hours and you think to yourself, wow, that guy or girl is so good. They were able to carry coverage for five, six, 7 hours and I don't know where they learned it, but get me that person on the phone. And I think that's what happened with me with TV. But Minnesota kept calling and I drove up one day and I thought, man, this is as close to living and working in Edmonton as I will ever find anywhere in America. And it was like a match made in heaven. And they accepted me for who I was. I said, I'm not going to fake it. I'm not going to do anything big or crazy. This is me. And we got here in 2006 and we were still here. So I think we're doing okay.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:54
Oh, yeah, I think you're doing great.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:34:56
We might have to edit that part out if something happens. Yeah, 2006. I've been the chief meteorologist of Fox Nine in the Twin Cities since then. Ratings are ratings are good, but the TV that we put on the air is better than ratings. Man, there's a lot of great people in this market. Not just at Fox Nine, but at Fox Nine. Really great, caring people, people who care about the community. Listen, we've had I don't think it's any secret. Minneapolis said a rough go over the last few years and now we're coming out the other side of the pandemic and the riots. I think we're going to be a better city for it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:34
By the way, I want to thank you for reminding me about Pine Lake. I completely forgot about that tornado. A tornado of which that I was I think I was kind of in it. I was in Cameros broadcasting live back to Edmonton in the we were at, I think one of those shows.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:35:52
Yeah. It was like yeah, the outdoor festival. Yeah, some big fat what's that one called?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:55
I don't it might have been called Stage 13 and it was the rock version of whatever the country one was supposed to be.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:36:01
Big valley jamboree.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:02
Yeah. All of a sudden the warning comes on the radio and starts to warn the city of Edmonton about a tornado that's actually going to be going through where I am. And at which point we come back on after the warning had gone off and said, well, if a tornado rips through here, we will be attached to the giant Molson Canadian cans.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:36:24
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:25
So you can we started to talk about our impending death, which did not make for a great afternoon show. And here we were sitting in trailers and welcoming these bands in to talk to the bands about all of our impending death because a tornado was on the way. And yeah, Pine Lake was probably about 100 camrose and that's yeah, I forgot about the devastation that took place there.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:36:51
Yeah, that was memory service. I think it was a Friday night.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:56
Oh, absolutely. It was a Friday afternoon when the warning bell started. By about five or 06:00, the system went through and there it was.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:37:06
And listen, I say we I'm lumping myself in there. We had a terrible infrastructure to warn people about severe weather way back then. The Pine Lake tornado came over Ridge and came down into the valley and hit the campground beside the lake and then skipped across the lake and touched down a couple more times before finally lifting. Breaks all those mists, right? Oh, a tornado doesn't happen near water. It can't jump over water, it can't be near a lake. Broke all the myths, but you couldn't see it coming. And we had no way to warn people. We didn't have outdoor warning sirens, of which a network we have down here in the upper Midwest. There's one in my neighborhood, there's one in every neighborhood. There's tornado sirens everywhere. We do really a good job, a much better job than we ever did. I remember after Pine Lake, I was on the Canadian Association Board of Broadcasters on their severe weather board. We were trying to figure out how we can do a better job on TV, on radio. How do we warn people about this dangerous, life threatening weather? You're thinking, well, we're talking to 54 40 here in the trailer. Hold on, boys. Apparently there's a storm coming. So guys, tell us about your latest. We didn't have a good way to tell people, and I think we're doing a much better job. I think even in Canada, they've come up with a much better job environment. Canada finally came on board with what we use down here in America called same codes, S-A-M-E which breaks areas of Alberta up into little bite sized pieces, little tiny segments that can be worn more efficiently than large geographic areas. So, yeah, Pine Lake, all I remember is I was on the air and in my ear, the producers were telling me that all of the air ambulances from Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer were being scrambled. And that was something I'd never heard of. I remember getting off the air. I'll get emotional about it. My wife had come to the station because she'd heard what was going on, and she came to the station, and I got off the air, and I was gutted because people had lost their lives in a tornado, and there was no real way for us to warn them when I was on the air. And that was a terrible day.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:39
It was July 14, 2000.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:39:42
Yeah, it was. It was awful. I can remember exactly where my wife met me in the station. It was near the control room, just outside the newsroom in that sort of hallway that you would walk down to go down to the news studio, and she just gave me a big hug. But since then, I've been on the air for hundreds of tornadoes, and I don't think any of them affect me any differently than that day. It's kind of like it's a wrong thing to say, but it's us, all of us, in the news business and in the weather business against the tornado. Inevitably, tornadoes win severe weather winds, but if one family, if one farm, if one group of people in a campground get that warning, get that voice of reason, and do what they have to to stay away from the storm or get out of the storm's way, then you're doing what you're supposed to do. But I still do get emotional. It's emotionally draining to think about how powerful and strong and how deadly these storms are, and there's not much we can do except get on the air and shout from the hilltops and make sure people know it's coming.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:02
As you're telling this, I'm thinking back to an episode of WKRP where they sort of encapsulized that feeling that you have as a broadcaster trying to warn people about an event. And in that episode, it was a tornado, and I think it was the program director, Gary Sandy, was the actor who told I think it was a child to go downstairs, shut the door to the basement. But, yeah, what you're talking about was captured in an episode, and I thought they did a really good job.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:41:31
That was a comedy. You'd watch it for Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap, and everyone knows the dropping turkeys from a helicopter Thanksgiving episode, and it was a comedy. And I think every once in a while, what they did really well in the is they took those comedies and made them dramedies, so they infused some drama into them just to show that life can be real. And, yeah, I remember that episode. And it is an emotional time covering severe weather, both before, during, and after. And I think that's what I went to, what I said earlier about phoning it in once it doesn't become that way for me, then it's time for me to be that guy who used to be on TV, but I'm still that guy.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:42:13
And further to that. WKRP also did an episode involving the tragedy with The Who where eleven kids died at the concert and they had no choice but to do it because, hey, we're a radio station. We're set in Cincinnati, and this happened. And the network was not happy that this was going out, but they went and did it anyway. And of course, it was the right thing to do.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:42:33
Yeah, I think when we reflect what happens around us, we're better broadcasters. They were broadcasters. I mean, there was a television show, they were actors. But even then, still, when they reflect what's going my wife and daughter love my youngest daughter, she's 17. They love watching Law and Order SVU, and they're going through a whole segment of it right now where they're wearing masks on SVU. They're reflecting what actually happened to all of us with the masks and the pandemic and the things shutting down and everything going on. And there's a part of me that values that so much that they're not just brushing over it. And it's the same with those two episodes of WKRP. And I think it's important also to say, Matt, that people like Carrie and Darryl and myself and our anchors here, randy Meyer and Kelsey Carlson and Amy Hawkert, all of us, we're not so animatronic that we're not unaffected. By the things that we have to talk about on the air, but we have to talk about them, and we have to stay unaffected at that moment in time. But there's plenty of time after you get off the air, and it can be quite emotional. There's no way for these things not to affect you. So I talk about infotainment and think about it. Most of the time when I'm on the air, it's winter and it's 28 degrees and there's snow on the ground and it's crystal clear bluebird sky, or it's sunny and it's 72 and there's no storms. And those are great days, and that's when we can have fun and do silly things. But there are times when the weather is serious and it turns deadly. And my little moniker here is hashtag Ian sleeves rolled up. That's when, you know if you turn on the TV and my sleeves are rolled up, you absolutely know that there is something that I'm about to say that you need to listen to. And if I could do anything, I'll do it. I remember one time we had a tornado warning and I was at a barbecue and it sort of came out of the blue. But I have this incredible team, or I'm a part of an incredible team is probably a better way to say that of awesome meteorologists. And we're always looking. So I had one meteorologist on the air and I went in because we like to do tag team coverage. I was wearing a pink Oxford button down shirt, and for a spell, my shirt was trending on Twitter and I'm like, well, that's not right. And then I thought, well, no, as long as people are watching, it shouldn't matter. That means they're watching and they're getting the warnings. But we've retired the pink shirt since then, Matt. It's down here. It's in my basement, hanging in the closet. Lovely shirt, too. I wish I could still wear it.
Mary Anne Ivison (Voiceover) 00:45:21
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Matt Cundill (Host) 00:45:34
So I moved to Winnipeg in 2006 and you moved to Minneapolis at the same time. The two cities separated by 8 hours. I think if people in Winnipeg want to do some serious shopping, you go to Minneapolis and you take in a game. It could be a hockey game. So I went to see a Vikings game and there you were. You were up on the big screen doing a little cut in for Fox. I don't know why you would need to do a weather hit, because the game is indoors. At the time it was at the Humpty Dump.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:46:03
Well, Matthew, we call that marketing. It's a way to reach more people who are a captive audience.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:10
But then there I was going, hey, look, I know that guy from like three cities ago.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:46:15
Yeah, I didn't call him when I was here in his city, but I know him. But I've already guilted you off the air on that, knowing full well that the next time you come here, you're going to come and stay at my house and say, you know what, come and we'll do a podcast from my basement, just me and you, and we'll invite a whole bunch of people.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:32
How are people going to know who's who on the podcast then?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:46:36
We'll wear name tags. Oh, no, wait a minute. This is radio. We'll have sound effects. Someone will have a little squeaker.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:46
It'll be like that wacky radio morning show.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:46:48
Yeah, it will be the afternoon drive from Lenny's basement. And we're back. I think that we could do a video one. We could do a video one. We'll get some Vikings or some Minnesota Wild players and we'll just have some fun. And of course, make it all about Minnesota and me. But you can come too. That'd be fun.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:47:04
I'd love to do that.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:47:06
I think the one thing that what you just said, people from Winnipeg, it's important to note that our signal does go. I think you get us on cable up there, don't you? Or maybe you don't.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:47:16
I'm trying to remember if I do. I know one of my Fox affiliates is out of Rochester, which is just fine with me because I'm a Buffalo Bills fan. So I can get a little bit of action out of that, really. But I think the other Fox affiliate is yours.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:47:31
Thanks for your support. Thanks for watching, really appreciate it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:47:34
I do need to ask you, though, tell me about the importance of social media to your job, because I know you're active on Twitter. You're one of the first to get the warnings out. Is that where you go first? Is there an order of operation when there is a weather disaster into getting this stuff out?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:47:49
That's a great question. So, yeah, very active on social media. There are times that other weather teams, other meteorologists, not just here in Minnesota, but across the nation, will start talking about storms a week away. And I've always thought that's too far. Look, I'll be the first to tell you that we don't get it right all the time. OOH, big secret. I've unlocked the secret to weather. But that happens. We're forecasting chaos every day, and we're trying to march that chaos forward in time and tell you what's going to happen. And sometimes it doesn't happen. But what we're really big on is making sure that we can start to focus people two days out from the possibility of severe weather in a certain region. We won't talk about severe weather types because all that happens day out. But we'll say, look, if you have plans outside on Saturday and it's Wednesday, I have a moniker down here that I always say on the air. And actually it's something that started at CFRN in Edmonton. I used to say, Stay Sky Aware, and Darryl would tease me about it all then, what a silly thing to say, of course. And that was my Darryl impersonation, thank you very much. So I still say it to this day, and it's become our big hashtag on social media as well. Stay sky aware. Saturday, some storms are coming through. Just know that and keep an eye on the forecast. So then Thursday we can hone that down. Friday, we can hone it down. We can talk about storm types, probably storm timing, and a much better idea of location because our computer programs and our computer modeling has gotten so much better. It's still not perfect, but it is so much better than it was 510, 1520 years ago. So once we get into storm parameters day of, that's when we become very active on social media. So all the warnings are pushed out on social media if you can't get in front of a television. But the one thing we've done at Fox Nine is we created a weather app that will follow you wherever you are in North America. And if there is any type of a weather warning, where your phone is located, where you are co located with your phone, your phone will go off and it will tell you exactly what's happening. So you talk about Pine Lake and a bunch of people in a campground playing what we used to do yahtzee at the picnic table when we camped as a family. So there was no way to get the warning for the Pine Lake tornado it was almost impossible today. If you've got your cell phone with you and you have cell phone coverage and you download the Fox Nine weather app, wherever you go in North America, whether you go to the Yukon or you go to Key West or Catalina Island, to the Thousand Islands, you're going to be covered. And that's something we're really proud of, and that came out a little commercially, and I don't want it to be that way, but I would love it if people download it. We don't get anything for it. It's a free app. It's a free service. It's public service for us. And that's why we're on the air. That's why we're putting the warnings out on Twitter and on Facebook and on Instagram, and even when there isn't severe weather, man, I'll tell you, are you on the social medias? Are you on the Googles and the Twitters and the Face heads and all that sort of stuff?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:49
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:50:50
Yes. It's like an animal that doesn't stop eating. It's Insatiable. When you put out one thing about your dog my dog is Insta famous. When you put something about your dog or your daughter winning a championship soccer game, it's amazing how it can just keep going. And you have to pace yourself or you have to schedule some posts, because otherwise you can be on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, all these things constantly, 24 hours a day. And I don't want that. I still want my family time. I still want me time. I'm still training for triathlon. So I need that time to if I'm out for a run for 20 miles, I'm not going to update social media.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:51:34
How much time do you get during the news package? So way back in the 90s, it would be sports and weather would sort of be towards the end, maybe four minutes for the sports and four minutes for the weather. What's the difference between then and now?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:51:53
Wow. We, the weather teams have a much greater voice, a much greater impact. And so every day we'll have an editorial meeting about 130 in the afternoon, and we talk about what and how we might cover the stories of the day, whether they're hyper, local, national, or international. But a part of that call is also the weather. And I'll say the weather has to be a part of the first block probably lead tonight because of the strong storms coming through the day. Tomorrow we'll be in the A block, we'll be in the B block and in the C block. So there's a much greater presence because weather is a much bigger factor for people's lives going through the next 24 hours. Now, with that said, they'll also be it's sunny, it's 70. It's going to be this way for four days. Weather has a very small role in the overall package today, but yet it still has a role because people want to know what's going to happen. So we have a much greater voice now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:52:47
Yeah, you're going to wind up anywhere on the clock. Right. Because really, the weather does show up within the first quarter hour if it's severe, and maybe a little bit later on if it's not. At some point we are going to have to talk about the weather. Just depending on how important it is, it's going to be interwoven into the news package, which is totally different than the way it used to be. Obviously, it's better.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:53:10
Yeah. No, even when there was a big deal in weather back in the day, I remember it didn't matter. You still had your three and a half, four minutes at this point in the show. Go back to the weather center, the weather office, and we'll let you know when we need you. And now that's changed, it doesn't matter whether you're a podcaster like Matt, or a hot dog vendor, or a millionaire investor, or a school teacher, or a stay at home mom, or a stay at home dad, the weather is going to affect you in some way in the next 24 hours. It might be really great, it might be really bad, but the weather will affect you. It will affect your decisions, whatever they are, for tomorrow. And I think we've learned that over the years, that you can't just have the hippy dippy weatherman come through at some point of the broadcast every day and then just go away. The weather is a big deal to people. It affects you in so many different ways, and we know that. And we also know that there are days that affects you, that it's not overly serious and we can have some fun with it. And those are great days. Those are really great days. Because whether if you think about it, if you have an hour of news, an hour of local news, probably that first ten or 15 minutes is the really serious stuff. It's everything that's serious in life. So that if the weather for the next three or four days is going to be very calm and lovely and there's nothing going on, it's my chance to not be a goof, not be a clown, but to perhaps bring just a minute or two of levity. You don't have to have a full belly laugh when it's a levity type forecast, but at the end, maybe your mouth, instead of being in the neutral position, is turned up on the edges, and we just made you perhaps a little happier. And so going all the way back to what I said earlier, weather in so many ways is more infotainment than any other part of the daily news. And it can be hardcore serious or it can be a little bit of fun and levity, but whatever it is, we hope that you tune in. There's a lot of ways to get weather. You can get weather on your iPhone now, so we. Hope you tune in for the weather from me.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:55:23
You're the chief meteorologist, which also means you're going to be in charge of some of the talent. Tell me about the talent coming up today. Listen, we don't want to sound like two old guys talking about the way it was even though we've already done that for the last like hour.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:55:36
We're the old guys from the muppets in the balcony.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:55:41
How do you evaluate talent? What do you see? What are you looking for?
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:55:44
Well, there is a difference in overall news talent versus overall weather talent. Weather talent comes with specialized training and news talent comes with specialized training. In journalism where we're trained in meteorology. The hours of television are, I think, the one thing that tends to smack people as they're trying to get into this business because there is no nine to five. It's a lot like radio. If you want to be on the best show in radio, you're on the morning show or the drive, the afternoon drive. But those generally aren't places you start. And in television you'd start weekend mornings and then you might go to weekend evenings and then you would maybe go to weekday mornings and then weekday evenings. And it's funny, people look at me and they're like, so what are your hours? I'm like, well you watch me at 1030 at night so you know I'm there. And you also watch me at 05:00 in the afternoon so you know I'm there. I'm basically a second shifter. I work mid afternoon all the way to 11:00 at night and that's the hours of this job. And I think what you have is people coming into the business. There are people who know that and they're like, yeah, I'm signed up, I'm ready to go. And I'm committed to those hours. And if I want to work as a meteorologist or a newsperson or a sports broadcaster, those are my hours. But I think most of society has also gone to this sort of hybrid thing. So you've got your friends who work at insert accounting firm here or advertising firm or major Fortune 500 company and they work nine to five and they work hybrid. So they're in the office a couple of days a week. Our job is so different, Matt. I mean my job, I have to be there. You must be present to win. I don't know if that's going to change. I don't think it will because that's the job, that's the gig with our high powered weather computers and our forecast models and the way we present in the studio. During the Pandemic we were all at home and it was really hard. I mean, let's face it, there was a lot of heavy things going along with the daily news. I e the Pandemic, but working from home to do my job, it's not really the way the job is designed. And maybe that will change as the next generation comes in and figures out a way to redesign that. I guess if there's somebody listening, they're like, wow, I'm doing my meteorology degree right now, and I really want to do it, but I'm not sure I want to work nights or weekends or mornings. I would say that you should shift your focus and go into what we call operational meteorology. Go work for Mobile or Shell or an airline or there are a lot of companies that need meteorologists for what they do. But in TV, I think we're kind of married to that weird time of day that we work. And there are some amazing younger people coming into the business right now who are so dedicated. And it's funny, you look at them, you say, oh, that's me. You know what? When I first started at CFRN, people would walk into the studio and the studio would be black, except for they have these little work lights that are up in the rafters, and there's only a few of them. And I would be on the weather wall rehearsing. No cameras, no lights, just rehearsing in that space. Because the weather wall is kind of like a stage, a very small stage. And I wanted to get better at being in that space and owning that space and being a part of that space. And that's one thing I always try and pass along to interns, is the infotainment part. You've got all the info, you've got the degree, you've got the meteorology, you can do the math. You're really good at forecasting. Now let's get you good at the stage presence part of it. We've got a couple of beauties right now coming up that I think people are going to love. I say beauties like a Canadian broadcaster talking about hockey, not in the physical sense, but.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:59:43
Man, you letting your hoser show again.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 00:59:47
I know, isn't that terrible? Every once in a while that comes up and I'm like, oh, I have to explain what that means. If you're a real beauty, that has nothing to do with the way you look. It's who you are. It's your style, the way you do things in TV right now. I think you're going to see this new broadcaster come along who's good at so many things, not just meteorology, not just journalism, not just anchoring. I think you're going to see this new hybrid of persons start to come along that companies will start to adopt. And we've already started it. Instead of just a reporter going out with a photographer, a photojournalist, now we have reporters going out and shooting their own stuff. And that started all the way back with the A Channel in Edmonton back in the 90s, I'm sure you remember that, Matt, the A Channel was out shooting things themselves as the reporters. Well, that's come first full circle. That's come back and citizen journalists, you think about how powerful the tool is in your pocket and an iPhone or an Android to be able to record and report and show people what's happening in your neighborhood, good or bad. And I think that makes us, as the overall broadcasters, much, much better storm chasers, do an amazing job for us, gathering the data on storms that we just can't do. We're locked in the studio, making sure that we're getting the message through to you. And you've got these storm chasers out there. I'll tell you, some of them are a little crazy, but 99% of them are incredibly good at their craft and also very good at the craft and the job of meteorology. I think broadcasting is in really good stead right now with the next crop that's coming up, the next version of broadcasters. And I'll be that old guy in 20 years going, oh, look at this. This is not the way we used to do it. What are these kids doing now? But my father went through that and his father went through that. And I think it's okay. I think it's okay. You have to embrace change. You have to be ready for change to move through whatever industry you're in. And I think we'll see it, but I think it's going to be a really cool change, and I think technology is going to lead the field. What we're doing right now. You're in Winnipeg, Manitoba, canada. I'm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And we're able to have a discussion about how things are changing without realizing. You're in Winnipeg and I'm in Minneapolis. I mean, things have changed. We're already there. I think exponentially. Things are going to change quicker now than ever before. And that may leave people like you and I on the sidelines saying, why are these kids look at this. But that just means you can come over and we can have a drink, and we can sit outside and talk about the old days.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:02:24
Okay, well, listen, I'm coming down. I'll come and see you. You're in Eden Prairie. I'm going to knock on all the doors in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, until I find you. And then I want to go, you can make me a drink in your bar in the basement.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:02:36
Yeah. And we'll go downtown and we'll go to a Vikings for a while. I'll just show you around. It's minneapolis. The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. I'm not sure people understand what that means.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:02:47
You don't need to show me around Minneapolis. I've been there so many times.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:02:51
Look, you've been here as a tourist, I mean, as a regular, everyday Joe. I'm going to show you places you've never heard of. I'm going to take a place d you didn't even know existed.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:03:02
I already know that. I'm a big foodie, so I know these places.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:03:05
You're an Internet foodie. I'm talking about a local foodie.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:03:09
All right, you give me a couple off the top of your head.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:03:11
What kind of food do you like? I like everything okay, well, that's a cop out. Tomorrow, you know that it's all over then. You don't know why, you don't know how, but you just know you are going to cease to exist. What are you going to crave to eat tonight? This is a big question and it's really look, I know it's a hard question because I would have trouble filling in the blanks there, but what would it be? Could be a type of food, could be a style of food.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:03:42
Well, I'd probably get some French cuisine.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:03:45
Well, I mean, that's the Montreal are in you, isn't it?
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:03:48
Yeah, of course. I'm going right back to my favorite meal, which is a nice midday lunch in Montreal with a bottle of wine. 3 hours and going for a nap.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:03:57
Yeah, we were in Montreal two months ago and I think I gained 15 pounds. Have you ever been?
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:04:03
Sure you did.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:04:04
Have you ever been to the Tuck shop?
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:04:06
Absolutely. Tuck shop is great.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:04:08
My God, it was. We ate at all the places we were supposed to, which we always do when we go there. But the tuck shop was unbelievable and the people, the servers were amazing. Everything about Montreal, I love. I absolutely love. I mean, the food seems ancillary to everything that Montreal is. It's an incredible place coming here. If you were to really do a hard dive into the local restaurant scene, we have a lot of James Beard Award winning chefs here. We have a lot of James Beard Award nominees here, but we also have a lot of great little sous chefy places that barely existed until some guy found some place with ten tables and put them in there. And depending on what you want, there's a little Belgian cafe out in Victoria, Minnesota called the Noble Lion, and it's just dynamite. I think there's maybe eleven tables. And when we've got nothing to do, my wife and I head out there. It's about 20 minutes from eating prairie, so it's out there. But there's also great places. Chef Vincent just opened a new place downtown called Chloe by Vincent. He was the French chef in Minneapolis, and the pandemic took a hard hit on him and he just opened this new joint and man, my wife and I were there on Saturday night and she said, these are the best scallops I've ever had in my life. And by the way, the best poutine I've ever had outside of Canada was at Chloe By Vincent on Saturday night, and my wife said the exact same thing. And that's a big deal when you can make good poutine, not just a sloppy bowl of French fries and gooey cheese and nasty gravy, when you can create a dish that is poutine and it's a dish vincent's unbelievable.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:05:55
The restaurant recommendations, by the way, are going to be in the show notes of this episode for anybody who's going to Minneapolis and needs them.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:06:02
Oh, I will get you a bunch. Yeah, I'll email you a whole bunch. And they will be from the most bougie to the most street wise and everywhere in between. Minneapolis and St. Paul are really great restaurant cities. The Twin Cities is more like 30 cities that are all smashed together and you don't even know you're moving from one city to another. You just go through a set of lights and suddenly you're in another city. It's starting to spread out into the suburbs now. And the food scene, you can't do it in a weekend. You can try, but it'd be impossible. You can't do it in a week.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:06:41
No, I remember a couple of nice neighborhood places. I know Grand Cafe when it was there. I enjoyed that. I had a good meal there. I like going up the Loop into La Grassa. 112 Eatery Street bar.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:06:54
LaGrasse is great. 112 is amazing. The egg and harissa sandwich at 112, it will knock your pants off. Which is not good when you're out in public. Nonetheless, it will do it. Lagrasse is fantastic. Smack shack. Gosh. What else is down there in the Loop? LaGrassa. Oh, Black Sheep Pizza is I know I just said the word pizza and most people who are foodies are like, oh, my God, did he dress any pizza? Good God. But it's fantastic. There are chicken wings in this city that will change your world. Change your world. The Monte Carlo downtown does a dry, semi Asian rub on wings that I have friends who come here. Just Brian Rashad from TSN during the NHL All Star Game. I took him to Monte Carlo and we had the dry Rub wings. And if you ask him to this day, he'd be like, yeah, they were I don't know what he loses his words. You can't describe him.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:07:56
I'm a big fan of, by the way, of starting the night out with drinks of Prohibition in the W.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:08:01
Yeah that' a good one. Little spendy, but very cool. You know the W Hotel is in the Foche tower. That was the original home of the television station that I worked for, Fox Night.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:08:13
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:08:13
Little Trivia. Little trivia for you there. The foche downtown. Gorgeous. Right there off Marquette. Beautiful. Lovely. But, oh, my God, we have to get you away from there. I don't know the suburbs because there's some really cool stuff happening.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:08:26
Oh, no. I'm always getting in an Uber and going out to eat. I'll go to the Loop, but generally in the downtown area unless I'm hungover and need to drop by Hell's Kitchen for one of those big Caesars. I'm sorry. For one of those big Bloody Marys.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:08:42
What did you just say? How dare you try and Canadianize our drink?
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:08:47
That was a big mistake.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:08:49
And funny. You know the funny thing? This is the greatest thing when you live in America and you've lived here for a long time and Canadians come to visit and the number would they're like, if I could just get a Caesar? And you're like, Dude, no, let me make you Bloody Mary, and they look at you like you're about to give them a shot of cod liver oil from the 1950s. Here's your medicine. Time to take your medicine. A good Bloody Mary blows away a good Caesar by 1000%. There, I said it. Okay, there. Bring the hate mail. I said it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:09:21
I would agree with you, especially if you pick the right tomato juice.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:09:26
The right mix is key, and I'm going to even email you. There's a mix down here called True Tru, and there's a couple of, umlats, a couple of dots over the U. It'll change your world. I think I just made an endorsement. I didn't make that. I'm looking at a bottle on my bar right now. I drink it by itself with no vodka or anything in it. I drink it all the time when I'm training for my triathlons. I need lots of sodium, and so I drink Bloody Mary mix. Isn't that bizarre? I'm a weird person.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:10:03
No, it's good. I like that. Also, by the way, I had spoon and stable on my list.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:10:08
Yeah, very good. I think sometimes when you develop a restaurant that is that good, I think you're just bound to disappoint some people who go there. Not me. But that's a tough one. That's a top notch restaurant. So when you go there, it better be top notch for you, because when you go online, it's top notch. I'm still excellent. Fantastic restaurant.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:10:31
Awesome. Ian, it's been awesome talking to you again.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:10:36
Has it really?
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:10:37
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:10:38
I talk a lot. I don't give a lot of information. They're massively, long, soundbites. I don't know. The best part for this, and I don't think anybody out in the interweb world would care, but the greatest joy I have still in my life as a 57 year old dude is reconnecting with people who have in some way helped shape my life. And you're one of those people. You were always so kind and so generous with your time. You let me just come and sit in the studio in the Bear and just hang out or we'd vent or just laugh or make each other laugh. And that type of friendship, I think, doesn't change over time. When you have a friend like that, those are the kind of people that you don't talk to for 15 or 20 years, and then you start talking. You're like it's like forest gum set. We're just like peas and carrots. Not that anybody out in the world would care, but this has been super cool for me just to hear your voice and hang out.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:11:43
Oh, listen, we'll pick up right where we left off when I come see you in June.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:11:48
I'd love it. You're absolutely welcome. You can't book a hotel, Ian. Uber will take you around and I'll have a variety of fantastic Bloody Mary mixes ready for you here at the stately plush but not overly ostentatious Leonard man all right.
Matt Cundill (Host) 01:12:05
Can't wait, man. Thanks a lot for doing this.
Ian Leonard (Guest) 01:12:07
Hey, Matt. Thank you. This means a lot. We'll talk soon.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 01:12:10
The Sound Off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Kundal, produced by Evan Sirminsky, social media by Courtney Krebsbock. Another great creation from the Sound Off media company. There's always firstname.lastname@example.org.