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  • Writer's pictureAidan G

Sam Cook: Taking Her Shots

Updated: May 31, 2023

This episode, versatility is the word of the day. Sam Cook is currently the host and executive producer of The Shot, a singer/songwriter competition show filmed in Toronto, but she's also spent time as a radio host, podcaster, VO artist, and on-screen with other TV networks like YTV.

It should go without saying that most people don't begin their career on one of the biggest shows in television history, but that's exactly what Sam did. We talk to her about how a Canadian girl managed to land an internship on David Letterman in New York, and how she followed it up with getting a job at YTV by crashing her car in the parking lot. Certainly not a conventional start, but a roaring one nonetheless. As a bonus, check out the promo art for YTV's "Uh-Oh!" below for some great late 90's nostalgia featuring Sam.

We also talk about how she began to fall in love with radio, and when she made the move to voiceover and teaching. Sam teaches On-Air Television at Mohawk College, and in the latter half of the episode, we dive into everything about teaching the hosts of tomorrow - including some of my rather strong opinions about entry-level radio jobs.


To connect with Sam, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Or, if you're considering her for any radio/voiceover positions, check out her website.

 

Transcript:


Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01

The Sound Off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10

Sam Cook is, well, lots of things. Radio personality, TV host, podcaster voice actor, professor. At one time, she was also a Hamilton Tigercats cheerleader. This episode starts and finishes, though, at Mohawk College, where she's been graduating radio's future talent for more than a decade. In that time, she's seen the wants and needs between radio stations and future talent evolve. Sam is also a co-executive producer and host of The Shot, and she joins me along with her dog, who might chime in quietly from her home in Hamilton.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10

So let me get this straight. You interned with David Letterman.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:00:49

That is 100% accurate.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:53

How did this happen?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:00:55

The story is amazing. It was just pure passion and pure getting out there and banging on doors. So what had happened was I knew I needed to do an internship for my third year of television broadcasting at Mohawk College. And everybody was saying, well, I'm going to Chch ch in Hamilton. I'm going to cable 14. And I thought, well, there's nothing left for me. And I had done a lot of volunteering at Much Music and City TV, and I thought, I want to do something, I just don't know what it is. And one night I was watching The Late Show with David Letterman and thought, that's where I want to go. So I started getting a hold of the person that's in charge of hiring the interns at The Late Show with David Letterman. And I kept getting told, no, you're Canadian. We don't have Canadians here. And it was extremely frustrating. So what I decided to do was every month I decided to send them a resume. Not through the email, through the mail mail. And every single month, I would do a unique resume, whatever. I'd make it really creative. And finally, after months and months of trying, they called and they just said, hey, if you can make it here in 48 hours, we will grant you an interview. And I went, okay, got on the train, got to New York City, had an interview. I was one of 900 and ended up getting the internship. So it was pure going out there and pushing and pushing to sell myself, to say, hey, I can do this, not giving up. And that's really how it all started.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:30

So they said, we don't take Canadians yet. Paul Shaffer exactly.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:02:36

Well, I think the reason so I did ask why they don't accept Canadians, and the reason is because a lot of times they were using interns in their skits, but they could never use me in a skit because I was down there and I couldn't get paid as Canadian. So that part was a pain. And I did do a lot of stuff backstage and I did a lot of stuff with the audience. I just couldn't be in any of the skits that they had and just.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:59

To be clear, this was at CBS?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:03:01

Yes. Ed Sullivan building, CBS. Yeah.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:04

So did you get to meet David Letterman?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:03:06

So I did. My first experience with Dave was because it was something that I did wrong because I didn't know the rules. And before Dave does the show, he has his little ritual that he did. And when he was getting ready to do his show, you would kind of have to step back and let him walk by. And everybody knew, like, Dave's in the zone. Don't bug him. And of course, there's me. Hi, Dave. I'm Sam, your intern from Canada. And they were just like, what are you doing? So I got in a bit of trouble and was told, never do that again. And that was my first experience. He was great, though. I mean, he was great. He was cool. He kind of smiled and went along his way. But I learned the rules really fast of TV in New York City.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:53

What about some of the other people who are on the set there now? I've seen David Letterman at NBC, and I saw him at CBS. Some of the other characters like Larry Bud, melman or BIFF.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:04:06

Yeah, BIFF was there. Oh, I can't remember his name now. How horrible is that? He had the little cafe next door. I can't believe I can't remember his name right now. But we would go into that cafe all the time, and there was a lot of amazing characters. I met Howard Stern because he was just hanging out there on set. Ray Romano. I was in the elevator with Ray a bunch of times because he was just, I guess, starting his show, everybody loves Raymond, and it was part of the worldwide pants David Letterman's organization. So I did meet a ton of people just hanging out, like, coming to see Dave. And I would answer the phone sometimes, and it would be a celebrity on the other end. Richard Simmons comes to mind. Tony Danza comes to mind. And in fact, I have a really good Tony Danza story for you. I was answering the phone one day and I said, hey, late show. And he's like, oh, hey, it's Tony Danza for Dave. And I went, hey, it's Samantha. And he went, okay. And I'm like, no, it's Samantha. And he went, okay. And I went, okay, hold on. I'll transfer you to Dave. And then I hung up on him. So we called back again, and I'm like, hey, Tony, it's Savannah. I thought it was hilarious, and he was not amused. And then I hung up on him again for a second time, and the third time he called back, and he's like, Samantha? And I'm like, that's all I wanted. Click. And I put him through today, but I'm like, all right, we're good. So, yeah, it was really cool. He was mad at me, but I got him to say my name and that's? Who the boss of reference if nobody knows? If you're old like me, you'll understand you have to go look that up.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:43

Notoriously, his studio is kept at 60 degrees.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:05:48

Cold tape days, winter jackets sweating, hot outside, winter jackets for everybody. And do you know why they do that?


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:56

Well, I was going to ask you, as a TV performer, can you relate to why it's done?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:06:00

Yeah, it's one of the reasons, because I asked, Why is it free and freezing? Like, we got to pay the bills. Here. What's going on? And they do it to keep the audience awake, because when you're hot, you want to close your rise, you want to relax, but when it's cold, you're like, yeah, let's keep warm by clapping. Yeah. So that's one of the reasons. It really helps the audience stay awake and helps the equipment and all the staff who are moving around so fast behind the scenes to get ready to keep them cool. So there's a lot of reasons to keep the studio cold.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:31

Well, you're off to a terrible start. That's a very shitty internship. I don't know where you go from here.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:06:38

Right? Best time of my life. It was the best time of my life. I have so many amazing stories from working there. I could literally do a whole podcast on just talking about my experiences there. It was phenomenal. And I always tell anybody who's young who's looking for an internship, don't just strive for your own backyard. You could go anywhere in the world. And I'm so happy that I didn't let anxiety or fear stop me from doing it, because it was terrifying. I lived in a really bad part of New York City where I had to pass some not so great areas, let's say, and just even navigating that as someone that moved there and having them come up to you and want to beat you up and how you have to protect yourself and what you have to say. So it taught me so much about myself and what I can do. So when I came back, I had no fear. When I came back to Canada, I was like, all right, what was your.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:33

Go to New York snack?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:07:35

So my go to for food in New York City, it has to be Chinese food. We would order from this Chinese food place all the time, and we could afford it. I lived with three other interns, and it was affordable for us to get Chinese food. But like I said, we lived in a not so great area. So the sad part is, a couple of times when the guy came to the door, he would say, please stop ordering from us, because he would be riding his bike to drop off the Chinese food. But they would sometimes I don't know why I'm laughing, this is horrible. But they would sometimes try to beat him up and steal his money, and he would say, Stop ordering. I don't want to come to your place anymore because they always take my money. But we continue to order from them. And he continued to show up, but after a while he started taking a different route. Chinese food was our go to, and because we were interns, grilled cheese was our favorite. We had to live on a budget like we had to. It was so expensive to live there. Yeah.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:31

If you don't know New York City, you probably don't get a good feel for ordering Chinese in New York. And you said you encountered Ray Romano. And I'm thinking about Phil Rosenthal who had a big hand in that and watching Phil and somebody feeds Phil these days. And I can think of two instances in two really popular TV series where Chinese food was either written into the script or parodied. And there was a Seinfeld episode when they're waiting for a table, but also from the delivery side, there was a Sex in the City episode where Miranda.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:08:59

Kept ordering yes, Chinese food and they knew her order. That's what happened to us. They would be like, oh, hey. And they would know our order because we would order the same thing all the time because it was in our budget and we ordered the same thing. That's hilarious that you pointed that out, because it's true. Because that's what we did. That was our life. And we would do the pizza. We would do pizza sometimes, but it was Chinese food almost all the time.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:24

And with the pizza, you have to fold the pizza to eat it.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:09:27

Yeah. You got to squish it and eat it. Yeah, for sure.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:30

You cannot explain this to people who just haven't lived New York, even though.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:09:35

I wasn't there for years and years and years. You learn quick. You learn quick what to expect. You learn quick how to live like a New Yorker. And best experience of my life. If someone offered me a job there tomorrow, I don't know how I could turn it down because it would just be so amazing to go back and live there.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:51

You also learned very quickly that Friends is full of shit.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:09:55

In which way? I'd like to hear what you mean.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:58

How can they afford that apartment on their salaries?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:10:01

Well, I know well, I think it was rent control for Monica. Right. So it was rent control from her grandma. So she was lucky. But yeah, some of those other apartments like Phoebe and that really beautiful apartment yeah, that was a bit rough. So I don't know how she did that because we had a very small apartment and it was very expensive with four of us living in their two bedroom apartment.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:23

What came next for you?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:10:25

Well, trying to get a job in New York City was rough because I was Canadian with no proper papers. So came home, got really depressed and one day woke up and said, no, my story doesn't end here. I'm going to start handing out resumes. And I did. I ended up printing off resumes and cover letters, and I would drive to Toronto, and I would go to City TV, much music, anywhere that had a TV station, and said, hey, I'm available. I have experience now. I'll do anything in the TV world. And one day, I was dropping off a resume at YTV in Toronto, and as I was pulling into the parking lot, I hit someone's car. I sneezed, and instead of hitting the brake, I hit the gas and went, bam. And of course, everybody came running out to see what happened, including a producer who said, this girl is a disaster. And I came back to pay the damage, and when I came back to pay the damage, a producer saw me and said, who are you? And I said, I'm the girl that hit that guy's car. Oh, yeah, we know you. And he said, what are you doing tomorrow? You want to come back and audition for the show we're doing? And I said, sure. So the next day I came back and I auditioned for a show called On YTV, and that's how I got my in. It was the best $1,000 I ever spent to get an audition. It was fantastic.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:48

And you were playing the character of Slammin' Sam?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:11:52

Slashin' Sam? Yeah. You're close. Slashin' Sam. And, yeah, they said, you got to be a referee. So I said, okay. And I had no clue what that meant. So I had a friend that worked at Foot Locker. They used to wear those jerseys with the stripes in it. So I borrowed one of those, and I wore that into my audition and auditioned. And there were so many girls there that looked just like me, like skinny and beautiful, and I thought, Well, I'm never going to get this, because look at these girls. They're stunning. And then there was me, and I was like, I should leave. And there was a point where I was going to get up and go, because they were all wearing, like, dresses and skin tight things. And I had this baggy referee jersey on, and I was like, oh, this is embarrassing. I had no other change of clothes, so I just went in there and I said, okay, well, you're going to embarrass yourself for two minutes. Just do what you can. And I went there, and I did my audition, and I just laid it all out on the table and left and went, well, that was embarrassing. And then they called and said, I got the job. So it was worth it. It was worth it.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:56

How long did the show go for?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:12:58

We did it for seven seasons. It was unbelievable. Tons of episodes. We would record about four a day, and it was amazing. It was also like, another great time in my life. Where I met so many great people, and I'm so proud of the things that I've accomplished, for sure.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:17

How did you find your way into radio?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:13:19

That's a hilarious question as well. I was working for radio station in Toronto, helped Kiss 92.5 - Big thanks to Julie Adam for trusting me to hire me for that. And basically the reason why that came about is because the chorus network that I was working on with YTV, they were doing another show and it was going to be a countdown show. And I was like, well, that's my jam. I love music and I'm going to apply for it. So I went to apply for it and they said, well, no, we're not granting you an interview. And I said, why not? And they said, Because we're looking for someone that works in radio, okay? I said, Well, I'll just go get a job in radio. How hard is that? So I went home and I did have some resumes and I just sent them all out. And I get this call from Julie Adam in Toronto who calls me in and says, what's your experience in radio? And I said, Well, I had some with Energy 108 doing some stuff with their morning show with Tom Allen in the Morning Show, and that was it for my radio experience. And she said, okay, well, we're going to put you on air tomorrow night overnight. Let's see how you do. I said, okay. She goes, do you have audio board experience? I said, I do. And she said, okay. And I realized I didn't have audio board experience, but I learned real quick. And so, yeah, I ended up doing an overnight shift and she hired me to do overnight full time. And that's how it all started. Then I went back to say, hey, I got a job in Radio. And they're like, that's too late now, we hired someone. But thanks.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:51

Is that the countdown show that was hosted by Nicholas Picholas?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:14:54

No, that was the one that was hosted by Mad Dog. I can't remember what it was called. I think it was called Chart Attack or something like that. Yeah, he ended up getting the job for that.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:03

Shout out to Jay Michaels, now working at CHOM in Montreal.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:15:06

Yeah, I think it was him that got hired for that, if memory serves me correctly.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:11

What role did radio really have in your career overall? Because you do so much by the way you touch every single base in media, because you touch voiceover, you touch television, you touch YouTube, you touch podcast, and this is kind of why I wanted to have you on. But in terms of the pie, where does radio fit into the pie and the scope of your career?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:15:31

I think radio was a really important part of my career. The reason why I loved that is TV was great. Working behind the scenes was great. But I realized really quickly that what I loved was communicating with people one on one. And I feel like radio did that. And I didn't realize the impact that radio had on the people listening and doing that overnight shift. I was getting a lot of shift workers calling in and chatting with me and telling me happy stories and sad stories. And I thought. This is just amazing. And they were listening to what you were saying, and they would remember something that you said weeks and months ago. And I just thought it was a really great job and then going out there and meeting the listeners, and I thought, this is unbelievable. I get to talk, I get to meet amazing people, and I get to listen to music for a living. And that's how my radio career started. I just had such a passion for it. So it was amazing because I could do radio overnight and I could do TV during the day, so it was great for me.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:36

And when you saw Howard Stern, was radio at the front of your mind? Are you considering it? Were you listening to Z 100 in New York?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:16:43

Oh, yeah, I mean, I was doing that, yeah, absolutely. But it was not on my radar. When I ran into Howard a few times while living in New York wasn't even a thought. It was basically just when that job came up and they said, we're looking for someone in radio, I went, okay, well, I want this job, so I'm going to go get a job in radio. And really, that's kind of how that happened.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:05

So you're doing the television, you get multiple takes. It's something that can be done once, twice, but in radio it's live and you get one shot.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:17:14

Yeah. Scary. It's very scary. And I think I like that. I like that it was live and there was so many things I've done on air. I've cried on air, I've screamed on air. There's so many great moments because radio is live, and I think that's why radio one of the reasons one of the many reasons that radio is still around is because people can relate to that. They can relate to the mistakes and the stumbles, because it's real life. So that's one of the things I love about being on the radio, for sure.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:47

And even though you graduated, you never really left Mohawk.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:17:51

No, I didn't, because once I was on YTV, a professor there said, hey, shout out to Ken Wallace, who said, hey, why don't you try teaching a class? It was an on air television class. And I said. Okay. And started teaching part time at Mohawk and bringing all the skills from Letterman and YTV back into the classroom and just started to do that part time until 2009. A job came up to be the coordinator of the radio program. And I thought. Okay. I've been in radio for nine years already. And I felt like I had enough experience at that point and got the job as the program coordinator at Mohawk. And I'm still there today.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:31

In just a second, more with Sam. As we unpack everything about teaching a radio host of Tomorrow and brace yourself, I might get a little opinionated about why your entry level radio positions are going unfilled. Also, Sam's podcast and why it podcasted and her voice work. As always, you can find all the connection points to Sam and our episode page@soundoffpodcast.com, including a transcript of this episode.


Sarah Burke (Voiceover) 00:18:58

Transcription for the The Sound Off podcast powered by Poddin Your podcast is an SEO goldmine. We help you to dig out start your free trial now at http://www.poddin.io -


Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:18:58

The Sound Off podcast.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:11

A little bit about voiceover and voicework because that's also sort of a middle component between it's actually has more to do with acting and television than it even does radio, although there's sort of a microphone involved. But how did you get involved with the into voice acting?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:19:26

So I think it's because when you work in radio, part of your job is to record commercials for the station. If production needs you, they'll call you in before or after your shift. And I realized how much I really loved doing that. It was so much fun. And when I realized, wait a minute, so you can get an agent and get paid for this. What? Okay, I need to do this. So I did my best to find an agent, which is not easy to find a voice agent, but was able to find one and started getting paid to do voiceovers and whatever was out there. And what I love about it as well is that I can work from home. I set up a whole home studio. Yeah, you can go to auditions in Toronto. But I liked the fact that I could do stuff from home as well and do as much of it or as little of it as I wanted to do. And I just have a passion for that as well. I just think it's such a fun job and to hear yourself, I know you've done stuff as well, but to be looking through YouTube and then all of a sudden your voice pops up. It's like, oh, like for the pre rolls or you're on Spotify and you hear your own voice, it's kind of cool. But I love that aspect of it as well. Working with clients to make sure they get what they need.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:20:46

So when you say home studio, what year are you talking? Because home studio these days means a lot different than the home studio back in 2010. I mean, it was a more serious business back then if you were going to build a home studio.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:20:57

Yeah, I had a room dedicated to soundproofing and buying the top of the line microphone. I saved up some money and I went into Long and McQuaid in Burlington and I just said to the guy working there, this is what I want to do, give me everything I need. And he just set me up. And then I had someone come into the house to make sure everything was treated and to make sure it was proper and yeah, and that's kind of where my love started and it morphed from there. And I have different microphones now in different areas that I record. It's quite the process.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:33

The audio geek in me wants to know what microphone you were sold at Long and McQuade.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:21:38

Oh, I had it. Hold on. It is a road nt two. Yes, that's it, that's it. Yes. An Nt Two.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:47

Yeah, that's what I'm using right here.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:21:49

Oh, really? Yeah, it's fantastic. I still have that mic and I bought it so many years ago, like way over a decade ago, and I still use it and love it. And then I have my shirt SM Seven B as well that I use a lot as well.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:03

Nice. I've actually graduated off this one for Voiceover. I've got a 416 in the corner. I just move the microphones around, I just rotate them round and round.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:22:12

Yeah. My biggest fear, though is I get nervous about rotating the microphones around because if the same client comes back, I always have to remember what mic I use so it sounds the same. So that's my biggest fear all the time.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:26

Do you have a microphone that you will use on the road?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:22:28

I usually bring the Rode mic with me on the road and the (Shure) SM7B stays here because I also have a cloud lifter and stuff with the SM7B just to kind of make my voice a little louder.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:39

When did you start teaching full time at Mohawk?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:22:42

So that happened in 2009 and I was offered that opportunity in 2009 and thought I was working at country 95 Three and I was loving being an announcer there and this job opportunity came up and I had to choose between country 95 Three and my dream job or teaching and going into something that I hadn't really done before full time and got offered the job and decided to take it. And I'm so glad I did because it's so rewarding to see all the new radio broadcasters come through the program. But still my heart, I do love radio and there's been a few occasions throughout the years where I've been offered the chance to go back and work in radio. But I do love teaching too, so it's really hard. So maybe one day I'll find like a part time job in radio and be able to keep working at Mohawk as well.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:35

So this is going to be a complicated question because you go back to 2009 when you started and we're covering a little bit more than a decade of turning out radio students, and you can also reference social media in this as well. And digital content. But I feel in 2009 you were teaching people for radio, and today you're teaching people to do something way more than radio. So how is the program and the curriculum evolved?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:24:00

Well, that's a great question. I found several years ago that all across the board, radio jobs were getting fewer and fewer. In 2009, we were doing really well and showcasing a lot of really great students who were getting jobs at 102 Point On the Edge and Virgin Radio right out of college, which they said was impossible. They would say they have to go across the country and come back. But I started noticing a trend that as the years progressed, that the jobs and radio were fewer, the students applying with a little bit less. And I thought, strange, why is that? So we ended up doing about a two year research project over the past couple of years through the Pandemic. Actually, it was very comprehensive. We were talking to people across Canada, in the States, talking to former students and faculty industry, and saying, what do you guys need? You tell me what you need, and then we'll make it happen. And it turned out that they said, we need students that are so good at social media that it's part of their job, not just in addition to it is the job. So you're on air and you're able to do social media. So the research showed that that's what the industry is looking for. So we went ahead and we spent a long time making the changes through the Pandemic, and now we are offering a new program, or an updated refresh program, if you will. It's now called Radio and Creative Content. And I'll be honest with you, and this is kind of the first time I'm saying this out loud, but I was so nervous because other colleges had been taking applicants since October of 2021, and we still weren't finished the program yet. And when it finally got approved by the ministry and the title was approved and we went live on January 17 of 2022, I was like, well, no one's going to want to take this program now because nobody really knows we exist. And every other radio program at every other college has been looking for applicants for months now. Well, turns out just a couple of weeks ago, we actually are full. We have all of our applicants. And I was so excited and shocked because I thought maybe ten people would apply because I'm like, nobody knows about it. But to see that we are a full program and that people are excited about it, it is a huge deal. And I'm also noticing too, that in the past six months alone, I have received more job applications for people to work in radio than I have since 2009, taking over that position. There are jobs out there and full time jobs that you can get a full time pay for. And this is exciting to see. And my hope is that upward trend will continue. I know some people will laugh and be like, okay, Sam, but this is what I'm seeing. And I'm seeing that upward trend of, I think program directors looking for you don't have to have necessarily experience anymore, but you have to be able to know radio, no social media, and they're looking for the next star. And if that means hiring someone out of college to be that star that has a following and maybe has 500,000 followers on TikTok, they want that. They want an instant star for their station. So I think things are going to change over the next five to ten years, and this is my hope. Yeah.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:26

So I'm seeing sort of a bit of an unintended consequence from the research that you've done and from a lot of what the Radio schools have done. They've all gone and upgraded their curriculum at the request of Radio. But I hear Radio programmers still complaining that they can't find people, and I think I know why. And it's because the Radio schools have upgraded their programs with the social and the content and now you can podcast and now you can do all this that the students are leaving and picking up higher paid jobs from other companies, corporate companies, who are looking for this exact person with these exact skills. And Radio will pay at the lower end, only need about one quarter of those skills. And that's all we really need. Meanwhile, there are big companies who will hire these people for 100% of these skills at twice the price. Are you seeing the same thing?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:28:21

Yeah. So I would say I have to agree with that. One of my personal reasons plus I thought, okay, my personal reasons and with the research showed that my main goal is, yes, I want to teach Radio. That is 100% what I want to do. I'm not selling out Radio for social media. I want to teach both. But what I want is my main goal is as long as the student walks out of the program and gets a job, that's what my main priority was. I didn't want a student to leave the program and get a job for $10 an hour, $12 an hour, and then have to also work at, you know, a hardware store at the same time. So, yes, the skills in this program, starting September 2022, they're high end skills. They're learning, like, how to start their own voiceover company, how to do a website, how to do their taxes. They're learning things like how to do a podcast and edit it with video. And this is not what we were teaching before, so we want to make sure that when they go out there, yes, they can work at a radio station, but they can work, like you said, at these other companies, being a social media manager, a podcaster, two of our students from the last intake, they're full time podcast producers right now, and they're doing amazing. And I'm proud because we taught them. They're Mohawk grads and they've got full time jobs in podcasting. And I'm okay with that. It's not radio, but that's okay in my opinion.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:48

Yeah, the Sound Off media company just grew exponentially through the pandemic, and I feel I get first crack at the top students come graduation time. And it's not that I'm sexier than a radio station, but it is work from home. You can do a podcast from anywhere. And I think that's why a lot of these radio jobs are staying open. So when I hear radio people saying, oh, well, we can't find anybody to work these, and I'm like, yeah, at that price, with those conditions, with everything that gets offered up, you get work from home with me, which is quite attractive. You get to work on demand. You get to work in a medium that is on demand. So I think I'm more attractive than a radio station. I never thought that that would happen.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:30:30

Yeah, and I think there are still some radio stations out there that do offer a good salary. I've seen some lately that I'm like, okay, that's a little bit more than what it would have been years ago. So I think after the pandemic, the radio personalities that maybe left the market, now they're like and they really are struggling. So I do see them starting to offer a little bit more money, and maybe that's what we needed in radio, to kind of say, okay, you can't pay somebody this amount of money anymore. You've got to pay them a living. And my hope is that the trend will go upwards and people will be like, we're losing the students to podcasters, so how do we fix that? That's the hope.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:11

Yeah, and to corporations too, who will hire social media. And some of these corporations are making their own content, especially in video.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:31:19

Oh, yeah. And we are teaching that too. That's one of the things that I wanted to make sure that the students will learn how to use DSLR cameras, how to use Premiere Pro to edit video. So I feel like with the course, I always tell students, like, you're learning a little bit about everything, so then that way you can specialize in what you want. And I do feel it was the right move to do this for what's going to happen in the next five to ten years in the industry.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:47

I've sat on the board at a few places just to talk about the podcast side of the curriculum. Red River College, Hersing. I've spoken with the people in Centennial, and I think I might have spoken to a few people at Mohawk as well, just about how podcasting would get integrated. It doesn't have to be a big part of the program because recording audio is just recording. Right. So just teach people to edit and you'll be okay.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:32:10

I think it's way more than that, in my opinion.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:13

Oh, it is. But if you can just teach the skills of creating and editing audio, we can teach the rest for podcast. And you don't have to graduate people at a podcast level. You just got to teach them how to record and do the audio.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:32:23

That's right. Exactly. And the companies that will want to hire them for the skills will basically say, this is what we're looking for, and teach those graduates the skills that are specific to that corporation. But podcasting is, I'm so proud of you and everything that you do. And if I could flip it around on you, I know what it takes to do a podcast and how hard you work at doing it. And I'm going to make sure that students know that as well. People think you just flick a microphone on, talk to someone and call it a day, and it's truly not like that. And I'm so proud of you and looking at all the episodes you've done and the team that you have working with you now, I'm so proud of you to stick to it because a lot of people like myself, after 1520 episodes, I'm like, I'm out, I can't do it. So much work.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:13

Yeah, we have a little scale. Some people get to seven episodes and quit. Some people get to 17. And I think that's where people who are really serious about it, they get to 17 and go, okay, that's enough.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:33:23

Well, if I had a team, I would still be doing my podcast today. I loved it. I love talking to people. That was my favorite thing to do. My not favorite thing to do was the editing and the piecing it together and then doing the video portion of it and piecing back together and then doing little snippets for social media. It ruled my life. So maybe if I had a team of people that would help significantly. But good for you. Like, honestly, good for you for doing this.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:51

People come to me and say, oh, I want to start a podcast. And I go, don't. It's hard. And if they still want to do it, we'll keep them around. But I try to rank it on a scale. The hardest thing to do is morning radio, five days a week, 4 hours live content on the air. And then they're also in that place now where they have to repurpose that content, which is hard. So your weekends pretty much get eaten up with that too. But podcasting is harder than doing the midday show, I would say. So even if you're voice tracking five stations, podcasting is way harder. And no disrespect to people who do that, but you got traffic and weather together in commercials and 57 minutes of your hours taken care of.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:34:28

Yeah, I think they both require certain skill sets, but my hope is to show students that this is not just an easy breezy job, that it does take someone through the rough times to keep going and to keep persevering through it, unlike me, who stopped doing it. I'm so proud of everything that you've done and all the guests that you're getting on. It's really great to see.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:54

Tell me about the shot.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:34:56

Oh, The Shot is something that I've been doing for a few years. I am host and executive producer of The Shot. It is a singer songwriter competition where we look for the next big artist and they win prizes like representation, they get help with branding, et cetera, et cetera. It started years ago where it was just to kind of help singers, songwriters. They would be amazing, but they just wouldn't know where to turn. So this competition started to try and help them get to the next level. And we were shooting in Toronto just before the Pandemic, having these really big shows, and then all of a sudden the Pandemic Kit and we went, oh gosh, what are we going to do? And ended up putting it online. And that's where it lives today, the future. I don't know what that looks like, but we did pretty well through the Pandemic. And having the shot. Canada. Then The Shot Canada versus USA and having different winners from all over North America, it was just such a cool thing to be a part of.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:57

You've got TV and radio experience, you've got podcast experience. If you were to land on one platform tomorrow, and I would say, okay, Sam, you can only pick one, what would you pick? What would you do for a show and where would the show reside?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:36:12

I would love to do a show in New York City. I would love to do a type of talk show interview show, and it would be like a cross between maybe like an Ellen show versus like a Drew Barrymore show. That's something that I think I would really love to do. That would be if you said I could do anything, that's what I would do. I'd move myself there and start a show like that. That would be the dream. Really? Truly.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:41

In an era where nobody has to move, you should move to New York. You'll have the best guess, right?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:36:46

I know. Absolutely. So that is the dream, but I don't know if it's going to happen. I have family here who needs me, a mom who is in long term care with dementia, and it's really hard to think about leaving her. So that's kind of where my priorities lie right now.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:04

Tell me something. Your students have taught you patience.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:37:08

Not everybody lives the same way as you do. People come from different backgrounds. They all have their different struggles. And just because they're younger than you doesn't mean that their problems aren't as significant. I've seen some students go through a lot at such a young age, and I'm like, wow. So they teach me patience and understanding. I get emotional thinking about it, because just when you think you're having a bad day and a student tells you, this happened to me, you're like, wow. And then it puts things into perspective. So it's not all about me. It's not the Sam show. We're a family. I think I've made sure that the students know. When you walk into my classroom, the first thing I say is, if I catch you bullying anybody, no matter who they like, who they love, what they do, where they come from, one little ounce of bullying, and you're out of this course, out of this program, out of the school. And that's the biggest thing. It's just watching everyone be compassionate to each other and making them into young adults is something that I'm super proud of. And watching them succeed after is amazing.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:14

Who's a graduate of your program that I would know?


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:38:17

Well, there's a ton of them. If you're from Hamilton, Bubba O'Neil on CHCH. There's Linda Martelli at KX 94.7 Oh, my gosh, there's so many. I'm drawing a blank because we just did a bunch of features with a bunch of our grads. We've had some new grads. Like I said, as podcast producers. I can't believe I'm grabbing a blanket. I just did this whole thing on social media with our grads, Adam Oilfield. Will Nash. You had Will Nash on one of your podcasts. He's a grad. I'm drawing a blank right now, but we have had so many successful grads out of the program.


Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:51

Sam, thanks so much for being on the podcast. I appreciate it.


Sam Cook (Guest) 00:38:54

No worries. Thank you for having me.


Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:38:54

The Sound Off podcast. Written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the Sound Off Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.



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