In his seven years at the helm of Q, Jian Ghomeshi emerged as a poster boy for CBC — hip, affable, a stellar interviewer.
A mix of current affairs and entertainment, Q gave Ghomeshi, 47, a platform to engage with such high-profile guests as Sir Paul McCartney, Jon Stewart, Jay-Z and Leonard Cohen. The show, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One, boasts the highest-ever ratings in its time slot in CBC history, according to its website. It also airs on more than 180 U.S. radio stations and is syndicated on American television, according to Q’s website.
Born in the U.K. and raised in Thornhill, Ghomeshi — a singer/songwriter — was part of a local folk group called Moxy Früvous, active mainly in the 1990s. While touring, the band shared stages with the likes of Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, according to Ghomeshi’s biography.
He got his start with the public broadcaster on CBC-TV’s >play and later hosted a radio series called 50 Tracks, 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version and The National Playlist, before co-creating Q.
Here are some highlights from his career:
• In 2006, Ghomeshi interviewed Billy Bob Thornton, who was touring Canada with his band The Boxmasters. Thornton became agitated when Ghomeshi mentioned his acting career, refusing to answer Ghomeshi’s questions, later likening Canada to mashed potatoes without gravy. Thornton was subsequently booed at a Massey Hall show and the band cancelled the remainder of its tour. However awkward, the interview got Ghomeshi and Q global attention.
• In 2012 he released a memoir called 1982, which chronicles his David-Bowie-loving 14-year-old self.
• His accolades include a gold medal for Best Talk Show Host in 2012 by the New York Festivals, being named Best Media Personality by NOW magazine, making Maclean’s magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Important People in Canada,” and one of Toronto Life’s “The 50 Most Influential Torontonians.”
• A weekly TV incarnation of Q garners 300,000 viewers, its YouTube channel receives 1.5 million hits per month and its podcast receives 250,000 weekly downloads, according to a Toronto Life story.