By: Brad Fougere
As she danced about, enunciating Stroumboulopoulos, a calm set in for Stephanie Larocque.
George Stroumboulopoulos had just left the room. In moments, she’d be introducing and interviewing the accomplished broadcaster.
“At first I was nervous, but, right before I was a little more calm,” said Larocque, 19, a first-year public relations student at Algonquin. Talking to Strombo, as he’s affectionately known, had eased her mind. She knew she was ready.
Stroumboulopoulos arrived at Algonquin early in the evening on Fri. Jan. 25. He had just finished off three dates interviewing the queen of media, Oprah Winfrey, in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. By the end of the night, both Larocque and Stroumboulopoulos would have taken their turn interviewing a giant.
“Let’s get right down to it, what’s the deal with the funky socks?” were the first words out of Larocque’s mouth. Veering off script, she followed the advice Strombo had given her moments earlier.
Larocque had settled into her seat, taken a deep breath and confidently started with what her heart told her to ask.
As she disappeared offstage to allow for the audience discussion portion of the night, she grabbed her phone and began texting away.
“Everyone is telling me I should be really proud of myself. I’m very happy,” she said after chatting with her friends, and peers. “I’m very proud of what I did.”
A graduate of the Humber College radio broadcasting, Stroumboulopoulos is a known mentor. Sharing his experience with students at Humber and through these appearances, he has inspired many an aspiring student.
Second-year Humber radio broadcasting student Nicole Garbutt has experienced it first hand.
“He’s down to earth. He’s very good making people feel comfortable and when he talks to you he’s only talking to you. He’s the same on radio as he is in real life,” she said.
Garbutt, 22, of Peterborough, ON. was a Loyalist journalism student when she met Strombo. A longtime fan of his broadcast work, a meeting arranged through a mutual friend helped change her study path.
“When I was taking journalism I felt like I wasn’t doing my best. I wanted to focus on broadcast,” she said of her headspace at Loyalist before meeting Strombo. “George had been a big influence on my life even before I met him but after I had, it felt like I should go through the same motions to see where I could go as a broadcaster.”
The mentorship didn’t stop at their initial meeting. “He and I have kept in touch and I’ll ask him questions about which path is best. He’s been a really big help and a big influence.”
Another Humber radio broadcast student, Alyssa Ally, 21, of Toronto, says that Strombo’s influence looms large at Humber and within the broader student media community.
“To know that someone who is as successful as he is in the industry right now, that we could be as successful as him,” she said, “It’s definitely something that I’m sure everyone in the program right now is very aware of.”
Algonquin radio broadcasting student Samantha MacGrath also attended the show and a meet-and-greet before the doors opened.
“It was awesome,” MacGrath said of her experience following the nearly two-hour, interactive show.
“I was surprised he could talk that much about such simple things. It seemed that with every question he had a very long elaborate answer.”
Along with eight other media and design students at the pre-show gathering, MacGrath, and Larocque heard Stroumboulopoulos’ sage advice.
It is all luck, he said.
Being true to oneself, above all else, and completely devoting to your chosen field, without reservation and without fear of failure, he said, is the only way to become truly successful.
After that experience would make the difference.
“Going in I remembered quite a few things that my teachers had told me,” Larocque said after the show, on Sunday. “I remembered to sit on the first third of the chair, how to do a proper handshake, not to turn my back to the crowd.”
Stroumboulopoulos’ words rang most true for her.
“It’s actually the experience that helps you learn,” echoed Larocque.