'Q' host Jian Ghomeshi reflects on his path to radio

June 15, 2011

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

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(Photo courtesy of Jian Ghomeshi)
Jian Ghomeshi will do a special live broadcast of 'Q' from the Biograph Theater on Thursday, June 16.

Jian Ghomeshi, the host of the Canadian radio program Q, is bringing his show to Chicago in a special live broadcast Thursday. Ghomeshi’s show can be heard Monday through Thursday on WBEZ.  It covers arts, culture and entertainment through interviews with famous people, live in-studio performances and witty commentary.  

Ghomeshi didn’t start out in broadcasting. He made his name in the 90’s as a member of the satirical rock band Moxy Früvous.

“I spent 10 years being the interviewee,” Ghomeshi told Eight Forty-Eight’s Alison Cuddy. “I kind of got a sense of what I do and don’t appreciate when I’m being interviewed, and I can always tell when the interviewer had invested or not… And I try to do as much research before and invest and effectively shame the interviewee into investing back.”

His approach gained him YouTube fame for an interview he did with Billy Bob Thornton, who refused to answer questions about his acting career and was alternately not-forthcoming and at times argumentative.  Though Thornton didn’t cooperate during the interview, Ghomeshi thinks that it made for great radio.

“Part of what I’m really interested in doing on the air, is exploring what’s really going on in a truthful manner in a truthful moment,” Ghomeshi said. “So it’s kind of removing any postulative professionalism to a certain extent… I would much rather wade into it. I’m not afraid of an awkward moment if it means I can reveal something.”

His willingness to air interviews uncensored is part of what draws the audience in.

“I’m not afraid to have that conversation on the air,” Ghomeshi said. “There have been a few guests who’ve come on that telegraphed they may be going sideways, and rather than end it, I’ve enabled it because I think it’s revealing. Ultimately, I think the audience knows. Often times it’s like, ‘Let them talk,’ and the audience will decide.”

Ghomeshi and the Q team will be doing a live broadcast from Chicago’s Biograph Theater on Thursday evening.  Scheduled guests include Saturday Night Live head writer and star Seth Meyers, documentary filmmaker Steve James, esteemed Chicago blues musician Lonnie Brooks and Scottish-American author Irvine Welsh.