- Food & Drink
Mike Eckford makes The Shift
Mike Eckford is talking about Syria. The more he talks, the more animated he becomes, expressing some pretty strong opinions about the rest of the world’s role in the civil war. “You’re not the world’s policeman; you don’t get to say who’s wrong. You’re throwing bombs in there, you’re killing people....”
When the conversation switches to the loss of our personal privacy, the hits keep coming. He’ll tell you what he’s read, who he’s talked to, what he thinks. “It’s a question of how all those tiny pieces of information can be used to distort and manipulate....”
This side of his personality may come as a surprise to people who loved his quirky humour as co-host on The Rush, the Vancouver television show that is more lifestyle than hard news.
But his family wouldn’t be surprised by his ravenous appetite for serious fare. After all, when the Eckfords gather around the table at his parents’ house on the Sunshine Coast, dinner conversations can last three hours, with everyone expected to dish on what they think.
Listeners to his new show on CKNW, The Shift, soon won’t be surprised either. They’ll discover that while he brings his funny side to the show, he’s reveling in the opportunity to let the entire Mike Eckford out.
“I don’t want to be anyone’s talking mouth,” he says, amazed by how much freedom he’s been given on the show. “I want to be part of a genuine conversation and not be afraid to say what I think.”
He’ll still use humour but more in the way that Jon Stewart does it on The Daily Show. Although Eckford’s an apostle of radio, his personality is more Doubting Thomas.
And you needed a healthy dose of doubt when reading all the speculation about what’s been going on on in Vancouver radio land for the past few months.
Eckford had been doing television for 17 years and as much as he loved working with long-time cohost and friend Fiona Forbes, “it felt like I’d been doing the same thing for a long time.”
Meanwhile, for the previous year, he’d also been co-hosting the Bro Jake show on Rock 101 and felt like he’d found a home on radio. “Jake is the most creative guy I know in this industry. He’s a fertile mind,” Eckford says with unabashed admiration for the radio veteran.
In late January, Eckford suddenly quit The Rush, leaving Forbes with a series of guest co-hosts. Then, in July, equally to everyone’s surprise, Corus Entertainment announced that, after 17 years, it wasn’t renewing Edwards’ contract. (It’s been reported that Edwards will cohost a new morning program with Dave Pratt on Team 1040 starting Sept. 9)
Eckford didn’t see it coming. “I was looking for chaos, but not that much chaos,” he says with a smile. He says Corus told him, “We have a plan, we will be doing something with you, but we’re not yet ready to tell you.”
Finding out the station wanted him to move its programming away from sports and into news was “a marriage of everything I’ve done.”
That said, radio has been “an absolute shock to me.” As much as he thrives in the role, the task of filling three hours of silence provoked “ball-clenching fear.” The show officially débuted Sept. 2 but last week Eckford enjoyed a “dry run”. Providing his own review of the first show, he says, “I feel like a trapeze artist who went out, totally blew the routine and somehow landed it.”
“Over time,” he says, “we’ll find our voice and I think it will be a real reflection of what I think Vancouver is — young, funny, insightful and interesting. You can laugh and get really serious.”
The Shift is weeknights from 7 to 10pm on 980 CKNW; you can also download the CKNW app for free.