FeaturesOP-ED: Connecting George Stroumboulopoulos, Willy Percy & John Lennon

OP-ED: Connecting George Stroumboulopoulos, Willy Percy & John Lennon

George Stroumboulopoulos & Rob Brimacombe

Submitted by BC Association of Broadcasters (BCAB) President Rob Brimacombe

What does the intersection of career success, authenticity & happiness look like? I’m closer to the answer thanks to the 2024 BC Association of Broadcasters’ Conference, George Stroumboulopoulos, Willy Percy and John Lennon!

Willy and George treated BCAB attendees to an awesome, one-on-one interview. The audience was inspired by two broadcast legends who are both clearly driven by purpose, excellence in their crafts and enjoying meaningful connections – not by ego.

Two things George said are stuck in my head. The first was “the cavalry ain’t coming.”

Many people who’ve experienced more of a hard-knocks childhood (vs. smooth-sailing and proverbial white picket fences) later assess those years as either sadness & missing out or appreciation of the resiliency, street smarts & self-assured traits that come of it.

George’s reflections are largely the latter. Self-determination fueled his drive, creative pursuits, and passion for exploration.

The second statement – “I’m defiantly me”- is more layered. When someone at the level of success of Strombo declares “I’m defiantly me,” it’s hard not to think “easy for you to say – you’re uber charismatic, you were awesome at Much Music and then of course CBC, CNN and Hockey Night in Canada all pursued you.

What were these big broadcasters pursuing? The currency of George. Special talents, plus defiantly authentic equal currency. They want to attach to his qualities and importantly, the audiences who love him and his content. It’s the same things brands seek in choosing athletes or celebrities for endorsement deals.

As a teenager, George found comfort and connection in music. In his early days of both pirate and commercial radio, he knew from personal experience that even one song, at the right time, heard by someone in need, can have a profound effect on their outlook.

As he said, he wants to “make things matter – one person at a time.” With this, George has become admired and appreciated by hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people. He’s driven by creativity, connection, and his craft – the opposite of ego-driven and seeking mass adulation.

How does the famous Beatle fit here? I often think of the quote attributed to John Lennon: “When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

It’s clear to me that George has maintained his centre through decades of life and levels of career success – whether he’s spinning tunes on a pirate radio station, meeting people in a roadside diner during a cross-country motorbike ride, attending a reception with 40 people or delivering legendary interviews with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Jodie Foster and Prince Charles.

Few people will host major market radio morning shows or be on big stages doing one-on-ones with Shania Twain and Bradley Cooper for thousands of appreciative viewers. But this seems very doable: pursue what you love, excel at your craft & work, defiantly be yourself and contribute to community & human connection – one person at a time.

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