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Saying goodbye to ‘the greatest gig’

By: Jenny Jelen - Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Jul 30, 2010 - 2:42 PM |
Dan Lessard, former host of CBC’s Points North, officially retires from CBC at the end of July. His last on-air segment was in June 2010. A “proud Sudburian,” Lessard said he often frequents the Old Rock Roastery for the Vienna blend of the day, because his daughter is named Vienna. Photo by Jenny Jelen.

Dan Lessard, former host of CBC’s Points North, officially retires from CBC at the end of July. His last on-air segment was in June 2010. A “proud Sudburian,” Lessard said he often frequents the Old Rock Roastery for the Vienna blend of the day, because his daughter is named Vienna. Photo by Jenny Jelen.

Dan Lessard fondly recalls his days at CBC

 Dan Lessard called his job at CBC “the best job in the building by far.”

Hosting Points North, a two-hour afternoon radio show, Lessard had the opportunity to promote arts, culture, history, sports and everyday life in northern Ontario.

“That was one of my proudest achievements,” he said, of the show. “It stood for everything I think my job stood for.”

After working at CBC Radio One in Sudbury for 17 years, Lessard said his goodbyes to listeners in June.

“My time was done there,” Lessard said. “It was time to move on.”

The “proud Sudburian and northern Ontarian” said his experience at CBC was “phenomenal,” but looks forward to the next stage of his life.

Lessard said he has some concerns over the future of CBC Sudbury and the afternoon show in particular. He said this uncertainly did partly influence his decision to leave.

Lessard and his wife of 17 years have a daughter, Vienna, who is almost three, and another baby girl on the way. He said he looks forward to spending time with his girls, and continuing to work with local organizations. He is a volunteer with the Jazz Sudbury Festival, and will be the master of ceremonies at this year’s festival in September. He will also continue to MC for the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, and the Books by the Bay Festival in North Bay.

Although Lessard’s career at CBC is over, he made it clear his working career isn’t.

I think my job was very important to people because life is more than hard news.

Dan Lessard,
former host of CBC’s Points North

“There’s a lot of other things I want to do,” he said.

Lessard said he plans to do some freelance writing and editing for a non-profit organization, and help out other groups with marketing and media.

He said he has also toyed with the idea of running for city council, but is “not saying yes, not saying no” at this point.
When Lessard worked at CBC, he was driven to bring people closer to people through Points North, and give them more to talk about than just the events of the day.

“Based on what people tell me, I think my job was very important to people because life is more than hard news,” he said.

He said Points North was meant to “let people know a little more about northern Ontario than they did before.”

Having worked on countless stories during his time at CBC, the one that stuck out most to him was about a day in the life of an operating room nurse.

Fully clothed in hospital garb circa 1997, Lessard had his recorder out, capturing the sounds of brain surgery. He said he recorded clips of the patient breathing, the beep of machinery and the drill cutting into the patient’s skull.

After that, things got fuzzy for Lessard. He fainted,“face down, right into the floor.”

When he woke up, blood had stained his shirt, and he needed six or seven stitches under his chin.

He was determined to complete the story though. Lessard was allowed back into the operating room, under the condition he stayed on a chair.

Lessard said the incident cost him lots of joking back at CBC, but it still stands out to him as one of his best-loved stories.

Having interviewed numerous artists, musicians and everyday people, Lessard said his favourite interview subject was anyone who was engaged in the conversation, and whose passion came flowing out of them.

Luckily, Lessard’s job with Points North was centered around talking to passionate people.

“To me, it was the greatest gig,” he said.

While Lessard embarks on the next chapter of his life, he said he won’t forget what really matters at the end of the day.

“Whatever you do in life, love it,” he said. “Love what you do.”

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