Nickie Shobeiry is Apt613’s correspondent at Synapcity, Ottawa non-profit for civic engagement, connecting people across diverse communities to share perspectives and create positive change.
Dylan Black is a radio announcer at Boom 99.7, host of Daytime Ottawa on Rogers TV, and Fundraising Coordinator at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club. His community-driven spirit has made him one of Ottawa’s most beloved broadcasters.
Below, Nickie talks to Dylan about his career journey.
You’ve been in radio since 1999 – what was your journey like?
I grew up in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, and I was the Student Council President. One of our duties was to read the morning announcements, and people used to tell me that I sounded like I could be on the radio. I actually went to Trent and Queen’s University to study Concurrent Teacher Education first, as I thought I’d become a teacher, but it didn’t pan out. Then I went to Loyalist College in Belleville and graduated in 1999. Before I graduated I was lucky enough to get a job in a station in Ottawa called KOOL FM 93.9 which no longer exists as that format. I progressed onto MAJIC 100, 106.9 The Bear, 101.9 DAWG FM. I’ve been at BOOM for 5 years now.
Has the landscape of radio changed since you’ve been in it?
Totally! Nowadays, you need to be an announcer, you need to be a community guy, you need to be well-versed in the music department, productions, promotions. You need to wear a lot more hats if you want to succeed.
You’re incredibly involved in the community. What’s the importance of this to you?
One of my mentors was Max Keeping, and he was the anchor of CJOH TV [now CTV Ottawa] for 40 years. He was the type of person who never said no to anybody. I met him when I was in high school and he mentored me to be a community-minded person, and a better broadcaster. Even in his final days he used to lay in bed, watching me on Rogers TV, and text me things that I could do that would be better. It was always appreciated because he’s a true legend in our city. I learnt through Max Keeping, through my own father, through colleagues, that the feeling you get when you give is just a thousand times more powerful than when you receive. Max has been gone for a few years now and I try to fill a portion of his shoes, as much as I can.
I learnt through Max Keeping, through my own father, through colleagues, that the feeling you get when you give is just a thousand times more powerful than when you receive.
What would you say was the biggest lesson you learnt from Max Keeping?
If you don’t do it, somebody else will.
You’ve interviewed some incredible people! What have been some of your favourites?
I’ve been lucky through 20 years of radio: I’ve interviewed my own musical hero Michael Bolton, a two time-Grammy award winner. People like Lou Rawls from the 70s; Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’ daughter; John Cleese. One of my first gigs ever I introduced Britney Spears on stage in front of 15,000 screaming fans. I was 22 years old. You never forget these things, but at the same time you have a job to do. You can’t mess it up – those artists are there to be promoted and you need to ask them the right questions.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had?
Through the wonderful world of media I‘ve lost my position a number of times. I’m proud to say it’s never through fault of my own, it’s usually through switching the format or sound of station. I’ve been replaced by syndication which was a challenge. It’s difficult to rebound from, but I’ve always found when I’ve lost my position, I’ve evolved into something else and become a stronger announcer, a stronger person. I wish those things didn’t happen but without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today: I have TV, radio, I work at Yuk Yuk’s as a Fundraising Coordinator.
What advice do you have to others who want to be CityMakers?
Life is truly short. I’m 40 and if you double my age, I’m 80, so you could say I’m half way through life – and the 40 years have just zipped past. Whatever you want to do, just do it, get out there. Don’t be afraid to put your hand up, to offer your services even if someone hasn’t asked for it first. Find associations, organizations that you believe in. I believe in karma more than I believe in anything. If you’re a good person, good things will come to you. It takes the same amount of energy to do good as to do bad, so why wouldn’t you do good to help people and help yourself at the same time?
You can catch Dylan on Sunday June 24 at 8pm at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club for the CHEO Children’s Hospital Fundraiser. Tickets are available here.