Down The Fairway With Ottawa’s Morning Man
It is always hard to get a read on people who work in the public spotlight, especially in a medium like television. We often think we get to really know what people are like just from their work, but it’s not until you sit down with them for a personal chat that you really get a sense of what makes them tick.
Since 2000, Kurt Stoodley has had a home on televisions in the National Capital Region. When you tune into CTV Morning Live first thing in the day there he is, showcasing the community with his co-hosts, and obviously enjoying every minute of it. They laugh; they joke, and the share the best of what makes Ottawa and surrounds tick.
To many it seems like a glamorous existence to be on television everyday, to be highly recognizable when you are simply walking about on your own time, and it’s an easy assumption that a healthy personal ego would follow suit.
Not so for Kurt Stoodley who has a very healthy perspective of his job and how it has shaped his world. He is highly aware that when it all comes down to it, he is no more important that the man who inspires his existence, a grandfather who carved out an honest living as simple fisherman in tiny Grand Bank, Newfoundland. Kurt admits that anytime he is nervous about something he has a cherished photo of his grandfather at home that he will touch as a way to keep him settled.
Today, at 50, Stoodley knows he has a very comfortable life (save for the daily 3 a.m. wakeup). It is one that affords him the opportunity to golf three or four times a week, but in doing so he always has his heritage on his mind. It keeps him grounded and it gives him a sense of pride that goes far beyond what his daily life in the television spotlight could ever provide.
Born in tiny Botwood, Newfoundland, Kurt says he spent his formative years in Halifax, Nova Scotia but his connection to his home province remained strong. Frequent summer visits and having his grandfather spend the winters with them in Halifax meant he always knew where he came from.
“You know, it’s a strong thing. Everybody from Newfoundland is proud to be from Newfoundland and that is the case for me,” he says on an early spring day as he waits for a tee time at his home course, Eagle Creek, in Dunrobin, Ontario.
And not only did Newfoundland give him his roots, it also defined his career path as well.
When Kurt’s dad, Leo, brought the family to Halifax, it was also to further his work with the CBC. Eventually Leo would have a 50 year career in media hosting various shows on radio and television. On his retirement he returned to his native Newfoundland, which is exactly where Kurt headed to take his first full-time job in radio at the age of 21.
As a teen, Kurt was always near his father’s work. “As a kid I was pretty interested in it. I thought what he did was pretty cool and I used to hang around.” Kurt tells a great story about being in the studio one weekend when his dad was hosting a show called “Weekend Jubilee”; the guest happened to be an eighteen year old Springhill, Nova Scotia girl named Anne Murray. “I didn’t know who she was but that is where I got the bug, being around things like that.”
With his father’s help Kurt got a job at 16 at radio station CHNS/CHFX in Halifax, doping everything from emptying trash vans to washing the boss’ car. He also had the opportunity there to do some sports reporting. It made for pretty good summer work. It eventually led to some promo work for them and an on-air shift on weekends. A career was born.
After attaining a Bachelor of Arts at Dalhousie and finishing his schooling at Memorial University in St. John’s, Kurt got his broadcast livelihood going full time at CJYQ radio in Newfoundland. Successfully he would move to OZ-FM in the ocean-side city, transitioning to television at their NTV station.
Kurt would eventually make his way back to Halifax to be a weekend sports anchor and reporter before finally being given what was supposed to be a short tem replacement spot on ASN’s breakfast television. He did so well that his boss apologized for not just giving him the job outright in the first place. Kurt had found his niche.
In 1997 he would move on to Calgary and then, in 2000, he made his way to Ottawa where he has found his home and been embraced by the community.
Through his entire career, sports have been a common thread for Kurt, specifically hockey and golf. He enjoyed playing hockey for many years but golf found its way much deeper into his heart. When you talk to Kurt about golf he gets a look on his face that only rivals the one that comes over him when he speaks of his native Newfoundland.
Not soon after moving to Halifax, around the age of seven, Kurt discovered the golf course. His dad would take him to a couple par three courses in nearby Sackville and Hammond Plains. It was an instant connection.
“I just freaking loved it. I thought it was great.”
Kurt says he continued to play, although never too seriously. He does not play competitive events and says the one time he played for a little side bet it just wasn’t his thing. “I just love the experience of being out there; chatting with the people you’re playing with. I want to play well but it’s not my sole purpose for golfing.”
Having worked his game down to a four index, Kurt’s says his low round has been a 69 at Anderson Links but he is yet to break par at Eagle Creek, a mightier test where he is very content to be among the membership. “It’s just a great golf course. You have to hit good shots on every hole.”
Even though he enjoys the game just for what it is, as this story is published Kurt is in Scotland, enjoying a celebration for 50 years on the planet, a milestone he shares with his fellow media buddy and golf nut, red Allen. “I just can’t wait. I’m so looking forward to it,” he says with the excitement of a kid at Christmas.
With golf as his muse, Kurt says he could not be happier and that sense of contentment also extends to his working life.
“I’ve managed to do about every thing in the business. I’ve been a reporter, I’ve been a news anchor, a sports anchor, but hosting a morning show is just a lot of fun.
“I’m not a journalist by any means; I’m just a guy on TV. I just enjoy talking to people,” Kurt explains when asked to recap his work. “I go to the same place and do the same things to start every day but from there you don’t know where it goes. It’s different every day.”
The only that doesn’t change is that when his working day is over, during the summer at least, his first thought is how quickly he can get to the first tee.
While separated from most by what he does for a living, in that regard, and in many other ways, Kurt Stoodley is just like the rest of us.