The tributes to Stuart McLean remind Canadians of his legacy

Feb 16, 2017 | Arts, Life, News

Stuart McLean on stage (Alana Elliot)

By: Aron Anthonymuttu

As Canadians mourn the death of CBC Radio’s Stuart McLean, the connection he created with his audience through storytelling cemented his legacy as a unique voice in the Canadian broadcasting world.

For over 20 years, McLean’s brand of humanizing storytelling resonated with listeners throughout the country. His wholesome anecdotes about Dave and Morley shifted conventional radio into a conversation between himself and his audience.

While there’s a chance younger generations didn’t identify with the middle-aged couple from his imagination, his storytelling transcended generations. Anthony Cardoza, 26, host of University of Ottawa CHUO’s Radio Active, says listening to The Vinyl Café growing up influenced him as an aspiring broadcaster.

“For four years straight, [my family] saw the Vinyl Café holiday tour at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and his energy was as even more warm and welcoming than it was on the FM airwaves,” says Cardoza, “That warmth and humility is what has influenced me the most as an aspiring broadcaster. Making that human connection with such a calm and inviting presence.”

McLean’s stories, in his distinctive voice, carried through many Canadian households, connecting families and friends across the country.

Long-time producer of The Vinyl Café, Jess Milton, said in a statement that every week the show would receive e-mails from people across Canada saying they’d call their parents, siblings and children after hearing McLean on the show.

“Stuart had an incredible ability to connect. He connected with each listener on a personal level, but his work also connected us to each other,” said Milton in her statement, “he connected to each listener, he connected the listeners to each other, but he also connected us all to Canada.”

Through his career as a radio personality, author and humorist, McLean’s work not only shifted the way people would listen but as well as how people would speak.

Hailey Fiegehen, radio host at Algonquin College’s CKDJ F.M., says McLean’s storytelling was unmatched. His unique narrative is something she applies both in her day-to-day life and on-air.

“I grew up listening to him for all of my childhood. Every Saturday and Sunday my mom would have the Vinyl Café on and we would be listening to it,” says Fiegehen, “it’s just more how I tell stories and connect with people now. His comedic pacing is something I think anyone on any radio station could learn from.”