Toronto jazz singer and award-winning radio personality Heather Bambrick has been named the new host of JAZZFM.91’s popular morning-drive slot. It’s a big promotion for Bambrick, who previously hosted a weekly show at the popular station.
And there are some pretty big shoes to fill. CBC icon Ralph Benmergui reigned supreme in the morning slot for six years, helping to introduce the station to new local and international listeners. When Benmergui left the station last year, veteran talk-show host John Donabie stepped in but departed after only 10 months. It was while filling in for Donabie that Bambrick decided to throw her hat into the ring for the role of the station’s new permanent host.
“My fear was whether or not I could maintain it, and how it would change my life” says Bambrick. “Not to mention waking up at 4:30am. It’s way busier than when I would host my Sunday show and be all alone at the station.”
She need not have worried. Listeners have responded positively to the station’s decision and have embraced Bambrick’s warm and witty personality. Cheerful without being chirpy, and funny in that Jann Arden sort of way, Bambrick strikes the perfect balance of music and talk that made Benmergui so popular. She also relishes the interplay with JAZZFM’s resident Puck, Jaymz Bee, whose mischievous banter with Benmergui was a program highlight.
“Oh my God, Jaymz is so fun,” Bambrick says. “We have our little things between us. He keeps talking about Planet of the Apes, and I keep promising to watch it. But I never do.”
It’s definitely a mutual-admiration society as far as Bee is concerned. “I met Heather when she was still a student at U of T and took her across North America singing with the Royal Jelly Orchestra,” he says. “Now almost two decades later I’m lucky enough to co-host Good Morning with her. She wakes up in a good mood, has a great sense of humour and knows her music. I love my job!”
Now two months into the early mornings and longer shifts, Bambrick feels she’s hit her stride and enjoys the closer relationship to listeners. “A lot of times morning shows are companionship for people, whether they’re driving to work or waiting for the streetcar,” she says. “It helps them feel a part of the show, and when they feel part of it, it’s really nice for us all.”
Heather Bambrick hosts Good Morning, weekdays from 6am to 10am on JAZZFM.91.