“I don’t know if you’ll think this is cheesy or not,” says 32-year-old VIP host Mike Chalut, “but I do kind of want to be like Ryan Seacrest.”
Having worked as host at upscale restaurants like Brassaii, MoRoCo and the Ultra Supper Club, he is curiously pleased with having once been described as “the number one servant in Canada.” After all, he’s taken care of celebs like Paris Hilton, Drake, Justin Bieber and David Beckham.
But with his new role at Proud FM as host of the Mike Chalut Show, he might now sincerely be the happiest man in Toronto.
In person, Chalut is infectiously upbeat. The gay and lesbian–themed radio station is no doubt hoping that quality in the afternoon will ease the fan backlash it suffered after May 5, when disagreements between management and the on-air talent led to the abrupt firing of all four live, on-air hosts — including Shaun Proulx and Deb Pearce.
“I’m not replacing Shaun, not at all!” Chalut says. “They are two different shows.”
Indeed, while Proulx would mix discussions of crystal meth or HIV issues into the daily chatter, Chalut admits to proceeding with caution.
Take his interview with Tracey Sandilands, in which he thanked the Pride Toronto executive director “for bringing the community together” after it rescinded the ban on political messaging it had put in place to begin with.
“I was way too new!” he says. “It was an intense, intense situation, and for me to take a political stance after I’d only been there a week? I couldn’t do that.”
Chalut insisted on making the interview “positive for all sides” because, he says, “Pride is the happiest time in this city, and after the G20 nightmare, we needed a good time.”
Making no apologies, Chalut asks, “Am I a positive, upbeat person? Absolutely! It’s what I’ve been able to brand myself as, and it’s what I believe in. It stems from my father and how I was raised, and as cheesy as it sounds, it’s who I am.”