If you’re a fan of CBC’s radio show Definitely Not The Opera popularly known as DNTO, you’re probably missing it already.
The last show was taped on Thursday and will air on May 14.
DNTO ran for an incredible 22 years which is longer than MASH, longer than Cheers, longer even than that Canadian chestnut The Beachcombers.
As Sook-Yin Lee, host of the show for more than a decade, put it, “Would you really want your 23 year old to still be living in your basement?”
Although the DNTO host is busy with a new show for CBC, and the crew will be working on a new show here in Winnipeg, it was a bittersweet final taping, as they have become close friends over the many episodes.
In the small studio space, one could see Sook-Yin was close to tears while listening to the clips producers had selected from previous shows. So many memories.
By coincidence, Jason Collett, solo artist, member of Broken Social Scene and an old friend of DNTO was in town playing a concert at Times Changed. Collett made a guest appearance on this final show.
Happenstance seemed to run through all the episodes of the show and played a large part in its makeup but it was always underpinned by the hard work and closeness of the cast and crew.
Road trips featured large, whether to Goose Bay or Pukatawagon and they produced some memorable video.
A clip of Joseph Caribou at home in Pukatawagon aired during the taping and there’s more online. It was Sook-Yin’s favourite road trip.
Producer Sara Tate fondly remembers the trip to Goose Bay where they stumbled on a zombie rock opera put on by local high school students while they were looking for the cultural heart of the community.
Storytelling resonated well in small communities up north. You got the feeling everyone interviewed was shown their own lives in ways that changed them, and made them feel special. That’s what good storytelling can do.
That was definitely the case here in Winnipeg with Jacquie McDonald, owner of Black Cat Contracting.
Through happenstance (again) she was a guest on the Pioneering Women broadcast back on Jan. 29 which celebrated 100 years since women got the vote. She shone on the show; her homespun wisdom and take no prisoners attitude coupled with a wicked sense of humour wowed everyone.
The only woman in Manitoba to have bought her own backhoe, McDonald presently works nights for the city of Winnipeg as a heavy equipment operator for hire.
She received a text from the show’s producers on Wednesday at 5 p.m. asking her if she could be a guest on the 3 p.m. taping the next day. No problem. She just parked her John Deere 310 SK backhoe outside the studio on Portage Avenue.
When she got down from her backhoe, I asked her how her life had changed after being featured on DNTO. She had nothing but praise for Sook-Yin Lee and crew saying, “It was a wonderful experience that brought me attention I didn’t even realize I’d wanted. They’re fabulous.”
A lot of listeners thought so too.