i <3 Jeff & Sophie
Getting to know Ottawa’s favourite country radio hosts from iHeartRadio
You may have woken up with Jeff and Sophie but now it’s time to get to know them! Jeff Hopper and Sophie Moroz are both hosts of the Morning Pickup on Ottawa’s New Country 94 with iHeartRadio. If you’re a country fan I’m sure you’ve heard their witty banter mixed with today’s best music.
Behind their radio personalities are two extremely genuine and funny individuals who love their jobs to the point where it doesn’t even feel like work. While giving insight on the show Jeff and Sophie also share their plans for valentine’s day, their favourite artists and how they manage early wakeup calls. Coffee seems to be the key ingredient for that!
After interviewing both it was clear that Jeff and Sophie are as likeminded on air as they are off. They can name each other’s biggest pet peeves and can make each other laugh on and off the air. If you’ve never listened follow their show Monday—Friday from 5:30-10am, listen live from Ottawa’s New Country 94, 93.9 on the FM dial.
Getting to Know Jeff Hopper
What is it about radio that inspires you?
I love radio because it is so immediate. The creative process happens instantaneously, so when something cool happens, I’m as surprised and entertained as anyone else!
A lot of people ‘hate’ the way their voice sounds on the radio—have you ever had that moment?
Pro tip—even radio people hate the way their voice sounds. That’s because our skulls are awesome subwoofers, so when you hear your voice on a recording, you lose that awesome reverb that happens in your head. You’ll never like it, you just get used to it.
How do you make The Morning Pickup interesting? Are most of your jokes off-the-cuff? What kind of energy do you and Sophie need to create the morning show?
On Ottawa’s New Country 94, Sophie and I keep our eyes open all day for things we find interesting, including things we find on the net or in the news, but the best stuff usually comes from weird things that happen to us or our listeners. Any joke we make is definitely spur of the moment. We plan what we will talk about, but we don’t have the discussion before we go on the air and we feed off the spontaneity. In terms of energy, we both know that no matter what is going on in life, when you enter the studio it’s go time. Sophie is the best at that—no matter what is going on she’s good to go every morning.
What is the best thing about being a father?
The best thing is everything. But, I especially love how funny kids are… they are hilarious (sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally). Either way it’s constant entertainment. Discovering the world all over again with someone you love beyond compare is the best experience. I highly recommend it.
To someone who is just arriving into Ottawa for the first time today – and they ask you what is the best thing about living in Ottawa, what would you say?
I would say live here for a year and you’ll get it. The best thing about living in Ottawa, is living in Ottawa. I’ve never met anyone that has ever said they want to move away from here. Now if that’s not an endorsement of a city, I don’t know what is!
What is it like working with Sophie Moroz on The Morning Pick Up?
Working with Sophie is like walking through a haunted house… I never know what to expect, it’s exciting and a little scary. We have so much fun, Sophie has me in tears every day. We really do just goof around all morning. Our show is funny, unpredictable, and fast with the best country music anywhere.
The audience is awesome too, young and fun and really interactive. My days fly by.
Have you always been a country music fan? Why?
I listened to country when I was little because of my Grandmother, who was a huge fan. But, growing up in Toronto it really wasn’t around so I fell out of touch. It’s so interesting to get back to it and see what I have missed. It’s changed a lot, in a really good way too. It’s so good with influences from everywhere now.
Who are your top three favourite country artists?
I’m an Eric Church guy – great music and an amazing voice. I also love Chris Stapleton… man, picking just three is such torture! I better throw in a Canadian act too, cause Canadian country is so good too – High Valley, if you haven’t heard their stuff, check them out, they’re generating a lot of buzz.
The show starts at 5:30, what time do you get up in the morning? What is your trick to starting your day right?
I get up at 4:30am and I’m at work by 5. Here are the only tips I have for people struggling with early mornings: don’t hit snooze. Ever. The alarm goes off and I put my feet on the floor and walk to the shower, never hesitate, because one second can mean you fall back to sleep. Lol. And coffee, I can’t recommend coffee enough.
What are three of your favourite things about Ottawa in the winter?
I love to ski, so the fact that we are less than 30 minutes from decent ski hills and less than 2 hours from excellent ski hills is big for me. I love Ottawa in the winter because people actually go outside and enjoy it. Skating on the canal with my family is always so fun. And the city is beautiful – the Parliament Buildings, Chateau Laurier, The ByWard Market all in the snow is the best.
Valentine’s Day is coming up! Are you a romantic? What’re your plans for you and your wife?
This year all the planning has been done for us by Ottawa’s New Country 94 because we are bringing Brett Kissel to Ottawa for our Valentine’s Day Bash. It’s a win to get in only event, so it will be a crazy good night. Basically, we’re going to party the night away with great live music and a few hundred of our closest friends!
What are your top 5 favourite breakfast places in Ottawa?
I love diners Zack’s Diner, Elgin Street Diner, Stoneface Dolly’s on Preston is good too. I like Quitters in Stittsville, great coffee. And, last but not least, I love a good bagel and Kettleman’s on Bank makes the best bagels.
If we asked Sophie to tell us your three biggest pet peeves, what would she say?
Just to be clear, these are not necessarily my biggest pet peeves, just what I think she would say…
- Bad Drivers
What are three of her pet peeves?
- Disorganization including, but not limited to, messiness, dirtiness and chaos.
- Lack of information, about anything and everything.
Getting to Know Sophie Moroz
I know you’ve had other jobs hosting radio show, what makes this show unique?
I think what makes The Morning Pickup unique is the dynamic between Jeff and I. We have similar senses of humour and a ton in common but we couldn’t be more different. I think that’s such a fun combination because it gives us all kinds of perspectives on different topics. We both like to keep things light and fun but informative. We’re also great friends outside of work and that makes going to work even better!
What’s your favourite part of being a morning show host and what do you dislike about it?
Oh my goodness, I love so many things about the job! It’s hard to pick one but if I had to choose a ‘stand out’ it would be the relationship you create with listeners. There’s something really special about being a part of someone’s morning every day and knowing that you’re in some way trying to make their day better. Whether it’s by playing their favourite song, making them laugh or chatting with them when they call, it sounds cheesy but there’s nothing else quite like it. As for the thing I dislike, the only thing anyone who truly loves to do morning radio will ever say is WAKING UP AT STUPID O’CLOCK! (Laughs) And even some days that doesn’t bother me so much.
Obviously you’re a fan of country music, but if you could pick your top three favourite bands or singers who would they be and why?
Top 3? These questions are hard! (Laughs) I have to say Keith Urban, I’ve been such a huge fan of him for so many years and I really do think he’s brilliant. Who else? It’s tough because I used to sing growing up and so I listened to a lot of extremely ridiculously talented females to learn technique and so Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Leanne Rimes and Mariah all come to mind. I also love John Mayer’s music, I think he’s one of the best lyricists out there and I’m gonna say it- Backstreet Boys. Don’t judge me. I love them.
I’ve read on your online bio that you’re a real foodie. What are some of your favourite restaurants in Ottawa?
I love food so much and love going to a restaurant I’ve never been to, it’s so exciting to me! I would recommend Giovanni’s in Little Italy, great service, atmosphere and handmade pasta, yum! I also really enjoyed Big Easy’s Seafood and Steakhouse (especially if you love a good steak) that’s in Preston too. My favourite meal of the day is breakfast though or a good brunch; for that I’d say Brookstreet Hotel (Sunday brunch), Wellington Diner and Chesterfield’s Gastro Pub in Westboro.
Could you share with us any embarrassing slip ups that have happened while you were live on-air and how you handled them?
Oh gosh, I’m not sure that I handled them all that well to be honest? (Laughs) My first few years in radio, there were certain words I didn’t know you weren’t allowed to use—like A$$hole. I was telling a story on the air about a guy who cut me off on the road and I included the part about shouting at him “you a$$hole!” I got a couple of blank stares and a few table jaws from co-workers who later laughed about the fact that you’re soooo not allowed to say that. I also learned that you can say both of those words separately but never together.
In your opinion who would be the new and upcoming country singers we should have on our radar?
Lindsay Ell is one that really stands out for me. We’ve been waiting for a powerful guitar-shredding female and she’s Canadian which is a total bonus; I love her music, it’s upbeat, well-produced, well-written and relatable. In fact there are a few Canadians surfacing right now that I think have a lot of potential including Andrew Hyatt and Shawn Austin. And state-side, I think we’ll be hearing good things from newcomer LANco.
What is the most interesting experience you’ve had so far hosting the Morning Pick Up?
So it’s not morning show specific but I know I wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise, it has to be hands down interviewing Keith Urban. I mean talk about a dream you never even bothered to dream because it was too far to reach. I spent years as a teenager listening to his songs over and over and over again, taping his interviews, watching his shows and never for a moment did I think I’d actually sit across from him to talk about any of it. That was a life-changing moment for me I’ll never forget.
If you had the chance what country star would be your dream date this Valentine’s day?
I have a huge crush on Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion. I think he’s pretty cool. So I wouldn’t be upset if he was around for Valentine’s Day (laughs)
If you could give any advice to aspiring radio hosts out there what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. It’s not an easy thing to put yourself out there every day, it makes you vulnerable. People are judging you based on your humour, your likes and dislikes, your opinions and all without actually knowing you. It’s important to be strong in your convictions but also be willing to hear others out. Take advice from your boss, colleagues and mentors. Try to be better than you were yesterday and always stay humble. This industry is ruthless and full of talented people, never let it get to your head. You’ll never know EVERYTHING there is to know.
What is one daily ritual you can’t live without?
Coffee of course! End quote. (and cuddling with my dog)
What is the best part about working with Jeff on The Morning Pick Up?
His energy and sense of humour; mornings are tough and some days are easier than others but when you work with someone as talented as Jeff, you can feed off his energy and that can change the tone in any room, also he makes me laugh! We laugh a lot when we’re together.
If we asked Jeff to tell us your three biggest pet peeves, what would he say?
Traffic/Bad Drivers (laughs) I may have a smallish case of road rage. (shh don’t tell anyone)
Stray shopping carts in parking lots: makes me so upset because it’s connected to my third pet peeve which is lazy people. I can’t wrap my head around any of it. Why can’t you walk the 20 feet and just put it away!? I don’t get it!?
What are three of Jeff’s pet peeves?
Not fair! He has so many (laughs) I’m kidding but I really don’t know which 3 to choose?
We definitely have the driving thing in common; he’s just as bad as I am when he’s in the car.
Then I’d say food. He’s not super adventurous with it and if you ask him to try something, he’ll be even more annoyed when he realizes for a 3rd time that he still doesn’t like it. (he eats chicken fingers without plum sauce, I mean food is a real problem for him). And finally…indecisiveness. When someone stands in line for 10 minutes at Timmy’s and still doesn’t know what to order at the cash!