Mary Anne Ivison – Ottawa’s New Country 94
Best Places To Hike
Food To Eat
Country Music To Listen To
Tell us about the town you grew up in. Is this where you discovered country music?
I grew up in Tilbury, a small town in Southwestern Ontario with a population of about 4,000. Even though I grew up on a farm, my love for country music didn’t start until my first full-time job at a country radio station when I was 20. Country music has a way of hooking you into its magic and I’ve loved it ever since.
How did you get into Radio Hosting, what attracted you to it?
I did a co-op in high school at my local radio station in Chatham, and realized this is something I’d like to do. I studied Radio Broadcasting at Conestoga College where I loved production, music and announcing but never thought I could make a career out of being on the air (it’s a super competitive industry). I tried for on-air jobs anyway, realized I wasn’t half bad and for some reason people kept hiring me. I love connecting with people and on the air was the best way to do that for me.
What do you love most about country music?
Country music has a way of making you FEEL on every point of the emotional scale. Within a 10 minute span of listening to Ottawa’s New Country 94, you can go from dancing (Thomas Rhett – T-Shirt) to weeping (Cam – Burning House). I’m pretty much dancing during my on-air shift every afternoon.
What ritual could you not live without during your workday?
Coffee. I’ll openly admit I have a caffeine addiction. My show would probably suck if I didn’t have my pre-show coffee.
What is your favourite part about working at Ottawa’s New Country 94?
My favourite part about working at Ottawa’s New Country 94 is the music and meeting our listeners at our events! Country music connects with people like nothing else.
In your opinion, who is the funniest person at Ottawa’s New Country?
She’s pretty low-key but Brittany Thompson makes me laugh the hardest. When we host the New Country All Canadian Countdown together Saturdays at 8am and Sundays at 5pm, we are guaranteed to laugh until we cry.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
I’m not sure I’d call it a challenge but the responsibility to always know what’s going on in the country music world, in Ottawa and what people are talking about. I never want to be irrelevant or sound out of touch to my listeners.
What do you enjoy most about working and living in Ottawa?
I love this city! I’ve been in Ottawa for 4 years now (how time flies!). Ottawa is the perfect balance of city with a small-town feel. You can have a world-class meal, a stellar shopping experience, and escape to nature all in one day.
Who is your favourite country artist, and your favourite to see live?
This is a tough question. I would have to say Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood are my all-time favourites. Thomas Rhett and Brett Eldredge are my favourite new artists. Chris Stapleton has been my favourite artist to see live—his vocals and lyrics had me at the edge of my seat when he was at the CTC.
What is on your playlist this coming fall? What new songs do you recommend to country lovers for September and October?
Thomas Rhett’s new album Life Changes (coming out September 8), and Kelsea Ballerini’s new album Unapologetically (coming out November 3).
How would you describe your personal style?
If I had to put myself into a category, it would have to be modern with a hippy influence. I love buying from local shops and jewelry stores. It’s cool to meet the people who make the things you wear.
What are your top 5 pet peeves?
In no specific order: people who don’t treat nature with respect, negativity, dirty windshields, pants that aren’t stretchy enough, people who judge country music without actually listening to it.
You are an avid hiker—what are the best spots to hike this fall?
Gatineau Park is the closest and best hiking around—Wolf Trail is my absolute favourite. If you want a weekend trip I’m a huge fan of the Adirondacks in New York (only 3 hours from Ottawa).
You recently did a solo hike—was this a first for you? What inspired you to take on a solo hike?
I’ve done lots of solo hiking in Gatineau Park but I’ve never done real mountains by myself. I’m an extroverted person, but the older I get the more “me” time I need to recharge. A solo hike is a great way to push yourself and your limits.
Your bio says you are a food lover, what are some of your favourite spots around Ottawa to eat?
I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START. But I’ll give some love to my neighbourhood, the Byward Market: Burrito Burracho (fish tacos), El Camino (pig head taco), King Eddy (best breakfast), Fat Boys (best BBQ) and you can never go wrong with a Beaver Tail.
In terms of food and dishes, what are your seasonal favourites for fall? What do you recommended readers try?
There are so many farmers’ markets in our city you should take advantage of—there’s nothing better than local squash and apples at this time of year. I hope Bridgehead brings back their “Chai-der”—half chai/half apple cider. If you see it, order it!
What does success mean to you?
Having a work/life balance and being passionate about both. The fact that I can hike in the morning in Gatineau Park then go to my dream job in the afternoon is absolute bliss.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career so far?
Listener first. The only reason I have a job is because people choose to listen to our radio station, play our contests and come to our events. That’s pretty special.