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All About Austin Lee

12 Questions with CTV News Ottawa’s newest Anchor, Austin Lee.

You grew up in Campbell River, BC. What was your childhood like?

I don’t think I appreciated how special Vancouver Island truly is until I had moved away. Campbell River has a small-town feel which I miss from time to time. Sure, there are nearly 40-thousand people who call the city home, but it feels smaller than that. Looking back, I was spoiled by the natural beauty all around the Island growing up.

You’re never any more than 15 minutes from the beach, there’s an endless list of swimming holes in the area, and the fishing is world-class.

As my dad would say when talking about Vancouver Island, no matter where you go in the world, it doesn’t get any better, it just gets different.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in media? Did you have any role models growing up who inspired or supported you?

Ironically, we didn’t have cable TV growing up so I spent a lot of time listening to the radio. Team 1040, which later became TSN 1040, was the must-listen radio for a young Canucks fan.

Don Taylor was a role model for me. He was someone who never seemed to fake who he was. You could tell that he was always being himself. I found that refreshing.

Kyle Bukauskas is another broadcaster who has been not only an inspiration, but also someone who has always been willing to listen, offer advice, and provide feedback.

We’re both from Campbell River, and almost every time I mentioned to anyone back home that my dream was to pursue a career in broadcasting I would get the same reply: “Oh! Like Kyle Bukauskas? Right on!” I feel like that response could grow tiresome if Kyle wasn’t such a stand-up guy.

Who was your hockey team growing up? Are they still today?

The Vancouver Canucks will always be my favourite team, but ever since I was about ten years-old, I’ve cheered for the Florida Panthers. Last season was a rush. When the Panthers went on that miracle run and reached the Stanley Cup Final, I knew I had to go. Money was tight, but I sold my TV and a few other belongings to get to Las Vegas for game one. Looks like I may have to find some more things to sell the way Florida and Vancouver are both playing this year. Another cup run for one of my favourite teams? Fingers crossed.

You’ve been in Ottawa for just over four months. How do you like the city?

It’s a gorgeous city. The old architecture and rich history is something I truly appreciate. We don’t have much in the way of old-time brick buildings on the west coast, at least not on the same level, so something as simple as going for a walk and appreciating the magnificence of Parliament Hill is still awe-inspiring for me.

What’s your favourite part about working with the team as one of CTV Ottawa’s weekend anchors?

Everyone in that newsroom is pulling in the same direction. From day one I have felt welcome and I know that my colleagues care deeply about putting together the best local newscast day in and day out.

Live reporting is not a skill everyone has, how do you stay focused and clear when on camera?

I tend to picture a friend or a family member’s face on the lens of the camera. I don’t want to feel like I’m just reading the news. The delivery needs to feel as natural as possible while also getting to the point quickly, so I find it helps to imagine you’re just having a conversation.

Outside of work, have you had a chance to explore the city?

I’m living right in the ByWard Market, so I have explored the downtown core quite extensively and I absolutely love the fact that there are so many shawarma options. I’m a big shawarma guy. Oh My Grill on the corner of York & Cumberland St. is top-notch. That’s my go-to.

What are some of your favourite things to do in your free time?

Not to sound like the most cliché Canadian guy, but hockey in the winter and golf in the summer. I try to be as active as possible, so anything that will get me outside really. I’m also a big fan of cards. Texas hold’em, rummy and blackjack are some of my favourites.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

That’s a tough one. I like to think that I’m a bit of a chatterbox and an open book. Not a great mix when it comes to keeping some level of mystery. I guess I would say my affinity for pottery. I took a class at North Island College for a semester and absolutely fell in love with the whole process. Working the wheel can be frustrating, but at the same time, it’s so relaxing when you get into a rhythm. One of my goals in life is to be able to set up a little studio of my own.

Who is your favourite artist? What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

My favourite solo artist is Mindchatter. The guy doesn’t miss. If we’re talking bands, I’d have to say the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I saw them play in Vancouver back in 2012 and that was my first concert. Probably the best as well. Kendrick Lamar is right up there as well. 

What’s a book or movie you’d recommend to everyone to watch/read at least once?

Another tough question. I’ll go with the Bee movie. It may be the least controversial pick out there if you ask me. An all-time performance by Jerry Seinfeld and absolutely a cinematic masterpiece. An honourable mention goes to the Prestige. A more serious, and intense flick.

For anyone looking to get started in a new profession, what’s your best piece of advice?

Be flexible and don’t take yourself too seriously. It really doesn’t matter the industry. In my experience, as long as you put the work in, never stop learning and are easy to work with, you’ll find success. Depending on the job and if you’re able to, I’d also say don’t be afraid to move to a new city. We live in a beautiful, vast country with a lot to offer. Get out there and take in as much as you can.

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