When you’re driving to work in the morning, Sophie Moroz and Jeff Hopper are there to keep you entertained on Ottawa’s Pure Country 94’s The Morning PickUp. They take us behind the scenes of Ottawa’s new PURE Country.
Photography by Sean Sisk at Lenz Studio Ottawa
You were both born and raised in Toronto. What was that like?
Jeff: It was a great place to live; when I was there, I thought it was the best – but then, so does everyone from Toronto. You can’t blame me, though; I hadn’t met Ottawa yet.
Sophie: I loved growing up in Toronto. It’s an enjoyable place to be as a kid, with a lot of culture, a lot of tradition, so much to see and do.
Like many Italians, my grandparents immigrated there from Ukraine, just like many Italians- I grew up in a very Italian neighbourhood. At the same time, my family was active in the Ukrainian community, so I spent a lot of time around lots of family, friends, great food and tradition. I’m thankful for those memories.
You’ve both spent time as both a radio and TV host. Do you enjoy both or have a particular preference?
Jeff: I like them both, but they’re so different. TV is very prepared, often very scripted. A team of producers comes up with content ideas, guests and everything else. I like it a lot; it’s fun to work with a big team.
On the other hand, while still requiring preparation, radio is way more immediate. It’s just Sophie and I deciding what to chat about. Then, once the mics go on, it’s anything goes. I would say TV is like a climbing gym and radio is like free-soloing.
Sophie: I love both for various reasons; it’s really cool that the skills are interchangeable, and I’ve been fortunate enough to do both.
But if I was being really honest, my heart is in radio for sure. I prefer when all eyes AREN’T on me.
What do you two like to do when you’re not working?
Jeff: I hang with my family – we like to ski as much as we can in the winter. In the summer, it’s all about the cottage – hanging at the lake with family and friends, campfires and day drinking… that’s the vibe!
Sophie: So many things! I love Ottawa for that; there’s always something going on (sans pandemic, lol).
My boyfriend and I like to go on culinary adventures together; we’re sorta “foodies” and find trying out local eateries to be a great way to spend our free time.
We also enjoy being active, so we frequent many beaches, parks and nature trails with our dog. Ottawa’s a beautiful city.
How do you like working together on ‘The Morning Pickup’ and The iHeartRadio Pure Country Countdown?
Jeff: I love our audience – they are so funny and down-to-earth. They aren’t afraid to call us out and joke with us. We try to keep the show as relatable as possible so that people feel like they’re just chatting with friends. And Sophie is so much fun – we honestly spend the entire morning laughing.
Sophie: I think it’s important to point out that we’re not “trying to be something”… Jeff and I are friends outside the studio and often like to make the audience feel the friendship.
What’s some advice you two would give to someone looking to get into broadcasting or media?
Jeff: Keep your social media skills razor-sharp. Broadcasting has expanded to a multi-format business. That means that you have to be active across all platforms. It’s a mix of traditional media and new media – just because you go into radio doesn’t mean you won’t have a Youtube channel or a big TikTok audience – they’re all connected, so make sure you’re on top of it.
Sophie: Find your strengths and build on them. Never expect things to happen overnight; work your butt off and take any gig you can get to prove you’re dedicated. You’ll get there.
Jeff, how did you know you wanted to get into broadcasting?
I didn’t. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so that was kind of a problem. I remember working a summer job baking donuts and in a 40-degree kitchen standing over 400 degree oil; I was pretty miserable. But, I was listening to the radio and realized that I would love the job – and I was right, I do!
Looking back at your career, what memorable events have you hosted or interviews you conducted?
Oh man, what a question – I have interviewed so many interesting people from the weird interviews like ‘food athlete’ Joey Chestnut (hotdog eating champion many times over) to actual athletes like former Blue Jay Josh Donaldson and every major Canadian Music star to some of the biggest stars in music in the world, like Thomas Rhett. But, the most memorable would have to be the band Great Big Sea – they co-hosted a Friday night show with me once, and they were a blast.
What do you love most about working and living in Ottawa?
The affordable housing! No, it’s the people, hands down. I love how down-to-earth everyone is – everyone is so chill. People are always saying hi and having a chat. I love that. Other than the people, you can’t deny the city’s liveability – there’s a reason people are flocking here, it’s the best.
Sophie, what made you decide to get into broadcasting?
A combination of things, but mostly I just followed a path that seemed to have been previously laid out for me. I’ve always been passionate about travel and hoped to get into travel writing, so I started by taking a freelance journalism course while in University (for something totally unrelated), and it sort of snowballed.
I quit my University degree program, travelled around and landed myself in Broadcast Journalism. During my internship in my final year, I was hired to join a morning show as the “traffic girl” and eventually became an official full-time cast member. I’ve been doing morning radio ever since. I was 22 or 23 then? Wow. lol
Who’s someone that inspires you?
I’ve always been drawn to strong female figures, specifically those who balance being a badass in their careers and have a kind and gentle side to them.
Those who give back to their families, communities, animals, and the planet.
Women like Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall. I’m going to add Betty White to the list; what a fabulous human she was, she did wonderful things for others and worked really hard- that’s inspiring.
What’s something most people would be surprised to know about you?
I can be a bit of an introvert at times.
I’m not always great or comfortable in large group situations or being the centre of attention.