Radio host, horseback rider, and Harry Potter fanatic, Shannon Ella grew up on a horse farm just north of Toronto and lived in Kentucky for four years. She is a key part of Bell Media’s national re-brand, which is bringing Pure Country to country music lovers in the Nation’s Capital, and across Canada.
We asked her about what Ottawa can expect with this change; she said, “Listeners can look forward to the same music they know and love, but now with a fresh look to the Pure Country station”.
She also opened up to us about some of the struggles she’s experienced while working her way up in the industry, and fond memories she has of her visits to Ottawa.
Why did you choose to study communications & media? How did you get your start working in the industry?
Growing up on a horse farm, my plan early on was to go school for veterinary medicine, however, I quickly learned that was not the right path for me. I redirected myself towards writing and media in hopes of becoming a journalist.
I took a break from school in Kentucky and came home for a year, and got a job working for a country radio station as an “Events Coordinator”. It was such a great introduction to radio, the pace, the music, the artists and the country music industry as a whole. I grew up loving country music so much; it never dawned on me to even make a career out of it.
After a few different positions in radio, I found myself taking on the Complete Country brand as a Host and Content Editor/Producer.
It combined all the things I loved doing into one job, but the only thing missing was working in radio. Then I was hired for the midday show on BX93 in London and after 10 months, I was fortunate to be a part of Bell Media’s massive national re-brand, Pure Country.
On this journey, I think the best thing I did was open myself up to trying new things. I wasn’t afraid to fail and never felt discouraged if someone told me I didn’t have enough experience or education. Instead, those words pushed me and showed me that when you are passionate enough about something, you can do it no matter what.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered so far in your career?
When I first started, I received a lot of questions about my experience, my position, and “how long” I had been in the industry. I also had some negative reactions when I was going to start pursuing work on-air – that I wasn’t cut out for it, or the right fit. That drove me to work even harder. Learning to take criticism, whether it is constructive or negative, and use it as a driving force and inspiration was something I started learning early on. If you allow criticism to eat away at you, it will only hinder opportunities and affect the work you’re putting forward.
With this new opportunity to host a radio show across Canada, with the first ever national country music brand, what are you most excited about?
I am excited to get to know country music fans across the country. I haven’t seen all of our beautiful country yet so I really am looking forward to connecting with people from coast-to-coast! I am also really excited to attend some new country music festivals across the country!
Who are some of your favourite artists?
That is the toughest question to answer, I have so many favourites! Shania Twain, Alan Jackson and Brooks and Dunn are favourites of mine that I grew up listening to. Some of my more recent favourites are Maren Morris, Tenille Townes, Steve Moakler, Dan + Shay, Meghan Patrick and Adam Doleac.
How do you spend your free time?
I am a very outdoorsy person. My job and favourite pastime until the age of 25 was primarily working on a horse farm training horses, so being in the barn and working on the farm is something I love (although I don’t get much time for it now). Exercising is something I really enjoy since sports were always at the forefront of my life, with spin and yoga being two of my go-to activities. In addition, sitting on the porch listening to music, playing with my dog, binge watching Friends or Harry Potter, and hanging out with friends are also some of my favourite ways to unwind.
What is your favourite thing to do when visiting the Nation’s Capital?
Definitely walking around the city. There is SO much to see and take in, so much history and activities going on. My grandparents lived in Kemptville when I was growing up and we would often make trips to Ottawa. Having been a figure skater all my life, I loved skating on the Rideau Canal as well.
What can Ottawa listeners look forward to from Pure Country?
Ottawa listeners can look forward to the same music they know and love, now with a fresh look to the Pure Country station. With the same people at the station and the same music, the brand represents a new look of country music today. During my midday show, I will be sharing interviews with country artists and keeping country fans up to date on what’s going on in the country world – new music, tour announcements and fun country lifestyle topics.