Carleton journalism grad new host of Ottawa Morning

Carleton journalism grad Robyn Bresnaham is the new voice of CBC’s Ottawa Morning radio show. (Annemarie Gruden Photo)

When Robyn Bresnahan was a fourth-year Carleton journalism student in 2001, she worked with the CBC radio show Ottawa Morning. She  never imagined she would eventually host the city’s number one radio program 10 years later.

Bresnahan will start her new job as the host of Ottawa Morning on Dec. 5. She replaces former host Kathleen Petty.

“It feels like I have come full circle,” says Bresnahan. “I was in my fourth year at Carleton and came here to basically be a cub reporter. I have come back 10 years later and now I’m the host of Ottawa Morning. It’s very surreal.”

Bresnahan says Carleton’s journalism program provided her with the background and support she needed to enter the world of journalism.

“The professors genuinely care about you and they are proud when you go out and do something in the world. I always felt really supported, especially in the radio department,” says Bresnahan.

One of those professors and supporters was Dave Tait, who taught Bresnahan fourth-year radio broadcasting, and has stayed in touch with her.

“She really had a great sense of people as people as opposed to people as topics, and as people as issues,” says Tait. “And she has kept that set of values.”

After working for the CBC’s London bureau, Bresnahan went on to work as a reporter and host with the BBC World Service. Covering assignments as diverse as the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko and Muslim women in France banned from wearing the burka, one story stands out for Bresnahan.

When the BBC asked her to “embed” herself in the Louisiana fishing communities affected by the BP oil spill, Bresnahan says the experience was “life changing.”

“I would spend days on boats with these fishermen … really getting to the heart and soul of what that story was,” says Bresnahan, whose coverage of the catastrophe earned her a Peabody Award nomination, the world’s oldest prize in electronic media. “It feels good to earn people’s trust and I think that’s what I did there.”

After seven years of traveling the world with the BBC, Bresnahan says she is happy to return to Ottawa. She hopes she will be able to combine her love for local radio and human interest stories with her international affairs experience in the CBC newsroom.

“Robyn has travelled the world, but she knows Ottawa. I’m excited that someone of her warmth and experience is joining the same creative team that produces Ottawa’s number one radio program,” says Rob Renaud, managing director of CBC Ottawa English Services.

Since Bresnahan landed in Ottawa on Nov. 18, she has been apartment hunting with her husband. She says that she is looking forward to getting back to her favourite hobbies including food blogging, running and visiting local pubs. She is even excited to experience the Canadian winter again.

Ottawa Morning can be caught on CBC radio 91.5 FM weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Listeners can expect to hear Bresnahan’s voice on the airwaves starting Dec. 5.

“I am nervous but I think that nerves are a good thing,” says Bresnahan in anticipation of her first day as host. “I know the listeners had a lot of love for Kathleen … I want them to love me but I know I’ve got to earn it.”

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