Stateside host Cynthia Canty looks back and forward as she retires
Cynthia Canty has hosted Stateside since it began in 2012, but now she's getting ready for another adventure. After 40 years in broadcasting, Cyndy is retiring. Stateside will continue, but Cyndy's final episodes are airing this week.
She spoke to Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about her start in broadcasting, her favorite interview, and more.
Doug Tribou: Many of our listeners had heard your voice or seen your face before your time at Stateside. Tell us a little bit about your road to Michigan Radio.
Cynthia Canty: It started in Detroit. In fact, I have always worked in Detroit. I began at a religious station, WMUZ, in Detroit working 1 a.m. to 8 a.m., six mornings a week for $180 a week doing the news. And that was exactly 40 years ago right now, December, 1979. And from there I leapfrogged up to WNIC, which was a huge adult contemporary station, and I was with St. James and Harper like a top, top rated morning show that I used to listen to before I got into the business.
Then I meandered my way over, by 1987, to television and I was on WKBD-TV doing a public affairs show for a while, but then as a news street reporter and anchor. And then after a number of years of that, I came back to radio, back to WNIC, back with Jim Harper. [That's] how a lot of people know me is working with Jim Harper. And from WNIC we went to a station called Magic 105.1, WMGC, and we were there until the end of the show in 2011. And then, ta-da, I wound up at Michigan Radio in August of 2012.
DT: Well, as you say, Stateside debuted in 2012. We have some tape from your very first show.
CC: Well, here we are, 20 months after you did it, you became governor. And I'm wondering, how did the realities and the pressures of serving in this office compare to what you thought the job would be like when you were sitting there and considering that run? Gov. Rick Snyder: It’s reasonably close. I mean, the good part is I had started new businesses or done new things in my career in the past. And as part of that, you always know you're not going to know a lot of things.
DT: So there you are talking with then Gov. Rick Snyder, your very first guest on Stateside. You've done thousands of interviews since then. What were some of your favorites?
CC: I would say the one that has really stuck in my heart is Richard Phillips. Richard was the longest serving exonoree in U.S. history. He went to prison, unjustly convicted, about the time I was going into high school. And when he was released a couple of years ago, we had him on Stateside with David Moran from the University of Michigan Innocence Project. They're the ones that helped shepherd [the case] through and got him out.
He was exonerated and I don't know how I would not be full of righteous fury and anger. And this man, Richard Phillips, made a conscious choice not to be that person. And his spirit just struck me. As he was trying to get his footing in this new world, after he'd been locked up all those decades, he did not let it ruin his spirit. Of the thousands I've done, we figured about 7,400 interviews [since 2012], that one stuck in my mind, really.
I will miss being kindly invited into people's homes, cars, offices every day when they make the choice to tune in to Stateside and listen.
DT: Cyndy, Stateside will live on. April Baer has been announced as the new host. She comes to us from Oregon Public Broadcasting. April is also is originally from Ohio. We won't hold that against her. And we'll hear more from April in the coming weeks. But we should also mention the work of Lester Graham who’s hosted Fridays on Stateside. April will be hosting all week. But Lester will continue to host our Environment Report coverage. He's contributed so much to the body of work for the program.
CC: He has brought in this whole set of skills. We both came out of commercial radio and that's what's kind of fun, too. We've talked about that. He's just such a tenacious investigator, but also his “Artisans” series and his “Cheers” series. What a fun thing that's added. And I have a feeling that might continue. I don't think we've heard the last of Lester and “Cheers” and these craft cocktails. But what a cool dimension because it goes to show Stateside can be about anything Michigan. And so, we look for the light as well the weighty stuff.
DT: What will you miss about the job?
CC: I will miss being kindly invited into people's homes, cars, offices every day when they make the choice to tune in to Stateside and listen. I will miss being a part of people's lives. And I will miss that chance to talk to interesting people, sometimes famous people, sometimes not famous people. And always my question is, "How do you do the thing you do? How did you get to where you are? How do you do that? What do you like? What surprises you?" And so I'll miss kind of unwrapping that interesting angle of somebody each time I sit down to talk with them.
DT: But I know you're excited about the next chapter. And I'm sure listeners would love to know what will you be doing after Stateside.
CC: Certainly time with grandkids. Liam, Bridgid and Rory are 8, 5 and 3. So I suspect our son Brendan and daughter-in-law Megan won't mind a little extra Grandma Cyndy help. My husband Sean, who is from Ireland, we bought a little cottage in West Cork, Ireland, 22 years ago. All this time, [visits have] always been in two-week chunks, maybe three weeks. And I look forward to going over and just settling in. I've got a seven-week trip planned for the spring. I [won't] feel torn away from my little countryside perch overlooking the ocean.
DT: Well, Cyndy, when I got here in 2016, you had me on for a quiz about how to pronounce names of places in Michigan. No quiz for you today, but I do just want to say it's been so fun working with you and fundraising [for Michigan Radio] with you. And I wish you all the best in the next chapter.
CC: Doug, back at you. It's been so wonderful to be part of the Michigan Radio family. And thank you so much for your support and your friendship. And I'll be listening!
Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.