George StroumboulopoulosFridays @ 11pm ET on CNN
June 7th, 2013
12:53 AM ET

George Stroumboulopoulos: 'I like having good conversations with people'

"Stroumboulopoulos" premieres on CNN at 10 p.m. ET Sunday. On June 14, "Stroumboulopoulos" will begin airing at 11 p.m. ET Fridays.

A seasoned radio and television host, the Canada-born-and-raised “Strombo” spoke to CNN this week about his new show, upbringing, career in broadcasting, motorcycle collection and more.

CNN: Tell us a little bit about your upbringing.

GS: I was raised by my mom in Toronto, Canada, and I've got a sister called Natasha, as well, and it was a small family. We just kind of grew up reading newspapers and my family was really engaged in what was going on in the world. My uncle used to always sit down and open a newspaper and he would hand me a section and I would read the news and we'd have to talk about it. I was really young at the time and he would take me to movies, so I was always raised to watch and read things that were older than one would normally at that age. I never wanted to live a relatable life, I wanted to live an aspirational life. I didn't want to see people who had my life on TV. I wanted to see other lives, right, and so I was always trying to get as much of that stuff as I could.

My family was really into that so we just talked about what was going on in the world and somehow I ended up in this job. It's a super immigrant family that I'm a part of, so there's a lot of differences of opinions and a lot of connection, assimilation, trying to hold onto your own culture, your own identity. All of those things were sort of happening in my family and in my neighborhood as I was growing up. It was a very ethnically diverse neighborhood and I think growing up in that environment helped me be a curious person. Helped me want to learn different cultures and different ways of looking at the world.

CNN: You’re a bit of a broadcasting buff. Who are your favorite interviewers of all time?

GS: I grew up watching Tom Snyder interviews. I loved him. There was a TV show that came out of the UK called “Dave Allen at Large” that I grew up watching and I really loved that. I think Howard Stern is an incredible interviewer. And of course I love Larry (King)! Who doesn't love Larry? Larry's great, Barbara's great, Oprah's amazing; and Bill Simmons.

CNN: You were also largely influenced by radio, weren’t you?

GS: I love radio and I've spent so much time listening to radio and being a part of radio that I would sit at night and I would listen to - before there was satellite radio and all that - I would get Howard Stern on an AM radio show that would ONLY come through when it was dark out. And as the sun would rise, the AM signal would fade so I would just, I would ride home from work and then I would sit at the end of my bed and I would listen to Howard Stern's voice until it crackled off and then was replaced by some other local radio station.

CNN: Favo(u)rite obscure Canadian reference: Stompin’ Tom or The Tickle Trunk?

GS: Tickle Trunk is the best! I mean, because Stompin' Tom is only obscure down here. At home, Stompin' Tom is Stompin' Tom. … The Tickle Trunk SOUNDS really inappropriate, and if a kid told their parent something about The Tickle Trunk, the parent would call the police, right? But The Tickle Trunk was actually a good thing on Canadian television growing up. What a weird name for it, too. Super creepy.

CNN: Name a Canadian stereotype that isn’t true.

GS: We're polite but we're not passive. I think that's the big difference. We're not a passive bunch. We'll hold onto it for a while. We're very patient. But I think it's a very polite country. ... I don't know, what are some other Canadian stereotypes?

CNN: Well, there's aboot (when saying the word “about”).

GS: Aboot's totally true! But that's only because we pronounce it the way it's spelled. There's a 'u' for a reason. America has so MANY different accents! People from Georgia do NOT speak the way that people from Minnesota speak and they do not speak the same way as people from Boston. There's so many accents down here.

CNN: What would you do if you weren't in broadcasting?

GS: If I wasn't in broadcasting I would like to grow a gigantic beard; and I would like to open a motorcycle garage somewhere in the desert in Nevada and I would disappear and work on bikes, make them really fast. I would love to just race motorcycles for a living if I could do it, but I'm just not that good at it so this is what I'm doing.

CNN: What kind of motorcycle do you ride?

GS: Well, here's the thing: I don't have any kids or dependents or pets or plants - so I just have bikes. I have several. I like sport bikes, I like race bikes; I used to drive more cruisers. I used to like to ride a more laid back bike, then I sort of got into sport bikes now. So I'm currently bombing a monster around town. I like the Ducati Monster. For longer trips it's a BMWF800 GS that I ride. The GS is the name of the bike. Some people think I spray-painted my initials on the bike. I'm not a DB.I wouldn't do that. I would HOPE I wouldn't do that. I think the longest I've done on the road - I don't know what it is in miles but 6,600 kilometers. I rode from Toronto all the way down, I was in Memphis, Nashville, down to New Orleans across the South, spent some time in Austin then bombed up and around into Roswell. I basically wanted to go to Lake Havasu in Arizona where London Bridge is. London Bridge was moved to Arizona. And if you've seen the "Pirhana 3D" movies - and if you haven't: why haven't you? I'm just kidding. Or am I? That lake - the original London Bridge is there. The guy bought it and moved it there, so I just rode all the way down, wanted to check it out, then rode into Joshua Tree and into Los Angeles. And you're SO stiff by the end of that kind of trip.

CNN: What has been the best interview of your career so far?

GS: I interviewed a woman called Temple Grandin and Temple, before the interview, said to me: “Alright listen, I don't understand sense of humor or nuance so your questions have to be very direct” ... so it was an interesting process kind of connecting to Temple and getting her to tell her story in that fashion. I loved talking to Temple Grandin.

CNN: Who’s your dream interview?

GS: I think I'd love to interview Bill Gates. Bill Gates would be really - and Neil Young! - but Bill Gates would be, kind of the bar, if you think of all the spaces he's occupied, just the idea of doing what he did in the tech world and then becoming the philanthropist that he is, but being a really progressive and even aggressive philanthropist in the company that he keeps I think is really interesting. So Bill Gates would be the guy. But if you're gonna interview Bill gates you gotta interview Melinda Gates as well because she is 50% of that story, and maybe more so. And so the combination of the two of them would be, I think, the right chat.

CNN: How will your CNN show be different from your CBC show?

GS: What I do, really, is just getting involved in people's lives. I like having good conversations with people; and I do that there, I'll do that here at CNN, I'd do that if I was sitting on a streetcar beside somebody. So I just like having conversations with people and I don't really think that has to change, because the audience just wants you to kind of explore the person sitting across from you and that's what I'll do.

CNN: Any plans to sprinkle a little Canadiana into the mix?

GS: Here's the thing. You can't do an interview show with celebrities or others without having a whole bunch of Canadiana because there's SO MANY OF US down here. There's so many of us! Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Ellen Page, Martin Short, Howie Mandel. You start going down that list - CNN's Ashleigh Banfield. Invariably you will come across them. So, yes, there will be some of that. The Canadiana just will come out in its own way - in its natural way.

CNN: Which story should CNN be covering?

GS: When the heat of a story goes away, I think you have to stay there. I think Syria needs to be covered every day. People need to really know what's going on there. What's really happening? What are the rebels doing? How is it changing? Who are the rebels? Jake Tapper did amazing coverage of the story. It's important to be nuanced. Good journalism is crucial. Good journalism isn't easy so I think it's less about what story and more about the layers and context that need to be explored in the story. That's one of the reasons why I'm excited to be a part of CNN. This is the kind of place that you can do that.

soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Mike Pearson

    George go back to the Black Adidas Original Superstars. Your starting to look like a hipster.

    -Good interview with Keaneau Reeves. I want one of those motorcycles.

    June 10, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  2. Jeffrey

    Its kind of funny to me that because of growing up in Canada I still see G.S. as the guy from Much Music..

    June 10, 2013 at 5:03 am | Reply
  3. Linda

    Watched the first show, good interviews George very entertaining. Especially enjoyed the rapper Whiz and I always love listening to Martin Short. Kudos to Keanu.|

    June 10, 2013 at 12:20 am | Reply
  4. Carolyn

    Oh yeah, I really hope that John Leguizamo sees Georges's rise to the top on CNN..George interviewed him a few years back and he was absent and rude throughout much of the interview at one point referencing Georges attire and piercings in a negative way. Look at you now! Right on George you make your faithful viewers proud.

    June 10, 2013 at 12:16 am | Reply
  5. JennieInCanada

    Canada's boyfriend!

    June 9, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  6. Christofer trudeau

    Good for you George! You will do amazing!

    June 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  7. Lori T

    Go George Go!!! Great interviewer, the U.S. is lucky to have you, even temporarily.

    June 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  8. Connie

    Good luck George, I've been watching you since Much Music. All the best from your friends in Canada

    June 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  9. Ron W

    Sorry, but given the way the American media likes to "pigeonhole" entertainment, George just might be a little too intellectual for the short attention span of a mainstream American audience.

    June 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  10. Mark

    Here's the thing, fresh faces are a good thing. Looking forward to his show

    June 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  11. Jason

    Wow CNN! You lucked out getting George to come down your way...he is an excellent interviewer.

    June 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  12. Nusa

    Best interviewer! So happy CNN is bringing him on board for the rest of the world to see.
    He has some fans even here in Europe.
    So I have a question – When are we going to see the show? CNN Int./EU ... at 4 / 5 am?

    June 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Reply
    • laxietoo

      From an article about the show: "The interview show - called Stroumboulopoulos - will bow Sunday night at 10 p.m. after the season finale of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. The show moves to its regular Friday 11 p.m. slot on June 14. CNN has commissioned 10 installments."

      June 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Reply
      • Nusa

        Thank you. But that's the time slot for CNN – North America.
        CNN Europe has a different schedule, so I'm wondering when it's going to be aired on my channel.
        Nonetheless, I'll follow it online, while figuring out the schedule here. The first episode was great.

        June 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  13. Stan

    A fine Canadian, I sure hope he continues his Canadian show on CBC. You Americans watch closely and learn from this fine Canadian man.

    June 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • jon

      yea george is still with the cbc. CBC posted an article about his new summer show on CNN.
      http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2013/04/09/strombo-cnn.html

      June 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  14. johnnycanuckerhead

    strombo is a unique individual and as a western canadian would say he typifies what eastern canada is once you remove the outward pretentious layer....he is pure canadiana, watching his cbc show gives you a taste of what eastern canada is thinking and wearing, he is uniquely canadian and nothing on tv in usa is comparable

    June 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Reply
    • Adam

      Eastern Canada is pretentious!? What do you consider eastern Canada? If you mean "Ontario", you'd better get a map.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  15. KL Smith

    Do us proud George!

    June 9, 2013 at 10:48 am | Reply
  16. Humming Colt

    not one negative comment... I smell some more CNN filtering. said.

    June 9, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • Lulany

      I doubt that there's anything to sensor here. The fact is just that George is a genuine sympathetic individual who does a good job so whether you're a fan or not it's hard to find anything very negative to say about him. My only concern at this point is that all this praise will make some people want to find him flaws and knock him down.

      June 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Reply
      • ecobgreen

        IInterviewing celebrities is not new – you have a host that talks to celebrities. Unless there is some sort of issue with experts – I avoid every one of the people he grew up listening to. If he is following in there place – good luck – I am sure there are folks interested in celebrities. I could never understand the appeal. Celebrities generally are boring talkers – more about putting out good vibes and jokes than substance.

        June 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Valerie

        @ecobgreen:One of the great things about George is he doesn't only interview celebrities, or at least not always your typical brand of celebrity. He really is genuinely interested in other people's lives: What they're doing now, where they came from, why they think what they think. Please check him out on Youtube. The problem with most interviewers, is they really only ask questions about superficial things which, agreed, is a pretty big waste of time.

        I was in the audience a couple of years ago when Strombo interviewed Mark Walhberg and when it was over and Mark came off stage and started talking to the audience, the first thing he said was "Wow. That was a real conversation! I really enjoyed that!" And this is after he spent 30minutes pouring his heart out about his childhood, his father, his own fathering philosophies, etc. George has a natural ability to make people comfortable, allowing the conversation to get past the mundane to what is truly inspiring about that person's life. Because everyone is inspiring. Everyone is interesting.

        Enjoy! (But give him back!)

        June 10, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • Lulany

        Well said and very accurate.

        June 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • horsewithnoname

      Sometimes George tends to schmooze it up, too much, with his female interview guests and its kind of annoying. I mean, if you're really that desperate to lay your interview subject, why not just pull your pants down and give us a pornographic play by play while your still thinking about it ? However, the risk with that is, not ALL of you celebrated talk show hosts are gonna get laid at the end of the night. Just ask Larry King about his date with Katey Couric ! LOL By the way, please do not gas Mr. Piers Morgan from his show. Piers is a very skillful interviewer, plus he happens to annoy gun-advocates, which is a good thing, since we all know that guns contribute to violence and I agree with Piers' views on automatic weapons.. -HWNN

      June 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  17. Steve

    Best of luck George! I know you will make all Canadians, especially those of us from T.O.very proud! You are another example of Canada setting a high standard that the USA can follow. Continue to tell it like it is and get to the bottom of things. As you know, people and life are interesting enough, without having to sensationalize or exaggerate about them.

    June 9, 2013 at 10:15 am | Reply
  18. sean

    Well I guess CBC could not give him a raise, also glad he went south, he was getting on my nerves with his sitting positions LOL

    June 9, 2013 at 9:31 am | Reply
  19. Al Trek

    My favorite Strombo interview had to be Robert Plant. Just watch it on utube and you'll understand why. Good luck down there but Strombo the Habs still suck.

    June 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  20. Nathan

    I normally could care less who is a CNN anchor or no, but I've seen this guy's show on Canadian television and YouTube clips and he's a really good interviewer who asks fascinating and refreshing questions unlike much of the stock stuff others ask. Interesting acquisition, CNN.

    June 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  21. Offkilterview

    Find his interview of CNN's Don Lemon on his CBC show. It is seriously one of the best interviews ever!

    June 8, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  22. twalk

    Will Canada take Justin Bieber back now.

    June 8, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  23. alancadabra

    apparently he's still going to stay with the CBC, as well. I saw a blog post by a blogger who assumed George would be leaving the CBC because of his CNN gig, but then George tweeted the blogger and said he wasn't going anywhere. The format of the CBC show might change (lord knows it's been re-worked enough times by the incompetent CBC brass already), but apparently it's going to remain in some form. Hope he doesn't overwork himself

    June 8, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  24. Oyster

    An honest, quality journalist. So excited to hear this. Good on ya CNN.

    June 8, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  25. alancadabra

    George isn't leaving the CBC, by the way. There was a blogger who assumed he would be leaving and wrote about it, but then George responded with a tweet saying that he wasn't going anywhere. The CBC show's format might change (lord knows the CBC has re-worked the show plenty of times already), but apparently he's staying.

    June 8, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  26. Lulany

    Strombo has a great and unique style. Very laid back and relaxed yet classy and very respectful of his guests. Can't wait to see him on CNN.

    June 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • Newfie Girl

      You said it exactly! He is a fabulous interviewer and just draws you in!

      June 8, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  27. Ed head

    Strombo, like big time news anchor John Roberts, comes from Canada's version of MTV, which is MuchMusic.

    These guys were both important figures on the Canadian music scene long before they were big time personalities on American TV.......treat Strombo well CNN, he's the best there is anywhere.

    June 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  28. David

    Man he's come a long way since his days at much music. Good for you, George!

    June 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  29. Patricia

    We have been fans of George forf years now. I think he is the best interviewer going. He met our Granddaughter in Calgary, and was very nice to her. She told him that her grandparents were big fans, and he had her call us, and chatted. He said he would see about getting us tickets to his show, but that was just around the time he got the job with CNN, so I know he had other things on his mind! We have the time and date marked down, so we won't miss his first show!

    June 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  30. Sue

    We are fortunate to live in an area of Maine where we get Canadian televison. George is terrific...an exciting, engaged, well-prepared interviewer! Take good care of him CNN ~ you are lucky to have him.

    June 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  31. Vaclav

    George Stromboulopoulos is an outstanding television journalist and interviewer. My earliest memory of him on Canadian television was on the awful day of 9-11 when, as the prime host on a national music video station, he told his young viewers to turn OFF his channel and go to a news network to find out what was going on in the world. He knew, even then, that there were more important things in peoples' lives that day then music. Good luck, George!

    June 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  32. horsewithnoname

    It seems like there are two types of Canadians who make it big down in the U.S.A. One is the Canadian who tries to act as "American" as possible, even to the extent of faking an American accent ! The other type is one who is proud of his Canadian roots and background. Up until this time, I never really liked Strombo as an interviewer. But now that I have read his first interview on CNN, I actual respect him and even like him ! His name is so bloody long, though. It reminds me of a tandem axel tractor trailer hauling wood chips or a mobile home along the Trans-Canada HIghway ! Let's hope that unlike a trucker or that British guy Piers Morgan that he doesn't cut anyone off ! Good luck, Strombo ! Horsie,

    June 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  33. Robert from Canada

    America now has a new way to test people for drunk driving. Say George's last nane 5 times clearly without slurring or becoming tongue tied. If you can do that you are sober.

    June 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  34. Betty

    Wonderful broadcaster–does not provoke the people he is interviewing, and treats everyone with respect.
    A replacement for Pierce Morgan???

    June 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Reply
    • tony

      Yes, a replacement for Morgan. Strombo is a listener in a genuine way, he respects his guest, yet manages to draw the important answers. You will really like this fellow Canuck.

      June 9, 2013 at 9:51 am | Reply
  35. Suzanne

    What a lucky break for CNN to have a Canadian shining interviewer such as George Stroumboulopoulos on its network.. He's the real deal. Intelligent, insightful, asks great questions, listen to answers and carries on genuine conversations. A real gem. I wish him all the luck in the world. As Henri Duval said so well, "take good care of him". He deserves that and so much more.

    June 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  36. anon

    When I watched George Strombo interview Larry King on his show here in Canada, I was very gratified to hear Larry King call him a natural talent as he was interviewed. He really deserved that praise.

    I hope people in the US appreciate what you're getting. This guy does his research and always asks all the interesting questions. If I had to describe him by talents alone he's like Ryan Seacrest and Larry King had a lovechild. I hope CNN doesn't monopolize him!!! XD

    June 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  37. hoser who says aboot ... eh?

    Aboot? Oh George, no one west of Nfld says aboot (I have been and even then, despite a distinct accent, I never heard them say aboot – I'm from Quebec and we don't even say it!) The only time we say it is when some American makes a comment and we humour them. Good for him for though for heading to the USA, love his show and he's a professional at what he does. Good job George

    June 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Reply
    • fastball

      Compared to Americans....yeah, we do. They do the real "abOUT"...our "u" does creep through a bit. People have commented on that to me from many places in the USA.
      It's obviously not a real "oot" at the end...but just hint of a "u".

      June 9, 2013 at 10:22 am | Reply
      • Lulany

        It really depends on which part of Canada you're from. I'm also from Quebec and it's a fact that no one here speaks this way and I've never heard anyone where I traveled in Ontario speak that way either. An equivalent stereotype would be the assumption that all Americans speak like they're from Alabama or Texas.

        June 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  38. Kellogg

    Way to go George! Along way from Queen n' John eh?

    June 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  39. michael

    I'll miss seeing George on the CBC Channel that is carried in the Seattle Metro area via cable. I too hope that he doesn't get ruined by exposure to our American very compeititve television market, whether from the broadcast angle or those cable news channels. He's had some very interesting and creative interviews from Toronto on the CBC; a refeshing change of pace to see the difference in style between a Canadian interview and one done in the states.
    Canada is a different country, not just the junior partner to the United States.

    June 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Reply
    • Stan

      He is still going to be on CBC up here Michael. I'm thankful for that.

      June 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  40. Mark L.

    Now if CNN would just replace Piers Morgan with Strombo, I'd watch prime-time cable news again.

    June 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  41. Patines

    He forgot to add to the list Justin Bieber, who is also Canadian.

    June 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • twalk

      when is Canada going to take Bieber back

      June 8, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  42. Jeremy

    Good Luck dude. Go Canada!

    June 8, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  43. Julian

    Strombo is great on CBC, ad he would be great anywhere. I agree with prior comment to have CNN not pigeon-hole the guy.

    June 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
  44. apothecary

    I echo Henri Duval's comments. Strombo is wonderful. I am glad he is getting a shot at the big time, but hope he still plans on doing his CBC show. There is no other national TV talk show in Canada, so I am hoping that America's gain won't be Canada's loss.

    June 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  45. LRT

    Really looking forward to this show....refreshing!

    June 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  46. Dana

    The BEST interviewer. EVER.

    June 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  47. Henri Duval

    George Stombo is a hell of a good interviewer, intelligent, interesting, he does not make a star of himself, but get the person being interviewed to reveal themselves, and he is always well prepared and listens to the replies.

    His style is natural and seems effortless, but I'm sure it takes effort to be that good.

    Take good care of him, we just sent you our best young talent, don't push him into a box, watch how he does, and see why he is so appreciated here in Canada.

    CNN does attrack the best people who are great at what they do, give Strombo a fair shake. He reaches the younger audience, but I'm 58 and I find his grasp of current events, trends, to be very true.

    Henri.

    June 8, 2013 at 8:23 am | Reply

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