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Spotlight On: Heather Hiscox, Senior Host, CBC News Network

Heather Hiscox answers the 2:30 a.m. alarm every morning to start the news day as an anchor at CBC News Network. Behind the news desk, Hiscox covers the important stories of the day, and behind the podium she translates those experiences to transfix audiences, speaking on a range of topical and timely issues. Enthusiastic, prepared, and fully bilingual, Hiscox is equally at home emceeing signature events―from galas featuring personalities such as Al Gore, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Michael J. Fox, to smaller celebrations. We put Heather under the spotlight, and here’s what she had to say:

What inspired you to want to be a speaker?

It was a natural progression, really–a desire to share the stories of the experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met, and lessons I’ve learned through my years working as a journalist. In other words, to take those stories “out of the studio, and onto the stage.”

What do you like to leave audiences with?

I hope they leave having laughed and learned. I hope they leave feeling they have spent the past hour listening to someone who was interested in, indeed passionate about, the subject material, and equally interested in sharing that knowledge with the audience.

How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?

My nickname at my office is “Preparation H”!!!! That should tell you something about my level of preparedness for an assignment. I spend a very long time preparing for every speech, in terms of research; writing specific humour; indeed, usually writing a text tailored to the specific event. I don’t have a talisman, but my pre-speech ritual is always the same. I don’t eat very much. I never have any alcohol. I pop a couple of Tylenol to avoid getting a migraine from the lights. I drink lots of black coffee. I write “You can do it” on my cover sheet, and then get set to enjoy the next hour on stage!

Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?

I do a lot of work with various charities, and really enjoy that facet of my work. Music, education, families, sports are among my favorite causes, but in particular I have long been involved in healthcare organizations and in medical research, especially neurological research. I have been for about 15 years a member of the Advisory Board at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), and I have a long involvement as well with the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario. There are several reasons for this type of involvement. I grew up in a medical family, and am now married to a cardiac surgeon. Also, I lost my beloved grandmother to Parkinson’s Disease, and it was that connection that led to my ongoing work with the research institutes.

If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?

Does Broadway singer count?

Desert island album?

That’s a tough one! I’m a former radio disc jockey, and music has always been a huge presence in my life. I’d have to go with “Frank Sinatra, The Capitol Years”. That’s a bit of a cheat, because it’s a three-album compilation, for variety!

Best subject in school?


Last book you read?

Cutting for Stone