I’m Bryan Tobin, I’m a 29-year-old with a background in media and communications. Ever since watching Conan O’Brien, I knew I wanted to be involved in media but I wasn’t sure to what extent. I enjoyed comedy and doing interviews so I thought maybe a career in journalism would help me get the background I needed to become a late-night host. I attended Memorial University in Newfoundland for one year as they were just starting their communications program before switching to Carleton for film studies,
After getting an 88, they cut the program so I turned my sights to Communications, which a lot of my fellow J-Schoolers ended up doing as they felt the pressure or did not make the cut and you could see how deflated they were seeing how shitty the industry is.
Communications ended up being a perfect fit. I had teachers that cared about the program and taught us about how the media treated ethnic groups, women, and other subgenres. For someone with a disability, this was eye-opening. I had never really examined how media companies, radio/tv stations, and other media brands work so I thought this was cool.
After 3 years at Carleton, I felt I was ready to take on the world, I got my degree, let’s go apply for jobs.
I can’t recall how many jobs I applied to but I want to believe they were for Communications Specialist, Public Relations for a Sports Team, or brand and radio jobs.
I didn’t get any of those jobs.
One day my parents, sick of me bumming around the house, suggested going into Sports Journalism at Loyalist College as they knew I liked sports and was not heavy on politics and news. I did that for a year as the program was a one-year post-grad diploma program and in that year, I learned how to create feature pieces, do play-by-play and color, write sports articles and really just get the hands-on experience I was lacking.
While my co-horts were out getting liquored, I spent weekends calling women’s basketball games, getting highlights, and writing scripts which led me to an internship at CTV Ottawa, which is where this story ends happily.
The internship at CTV Ottawa. CTV Ottawa was my first real internship and I was told by family and friends to be less in your face and be more laid back and just learn, so I did. However, I was called out on the fact that I never asked questions, that I just sat and watched, all while inside I wanted to ask my boss, “Can I do this interview?”, “Can I edit this?” or “Can I do a sports update?”. Two incidents soured my relationship with CTV Ottawa and vice versa. One, Ken Holland (at the time Detroit Red Wings GM) on their radio station, and I sat in the room quietly listening to the hosts ask questions. Once the interview was done, the host asked me my favorite team and I told him it was Detroit and explained how when I was younger they had sent me a care package after my stroke. The host asked, “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY ANYTHING? WE COULD HAVE HAD YOU ON?” (Cue looking at the side camera while Curb Your Enthusiasm music plays) I was trying to just be a sponge not come across as a let me, do-everything person. The second (and favorite) experience at CTV Ottawa was when I got to interview Brooke Henderson, and my arm made it into the frame of the news – I MADE IT!
Except after getting no sleep waiting for the interview with Brooke, I fell asleep on the ride back and the poor camera guy did not have a chatting buddy for a few hours, so they fired me. For falling asleep. When I wasn’t working.
The Ottawa Sun was next and I thought it was a perfect fit for me. My boss ended up working out of Toronto and as long as I did the work, I was golden. I got to post a few soccer articles, I got some press but it only lasted for two weeks and what’s scary about that is I still can’t believe they let two-week interns write articles for newspapers.
Those experiences led me to enroll in Algonquin’s Radio program where I would learn more about news, politics, arts, music, editing, scripts, and voice work. It was a two-year program so I felt it would be a good fit with my background and just give me more experience to add to my resume.
The Podcast Begins:
Algonquin was really eye-opening for me as you had people coming in right out of high school and others with degrees and all different ages and backgrounds. I don’t recall a lot of great times at Algonquin which could be a whole article in itself but I did learn how to edit, how to do better interviews, and do things that I felt would help me get my foot in the door in media, whether it was editing, producing, voice-over work.
Now it’s time for more fucking internships
I went to Toronto. I was offered two choices, one was at a sports network to just “edit stuff” while the other was a network that allowed me to edit, write and do interviews. They told me they would give me 2 months’ News, 2 months’ Sports. I was super excited and thought “hey, the other network already has a young person doing this for their network so if I go to another network and do the same, I can always come back after and say look I did the same here”!
Color me surprised when within days, they told me they really had nothing for me to do and my internship was over.
Three internships and three times I felt I did not get to do much. My teacher said you need to do something to graduate so I came up ‘Tobin Tonight’, a podcast where I interview celebrities or people I always wanted to talk to. My teacher said, “good luck” but not in that happy “go get ’em” way, but in the snarky “yeah that’ll work, loser” way.
So off I went.
I sent requests to Jimmy & Heather Rankin, and the Arkells as the Juno’s were in Ottawa that year. They all came on because they’re all nice Canadians and I continued to get guest after guest and just doing interviews. Mind you, it was only supposed to be a short project where my teacher could grade my interviews, edits, and social media skills. I ended up really enjoying it and after graduating would return to use the studio for interviews as I had no money to buy or set one up at home but I didn’t care. I’d take three buses in for a 10 pm interview with someone in L.A. because I love doing it.
I continued to apply for jobs like a madman. I would get emails from pop stations saying, “You sound better for Country”, Country stations saying, “You sound great for Pop”. News stations saying, “do sports”. Sports stations said, “do music”.
To date, I have applied to over 100+ jobs for Bell and Rogers and have had countless back and forth with these media outlets and others. For a while, I would not disclose my disability but eventually did (thinking these outlets need to meet a certain ratio disability ratio). I applied to their programs FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES and still…nothing.
Tobin Tonight: The Take Away
Although my dream will never change, (I want to be Conan O’Brien), I have become more aware of just how shitty the media world is and how little they care about those with disabilities. It is very deflating when you do everything right, everything you were told to do to get a media job but you can’t
I have worked extremely hard to get HERE. I have 100 + episodes of Tobin Tonight that no media outlet would ever give me the chance to do. I continue to do it because I love doing interviews, I love showing my personality and in a weird way I like being that light that keeps flickering even though people are trying to blow it out.
If you are truly passionate about something and you are determined to succeed, no matter what obstacles you face, CONTINUE to do it, not for them, but for you. You are not going anywhere ‘in park’, so put it in to drive, hit the gas, and go!
www.tobintonight.com – New Episodes Wednesdays @ Midnight.