Staffer’s radio show broadcast to forces in Kandahar

Faculty of Fine Arts publicist, Mary-Lou Schagena leads a double life. By day, she promotes the many and varied accomplishments of the faculty, students and alumni of York’s renowned Faculty of Fine Arts. By night, Schagena works as a part-time radio host. Her weekly radio show, “Monday Night With The Arts”, an arts and culture talk show, is broadcast on Waterloo’s CKWR FM 98.5.

Left: Faculty of Fine Arts publicist Mary-Lou Schagena at the microphone

Tonight, Schagena’s two very different worlds will merge when she interviews York University film student Ryan Knight about his recent trip to France. Knight was in France to collect raw film footage for a future documentary about the bravery of Newfoundland troops during the First World War. (See the Aug.18 issue of YFile.)

Schagena’s show will have a special significance as it is being broadcast on Sept. 11, the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center. The resulting retaliatory attacks by the United States on Afghanistan eventually led to the stationing of Canadian forces in Afghanistan. The Canadian troops are playing a key role in the efforts to rebuild the country. When Schagena’s one-hour show takes to the air waves at 7:30pm tonight, Canadian forces stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, will be standing by to listen to the broadcast, which is being delivered over the Internet.

“When I found out the show was going to be broadcast to the Canadian troops in Kandahar via the Internet, it was both startling and touching for me.” said Schagena. “This is heady stuff. According to Nancy Morrey, the show’s Cambridge, Ontario contributor, the Canadian solidiers stationed in Kandahar are thrilled about the broadcast and they are looking forward to hearing it because they feel strongly about their mission and they want the public to understand it. They need to know that word is getting out about their mission and we care about them. “

Additionally, the radio show will be taped and sent to Lt.-Col. Rick Peters of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, who is currently in Kandahar, where the recorded radio show will eventually find its way to more men and women serving overseas. The Fusiliers also figure in the broadcast. 

At 7:30pm, Schagena will interview Knight, whose passion for storytelling took him on a journey through time across France’s vast historical landscapes this summer to document the epic story of the bravery of Newfoundlanders during the First World War.

Right: Ryan Knight filming from inside the arch of the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium

“Shortly after I wrote the story about Ryan’s achievement for YFile, Morrey called me to talk about her guest for a September show — Sergeant  Lance Harrisson of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada. Since Ryan’s achievement was a natural fit for this radio show, I invited him to be a guest,” said Schagena.

Knight served as the official English-language cinematographer for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) at the Ceremony of Remembrance marking the 90th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont Hamel, which was commemorated July 1 in France.

The up-and-coming filmmaker was awarded this honour when he took first place in the Make Shorts Not War film competition co-sponsored by the NFB, Veterans Affairs Canada and the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. His production, The Road of the World, was chosen from more than 280 entries across Canada.

They will discuss Knight’s award-winning film, his trip to France and why Canadians who have never visited the historical war sites in Europe should make the trip.

As part of the broadcast, Schagena will turn her microphone over to Morrey, a military enthusiast and frequent contributor to Schagena’s show. “Nancy Morrey, one of the Cambridge contributors for ‘Monday Night With The Arts’, is the sparkplug behind this initiative,” explained Schagena. “Nancy has a long-standing interest in the military and the issues military personnel and veterans deal with daily. She attributes her passion to her late father’s love of military history and to having six relatives who served in both World Wars. It is through her connection with Lt. Col. Rick Peters that the broadcast came to be.”

Morrey will interview Harrisson of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, a reserve regiment with the Canadian Forces. Harrisson is the unofficial curator of the regimental museum housed at the Colonel J.A. McIntosh Armoury in Cambridge. He is also a member of the Normandy Platoon, a historical re-enactment group that portrays the soldiers of the Highland Light Infantry of Canada who served during the Second World War. They will discuss the history and protocol of the reserve regiment, Harrisson’s role with the Normandy Platoon.

“The show will also feature music popular during the Second World War by Dame Vera Lynn, an English singer whose career flourished during the Second World War when she was nicknamed ‘The Forces’ Sweetheart’,” said Schagena. “She is best known for the popular songs ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’. She is one of the last surviving major entertainers of the war years.”

FM 98.5 CKWR serves the communities of Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener, Stratford, Waterloo and surrounding area. Schagena’s show will be available online to audiences at