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Radio roots

Portia Clark (BA’91) comes home to the airwaves in Nova Scotia

When Portia Clark (BA’91) stepped into the CBC Halifax newsroom in April as the new host of Information Morning, it was nothing short of a full circle moment. For many reasons.

It’s the newsroom where she got her start in 1998 as an intern, working alongside recently retired Don Connolly. “When I heard Don’s voice that first day in the newsroom, it felt like I was walking into a live radio play,” she says with a laugh. It was the familiar, comforting voice that had filled her home growing up in Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia. Clark’s family moved from British Columbia when she was nine years old. “We lived in a 100-year old home, set in the woods, with no television and without neighbours nearby. The radio was constantly on for company.” (Her mother, Dr. Lorenne Clark, studied law at Dal, and went on to teach in the law school.)

But that internship wasn’t Clark’s first time on-air—while still in her teens, she’d “tested” herself with a call to CBC’s Maritime Noon. “I had this idea to call in and record myself to hear how I sounded… to see if I had what it took,” she recalls. Luckily, she was pleased with what she heard.

And now her voice is filling Nova Scotian homes each morning.

Throughout her 20-year career, spanning radio and television as a producer, reporter and host, radio has remained Clark’s first love. “I see the morning show as setting the agenda for the day. It’s the first news and conversation about what’s new and important, that people hear,” says Clark, who has spent the last 18 years in Edmonton.

With a curiosity that has followed her throughout her life (and flourished during her Philosophy studies at Dal), Clark has established herself as a versatile and informed host. She can ask the hard questions and offer an empathetic ear when it’s needed, skills that she put to good use during the Fort MacMurray wildfire in late spring 2016. “We were providing a lifeline to people during a devastating situation. As the fires roared on we were the only radio station still on the airwaves as other stations had to evacuate. I was talking directly to people who were scared and needed calming and concise information,” she says. “I’m very proud of our work as a team and the way we banded together to broadcast live wildfire coverage for five or six days straight.”

As someone who’s been “blessed to chase opportunities” throughout her career, the chance to return to CBC Nova Scotia has been “a pinch me” moment. “Nova Scotia is evolving,” she says. “I’m looking forward to sharing in this with our listeners and reaching new ears, and bringing people the information that’s important to them.”

On a personal level, Clark is eager to raise her children similar to her own upbringing, by the sea. “As a family we’re looking forward to exploring all that Nova Scotia has to offer.”