The former co-host of the Dean Blundell Show has struck out on a different path finding that positivity and heart can actually have a place in the world of radio and comedy.
Inside the SiriusXM studio there is an sense of happiness. Todd Shapiro and his crew are in the fledgling weeks of their new live drive afternoon block and the music, camaraderie, and jokes are hardly contained behind the glass walls that they are broadcasting from. the attitude strikes an entirely different tone than the furor surrounding the cancellation of the Dean Blundell Show earlier this year, a sinking ship that Shapiro inadvertently jumped from last year before resurfacing on SirisXM’s Canada Laughs Channel 168.
A man just shy of his 41st birthday Shapiro is a study in the evolution of talk radio. After spending years as part of a team derided by feminist, gay, minority, and many more groups for what they viewed as cruel treatment he has found that the best way to get laughs is when everyone gets along. “The underlying message of this new show is that it is always positive, it is always inspirational, and it is always promotional.”
His team, featuring a roster of comedians like Jay Brody and musicians like Anna Cyzon, is working to put on the best and most upbeat show they can everyday, says Shapiro. And the proof is in the pudding — with guests discussing human rights and gay issues to politics Shapiro has succeeded in breathing new energy into a format that was once cemented around the rude and obnoxious. Trailer Park Boys, Sarah Thomson, John Tory, and Tony Clement are among the big names that Shapiro and his team have drawn to his new program already with the intention of more high profile and influential guests to come.
When it comes to casting off his old ways it was an easy decision on this side of 40. “I did an immature, dumbed-down exaggeration of myself. I was definitely more juvenile because of the role I was encouraged to do.” But now, he says, he’s ready to give back. “Every day on this new show we try and do something that will help someone else’s career, whether it is promoting a charity or something as simple as promoting guests that haven’t quite made it yet.”
“What we are trying to do is create a campfire environment in the studio so when people step into that room they feel like they are surrounded by friends and these are trustworthy people who aren’t going to back stab you or railroad you with a question that they didn’t expect. I want people leaving wanting to come back and so far that has been the case.”
Even Ron MacLean is a fan. “I got a text from him after he was a guest saying that he had a great time and that we had an inspirational team here.”
In the world of nice guys, Ron MacLean is the guy to learn a thing or two from. “I’ve always been a Ron MacLean fan because I like the good guy approach. I didn’t take the good guy approach in my previous fourteen years on air.”
From Shapiro the message is one of transformation. “Everyone has the ability to change. There’s too much negativity in this world and if we don’t take it upon ourselves to have that pay-it-forward approach or to be positive to other people then, pardon my language, we are fucked.”
Todd began his broadcast career indirectly. After being picked for spot as a contestant on proto-reality TV show Blind Date’s first Canadian show from ten thousand possible contestants he was interviewed with the rest of the daters on the Humble & Fred show. After striking up a friendship with the hosts he wound up returning to the program as an intern while completing his broadcaster’s diploma at Seneca College.
From behind the scenes he made a name for himself writing jokes and doing just about anything he could to get on air. When an internal switch up at the company put a new host in the morning slot it wasn’t long before Shapiro worked his way from intern to what he laughingly calls a “punching bag” to becoming a full fledged co-host of infamous and ill fated Dean Blundell Show.
Among his career highlights Shapiro puts his relationships with sponsors at the top. “I was always very privileged that they wanted to work with me — that’s probably part of the reason I didn’t get married until I was almost 40, I’ve always been so busy.” With a career spanning 15 years he has had no shortage of unique encounters with other notable people, “I’ve been fortunate enough to meet everyone from top porn stars to Wayne Gretzky,”
The most transformative element in Shapiro’s new life hasn’t been just the switch from terrestrial radio to satellite broadcast. “I lived a life of a rock star. I met a lot of people, I went to a lot of events , and I met a lot of girls. It was tough to settle down for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I didn’t find the right girl. Maybe I wasn’t ready. But when I met my current wife and truly the love of my life I knew from the second I saw her. Once I got to know her and heart, her sincerity, and her kindness it’s something I experienced at t time of my life when I really needed it. I don’t trust very easily, I don;t open my door. I have this big persona, at the end of the day it’s hard for me to accept people into my own life. But she is so inspirational.
On February 8th of this year he wed Irina Funtikova, a world class gymnast and model who immigrated to Canada from Moldova as a child. Outside of her beauty, talent, and personality Todd sums up their relationship by saying simply that “at the end of the day she is my best friend.”
He gives a great example of their dynamic by sharing her reaction to his departure from the Dean Blundell Show and subsequent unemployment. “Some of the first words she said to me were: ‘Listen, if we have to sell this penthouse and move into a 400 square foot condo it only means we get to be closer together.’ There is nothing superficial or pretentious about her. She made it so easy to give her everything I can. I count my blessings every day.”
With a new show and new hope on the horizon it’s important to remember that Shapiro is still a prankster first and foremost with a focus on getting his audience with a nicer approach this time around. “Don’t get me wrong, we’re still going to try and get laughs, and people might have some problems with the humour, but no one is ever going to have a problem with the message.”
The Todd Shapiro Show airs weekdays from 4 to 6pm on SiriusXM Chaannel 168 Canada Laughs.