Sarah Freemark : Being A Successful Television Host

Sarah Freemark was one of the fabulous speakers at Her Campus uOttawa's #StartNow Conference this past September - We have the pleasure of having her as our Campus Celebrity today to bring her insightful tips and experiences to all our readers! 

Besides being the lady with the best smile in town, Sarah Freemark is a hardworking, enthusiastic, courageous, and talented woman who hosts on CTV News Ottawa. I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with such an inspiration and we discussed her experience sky diving, bungee jumping, scaling a 300 ft building, Pink Floyd, advice on entering the media field, and much more. Catch Sarah live on CTV News Ottawa at 6 am and Majic100 radio at 11 am!

ANNETTE EJIOFOR: Well first tell the readers three fun facts about yourself.

SARAH FREEMARK: Oh my goodness. Well first of all, I was born and raised in Renfrew, Ontario. I actually grew up outside of Renfrew in Admaston township. I grew up with hunting dogs and a wardrobe primarily made up of flannel. Secondly, I am dedicated to my job. I am terrified of heights and I’ve gone sky diving twice, bungee jumping once, and did the Toronto Skywalk. These are things that I would never do in my personal life but it makes excellent television. For some reason people love seeing others terrified. <laughter> Another fun fact about myself is that I like to do anything from shopping to fishing. I could go home for the weekend and be hanging out with friends at a hunt camp and then come back to the city the next night for Ottawa Fashion Week. Having grown up in a small town makes me appreciate the best of both worlds.

ANNETTE: What is a day in the life of Sarah Freemark?

SARAH: It’s hectic. My morning starts at about 4:30 am or 5 am. I have a gigantic boxer named Cali. Like, a 70-pound dog. I get up, have my shower, and I let Cali out. Even she doesn’t want to be up that early <laughs>. I make my way over here (CTV News Ottawa), head over to hair and make-up, and then I get to wherever it is I am shooting live from by 5:40 am. Then the show is broadcast from 6:30-10 am. Then there’s a meeting at 10 am. Following, at 11 am, I head over to Majic100 to do my radio show.

It’s just a matter of ensuring I have all my shoots planned so that when I arrive in the morning we can make it as best as we can. Then after I finish my day, I let Cali back in and head over to Free Form Fitness (4 days a week). I find napping in the afternoon ruins my sleeping schedule so I work out in the afternoon. Lately, I’ve also been training for the Dancing With The Easter Seals Stars competition; learning the Samba and Fox Trot.

ANNETTE: Have you always been attracted to the media industry?

SARAH: Yeah! When I was younger it was more directed towards theater. But then when I was 16 I started working as a volunteer reporter at Cogeco Cable in Renfrew and I just really, really, enjoyed it. I ended up hosting an outside event for them; where I first sky-dove. From there I just knew that I wanted to go to broadcast journalism school and it was great! That’s a good way to take a passion for theater, journalism and being over the top, and putting it into a career. Making it all into one.

ANNETTE: Do you have any other hobbies besides media and theater?

SARAH: Definitely! I play competitive volleyball, soccer (once a week), I like to dine out a lot. I’m a huge fan of different food and it’s great living near the Byward Market because there are so many places to try out. Wine is another hobby. Drinking it. <laughs> I just like relaxing and hanging out with friends. Oh and old school Nintendo!

ANNETTE: What has been your craziest experience while interviewing someone?

SARAH:  It was at the Easter Seals Drop Zone. Every year they have ‘superheroes’ that fundraise all year round and if you raise $1,500, you get to repel down the side of a 300 ft building. So, the first year I did it but then the second year we decided to add a bit of a twist to it. So, not only did I repel down the side of the building, but, the Easter Seals spokesperson would also repel down the building with me and we would do the interview all the way down. So, that would probably be the craziest scenario I’ve been in while interviewing someone.

ANNETTE: You can only listen to one artist for the rest of your life. Who do you choose?

SARAH: If I had to listen to only one artist for the rest of my life it would be Pink Floyd. As he released album after album and members of his group came and left, the sound of his music changed. There’s always a different sound. Plus I grew up to it so I not only appreciate it but it reminds me of home. Another one would be Frank Sinatra.

ANNETTE: What is your absolute favourite ice cream flavour?

SARAH: Chocolate chip cookie dough! Something with chunks.

ANNETTE: Where is your favourite place to go in Ottawa? Somewhere you call your own.

SARAH: Mooney's Bay. I met one of my best friends there when I first moved to Ottawa and did not know anyone. I took a boom box, a six-pack of beer, and my volleyball, and headed to the beach. I found some girls playing volleyball and asked them if I could join. When I showed them my pack of beer they welcomed me with open arms! <laughs>

ANNETTE: What is it like being a woman in the media industry? Did your gender ever pose a problem?

SARAH: Hmm, I’m pretty unbiased to that only because I haven’t done sports reporting. That’s a situation where, from the women I’ve spoken with, it can be difficult because. For example, doing an interview in a change room. I got my start when I was very young. I was very fortunate to be hired almost immediately after college, and so the biggest challenge I’ve faced has been trying to prove myself at such a young age. There was that question of how old are you coming from others. For a long time I felt uncomfortable telling people my age because there’s something that’s taken away from you when you admit that you’re young. It’s as though you don’t deserve to be there when really I started and worked hard to be where I am.

ANNETTE: What is one thing that working at CTV News Ottawa has taught you?

SARAH: Ah, I’ve learned so much! I’ve been here for almost 4 years. Four years next month actually. <laughs> They’ve taught me how to become a morning person! They’ve taught me how to produce segments from scaling a wall, to bungee jumping, to interviewing an Olympian, to a radio show. It’s such a diverse range and gives you a taste of everything. It’s taught me what it’s like to visit my hometown and have them praise and complement what we are doing here and to be making others proud, it’s flattering, it’s special. <smiles>

ANNETTE: Walking through the doors of CTV Ottawa, into work, what do you feel?

SARAH: It depends on what I’m doing that day. You know you have your good days and then bad days. No matter what though, good or bad day, when that red light goes on, once we go live at 6am, my outside life doesn’t matter.

ANNETTE: What do you think is an important skill to have to be in your position?

SARAH: To be outgoing and confident! Even if, when you walk into that interview room you are freaking out, take that deep breath and rock it. When asked, what is your biggest accomplishment, say your biggest accomplishments and say them with confidence so the interviewee(s) see and understand what you went through to get to where you are.

ANNETTE: Finally, do you have any advice you have for our readers?

SARAH: As you’re finishing school, jump in on it. There are some jobs where you can take time off and travel and do whatever but broadcasting is not one of them. It is time sensitive. I always say, my professor once said this to me, there is room for the best. You will get in for sure! If you have to leave your city to get in then do it! The people that I see not succeeding are the ones not willing to leave their cities, or take that junior reporter job, or try things outside their box. Do everything. Build your skills. Show initiative. There is always room for the best. <smiles>


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