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Getting to know Moses Znaimer

Britnei Bilhete

While waiting for the Humber Lakeshore campus lecture hall to fill up with students, Moses Znaimer, Canada’s media pioneer, paced the room drinking a chocolate milkshake. In late March, the founder of CityTV, MuchMusic and several other channels that helped shape Toronto’s media identity, delivered a lecture in his beloved video format. A 3o-minute feature about Znaimer’s career and the changing landscapes of television over the decades.

He’s now the founder and CEO of ZoomerMedia Limited, a multimedia company targeted to people 45 and olders – “boomers with a zip” he calls them.

Convergence magazine had the chance to ask a few questions of the T.V. visionary.

BB: You anticipated user-generated content but with the Internet it’s sort of becoming mastered now, really tailoring what you want to consume.  What do you anticipate to be the next step?

MZ: Just that. Is it okay if I don’t tell you? People are always doing that. The CBC. Tell us how to fix the CBC. They’re my competitors and I do have a thought as to what comes after that, but if you don’t mind. That’s a business secret.

BB: How do you infuse Zoomer magazine with youthfulness and energy?

MZ: Are you asking about my personal regime?

BB: Sure, if you’d like to share.

MZ: Sex, drugs and rock and roll.

BB: As for the magazine?

MZ: Well we’re not fabricating this. We’re simply reflecting the reality, which you may see in your own parents. I mean, don’t forget you all talk about ‘them’ as if it we’re some kind of alien civilization. There’s no question that our society certainly is not aging the way it did a generation ago. Certainly not two generations ago. There is more gusto. There is more vitality. There is more life span ahead. There is a desire to engage actively. People want to live a little. I think that’s cool. And so, we don’t have to concoct it, we simply have to register it and reflect it and it’s revealed in the magazine.

BB: What are some of your thoughts on modern internships? There seems to be a generational divide.

MZ: I think the big thing is the agitation to immediately pay people and [at] normal rates. That’s sure to drive down the number of internships available. I think that’s a self-defeating thing. I think it’s shortsighted. I think at a certain stage in your career you should be grateful to have access and sop up everything you can. And so what if you have to go and get a cup of coffee? Those who campaign for the social justice of it, I simply assure that where there used to be 100 jobs there will now be 10, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good development. At my time it was more a case of spotting the people who had figured out how to get in, who were ingenious enough, persistent enough and then give them a shot to hangout. If I have to decide that I have to pay you pension plan allocation and be responsible for your health even though I don’t know what you do after hours I’m simply not going to hire you and I don’t think that’s good for kids. But …

BB: Your personal image has stayed pretty much the same since you were young. How many sweaters do you own to keep up your style?

MZ: I have a lot of sweaters, but I got my life down to two kinds of shirts — cause remember I do less of it now but I was on camera a lot and continuity is always an issue — so you’re sitting there saying ‘Uh what jacket was I wearing, what shirt was I wearing, what tie was I wearing and I finally got fed up and I banished all ties, so I haven’t worn a tie in 30 years. That’s it. So life is simple.

BB: The simpler the better.

MZ: Yeah, I stopped wearing laced up shoes. I only wear boots.

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