New host of CBC Radio’s Up to Speed looks forward to making connections with Manitobans

Listeners of CBC Manitoba’s afternoon radio show might already recognize the voice of its new host. 

After guest hosting Up to Speed for three weeks earlier this fall, Faith Fundal will return to Winnipeg to take over the job full time starting Dec. 14. 

“It was a very emotional day,” said Fundal — who uses the non-gender specific pronouns they and them — of the day they got the job offer.

“I went to come visit Winnipeg, had such a great time. I met some really, really interesting people.… So I was really, really pleased and really excited when I was told.”

Fundal takes over the host chair recently vacated by Ismaila Alfa, who left after eight years to helm CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning. 

In the short time they guest hosted Up to Speed in September and October, Fundal made an impression on listeners and even broke some news, such as when Health Minister Cameron Friesen said on-air that COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes were “unavoidable.”

In the Oct. 15 interview, Friesen, arguing that other jurisdictions had also seen COVID-19 deaths in care homes, said, “It is tragic, it is regrettable, but it is unavoidable.”

“I want to make sure that I’m fully appreciating what you’re saying,” Fundal replied. “It seems to me that you’re saying there’s no way to avoid COVID-19 deaths in care homes.”

“If there’s a way to avoid COVID-19 deaths in care homes, I’m saying to you, carefully, that no jurisdiction has found it yet,” Friesen said. 

LISTEN | Faith Fundal’s Oct. 15, 2020, interview with Health Minister Cameron Friesen:

Up To Speed12:32Manitoba’s health minister responds to the Parkview Place COVID-19 outbreak, the province’s deadliest to date

Since COVID-19 broke out at Winnipeg’s Parkview Place, nine residents have died. Cameron Friesen, Manitoba’s minister for health, joins Faith Fundal on Up to Speed to discuss the situation at Parkview Place. 12:32

That approach, of listening carefully to what a guest says and trying to draw them out to understand their perspective, is something Fundal says they try to do in every interview.

“I desperately want to fully appreciate where they’re coming from,” said Fundal, who says they’ve never seen themselves as a “bully host.”

“Whoever I’m speaking with is doing me a favour by coming on the show,” they said.

Fundal, 35, was born in the Philippines and grew up in Vancouver. After graduating from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Fundal worked as a writer, radio reporter and newsreader in Vancouver, Kamloops and Prince George before joining CBC in 2008. 

For the last 14 years, Fundal has lived in Prince George, B.C., where they worked most recently as the morning news editor of CBC Prince George’s Daybreak North. Fundal also created the CBC podcast They & Us, a show that explored issues and stories of gender identity and expression.

Although it will be hard to leave Prince George, Fundal is excited to connect with the people of Manitoba.

“The thought of leaving a place where I’ve built a community, a place where I sing anthems at the WHL games, a place where I volunteer at the local soup kitchen … it’s a type of pain. But what sort of tempers that pain is, I could see that I could build a community in Winnipeg and Manitoba.”

One thing stood out in Fundal’s mind when they first came to Manitoba earlier this fall — the story of the Gimli Glider, the plane that made a famous emergency landing near the Manitoba Interlake community in 1983.

“And so the only thing on my must-do list was: ‘go to Gimli.’ And I did. So there’s all these places, and just fascinating stories from people. And I’m really looking forward to hearing from people about what they care about.”

Whether listeners are at home, in their cars, or getting dinner ready, “I’m hoping that they’ll welcome me into their space,” Fundal said.

Listen to Up to Speed weekdays from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. on 89.3FM or on CBC Listen. You can follow Fundal on Twitter and Instagram at @FaithFundal.

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