SONiC 102.9 radio host Rick Lee talks about his favourite teachers

By Xanthe Couture
Release Date: July 22, 2010

Rick Lee is known as the zany host of Edmonton’s SONiC 102.9 weekday radio show (10 am to 3 pm) and the producer behind the radio station’s top songs for the week on SONiC Rewind.

Thanks to a knack for perking up the midday workweek, Lee is a favourite of many listeners. When asked about his semi-unconventional career aspiration, Lee says he wanted to be a radio host ever since he was in elementary school, and his teachers were very supportive.

“Not only did my teachers make it comfortable to learn, but they rewarded me for my creativity and pushed me with my attention to detail,” says Lee. “I think my teachers saw something in me that I wasn't fully aware of at the time.”

Lee says he decided to be a radio disc jockey in elementary school. “My teacher, Kathy Firth, could have easily dismissed it as an unattainable goal, but she didn't and her belief in my abilities laid the groundwork for my career.”

Beyond providing words of encouragement, Mrs Firth also helped Lee settle into Collingwood School, in Calgary, when he moved to Alberta from New Brunswick.

“I moved to a new school in Grade 4, and Mrs Firth was there to make the transition easier; it helped that I thought she looked like Kelly McGillis from Top Gun,” he admits jokingly.

When he transitioned from elementary school to the world of junior high, at Colonel Irvine School, Lee credits another teacher, Carolyn Johnston-Klein. “She was there to help me adjust to the pressures of junior high,” adds Lee.

In reflection, Lee says he believes that these two teachers were helpful because each of them was able to act like a friend and a parent at the same time. “An authoritative type is something very important when it comes to a teacher–student relationship,” says Lee. “It's also key that the teacher is approachable and can be trusted when difficulties arise in the learning process.”

Lee’s advice for students who may not be getting the most out of school is simple: “Stay in school. It sounds cliché, but there are people who want to see you succeed in your studies.” He adds, “If you give whoever is assigned to help you a chance, everything will work out in the end—but only if you allow it to.”

Lee believes that his receptive attitude to his teachers is what made the difference. “I would have to say that I've learned from every teacher I’ve ever had. Your attitude towards your teachers makes a huge difference on the impact that they leave with you.”

For Lee, the difference teachers have made has been helping to guide him to pursue his dream—one you can literally tune in and listen to.