Lesley Hughes, at the time a college English teacher, remembers the first day she walked into CBC Manitoba and presented a proposal to one of the producers: he read it over, crunched it into a ball, and threw it into the garbage as she stood in front of him. It took time, but Hughes got over that, and then she got going.
Hughes went from trembling freelancer to prominent personality at CBC, hosting the flagship morning edition of Information Radio for more than a decade. She also guest hosted Morningside for CBC icon, the late Peter Gzowzki.
Hughes has been published in the Globe and Mail and Winnipeg Free Press, and was a popular columnist at the Winnipeg Sun, and in Winnipeg’s five community newspapers. Her work has appeared in Chatelaine, Homemakers Magazine and Canadian Dimension, where she continues to write the end piece media critique, “On the Edge”.
She was a frequent contributor to CBC TV’s Midday and the pop culture radio show Definitely Not the Opera, and her work has been heard around the world on Radio Canada International.
She reported from The World Poverty Summit in Copenhagen, The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and The Information Summit in Geneva. She has travelled and written extensively about Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Russia, the former Czechoslovakia and 14 Caribbean countries. Her work has also been carried on Radio Denmark, Radio Antilles and The Grenadian Voice.
In 1969, Hughes designed and initiated Western Canada’s first Women’s Studies program at Winnipeg’s Red River College. She has taught courses in personal communications and body language at the University of Manitoba’s Continuing Education Program, as well as “Plain English” to English teachers in developing countries for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). She has also taught media skills to students at the University of Winnipeg.
Hughes was named Outstanding Media Volunteer by UNICEF (Manitoba) and was CBC Manitoba’s nominee for The President’s Award. She was designated Outstanding Alumnus for Distinguished Achievement, University of Manitoba; Manitoba’s Woman of the Year in Communications and Best Interviewer (Radio) by Winnipeg ACTRA.
The Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council nominated Hughes for the prestigious Dodi Robb Media Watch Award in recognition of her “continuing actions as a catalyst for change while providing mentorship to young women in communications.”
Working within communities has also been a great source of pride for Hughes, and this dedication has been recognized. She was named the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association (MCNA) Columnist of the Year for her “Strong writing. Fearless commentary. Thoughtful analysis.” And the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA) named her one of Canada’s top three columnists in a weekly community newspaper.
Her one woman play, Bloomberg’s Radio, enjoyed sell-out performances at Winnipeg’s Fringe Festival for two consecutive summers. Her book, We Chose Canada was launched in Winnipeg to much applause. The Manitoba Department of Education purchased 1000 copies of the book for placement in the province’s high school libraries.
Hughes wrote and narrated the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba sponsored mental-health video documentary entitled, The Way We See It. This documentary has become the centrepiece of conversations throughout Manitoba in discussions related to mental health.
Hughes is a journalist, broadcaster, media trainer, speaker and humourist based in Winnipeg.
She is the mother of two adult sons, an enthusiastic hobby cook and frequent home-stay Mom to international students learning English at the University of Manitoba. Her claim to be the diva of Winnipeg garage sales is so far uncontested.