The As It Happens Files: Radio That May Contain Nuts.


288 pages
ISBN 978-0-307-39662-4
DDC 791.44'72





Reviewed by Deborah Hicks


As CBC’s second-longest-running current affairs show, “As It Happens,” thanks to its hosts, its inside jokes, and insightful questioning, has had a lasting impact on Canadian culture. In The As It Happen Files, Mary Lou Finlay recounts her favourite stories from her eight-year run as co-host of the show. Finlay wrote this book to commemorate the 40th anniversary of “As It Happens” and to remember not only the stories told on the show, but the people who helped put those stories together.


Like the show, The As It Happens Files ranges from the silly to the sublime. The book opens with an awe-inspiring story of an 80-year-old man who survived 20 hours in the Atlantic Ocean alone, without a boat or even a life jacket (just a lone buoy to hang on to). It closes with a recounting of Finlay’s interview with Bishop Desmond Tutu, who, in one word, was able to capture the essence of not only being human, but of “As It Happens” itself: ubuntu—a word that means compassion, hospitality, warmth, sharing, and caring. And, in between, Finlay writes about everything from extra-large vegetables to the impact of 9/11 on radio and the world.


What sets this book apart from the show is Finlay’s fond recollections of her “As It Happens” colleagues. Like the stories on the show itself, these memories range from the daft (co-host Barbara Budd really disliked Finlay’s singing voice) to the heartbreaking. Finlay devotes an entire chapter to the production staff of “As It Happens.” Here she recounts the most memorable tale of the entire book—the life of producer Bob Coates. Bob and his wife Karen were both diagnosed with cancer around the same time. Karen survived, but Bob did not. Finlay’s touching memorial to Bob gives the reader a sense not only of how important the “As It Happens” production staff is to the making of the show, but also how the staff functions as a family.


Highly recommended for all libraries. It’s radio worth reading.


Finlay, Mary Lou., “The As It Happens Files: Radio That May Contain Nuts.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,