New Roots Radio was my attempt to counter what I saw as very Polly Annish reporting on immigration in Canada. Media reporting on immigration is full of cliches like  'searching for a better life' reminiscent  of my school days when teachers kept reminding us 'how lucky we are to live in Canada.' Canada is a great country, but it's got a lot of problems too. Unfortunately, the only people I ever heard discussing those problems were immigrants, even if they did it only among themselves.

With a team of young, volunteer reporters we tried to bring some of this immigrant-fueled introspection to the airwaves, creating a series of hour long programs, featuring interviews, documentaries and stories about immigration in Canada and around the world. It wasn't all critical -- we served a turkey dinner in the studio on Thanksgiving and invited immigrants to discuss their own traditional holidays -- but we tried to go beyond the official doctrine of multiculturalism as harmless harmony.

It wasn't, ultimately, successful. We couldn't get support from any of the organizations that work -- on the government's dime -- with immigrants. But it did blaze brightly for a short while, thanks entirely to the energy, imagination and independence of the students who worked with me. Huge shoutout to Moh, Meagan, Lil, Tiffany, Maureen and Jesse, wherever you guys are now! Here's a selection of some of their work:

Diverse for a Day -- Moh Hashem

Reentry Shock -- Tiffany Grant

Immigrant Kitchens -- Meagan Deuling




For 15 years, Conrad lived in Mexico, where he worked as a freelance radio and print journalist. His work took him into a minefield, a gunfight, a dugout canoe and the homes of many fascinating, brave and generous people. He is also an avid teacher and has led classes in radio, robotics, soccer, physics and anthropology in a diversity of places, including office towers, lecture halls, fields and palm thatched huts.