We Crashed The 95.9 Virgin Radio Studio For A Day & This Is What It's Like Behind The Scenes
Beware of Lee Haberkorn and his pranks.
Whether you're pouring your morning coffee or heading home after a long day, you can always listen to the radio. Sometimes it even feels like the hosts are right next to you — at your desk, in your car or while you're tinkering away on a project.
But who are these mysterious people who help you get through the day? Recently, Narcity got to crash the 95.9 Virgin Radio studio to give you a peek behind the scenes of this Montreal-favourite radio station.
These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Just a stroll from Papineau metro, 95.9 Virgin Radio is located inside the Bell Média building. The studio itself is a cozy space with a C-shaped desk in the middle, equipped with monitors and mixing desks. A bundle of microphones hangs from the ceiling, and tall stools accommodate the hosts and guests.
Vinny and Shannon, hosts of Virgin Mornings with Vinny and Shannon, kick things off at 5:30 a.m. every weekday morning. On her desk, Shannon's two extra-large double doubles keep her fueled, while Vinny does the show without caffeine — an impressive feat considering the alarm (or his kids) wake him up at 4 a.m.
Many folks would consider such an early start to be a dealbreaker, but for these hosts, it's totally worth it.
"We know how lucky we are to get to have a microphone," said Vinny. "People from your own city are listening to you. I mean, I don't know if it gets better than that.
"You can lift people's moods, play songs, sit and have fun and make people laugh."
The pair met for the first time when Shannon moved to Montreal in 2019. Three years on, their friendship behind the scenes is as solid as it sounds on air.
"We're very lucky that we actually love spending time with each other," said Shannon.
When asked if they had any pre-show rituals, both hosts had to stop and think before Shannon replied.
"Without even saying it's a ritual, maybe just making sure we're good," she said, adding that code words come in handy if either of them isn't feeling great (past code words include "pineapple" and, literally, "code word").
"So we know when we have to pick each other up," added Vinny. "I think we're pretty good at that."
After the show wraps up at 10 a.m., Vinny and Shannon debrief on how it went, prepare for the next morning and catch up with colleagues. Then, their workday is over, leaving the studio for Lee in the Afternoon host, Lee Haberkorn.
On air from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Lee uses the time before his show to get into the right headspace, which generally involves bugging his colleagues (his words).
"It's so important for me to get here early and just talk nonsense with other people," he said.
"I'm in a room by myself for five hours doing the show. But when you're listening, I don't want you to feel like I’m talking at you. I want you to feel like we're talking together."
Lee's personality is undeniably fun, big and infectious, but he's also sincere and earnest — a side of him that doesn't often get broadcast.
"I grew up listening to radio," he said, during a song break. "So I remember the attachment to hearing the personalities on air, driving around sitting in traffic.
"When I really sit back and I'm like: 'People are choosing to have me part of their ride every day,' I'm like, that's so cool. Like, that's awesome."
While you might think that song breaks give Lee a chance to relax, this time is spent answering the phone, editing together clips and producing upcoming segments on the fly.
Off air, Lee likes to reinforce his reputation as a top-tier prank artist. The key to which, he says, is intention.
"It can't be mean-spirited," he said. "There can't be a single ounce of any negativity in it."
When asked to recall one of his best pranks, Lee grinned. One time, he explained, he was asked to help promote Montreal's Salon des Reptiles. He pitched a mediocre idea, then sent another email to everyone else — keeping his boss in the dark.
"And I said: 'Guys, disregard that last email. Here's the idea we're gonna do.' And I put a live alligator in his office."
Shannon recalls being on the end of a Lee prank too. She once put a note on her lunch to not touch it, and then it vanished from the fridge before appearing on Lee's Instagram, photographed in all sorts of unexpected places.
"He's sneaky. Despite being six foot eight," she said.
While Vinny, Shannon and Lee are pros at keeping it light and fun between playing bangers, helping listeners have a good day is something they all take seriously.
Whether it's the breakfast team getting you up and ready or the afternoon host that brings you home again, the personalities that come through your radio have that special power to keep you company the whole day through.