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2013 Atlantic Journalism Awards Finalists


Date Aired or Published May 16, 2013
Media outlet where first aired or published: The Coast
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Halifax
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Laurie the Guy has been a karaoke host for 23 years, working six nights a week in various bars around town. He has a cart full of props, ranging from giant sparkly penises, pink wooden guitars, an acoustic bass, and puppets of varying descriptions. He's also surrounded in mystery. No evening at Laurie the Guy's karaoke night is complete without rumours from fans. Over the years the writers heard that Laurie went home every night and surfed until 5am, he doesn't drink, he hates bars, he lives in the country, he plays hockey and he writes his own songs—something particularly ironic considering he makes a living playing the songs of others. How did this odd duck get into the karaoke business and were any of these facts true? Allison Saunders and Stephanie Johns worked as a team to get to the bottom of this mysterious and iconic local character, splitting up his day time and nighttime routines, in order to show the disparity of the two. By day, Laurie Goulden is a thrifty, self-deprecating, teetotalling, health-conscious loner living in Musquodoboit, and by night he drives nearly an hour downtown and turns on the party guy charm, riffing with drunk singers, belting out Bob Seger and being a late night class clown. The writers revealed Laurie Goulden to be a quiet, contented dreamer who feels like the luckiest man in the world.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

King of Karaoke had been talked about at length at The Coast’s editorial meetings for over two years before a single interview was done. What was the story behind this cultural fixture, and who was the right writer to find out? In the spring of 2013, Saunders and Johns—no strangers to Saturday nights at the Lion’s Head and the man behind the mic—decided to split the research and writing duties to fully understand the two sides of Laurie Goulden’s life and how they fit together. Because the majority of this research took place during evenings and weekends, this project went far beyond Johns and Saunders’ regular duties as full-time editors and staff writers at The Coast. Johns spent time with him at the secluded Musquodoboit Harbour home which Goulden built himself and Saunders worked the back shift, setting up, tearing down and hearing every tune between with him. Apart from spending many evenings as audience members at Laurie the Guy’s various venues, Saunders and Johns also reached out to his most loyal regulars (who proved to profile-worthy themselves) to get a grasp on what it is that makes him Halifax’s best karaoke host. Freelance photographer Riley Smith was hired to spend evenings at both Michael’s Bar and Grill and the Lion’s Head, capturing the essence of a Laurie the Guy show for a slideshow that was paired with the story on thecoast.ca.

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