Jen Chae

Around town, Julia Suppa is known as the lucky York Region Dining host who visits the best restaurants to try their best dishes. But her job is not always about fine dining and excellent foods, says Suppa.

“All the fun stuff is great, but at the end of the day, my job is to put the show on the air. Doesn’t matter what happened during the day, the show must go on,” she says.

Her day began at 10 a.m. this Friday morning. It has only been 25 minutes since she got into the office and she has already sent 12 emails. These emails are either replies to people who have written in to the show, to her volunteer reporters or her 30 or so co-workers. About 18 things are open and running on Suppa’s computer screen, from email to an electronic contact list to Google.

Suppa may be five feet two in height, but she is surely on top of things at work. She is the producer and writer of two lifestyle-based shows, York Region Living and York Region Dining, as well as the host of York Region Dining.

Naturally, Suppa works in and out of her Richmond Hill office, sometimes traveling to locations like Vaughan, Newmarket or Markham. She is often out and about, whether it is to check out a new store or make sure things go smoothly on a reporter’s first shoot.

The most difficult part about her job is having to juggle so many things at once, says the 27-year-old.

“My time is just split up into a million pieces,” she says. “I have to make sure everything is in place.”

The phone rings and Suppa grabs her organized notebook and pen; it is from a business that is seeking public attention for an upcoming charity event that they are hosting.

“When is the event?” asks Suppa, flipping through her marked-up calendar. “I can take a look at it and send out a reporter and shooter.”

Her shows cover events, eateries, new products, charities or new shops within the York Region area. With both shows to run, the Suppa is frenzied; people contact her for all show inquiries, from scheduling shoots to reporter training to booking cameras.

The newsroom on Newkirk Road is quiet today, but that doesn’t stop Suppa from working, one task after another.

“There is always something to be done,” she says.

Suppa sits in her wheelie-chair in a pair of studded dark grey jeans, black combat-style boots, and a T-shirt that reads “True, North, Strong and Free”. Suppa’s nails are painted in the latest OPI “it” shade. Her reddish-brown hair is wavy with strands clipped back.

On her desk, there are samples of OPI nail polishes, a Booster Juice gift basket, York Region Dining tapes and countless business cards from spas, restaurants, interior places, hair salons, and fashion consultants.

A mailman approaches her desk and hands her a medium-sized yellow envelope.

“Julia gets package. This never happens,” she says.

In it is a bottle of hair treatment that is just right for Suppa’s hair type.

“We went to a hair event on Wednesday and they did a little thing with my hair,” says Suppa and returns to organizing the pile of scattered business cards on her desk, which she uploads onto Microsoft.

“I link it [Microsoft contact list] to my blackberry so that I have the contacts with me at all times.”

Suppa and Jacqueline Betterton, show host of Daytime show leave to grab some lunch at their favourite Indian place.

A Ryerson journalism grad, Suppa says she started volunteering at Rogers York Region in her second year in 2002.

After graduating, Suppa continued to volunteer at Rogers as a reporter for First Local News and York Region Living. After four years of volunteering, Suppa landed a part-time job as an associate producer for a show called Careers in York, which is now known as York Small Business TV.

“I kept working and created new opportunities for myself,” says Suppa.

She says that her first few weeks at work were difficult due to her boss’ difference in taste than what she was used to in university.

“Every producer has their own style. It’s about being adaptable,” says Suppa.

But it was when the original producer of YRL took a maternity leave that Suppa gained her current role. Suppa’s assigned one-year replacement contract was made peramanent when the original producer resigned for good.

“Sometimes, it’s being at the right place at the right time,” says Suppa.

Back at her desk, Suppa pulls up a TV to play clippings from a recent hair event. She plays the raw footage tape, the “B-roll” and starts shotlisting on her notepad: she is picking and choosing the camera shots she wants to use for her show and jotting down their time codes.

The screen shows a shot slowly zooming into some products on display. “Good, that’s a good shot,” says Suppa.

Suppa’s hands move fast. She is quick at glancing at the screen, writing, fast-forwarding and doing this repeatedly for the next 30 minutes.

After about three pages of time codes, Suppa ejects the tape and starts typing on her computer a script for these shots.

Suppa picks up the phone to call the businesses she is featuring on this week’s show. Every week, she personally gives them a heads-up: the show airs for half-an-hour a week, six stories per run. These business owners are thrilled to see themselves on TV.

YRL and YRD rarely feature big companies. Suppa says that the show is to encourage people to buy “hyper-local”, right from their own neighbourhood.

Suppa tries her best to keep in touch with her viewers. She is active on her Twitter account, to keep in contact with viewers and business owners in the community. She says that sometimes, she gets new show ideas from Twitter.

“It’s just the way the world is changing,” says Suppa. “I try to stay on top of things.”

Before she locks off her computer to leave at around 5 p.m., Suppa checks through her email once more to make sure she has no outstanding emails.

She receives about 30 emails a night and is expecting double that on Monday morning. Suppa, looking forward to the weekend, leaves to her favourite place and to her husband at home.



  1. nice work!
    this was such a hard assignment...alot of people got rewrites (including me lol...she said mine was so sketchy i could be sued if it was published in real life :o)

  2. Ahh no way!
    i know a lot of ppl got rewrites. so you're not alone!