Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed
Mention the name Eric Drozd in Waterloo Region, and you’re bound to get a reaction. For close to three years, the Mississauga native hosted the Region’s biggest talk radio show on 570 News, drawing callers from across Southwestern Ontario.
At 28 years old, Drozd stepped into the host’s chair and carved a lane as a measured moderator in a medium of malcontents. Taking over the reins from the longtime popular one-two offering of Gary Doyle and Jeff Allan, Drozd weathered early criticism and became something of a favourite in time. And then, three years into a role many spend a career hoping to land, he did something few would dare.
He walked away and became a police officer.
“I had no idea where [my radio career] was going to go. I just kinda thought, ‘hey, I’m gonna do this,’” says Drozd.
“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer. Broadcasting, I had never thought about until oddly enough, I was working in a job to try to further my goal to become a police officer, and I was driving a car around at night, listening to the radio to try to keep myself awake […] As weird as it sounds, a paranormal show was one of the first reasons I started thinking about broadcasting.”
Fresh off of a criminology and sociology degree from the University of Windsor, Drozd was working as a security guard at the time, trying to plot out the path it would take to become a police officer. He came across Coast to Coast AM — an American late-night radio show exploring all things paranormal, hosted by George Noory.
“I was working two jobs, and all I remember for like three years is not seeing the sun.” – Eric Drozd
“He wouldn’t agree with much of what his guests would say, but he would let them talk,” says Drozd. “And then people would call in, and he would let them make their own decisions. And I really like that.”
After his first attempt at becoming a police officer in Mississauga was cut short — “they basically said go get more life experience,” says Drozd — he sent an application in to Conestoga College’s radio broadcasting program. So began a six-year detour into the fun, frenetic, and fast-paced world of radio.
His first break came after applying to be a board operator at the local news station, 570 News.
“I remember thinking that when I got turned down: ‘what does life experience mean?’” – Eric Drozd
“I got an email from the news director at the time, saying, ‘hey, I know you applied to be a board operator. Do you have a news demo?’ I didn’t, so I ran back into the station and recorded a news demo […] Sure enough, I got a call back,” says Drozd.
Starting as a part-time reporter and occasional evening or weekend anchor, Drozd joined the full-time ranks as morning traffic reporter. In 2014, he took over as the station’s main talk show host, taking over the airwaves from 10am-2pm each weekday.
“Four hours is a long time to do a talk show,” he admits.
The run lasted until April of 2017, when the news broke: Drozd was joining the Waterloo Regional Police Service. By August, he had taken the oath. Drozd may not fill the airwaves anymore, but he insists not much has changed: like his old job, his new one is all about communicating and talking things through with people.
There is a small matter he’ll concede, with a laugh:
“The one thing that’s changed is my social media presence, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”