Brother to Brother

By Craig Silliphant

Brothers Jeff and Mark

Photos by David Stobbe

The world of broadcasting attracts its share of fascinating characters with strange stories of origin. Like myself, CTV broadcasters and brothers Jeff (BA’82, Arts’85) and Mark (MA’96) Rogstad did not start out with broadcasting and journalism in mind, though in hindsight, it does seem like we were destined to travel that road.

I sat down with the brothers Rogstad in the news studio at CTV Saskatoon— where I had gotten one of my early breaks doing movie reviews with Jeff on the News at Noon—to discuss where they came from, how their experiences at the University of Saskatchewan contributed to their careers, and what it’s like working in the same newsroom as your brother.

CRAIG SILLIPHANT: I feel like a bad friend for never having asked you this before, but where did you guys grow up?

JEFF ROGSTAD: We’re from Watson. Home of the original Santa Claus Day!

MARK ROGSTAD: Seriously, we have a big statue of Santa Claus in our town.

CS: On air you two are quite different. Would you say that’s pretty accurate?

JR: The truth is, when Mark and I were growing up, there was a seven-year difference between us. Only when we were adults did we find ourselves gravitating towards similar things. I think it’s tough on little bro here; everybody thinks he’s Johnny Serious because that’s his job.

MR: He gets to be the clown. It’s hard to be funny about something tragic, which is what I’m usually saddled with at work.

CS: There’s the cliché about what a small world we live in, but still, don’t you think it’s odd that you both ended up working in the same TV station?

JR: It is quite unique. I don’t know of any other situation in Canada. I think of the Kent brothers, but I don’t think Peter and Arthur Kent ever worked at the same place at the same time. It was just one of those things that worked out.

MR: I was just happy to be able to work in Saskatchewan where I grew up. In many respects, Saskatoon is a great place to live and work and raise a family.

JR: You work for the Chamber of Commerce now? You on the mayor’s payroll now?

CS: Mark, I know you actually attended broadcasting school in Halifax after your time at the U of S, but Jeff, how did you get into this business?

JR: I used to volunteer here at CFQC Radio, doing movie reviews.

CS: You realize that doing movie reviews on TV with you was how I started?

JR: Oh man! That’s right!

CS: Ah, the circle of life…

JR: That’s exactly what happened. A friend of mine was doing the movie reviews, and I phoned in when Caligula had just come to Saskatoon. Then I ended up doing movie reviews at Telecable 10. It’s funny too, because I was done my drama degree at that time, and I was planning on moving to Vancouver to seek my fortune in film and television. Someone said there was an opportunity to do weather at Global, then STV. I was like, “Meh…I’m not going back to school to be a meteorologist.” But they actually weren’t looking for that, so I was very lucky.

CS: I’d say that your dramatic training is what makes you so imminently watchable. You not only do your thing on the show, but you also perform at the Saskatoon Soaps and other acting gigs. Isn’t it great when all our passions come together like that?

JR: If you can find that in life, it sounds like a cliché, but jeez —pretty good gig. If you can find a place where you can indulge your passions and still make a paycheck, it’s like, “Woo-hoo! Gimmie!”

CS: How did your degrees help in your career, Mark?

MR: What I took away from my degrees is an appreciation of the larger world out there. What I was taught is that sociology gives you the skills to debunk the world taken for granted. [This] helps me every day in my career as a journalist.

CS: Do you remember any specific images or instances from your time at the U of S that stick in your head?

JR: Coming from a small town, what was so cool was going to the library. We came from a town with two [television] channels—and there weren’t no internet! [sic] One of my biggest thrills was going to the library and going to the stacks and reading weekly Variety.

l-r: Mark Rogstad, Jeff Rogstad, Craig Silliphant

l-r: Mark Rogstad, Jeff Rogstad, Craig Silliphant

CS: Right!

JR: The showbiz bible! You could read about what was going on in music and theatre, particularly movies! I also loved the old hanger building. It was a rundown dilapidated building. There used to be an old joke: if you hadn’t broken into the hanger building to rehearse, you weren’t passionate about theatre.

CS: Good answers. I was just going to say, ‘chicks’.

JR: Oh. Wait. Can I change mine to chicks?

MR: No comment on that. For me it was just the fact that there were all kinds of different people together. You met people from all over Canada, and all over the world. My first impression of the U of S was walking into Place Riel, and I was like, “Wow. Look at all these people.” Off campus it was a buddy’s house on Colony [Street]. They were a bunch of Agros, a bunch of guys from small towns like Canora and Biggar, and our hometown Watson, that had great fun and barbeques and stuff.

JR: (mockingly) “Barbecues…”

MR: Fine. “Barbecues” and all the other things that go along with barbecues. Like beverages and so forth.

CS: If I remember correctly, the Rogstads have a proud U of S lineage—your mom, your sister, your dad, and the two of you all went to school here.

JR: [We’re] very proud to be U of S alumni.

MR: I took a lot of pride in that when I went to Halifax. Quite frankly, I never let people forget that I was from Saskatchewan, and that I was a U of S graduate. We make pretty good stuff out here.