Seneca News

Brandon Gonez

Seneca graduate Brandon Gonez is the host of The Brandon Gonez Show on YouTube. (Photo: submitted)

Jan. 21, 2021

A “dutty storm” swept across social media this week as Brandon Gonez, the fast-rising television personality, launched The Brandon Gonez Show on YouTube.

The Seneca graduate of the Summer Institute of Multiplatform Journalism certificate program has become synonymous with #duttystorm since he called a winter storm “dutty” on CP24 a couple of years ago. “Dutty” is Jamaican Patois for “dirty.”                                                

“I’ll never forget that day,” said Mr. Gonez, a Brampton-raised Jamaican-Canadian who started at CP24 in 2019. “I was on weather duty and we had a big storm coming. It was live TV and it just came out like that. That’s how those viral moments started — just me being authentic.”

There have been so many, in fact, a compilation of Brandon’s top 10 viral moments is now picking up steam online.

The former CP24 anchor and reporter and CTV co-host and weather anchor sent shock waves through his loyal fan base two days before Christmas, when he announced he was leaving CP24. The announcement was met with overwhelming support, including a nod from Champagnepapi, a.k.a. Drake.

“With the pandemic, 2020 became a trigger for me,” he said. “If there’s something telling you to move to a certain direction, you have to listen to your heart. My gut just said, ‘It’s time to bet on yourself.’”

Following an Instagram LIVE launch party this past weekend that saw NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Toronto Mayor John Tory among the special guests, The Brandon Gonez Show premiered on Sunday. The first episode covered topics such as whether or not the government should be paying people to take the COVID-19 vaccine and how some students are “finessing” the virtual school system and getting caught. Mr. Gonez also interviewed residents of Jane and Finch about the perception and stigma associated with living in the northwest Toronto neighbourhood. The episode featured a segment about how Mr. Gonez got his start at Seneca.

For the show’s first season, Gonez Media partnered with sponsors including Moët Hennessy, Uber and Seneca to produce 10 episodes that “amplify the voices and stories” of Black, Indigenous and other people of colour. Currently, a team of 10 works in editorial, production, marketing and sales — all contributing to the show’s editorial decisions.

“It’s not about me, it’s about us as people,” Mr. Gonez said. “Everyone has input. If we don’t watch what we put out, we shouldn’t put it out.”

He adds that editorial independence is one of the liberties he now enjoys after striking out on his own.

“When you work in a mainstream newsroom, you are assigned stories most of the time and your editorial discretion is limited,” he said. “Everything looks glamour and rosy. There are some parts that are that, but there are some that are not.”

For the most part, Mr. Gonez says he tried to “really soak in” and understand what the different networks were doing right and what they were doing wrong.

Brandon Gonez smiling in front of the a fence
Brandon Gonez says he hopes to follow Drake’s footsteps by inspiring others and building an “eco-system” of Canadian talent. (Photo: submitted)

Even the part-time sales job he held with BMO while still a student served as a foundation to “setting up the path” to his own program.

“It was a backup plan, as going into finance was something I was also interested in doing at the time,” Mr. Gonez said. “There are actually a lot of similarities. You are always interacting with people and you have to be able to build a level of trust, connect with people and have deep conversations.”

Mr. Gonez says it was clear to him from the beginning that Seneca was the right place for him to gain the hands-on experience and skills he needed to break into a constantly evolving industry.

“I relied on my professors’ mentorship,” he said. “They are all industry professionals, and I learned a lot from them.”

Since his career took off six years ago, Mr. Gonez has also become a sought-after host and speaker. He has hosted numerous community and industry events, including the Senecans of Distinction Awards ceremony, and he served as the moderator of a Seneca speaker series event featuring John Bitove Jr., co-founder of the Toronto Raptors.

With Gonez Media, Mr. Gonez says he hopes to follow Drake’s footsteps by inspiring others and building an “eco-system” of Canadian talent.

“What Drake has created in the music industry is what I want to build in the broadcasting industry,” he added. “We are trailblazing here. It’s about taking that leap of faith. We are not perfect, but we are going to be authentic.”