Karen McColl, journalist and podcast host, in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Karen McColl, journalist and podcast host, in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Frisky North of 60: New podcast explores dating love and dating in the North

The romance of the North – literally

Were you warned that the odds are good but the goods are odd? Or how about he’s not your boyfriend it’s just your turn?

There are plenty of cliches about dating in the Yukon, but the hosts of a new podcast, Frisky North of 60, are dedicated to cutting through the frozen hearts and small-town gossip to find out what love and dating is actually like in the North.

“We’re hoping it’ll be really positive and educational and diverse. I think I’ve just overwhelmingly felt honored to be able to talk to people and share their stories,” said Karen McColl, a journalist who lives in Whitehorse and launched the podcast in December.

Episodes of the show vary from the politics of swiping right in a small town to whether or not finding a Canadian boo ever comes up among Alaskans.

Spoiler alert: apparently Anchoragites are not looking across the border for a date, even in non-COVID times.

“I think in the Yukon, there’s sort of this perception that there’s all these single men in Alaska, but actually, I asked this guy in our pre interview, ‘In Alaska, do you guys talk about like people in the Yukon in terms of dating prospects?’ And he’s like, ‘No, never,’” she said with a laugh.

McColl hosts the show with friend and local musician Jordan Patrick. The duo has already recorded and released 11 episodes since the soft launch of the show in December 2020, which have already been downloaded more than 1,000 times.

The first episode of the half-hour-long show introduces the hosts and their dating experiences.

Later on they interview a skier about seeking romance on the slopes and an interview with a dog person who won’t compromise on pets.

“It’s mostly Yukon, but a bit under the umbrella of the North,” said McColl.

A few roadtrip episodes feature Stewart, B.C., and Smithers, B.C., while another guest shares the experience of being polyamorous in Whitehorse. Next week McColl is planning to interview a man from Anchorage about dating in the very polarized political environment of the United States.

“People put on their dating profile, ‘If you voted for Trump, swipe left.’ You know, you don’t see things on Yukon Tinder like, “Must vote for Sandy Silver, or like, Trudeau.’”

McColl said she had mulled over a dating column for a number of years. When podcasting started gaining ground, she considered an audio version of that idea. A year ago she began brainstorming ideas and eventually approached Patrick about being a co-host.

She figured he had experience with the dating scene – since she’d spotted his profile on Tinder.

“When this comes up I like to joke and say ‘I totally thought it was a pick-up line’,” admits Patrick with a laugh. “But to be totally honest I was a bit flattered and I’d always wanted to do some radio. I thought it would be a lot of fun.”

The duo did end up having chemistry as podcasts hosts. Patrick admits he can be a bit of a rambler, while McColl brings the journalistic focus.

Together they keep it light-hearted, but they’ve also been successful getting locals to open up with the funny and dramatic stories of dating in small towns.

“I just felt really honoured that people were willing to share these stories. I guess that’s one thing that surprised me since I started, this is just how much I’m learning,” said McColl.

“I thought this podcast would be entertaining, but people are sharing these sort of heartfelt stories and other people are listening. One of my friends said, ‘It made me feel better realizing the other people are going through these challenges.’”

For their podcast launch, Frisky is partnering with an online speed-dating platform to offer a virtual speed dating event for opposite-sex couples on Feb. 24. McColl said if it’s a success they hope to host more than one during COVID-19.

Lest you have a bleak view of love in the Yukon after scrolling too much on Whitehorse Anonymous, Patrick and McColl tend to have a pretty optimistic view of dating in the North, having both moved to the city after experiences in much smaller communities.

“I think everybody kind of learns pretty quickly that the dating pool here is pretty small. That can be challenging both for dating and for breaking up. I do hear on the far side of the scale, people sometimes pondering ‘I might have to move away if I don’t meet someone,’ but in non-COVID times, I think there’s enough circulation of people here,” she said.

Patrick agrees. In the first episode, he notes that the transient nature of the North can make long-term dating tough. While the summer always brings a new influx of people, he’s also spent time “trying to convince people to stay.”

It’s also a small community, where circles overlap and gossip spreads quickly.

“The thing about Whitehorse though is that I feel like there’s a constant influx, and they are like-minded folk in search of something. I feel like what connects us all is this spirit of adventure,” he said.

“My sense of the dating scene here is that it’s not as bad as it is in most small towns. Once you get out to the communities, it’s certainly like doing your homework first. If you want to date or if you feel lonely, it can be really tough in smaller places,” he said.

Patrick and McColl both recognize that there are lots of different experiences of love and dating in the North. A couple in Whitehorse will inevitably have a different experience than a couple in Mayo. In the future, they’re also hoping to feature some episodes among the LGBT and queer community.

But finding podcast guests is a bit like finding love – it all depends on people putting themselves out there. And a big dose of trust.

“It’s about connection. People seeing themselves in some way in another person’s life or experience and then being like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m not the only one who’s frustrated by this, or who has found love in this way, or has had their heart broken in this way,’” he explains.

“Whether you’re a foreigner in this country, or you’re born and raised, or you’re part of the queer community, I think we all have similar hearts in that when we open up, we could be hurt or we could a very amazing connection. And I’m so grateful we’ve had people express interest in coming on and open to sharing their stories,” he said.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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