That morning, Gino Chouinard is afflicted with vigorous seasonal allergies and the dose of antihistamines he had to swallow knocked him out a bit. But since the stroke of 6 a.m., the hundreds of thousands of viewers who have riveted themselves to the legendary daily newspaper of the old channel 10 have seen nothing but fire.

“The fact remains that I feel the wear and tear of the years more and more,” said the man who announced his departure from Salut Bonjour last November, scheduled for June 2024, much to the surprise of the show’s faithful.

Last week, the 55-year-old host interviewed former Prime Minister Pauline Marois. “Madame Marois said to me at the end: I am happy to have been able to visit you before you left. Gino’s eyes widen in disbelief, as if describing a sci-fi scene.

Observation: Gino Chouinard, the little guy from Saint-Augustin-de-Woburn, this Estrie village of less than 700 inhabitants, is obviously not aware that he is Gino Chouinard.

The road that led Gino Chouinard to the helm of the most popular morning show in Quebec was long. Very long. It was on May 10, 1989 that he participated in his first television recording as the house announcer of the Double Challenge quiz game. “And quite frankly, I didn’t really know what an in-house announcer was. “He will play the same role in Charivari and Fais-moi un dessin for four good years, then nothing. “Let’s go back to those years: doing TV and being called Gino was not a winner. I had the wind in my face. »

He will then be morning man in an AM radio in Joliette, presenter of a play on school dropout (Moi j’décroche pas), host of a film magazine shot in Quebec for TQS, cultural columnist (a little everywhere ) and host of the Les indices pensables quiz, before becoming helmsman of the weekend edition of Salut Bonjour in 2003.

In 2007, he finally took over during the week from Benoît Gagnon, the archetype of the cool guy in a leather coat whose triumph seemed inevitable. Beyond his talent as a communicator, will Gino Chouinard’s most important asset have been his lack of rough edges? “I do wonder if the role of the host of a show like this is not to please the greatest number, but to displease the least number. »

In order to pay for his studies at the Lassalle Conservatory, the one who first aspired to become an actor was also a beneficiary attendant at night in a hospital. “And I will always remember the four dead patients that I had to wrap up before going to carry them to the fridge,” he confides, in a suddenly more serious tone. “To understand that no matter what you accomplish in life, it’s a person you don’t know who is going to take you to the morgue, that very early kept me away from serious headaches with regard to the profession. . »

Humility, therefore. Facing life and facing his luck. Son of a postman and a seamstress, Gino Chouinard is one of those who struggles to really hear the compliments that are addressed to them. “I’m not a receiver, that’s not my job. I’m here to show off others. When Sabrina, Charles-Antoine, Mathieu and Georges [his collaborators] are happy, I’m happy. That’s all I care about. »

Why is Gino Chouinard leaving Salut Bonjour? Because his body and his head are whispering to him that the time has come. But it is also, it becomes clear at the end of the interview, in order to spend more time with the people he loves, including his mother, 83, who texts him regularly during his show.

A silence. Gino tries to swallow back his tears, but it won’t be possible. The facilitator gets up, goes behind the desk where he sits every morning and snatches a handkerchief from his hiding place.

“Do you know what? My mother moves me, because she is beautiful and she is a good person, a loving person. I come from her. »