Dr. Laurie Betito has taught Montreal sex-ed for the past 30 years. She is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sexuality. She is the host of PASSION, a nightly talk show on CJAD 800. She is an author; a TED Talk alumna; has presented on radio, television, and for live audiences; and she still finds time to run two clinics.
When asked how she manages to balance so many projects, her response was: “That’s just one part of it.”
Her welcoming and outgoing personality has made it easy for her to dive into discussion about sex education. “I’m not quite sure how it all began. I’ve been doing this for close to 30 years now,” she said. “I’ve always been able to talk openly and candidly about anything.” Complimented by her formal university education, as well as years of training and experience in the field of sex therapy, Dr. Laurie’s reputation as Montreal’s most influential sexual health expert has only grown.
Though her schedule is busy, Dr. Laurie wouldn’t have it any other way. She values the diverse platform to help others that her career has granted. “I’ve had the privilege to reach many people through radio, television, and print,” she said. “To me, it’s a privilege and an honour to talk to that many people, rather than just stay in my office.”
Dr. Laurie’s radio experience dates to MIX 96’s weekly talk show called The Love Line, on which Dr. Laurie was a frequent host. “We had a lot of followers,” she said. “Young people calling in just asking their sex questions.” Its success inspired the creation of PASSION, her late-night talk show that discusses everything and anything related to sex.
Many Montrealers have grown up listening to PASSION—it has been on the air 18 years. Listeners range from ages 15 through to 90 years. The audience has become especially younger since the advent of text messaging, as well as the talk show’s use of social media. The anonymity of text messaging has also led to a noticeable increase in questions over the years. Despite the range of age among listeners, all generations can learn something from the show.
Creating and maintaining open discussions about sexual health are important to Dr. Laurie. “It’s a natural part of life,” she said. “If I can help one person, I’ve done my job. Help one person feel less alone; one person feel more normal.”
If you’ve tuned in, you know that PASSION covers everything. “I don’t want to exclude anyone,” she said. “We’ve interviewed major porn stars, celebrities, anyone who has written books about sex.” Men, women, young, and old—and anyone in between. The point is to showcase as many perspectives as possible. Plus, CJAD has never censored Dr. Laurie. “They have been so respectful of my profession and have let me direct the show the way I want to.”
Now, PASSION airs in both Montreal and Toronto. The weekly highlights are also heard in Newfoundland. Dr. Laurie’s main goal of PASSION, and through her entire career is to “be available” for those with questions. The extended reach makes that even more possible.
One of Dr. Laurie’s most recently adopted roles is Director of Porn Hub’s Sexual Wellness Centre. “It’s a fabulous initiative,” she said. With 70 million users each day, “it is the best way to reach the most amount of people.”
Professionals in the field of sexuality offer education, support, and resources through the online Wellness Centre to those who frequent the website. “We try to balance the fantasy that people get from porn with real life information,” Dr. Laurie said. “The porn industry isn’t going away, so why not make it better?”
Despite the platform, Porn Hub does not censor Dr. Laurie’s discussions online either. “My professional integrity is the thing I guard the most. It’s important to me that I keep that integrity at all costs,” she said. “I write anti-porn blogs on their site. I talk from a science-based perspective. I present both sides of the argument.”
Through all of her different platforms and interactions with the public, Dr. Laurie values the response the most. “The fact that people are learning and taking away from it is gratifying,” she said. “I love every aspect of everything I do. It never feels like work.”
Tune in to PASSION on CJAD 800AM from 10 to 11pm weeknights.