Bert Canning; Haryy Boyle


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The Selkirk collection. 

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Of The Pioneers of Selkirk communications. 

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The following interview with Burt Cannings was recorded in January 1978 by **** Meisner. 

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Well, it’s February the 14th. 

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And Valentine’s Day. 

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And not that that’s relevant. 

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And I’m looking forward to having a chat with an old colleague and old friend Bert Cannings. 

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Bird is one of the broadcast news men of Canada. 

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As most of you will read, this document will know. 

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And is currently. 

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A self styled consultant, which means he’s doing I think basically what he wants to do and hopes to get paid for it. 

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That’s correct. 

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Tell me when did you? 

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You’re being pretty much in use in one form or another. 

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I guess most of your working life to date. 

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When did you first become interested in broadcasting? 47 years? When I retired in 74. So that suppose I started in 27 with the medicine. 

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Doing simply high school sports and. 

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The odd bit of material that wasn’t it wasn’t rewarding in terms of payment. It was rewarding in terms of seeing your own product in print. Were you born or Medicine Hat? Oh, yes. Were there back in 1811, a long time ago. 

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Goodyear. So was I. 

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Alright, yes, I was always interested in news academically. 

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I was a dud when it came to mathematics, but I had a way with words. 

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I always made very, very high marks in English and composition, grammar. 

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I don’t know what they call those things nowadays, but I do know that the present crop of graduates of many, many schools would are badly in need of. 

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The spelling direction they can’t spell with the name. 

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In any event, and yeah, I worked off and on on this. 

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I was also a Stringer for many papers, including Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press * Phoenix and Saskatoon, this old star and Regina. 

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The Albertan and the Edmonton Bull of. 

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The Vancouver province. 

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I made a few dollars here and there, which in those days the dollar meant a lot more than it does now. 

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And in 36 I had a chance to go to work as a staffer at $10 a week on the Calgary AB. 

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Part of the job at that time was to write. 

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Radio broadcast material from Mackay. 

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I forget his first name, who was the preeminent voice on CJCJ radio? 

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The mayors, who at that time that is correct. 

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So in later years he got turfed out with some he was using city cement to build a swimming pool or something. 

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But in any event, Mackay was only a voice. 

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He didn’t have much leaning on in terms of understanding you, so anything we served up to him, he read and that was. 

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Lively or compendium of police news or political stuff that was taken directly from the wire? 

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Not we give him straight wire copy, just rip off the top two paragraphs of any story. 

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We CFCF had attained some preeminence as a not CFCF. 

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I’m sorry CJCJ preeminence as a new station, but it was really very, very artificial in terms of what is done now in terms of manpower, training and equipment. 

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Then in the 39 has not the magnificent one of the sum of 1250 a week, and in the three years prior to 39 I had, I met Sam Ross. 

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He was the Bureau chief of Canadian Press, came to Calgary every two weeks to see how things were going. 

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With him in 39, I covered a royal visit and there I found the depth of the man in terms of his experience and the way he used words. 

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I learned a lot from the men that learned a great deal from him later. 

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In any event, in 39 before the war was declared, I joined up because they were paying $70.00 a month of everything found and I was making out. 

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It’s 12:50 or whatever. 

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$50.00 at the station and finding everything myself. 

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So again they they floated the. 

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The DS Brigade in 1940, which was public relations to the Armed service, and they were looking the people newspaper newspaper experience. 

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They went after us, but because he only had one eye, they wouldn’t take him, so he recommended me and as a result of his intervention I received my Commission. 

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I kept touch with him. He was still in the Canadian Press in 44 late 43, the Taylor Person Carson organization seconded him from Canadian Press to start organizing newsrooms at the various stations and their chains, which at that time extended from Victoria to Hamilton. 

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In 1944, he called me from Quebec and asked me to come up and meet tidy Elfick, who was manager of CWX Vancouver. 

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I did so and I was quite impressed with the urbanity of of the Mr. 

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Elphick and. 

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How he handled all the problems that popped into his room as I was sitting there waiting to talk to him. 

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In 1945, when I was trying to get out of the service. 

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With the hope of going to the Pacific to the Japanese war, Sam offered me a job as a writer at CWX. 

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Sam was just starting to build one of the. 

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First, sophisticated radio newsrooms in the country, Vegas. 

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Well, I think it was the 1st and not only at WX because. 

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He was doing. 

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The thing he missed? 

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Prince George. 

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You missed trailing Miss Grand Prairie, but Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Regina, Winnipeg and. 

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And Hamilton, he had a a heavy hand in organizing and directing the original policy of these stations, right. 

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They had a tremendous fight with managers of the day who figured they knew what they wanted. 

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That being, the professionally was same kind of into letting him try it, and they were quite pleased with the results after I think it was a six months effort they gave him in each. 

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So he selected the men, selected the policy, selected the machines which is the old press, news became broadcast news. 

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All these things started to run and he was able to concentrate more of his time and WX, which he was bound. He was bound, was going to be his home base. In 45 I went there and. 

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I had a lot to learn. 

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I’d been writing. 

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I’ve done a lot of in the Air Force, but in in the PR branch. 

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But certainly Sam insisted on a style that he wanted to be distinctive. 

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His reasoning was that if Time magazine can put out by sentence construction a type of writing that’s recognized by the. 

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People reading it or hearing it on air, we could try to do that with our broadcast stations and he was working on WX at the time on that. He had many little things like putting your action in your verbs instead of your adjectives. 

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Short sentences. 

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Avoid alliteration. 

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He had all kinds of things that he was very he was a taskmaster in a hard one in many degrees, because he insisted on these things being done. 

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I was able to pick it up a little faster than some of the others because I’d. 

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Had the newspaper and the writing experience Air Force? 

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In 1947. 

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I believe it was, Sam became. 

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The assistant manager of WX. 

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Yes, that’s that’s that’s about the right here, I think. 

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Maybe it was 48 and Strumica had gone to to Regina and he offered me the post of of. 

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News director. 

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And being young and comparatively and brash, I immediately took off in several directions, but I was brought up quite sharply by Sam saying he wanted done this way. 

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He didn’t tell me how to do it. 

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He told me what he wanted and he left us the the range of our local initiative and and imagination and drive so that we could develop ourselves without being attended by a a thing that you have to do this you have to do that. 

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Same was a very, very good man in that respect and he was a leader by imitation. 

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He would show you he would do it, and then you hoping you’d pick it up. 

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Well, the kids are sitting down hammering your skull and saying this is the way I want it. 

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You did it that way. 

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I want it this way. 

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You do it by example and it was a very good way. 

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Most of us caught. 

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Some lived in that newsroom more than he lived in the assistant manager’s office, and I often thought it was because he wasn’t this familiar with the job of of assistant manager, which covered promotion and sales and engineering and programming, and the whole bit as he was with use which he had. 

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Originally established there. 

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I saw the pressures on him and. 

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I I don’t think. 

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I think he was sorry he took on the job. 

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Sam was the news man like. 

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There was very little that. 

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He could do. 

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Without being criticized by the experts and. 

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In programming like Council and Laurie Irving, Jack. 

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Sales and sales. 

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Charlie Smith in engineering and I forget who was running the promotion department, but. 

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I left in 1955 and some at that point appeared to be reaching some kind of a climax and determination. 

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We used to don’t have the odd beer down below us at that Tavern on the lane that had the screwed up one corner. 

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And he he would he would talk as if he would just. 

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Not not a confession. 

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We’d sort of talk out loud. 

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I think he. 

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Said how felt that he had been. 

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He felt short. 

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Circuited whether because of his lack of interest or attitude and not just, I don’t know. 

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But he he was. 

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Uncomfortable with the job anyway. I left in 55 to join the staff in Montreal and it was about. 

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A year and a half later that I saw on the wire that Sam was coming down to organize what was eventually called by his designation, the Radio Bureau. 

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And this involves the preparing short bursts of of the voice clips from Model Law, which were fed over wires to the member stations of of the television Carson. 

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Which eventually became shelter. 

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There was a tremendous opposition to him by some of the member stations because they hated the extra Co. 

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There was also the fact that many of the news directors of those stations were graduates of the same law school. 

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And if they’d ever taken numbers that anything he said or did, this was now the time to express it. 

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It seemed, because they. 

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They criticized him severely and Sam was due to tape tape wasn’t his Forte at all. 

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He was used to writing. 

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And broadcasting and interviewing. 

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But this tape was creeping. 

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In and I. 

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Must say going back as far as 47. 

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He bought 2 wire taper a wire recorders that RCA wire recorders that we were able. 

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Either use the laborious process you had to transfer it from the wire onto a disc that put the disc on the air. 

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Yeah, yeah. 

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But he was well ahead of his time in terms of using this. 

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I think he saw it as something of the future. 

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And then the event he was catapulted into this business where he had to put out what he thought about. 

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And he ran into this opposition. 

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He felt a little bitter about it, but Jerry Gates and Carson and Elvick. 

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They were all protecting his flanks and they they they knew that they had a a gem in loss. 

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He went through the pangs of being a pioneer, you know. 

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Oh yes. 

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And if if he wasn’t, they weren’t paying him really for what he was doing. 

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But for what he had contributed to the whole state. 

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Because at this time the news rooms. 

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At first, like mushrooms. 

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And they were really doing well. 

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There were rental ratings, ratings were at the real fact of. 

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From roughly the late 40s on and we didn’t become aware of them in Vancouver until CKNW had knocked us out of first place by either hiring my personnel or with its top dog thing that it was using. 

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But we knew what ratings were, and Sam had been very much involved in creating these. 

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These ratings for the stations in some markets, particularly C, FAC and Calgary, and CJC and Edmonton. 

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CKRM in Regina was slow CRC and Winnipeg was limping a bit, but it was still ahead, but it was not too far ahead. 

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London was way ahead, build concentration, I think was CKC, if I recall, the Hamilton in Hamilton, yes, yes. 

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And that same frequently, he was slowing down the. 

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He he had a very, very comforting soulmate, and his wife, Anna. 

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She remember I went home with him a couple of nights and she took him over just as if he had had a hard day and he had to be treated. 

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But she she had the good home atmosphere for it, and Sam just blossomed like the Rosen. 

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When they get into that menu, he might be dragging his. 

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He did better drag his failure when he was in. 

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The first in time. 

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Talked when he got home. 

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He was a different man. 

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He had his kids, they were all growing up at that time. 

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It it went along. 

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Then again it came to about. 

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Oh, I don’t know. Just when he retired, but I made frequent trips to the coast, and every time I went up there, we always had a card game at Sam Ross’s house on 57th Ave. I believe it was. There was Roy, always Roy Harris and Lori Irving. 

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Sometimes call George. 

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I forget they’re they were all sides. It was a friendly game, $10 limit. Nobody got hurt. We were able to sort of talk over the old times and we knew every. 

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Became a bit of a recluse. 

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He had this trip to Jamaica where he he went down on the Canadian executives overseas. 

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It was and this. 

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Was a gimmick whereby you and your wife could. 

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Go to a. 

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Foreign country and the government. 

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They got no money, but the government would supply all your. 

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Expenses including fare and your home, your service, your food. 

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So he would do one of the Caribbean islands. 

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I don’t whether with Jamaica or not. 

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And he had a good track record there. And I know this because I applied for when I retired in 74 and they spoke of him as being the hallmark of achievement for broadcasters where he went and showed the government how to organize news. Now I understand that he was constrained a bit in that. 

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Being a government owned station that had to carry government and I think this this irked him because he had been so accustomed to the to the free and easy flow of private enterprise versus government Canada. 

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But he suffered a minor stroke and that left him. 

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He was still busily, well, alert. 

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He was bent a bit. 

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He shuffled a bit. 

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But the thing that I notice. 

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About him is that the the better. 

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It is that over he used to speak bitterly of. 

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He built the. 

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The Radio Bureau in Ottawa. 

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It’s that vast amounts of time. 

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Don’t forget he went back the time Harvey Bennett and all these people and he knew Ottawa through the Canadian Press, he very emphatic upon expressing this in news, Canadian politics. 

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So he built up a vast store of old, answered reports that have gone back to the year. 

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And he was very bitter about the fact that his successor not allowed thrown these out as garbage. 

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They were almost museum pieces have been on, but anyway they were, they were thrown out and he. 

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Was better, of course. 

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The thing that happened here, ****, was that there was the modern approach to things, you know, do it quickly. 

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Don’t bother about boards and files. 

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You can always phone somebody and get it if you want it so. 

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The thing that the the radio bearer took on was a a busy busy thing with more stations that joined the network. 

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They were all younger people that wanted short clips. 

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Sam would want to. 

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If somebody got up in the house and said something, Sam would like to establish the reason why in the original voice of the of the person giving the state. 

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But not in modern radio. Modern really wants the 30 to 42nd clip in out pack the newscast. 

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The sound I think could correct me if I’m wrong was the. 

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Broadcast news man to be accepted in the Press Gallery. 

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That’s right. 

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He became the first man to enter the first to media man in terms of broadcast media to be in the gallery. 

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He was the first to become as president, which he discharged that office very normally. 

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I’m so I’m told by people in Ottawa. 

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I was sorry to hear that he had died, but. 

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His life wasn’t as full in Vancouver as he’d likely to be. 

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He was teaching at Vancouver College a couple of days a week. 

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But I think he missed it. 

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He missed it. 

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Just meeting people. 

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That was his Forte and meeting people. 

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You could meet them. 

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Well, make them feel comfortable. 

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He could draw things out of them and he missed this because I think he was not ashamed. 

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But he felt a little embarrassed by his condition. 

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He was shuffling, and then the essay were, of course it’s been over. 

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But then. 

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Anyway, I like to continue roughly about tiny Alfie, cause sad, bitter person 44 and and and I was quite impressed by this diplomat image he projected. 

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When he. 

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Spoke with people on the phone or in the room while I was waiting to talk with. 

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When I went out there at 45, he called me in and simply said, Sam says. We could use you, you said. 

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Like to give you a whirl at it. 

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So I took a whirl. 

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I used to suffer a bit. 

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When, as the years went by, when I was news director from 47 to 55, in that very often I would project something, and if he didn’t think it was quite right, I was consult Sam and my thinking in Sam thinking, you know, we weren’t always parallel. 

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So over time you would come back and say, well, maybe you should try this way. 

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You never say do it. 

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You always say yes. 

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And it was always the suggestion that if you didn’t do it, you’d be shot it down. 

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So you always agreed with them. 

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Tony’s big effort in life, of course, was to take us over to the Terminal City club and this was a great event because first he knew his wines and to most of us from Vancouver, meat, potatoes, man wines or something. 

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Were somewhere, and if you knew this, you were up in the up there somewhere with experience that none of us might ever match. 

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Yeah, but I always used to think it was pre arranged that he he’d go in and the guide given the wine list and he’d go down and say, well, is that that my fellow make some remarks and tiny would make some observation but always wanted that they had the same wine. 

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The meal was over, so all the daylight that one of. 

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But these were big events. 

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These businesses that. 

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The term at the Turtle City Club and we we didn’t accomplish much when we went in. 

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Tiny dominated it tiny, tiny had his own ideas about everything, and he simply nodded your head or the only thing everything through with tidy was we used to hold his hand to all parties. 

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And quite often they were in the Hotel Georgia. 

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We had a fellow named Herb Green who was the caretaker and he seemed to feel that once a year, at the end of the party, when he got himself stoked up a little bit, that he could get up and build everybody, including the President and general manager, right down to the lowest slob in the station, he deferred. 

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He wasn’t very well. 

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Indicated man, but in his. 

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Sort of chubby cockney accent. 

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He could tear strips off. 

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I I used to hear tidy sometimes afterwards make remarks. 

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So we have to stop this blankety blank or pick him in this situation. 

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I think it became a nuisance too. 

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It’s it’s heard that older. 

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Yes, probably. 

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And that does. 

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Tiny was pioneering quite a bit the team. 

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Was also a bargain hunter. 

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Tiny used to feel that why should I make mistakes of my own? 

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Let me learn by others mistakes. 

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So he brought in people like. 

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The rhythm Palace there had been a legend on seek and Dublin at Westminster for a long time, but he brought them in and. 

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They didn’t have a new title, do you, impetus or even a? 

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New we we slugged them. 

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1/2 hour earlier than HW did. 

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They did a heck of a job for a long time. 

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He brought in the Bell brother and sister. 

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I see that the bell sporadically now is singing in operas around the world. 

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But at the behest of a fellow named **** Dispeker, who used to work at the Herald and, at least at the Vancouver Delhi province, and when the province went on strike, and always more or less took over the station, Clyde Gilmore was doing the funny. 

00:21:11 Speaker 2 

And the police reporter was doing his bit. 

00:21:14 Speaker 2 

Yeah, the the specter was doing the the broadcast for them, but they sponsored the news. 

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**** was doing a staff job with CJR at that time too. 

00:21:22 Speaker 3 

I think I don’t recall. 

00:21:24 Speaker 2 

But then the event. 

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These speculate prevailed on tiny to bring in the the Bell brother and sister. 

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They were beautiful voices, but they weren’t getting any acknowledgement in the Vancouver audience. 

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And he did that, build the basis of what time did the bells got a contract with CBC. 

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And they went on to whatever glory they’ve attained. 

00:21:44 Speaker 2 

And and as I said, I’ve heard them in, in recent years and different offers. 

00:21:48 Speaker 2 

They’re not. 

00:21:49 Speaker 2 

You know, they’re not carusos or anything, but they’re very good voice. 

00:21:53 Speaker 2 

They know the points being made in in several of the interviews. 

00:21:58 Speaker 3 

That I’ve had during the last month. 

00:22:02 Speaker 3 

That had it not been for private stations like CWX. 

00:22:08 Speaker 3 

Developing talent. 

00:22:09 Speaker 3 

Giving talent its first major opportunity. 

00:22:14 Speaker 3 

For exposure, CBC. 

00:22:17 Speaker 2 

Would have been in dire straits to staff its own creative departments, because that’s where they came from. 

00:22:25 Speaker 2 

Well, I think I remember at one point I thought Tony was going to jump in front of the DC electric bus. 

00:22:31 Speaker 2 

But we had had 20 questions and we were doing really well with it and all of a sudden CBC took it from us and gave it to or in the same time slot. 

00:22:41 Speaker 2 

And that was the thing that he’d spent a lot of money on promoting it and building up an audience. 

00:22:47 Speaker 2 

And I just forget the year that was. 

00:22:48 Speaker 2 

But he was bitter about that. 

00:22:50 Speaker 2 

The CBC had just arbitrarily taken it from us and giving it to our competitors the same. 

00:22:56 Speaker 2 

I don’t know how he was on developing talent. 

00:22:58 Speaker 2 

I well. 

00:23:00 Speaker 2 

I do remember a. 

00:23:01 Speaker 2 

Lot of people were launch from WX into the broadcast world. 

00:23:04 Speaker 2 

Oh, it was a very fertile. 

00:23:09 Speaker 3 

Beginning point for our great money. 

00:23:13 Speaker 3 

Particularly well, I don’t say particularly, but that’s not true. 

00:23:17 Speaker 3 

It was. 

00:23:19 Speaker 3 

It was a breeding place for performing talents and for the administrative and business side of broadcasting. 

00:23:28 Speaker 3 

Is a great money, great money of the senior people in the administrative. 

00:23:35 Speaker 3 

Side of the industry in Canada. 

00:23:38 Speaker 3 

Came out of the KWX at one. 

00:23:40 Speaker 3 

Time or another. 

00:23:41 Speaker 2 

That’s true. 

00:23:41 Speaker 2 

And you know, actually, that’s one of the strengths of of my existence nowadays. 

00:23:45 Speaker 2 

I can still go across this country and go to many towns and simply know that the Johnson’s manager. 

00:23:52 Speaker 2 

And you go to them and you know you don’t just you sit down 1st and take 5 minutes to talk about the old times. 

00:23:58 Speaker 2 

That’s right. 

00:23:59 Speaker 2 

And then you have lunch and you talk about everything, but there are many, many scattered across the country. 

00:24:04 Speaker 2 

Two of Victoria no Cooper used to be working newsmen became president of his own broadcast. 

00:24:09 Speaker 2 

CFX answered at CJ VI. 

00:24:14 Speaker 2 

Earl MacLeod. 

00:24:15 Speaker 2 

He’s in Lethbridge at. 

00:24:17 Speaker 2 

On backwards old station. 

00:24:17 Speaker 3 

COCGOC and. 

00:24:22 Speaker 2 

You know, it’s built scout who’s still there. 

00:24:25 Speaker 2 

Got there. 

00:24:26 Speaker 2 

That a lot of people Rush Shepherd, who went on to become personal assistant to Ernest Manning. 

00:24:36 Speaker 2 

A lot of them went out and salesman. 

00:24:38 Speaker 2 

He dad knows I meet so many of them that used to be out that way. 

00:24:42 Speaker 3 

Hurt you, I think, became to rear off at the slight tangent. 

00:24:49 Speaker 3 

Along the way after. 

00:24:53 Speaker 3 

The time period we’ve been speaking about. 

00:24:56 Speaker 3 

You became the first Canadian president of the radio television. 

00:25:01 Speaker 3 

News directors association. 

00:25:03 Speaker 2 

No, actually you find me out of that one. 

00:25:06 Speaker 2 

I I built it up into 59. 

00:25:11 Speaker 2 

60 P 6061. 

00:25:14 Speaker 2 

There were two of us running for President of RTD International, and I came to you told me it was going to take roughly four months to raise. The station was going to cost $7000. 

00:25:24 Speaker 2 

You just think it warranted that you also advanced a very legit logical argument that, with the President of this international group, very good front of congressional committees, how would it appear in America? 

00:25:35 Speaker 2 

Canadian arguing American causes? 

00:25:38 Speaker 2 

So I I withdrew from that. I didn’t realize I I was the 2nd President of the Authority of Canada. We found about 62 and. 

00:25:45 Speaker 3 

Ah, yes, yes. 

00:25:50 Speaker 2 

Yet to get it paid off well and for the station, and it paid off more than your sense because long Guardia, Canadian and international. 

00:26:00 Speaker 2 

To save having buying an expensive voice thing, it might cost anywhere from 10 to 20,000 a year in those days. 

00:26:07 Speaker 2 

You know everybody, so you could phone up and get a beeper from them. 

00:26:10 Speaker 2 

Yes, yes, so. 

00:26:11 Speaker 2 

It it had its advantages, I I enjoyed that business. 

00:26:17 Speaker 2 

But I’ll tell you. 

00:26:19 Speaker 2 

In this process, at that time we had an integrated shop at CFCF, Montreal, which was television and radio, and it was always an ongoing process because right, you thought it was the poor country cousin of the more expensive and flamboyant television. 

00:26:37 Speaker 2 

And they they never seem to get the the same money, the same thrust, the same promotion, as did the richer sister. 

00:26:47 Speaker 2 

It it worked out itself eventually we we were able to run the integrated shop, save a lot of money and notice now they separated them. 

00:26:55 Speaker 2 

They’re two separate shop, they’ve double staff double facilities and doubled their cost and their. 

00:27:02 Speaker 2 

To achieve this. 

00:27:04 Speaker 2 

But CFCF set standards, in fact. 

00:27:09 Speaker 2 

And your ages and the people who followed you, who became a Manning depot for the broadcast industry, let me give you Twitter examples. 

00:27:17 Speaker 2 

CCTV took six when the lady over at CFO got his pretty Boy syndrome four years back. 

00:27:24 Speaker 2 

He stole Martino Fedderly, Tom Clark and Tom somebody. 

00:27:30 Speaker 2 

Four beautiful young lads with a nice overbite, teeth and a clean neck. 

00:27:34 Speaker 2 

And they all became his point abuse casters and reporters. CBC’s got 15th, 15th. 

00:27:41 Speaker 2 

They took over the years. 

00:27:42 Speaker 2 

In fact, they left so desperate here just a year ago that they even stole Andrew Markee. 

00:27:49 Speaker 2 

Hoping that they’d be able to undermine whatever CFCF it’s established in the the news audience in that market. 

00:27:55 Speaker 2 

It hasn’t done that much good CFCF marches on. 

00:27:58 Speaker 2 

I still think that. 

00:28:01 Speaker 2 

Like WX enjoyed its its pre eminence up to 1951 when N.W.A started to make inroads on the ratings, knocked us over in 52 and established very firmly in 53. 

00:28:10 Speaker 3 

All right. 

00:28:18 Speaker 2 

They established a something in the market CFRB here in Toronto, or CFO, CFF Radio, television and CD Radio. 

00:28:26 Speaker 2 

They get in there first and they establish a listening habit that it’s so hard to beat. 

00:28:30 Speaker 2 

No, it’s so hard to beat. 

00:28:31 Speaker 4 


00:28:33 Speaker 2 

But I think that. 

00:28:36 Speaker 2 

Sam Ross at WWX established trails at many stations just straight imitated. 

00:28:42 Speaker 2 

I know it’s stuff that we had so many people come and pick our brains, even steal people. 

00:28:50 Speaker 2 

They took our manual, their training manual, which had been prepared over the years on how how we did things. 

00:28:57 Speaker 2 

I’m quite sure that much of the strength of what happened at WX in the old days. 

00:29:02 Speaker 2 

With Sam, the people who followed him. 

00:29:05 Speaker 2 

And in CFCF they contributed more to the broadcast. 

00:29:10 Speaker 2 

Industry coast to coast. 

00:29:13 Speaker 2 

More Western on the Atlantic, but certainly on the Atlantic too, they’ve contributed more than. 

00:29:19 Speaker 2 

Any other broadcast station? 

00:29:21 Speaker 3 

And main comes to mind in this discussion, Bert. 

00:29:26 Speaker 3 

With whom? 

00:29:26 Speaker 3 

You must have had a lot of association, Charlie Edwards. 

00:29:31 Speaker 2 

Oh yes, Charlie. 

00:29:33 Speaker 3 

I missed Charlie when I visited Vancouver fairly recently because I. 

00:29:39 Speaker 3 

Had been misinformed or misunderstood. 

00:29:41 Speaker 3 

I thought he was living on Vancouver Island. 

00:29:44 Speaker 3 

And he’s living out of the wassen. 

00:29:47 Speaker 3 

South of Vancouver, there they they. 

00:29:50 Speaker 3 

Industrial Porter, you know. 

00:29:52 Speaker 2 

Well, I see Charlie at least once a year. 

00:29:56 Speaker 2 

Charlie was the the best thing that ever happened to broadcasting in this sense. 

00:30:00 Speaker 2 

At first he had a track record of achievement. 

00:30:02 Speaker 2 

He followed Sam Moss into the old Press news and named, renamed it Broadcast News. 

00:30:07 Speaker 2 

And while Sam had projected more of the Canadian Press skills into, it charted a little further than that. 

00:30:15 Speaker 2 

He saw that there was a difference in. 

00:30:17 Speaker 2 

And writing for the eye, which is newspaper writing for the year, which is broadcasting, and you change things around so that he he set little forms in motion that have been adopted in the no standard in every radio station in the country. 

00:30:30 Speaker 2 

But his big strength was the fact that he was a man that was respected by managers and could still sit down and forget all the managerial. 

00:30:37 Speaker 2 

You haven’t talked to newsmen I’ve seen this year after year after year at all these broadcast conferences, they hold broadcast news. 

00:30:44 Speaker 2 

Or RTD. 

00:30:45 Speaker 2 

But there’s always this difference, and I remember, particularly in 1968 when they had formed the RT and the CRTC and Juno came in as its his first head. Nobody had seen him. 

00:30:59 Speaker 2 

Charlie and I get to working on them and we prevailed upon him to come. 

00:31:03 Speaker 2 

To Victoriaville, where the French section where he and he was being held the Convention. 

00:31:10 Speaker 2 

You know, at that time we had more managers and program managers we had. 

00:31:14 Speaker 2 

He came out to see this guy and see the vision of what he was or what he represented. 

00:31:19 Speaker 2 

And I can’t say that through what he talked to us about news that they learned any. 

00:31:28 Speaker 5 

The date is May 19, 1988 and the site is Carleton University in Ottawa. ON this is Raymie Canwell interviewing Bert Cannings, retired radio and television news man and consultant. 

00:31:39 Speaker 5 

He first turned out radio copy for station CJCJ, owned by the Calgary Albertan, while reporting for that station in 1936. 

00:31:48 Speaker 5 

For the previous nine years, he had been a Stringer for the Albertan and eight other newspapers out of Medicine Hat. 

00:31:53 Speaker 5 

In August 1939, he joined the RCAF as disciplinarian and received a Commission on public affairs in 1941, after service in Iceland, Canada. The allusions in the Caribbean he joined C KWX Radio in Vancouver in 1945. 

00:32:08 Speaker 5 

Under Sam Ross in 1955, he joined CFCF Radio at Montreal, developed its newsroom and in 1960 established and ran the CFCF TV newsroom and Public Affairs Division. He retired in 1974 and became a news and public affairs consultant. 

00:32:26 Speaker 5 

He put the city TV newsroom to air in Toronto in 1976, reorganized CFAC radio newsroom in Calgary in 1979. 

00:32:34 Speaker 5 

He brought new life to CFCF radio news in 1979. From 1980 to 1985, he was at CHCH TV in Hamilton, reorganizing The Newsroom and establishing a public affairs. 

00:32:46 Speaker 5 

Vision he was inducted into the News Hall of Fame in 1982. Since 1985, he has been living in Ottawa. 

00:32:54 Speaker 5 

Canning has you’ve been in the news broadcasting business for over 40 years. 

00:32:58 Speaker 5 

How did you start? 

00:33:00 Speaker 2 

Well, I started in radio writing and editing in 1936 for the Calgary Albertan, which owned radio station CJCJ. 

00:33:07 Speaker 2 

I prepared a news cast from the CP wire copy in our own blacks. 

00:33:11 Speaker 2 

That’s Dukes of the local material and delivered it to the to Don Mackay some six blocks away. 

00:33:18 Speaker 2 

I went to WWX radio in Vancouver under Sam Ross. 

00:33:22 Speaker 2 

Now there we got our copy from the BN wire, but rewrote the papers. 

00:33:26 Speaker 2 

If BN did not have the story at the time we had bought the papers into. 

00:33:30 Speaker 2 

Newsroom recovered police fire, City Hall, labor and service comes with their own staff of five, which did desk shifts as well as St. 

00:33:39 Speaker 2 

Now Vancouver Daily sponsored daily newscasts. 

00:33:41 Speaker 2 

The province at 6:00 PM and the Sun at 11:00 PM, and one advantage for us was that to make their newscasts sound timely, they milked their tomorrow paper for tonight’s local news. 

00:33:52 Speaker 2 

In the big ITU strike in 1947, province reporters and editors read sections of the paper on the in the newscasts. For instance, Clyde Gilmore read all the comic strips. 

00:34:04 Speaker 2 

In 43 Canadian Press started what was called Press news under Sam Ross and because of the spate of wartime news, station managers were more aware of the value of news and programming. 

00:34:15 Speaker 2 

A1 Private group the Taylor Pearson, Carson Company of Calgary owned and operated some 11 stations from Vancouver to Hamilton. 

00:34:23 Speaker 2 

They kidnapped Sam Ross with the idea of creating their own news network, but the BN, or press user was then known. 

00:34:30 Speaker 2 

Did such a good job that they diverted Ross, who became godfather of the news rooms on the radio chain? 

00:34:38 Speaker 2 

I became new director in 47 when Ross moved up to assistant manager and I started coverage of the BC legislature. 

00:34:45 Speaker 2 

I used to file voice clips from by phone and overhead storage by Canadian Pacific Telegraph. 

00:34:50 Speaker 2 

One year we installed a teletype link between the press gallery and The Newsroom in Vancouver, and I filed stories directly to air. 

00:34:58 Speaker 2 

I went, I went to Montreal CFCF radio in 1955. 

00:35:04 Speaker 2 

And my secret LWX manager was Tiny Elphick, who believed strongly in involving the station individual, the public, he and all department heads were in various service clubs or civic committees. 

00:35:15 Speaker 2 

The WX newsroom was the biggest and best on the West Coast until 53, and then with smart promotion and by stealing some of our better people. 

00:35:24 Speaker 2 

We lost ground in ratings to CKNW in New Westminster. 

00:35:28 Speaker 2 

We lost a powerhouse in experience and policy when Sam Moss left for Ottawa. That was in about 1957 to set up a radio news Bureau for the Taylor Pearson Carson chain, now known as all candidate. 

00:35:41 Speaker 2 

He was the first bright private broadcaster to join the Ottawa Press Gallery. 

00:35:46 Speaker 2 

Each of the TPC stations contributed to the cost of the Ottawa Radio Bureau. 

00:35:50 Speaker 2 

Sam file through BN stories about local MP’s. There was no voice copy on BNN until the 60s. 

00:35:59 Speaker 5 

Now Mr. 

00:35:59 Speaker 5 

Catting is a technology plays a big role in radio. 

00:36:02 Speaker 5 

What was the development of the equipment? 

00:36:04 Speaker 5 

Over your years. 

00:36:07 Speaker 2 

In the early days, we had no tape recorders. In fact, there was no motivation to actually put live voices on the air outside of the announcers voice at WX, we used an RCA wire recorder. 

00:36:19 Speaker 2 

It was very, very clumsy with good trebles and poor bases. 

00:36:24 Speaker 2 

If clips were required for air, we had to dub. 

00:36:27 Speaker 2 

Our pieces to a 14 inch disc and it was very, very difficult to find the end cues. 

00:36:33 Speaker 2 

If you use two or more clips for news. 

00:36:35 Speaker 2 

Yes, the first economical tape recorder I think was the wire rack. 

00:36:39 Speaker 2 

It was a British bank. 

00:36:40 Speaker 2 

It was about 14 inches long by 6 by 6 square and high and it was hand wound like an old gramophone. 

00:36:50 Speaker 2 

And then they brought in the battery model. 

00:36:52 Speaker 2 

The sound was good. 

00:36:53 Speaker 2 

Now Ampex had excellent machines. 

00:36:55 Speaker 2 

But they weren’t portable for a one man crew. 

00:36:58 Speaker 2 

In 58, I think it was the Germans came out with the yore, but they were not too reliable. 

00:37:03 Speaker 2 

Philips had a very good machine, but it was too expensive for our taste. Now always and forever. Always station engineers had to quote, modify, UN quote the new machines. And really all they needed was sometimes a different microphone Jack in Montreal. 

00:37:18 Speaker 2 

I added walkie talkies to The Newsroom, which were invaluable in the riots, marching bombings, kidnappings and killings in the 60s and 1970. 

00:37:29 Speaker 5 

Now contacts are very important for a journalist. 

00:37:31 Speaker 5 

What was your most frequent contacts while you were in radio news? 

00:37:35 Speaker 2 

Well, we worked on the two things. 

00:37:38 Speaker 2 

One was the output of news and two was the readiness to confirm news. 

00:37:42 Speaker 2 

So I encourage contacts with police and politicians far and away. 

00:37:47 Speaker 2 

They were the most prolific sources of news. 

00:37:49 Speaker 2 

I had a very good report of the city, provincial and federal police as an example. 

00:37:54 Speaker 2 

We would get an officer of any rank, uh, to workout a confidentiality that really paid off. 

00:38:00 Speaker 2 

Now they seldom told you secrets, but they gave you broad hints. 

00:38:04 Speaker 2 

I used to ride in the police cars for traffic, drug busts, raids or murders, and often at the scene of a killing when we, which we picked off police radio, by the way. 

00:38:14 Speaker 2 

By knowing their codes, we would get to that scene with our cars before the detectives were there and the officers very often would let us in to survey the damage. 

00:38:23 Speaker 2 

I had one example of justice how news can be influenced. 

00:38:26 Speaker 2 

The chap named Marcel Beauregard, was used director at CKLW, which was a French language station and forever. 

00:38:32 Speaker 2 

He was beating us in news and police. I didn’t see the the tie between Marcel Beauregard’s name and Hilaire Beauregard, who is the director of the Quebec Provincial Police. 

00:38:43 Speaker 2 

But I found that the switchboard operators had instructions that as soon as they got news of an incident before they advised the detective office, they would phone CVL. 

00:38:54 Speaker 2 

Well, I I I had hired a. 

00:38:59 Speaker 2 

An announcer at the in the Police Department and I hired a dispatch clerk in the detective office, hoping that I could circumvent him. 

00:39:08 Speaker 2 

But notice he was well ahead of me. 

00:39:12 Speaker 2 

Out of all this, priest association came truth police series in Vancouver. 

00:39:16 Speaker 2 

One was they walked by. 

00:39:18 Speaker 2 


00:39:19 Speaker 2 

It was a series telling of the drug rings the effect on society, business and government. 

00:39:23 Speaker 2 

Now we won a Northwest University award out of Chicago for that one in international competition. 

00:39:29 Speaker 2 

The other one was why did they do it? And this involved a microphone hidden in A5 cell flashlight. Now its light of course was welcomed by a driver who was fumbling in his pockets. 

00:39:39 Speaker 2 

Looking for his license but at the same time it recorded all conversations we covered, hit and run manslaughter, drunk speeders, jaywalker. 

00:39:47 Speaker 2 

Any traffic violation. 

00:39:49 Speaker 2 

And we held all tapes until they went through police and appeal courts. 

00:39:54 Speaker 2 

Now we caught many prominent people, some voices we could never use because they were too distinctive. 

00:40:00 Speaker 2 

And I have in mind they’re one of a very prominent CBC sportsmen of the time. 

00:40:05 Speaker 2 

Of honour to balance the negative, we also have the good driver of the week. 

00:40:09 Speaker 2 

We pick up a car on the street following maybe 4 miles. 

00:40:12 Speaker 2 

Saw that he gave signals when he changed lanes or turned corners and didn’t speed. 

00:40:17 Speaker 2 

Then we’d put on the side and pull them over. 

00:40:19 Speaker 2 

And to his astonishment and dismay, and ask him for his license and go through the usual rig. 

00:40:25 Speaker 2 

All of identical. 

00:40:27 Speaker 2 

And then tell him that he was a good. 

00:40:28 Speaker 2 

Driver of the. 

00:40:29 Speaker 2 

Week that we were going to give him an award, which was usually a radio or a spotlight or some gimmick for the car. 

00:40:36 Speaker 2 

And then if he had a lady with him, we’d say I’m suppose your wife would be very proud of you. 

00:40:41 Speaker 2 

Except one guy we picked up was a judge who had a woman with him who was not his wife. 

00:40:46 Speaker 2 

So we had to kill that tape. 

00:40:48 Speaker 5 

Now next step is you going to. 

00:40:51 Speaker 5 

Montreal, why did you go to that city? 

00:40:54 Speaker 2 

Well, in 53 I was on a NATO freedom freeload to the UK and I stopped off in Montreal to see some old pals from from CWX who had been employed there. 

00:41:04 Speaker 2 

I was offered to use director job because in those days Marconi was was a very sad radio station. 

00:41:10 Speaker 2 

It was oboe solos and poetry readings and. 

00:41:14 Speaker 2 

Odes to butterflies and and stuff that wasn’t pulling as an audience. 

00:41:19 Speaker 2 

And then Arthur DuPont came in there in in the late 40s and started CJAD and he pulled the rug right from one of them with a thing like called Make Believe Ballroom. 

00:41:30 Speaker 2 

So they decided they would expand The Newsroom, and I was offered the job of news director. 

00:41:35 Speaker 2 

Well, that no sooner it happened than the DuPont went out and hired. 

00:41:39 Speaker 2 

Williamson from the Herald. 

00:41:41 Speaker 2 

So we had to build sort of they we’d add two and they would add one well by 1957 we had an 8 man new staff, some very good equipment, two wire services and two mobiles. 

00:41:52 Speaker 2 

In 1960, CFF got its TV license. So I should say that The Newsroom got it Fort. 

00:41:58 Speaker 2 

The Commons had rejected the CF application on the the because of the fact that Canadian Marconi infestation where British owned. 

00:42:05 Speaker 2 

But we found out newsroom that the bill had to go through the Senate. 

00:42:09 Speaker 2 

So since we had several senators who were quite friendly to Marconi. 

00:42:12 Speaker 2 

He tipped off the general manager and they got these. 

00:42:16 Speaker 2 

Sanders together, when the bill came to the floor of the Senate, they urged that Marconi be given some recognition because it was the first commercial station in the world in 1919. 

00:42:26 Speaker 2 

So CF got its license well for 14 years. 

00:42:30 Speaker 2 

We operated a joint AM TV newsroom. 

00:42:33 Speaker 2 

Now they fed each other in the field and on the street and through the assignment. 

00:42:36 Speaker 2 

So it it was economically and viably, it was very, very effective and thus we were able to keep our street reports at seven. 

00:42:44 Speaker 2 

We wrote rewrote all the copy other than bullet. 

00:42:48 Speaker 2 

In 74, I retired and separate newsrooms were created, and they’re met with very heavy costs in personnel, tape, machines, mobiles and office space. 

00:42:57 Speaker 2 

Now for 12 of those 14 years, I did a daily commentary which gave a lot of air exposure. 

00:43:03 Speaker 5 

So we’re at a point now you have a quite, quite a lot of experience at this time. 

00:43:07 Speaker 5 

Did you develop any sense or any kind? 

00:43:09 Speaker 5 

Of news philosophy. 

00:43:11 Speaker 2 

And I was never shy in stealing from people. 

00:43:14 Speaker 2 

I had great connections that I’ll describe a little later that gave us a great input of ideas that could be. 

00:43:23 Speaker 2 

Tailored to suit your own newsroom or else. 

00:43:28 Speaker 2 

I met Sam Ross at the the Albertan in 36 when he was the Canadian Press Alberta Bureau chief and came in as a summer replacement to handle the two papers in in Calgary. 

00:43:37 Speaker 2 

I worked with him during the royal visit in 39 and this news mother for the TPC chain. He was resident of CKWX and he was a real bright light for me. 

00:43:47 Speaker 2 

Now Sam was News Plus. 

00:43:49 Speaker 2 

He was a diplomat and certainly a salesman. 

00:43:51 Speaker 2 

He had sold a new news concept. 

00:43:53 Speaker 2 

All the TPC station managers. 

00:43:55 Speaker 2 

And after all, he had sold them the the broadcast news. 

00:43:59 Speaker 2 

Now, having had some years with the newspaper and six years of writing speeches and releases in the Air Force, Radio writing was quite easy for me. 

00:44:08 Speaker 2 

Ross rode shotgun on quality and I followed many of his policies and practices for the rest of my professional life. 

00:44:14 Speaker 2 

Another great strength with the UH station manager. 

00:44:18 Speaker 2 

Tiny outfit. 

00:44:20 Speaker 2 

His method of operation was simple and effective about every two or three months, we’d go to his club for dinner and each department head was was asked what was needed to improve the efficiency of his division. 

00:44:32 Speaker 2 

Well, we submitted details and cost and the accountant made notes. 

00:44:35 Speaker 2 

Next day we were told yes or no. 

00:44:37 Speaker 2 

Trying out next time tiny. 

00:44:39 Speaker 2 

Always kept the department heads aware of all upcoming plans and policy and programs, and that is not a feature of modern day station. 

00:44:47 Speaker 2 

I found early that managers and salesman knew little or nothing about news other than the ratings it brought in, and I played this of the fold. 

00:44:55 Speaker 2 

I had victories, I made mistakes and I were shot down in color. 

00:44:59 Speaker 2 

Only one thing gave me A at least one thing that gave me left was an action by. 

00:45:03 Speaker 2 

Sam Ross. 

00:45:05 Speaker 2 

At the time in 45. 

00:45:08 Speaker 2 

The Spencer chain of stores in Vancouver sponsored the new newscast and I was covering police court and found that under the water Time Practices Act, one of their butchers was caught weighing his hand with the meat so they were fined $5000. 

00:45:22 Speaker 2 

Now I phoned that story in about 11:00 o’clock and I all the news and watch was just what was going to happen. 

00:45:29 Speaker 2 

We would have been extremely disappointed had Ross killed the story, but no, he used it. 

00:45:37 Speaker 2 

It wasn’t used as the lead, but it was used in the newscast and we felt. 

00:45:40 Speaker 2 

Lifted by that now, now several times. 

00:45:43 Speaker 2 

I put my job on the line in defense of my policy, but I was never fired. 

00:45:48 Speaker 2 

I should really hear a small story about KGM, which was an independent in Montreal. 

00:45:56 Speaker 2 

At the time that Eichmann was was hanged by the Israelis, a fellow named her man, they got on air and called the Israelis murderers. 

00:46:03 Speaker 2 

Well, within two hours it was quite afraid several 100 Jewish members of the Jewish community marched once KGM led by a very prominent man from Nathan Steinberg, a grocery ran a grocer. 

00:46:16 Speaker 2 

And they book windows and threw rocks and he threatened to pull off CGM, some $40,000 worth of advertising. 

00:46:24 Speaker 2 

Now my manager was there. 

00:46:26 Speaker 2 

I had two mobiles on the scene and he wondered whether it was wise that we should broadcast my point out. 

00:46:32 Speaker 2 

We’d been on the air for an hour or more, and the, you know, the thing was coming to a climax. 

00:46:38 Speaker 2 

He said well, no, he thought he should pull them and I walked away from him. 

00:46:41 Speaker 2 

Now he could have stopped us in the in the controller very easily. 

00:46:43 Speaker 2 

But he never did. 

00:46:44 Speaker 2 

So that was one that I won sort of hands down. 

00:46:50 Speaker 2 

Incidentally, Manning was fired. 

00:46:53 Speaker 2 

He was sued and he died before the suit could come to court. 

00:46:57 Speaker 2 

Now, uh. 

00:47:00 Speaker 2 

I had two heavy runins with radio managers in Montreal, one who I I guess was a religious type, took exception to the use of the story. 

00:47:08 Speaker 2 

Where in the British Parliament had passed a bill condoning homosexuality in private? 

00:47:13 Speaker 2 

He said it it wasn’t fit for human ears. 

00:47:16 Speaker 2 

Then another objected use of the commentary of the saying, the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse. 

00:47:22 Speaker 2 

He asked me if I was exploiting sex. 

00:47:24 Speaker 2 

And often too, I had to fight off salesman who had promised uh sponsors that news coverage opening of, say, a new chain store or to kill a story carrying a company or personal name of the courts. 

00:47:35 Speaker 2 

We cooperated. 

00:47:36 Speaker 2 

If there was any news angle. 

00:47:39 Speaker 2 

Now on the question of lawyers, we are always we always had a station lawyer, but too often. 

00:47:45 Speaker 2 

They always said no, so normally we couldn’t use anything. 

00:47:50 Speaker 2 

So as the years went by, you garner certain knowledge of libel and slander and whatnot. 

00:47:55 Speaker 2 

And I used to use my own judgment. 

00:47:57 Speaker 2 

Uh, I wasn’t always right. 

00:47:59 Speaker 2 

But I was never sued and we faced only one libel case in in my years there, it cost us. 

00:48:06 Speaker 2 

$5000, which was the our liability under the insurance and it happened very simply. It was a whole of three men involved. 

00:48:12 Speaker 2 

And when they came out of the bank, the police shot one through the head. The other two split. One ran into a car and stuck a gun in the owner’s head and got in the car and drove away. And it ran into a police block. 

00:48:24 Speaker 2 

Now when we ran the story, we said that he escaped in, say, a blue Chevrolet. 

00:48:29 Speaker 2 

Now instead of saying a car was stopped at the police block. 

00:48:34 Speaker 2 

We said the car was stopped at the police block and as a result, the guy in the car who was, uh, that was stopped was not. 

00:48:45 Speaker 2 

Not the car. 

00:48:46 Speaker 2 

They got a getaway car and he sued us. 

00:48:48 Speaker 2 

Now he had a police record and he sued us. 

00:48:52 Speaker 2 

And just for the fact that he was broke and had a drug habit, we were able to pay him off for the $5000 for had gone to court. 

00:48:58 Speaker 2 

We would have cost us a lot more money, so just using a instead of B would have saved us a lot of money. 

00:49:10 Speaker 2 

I’ve think in the main management was happy with the news if it had good ratings, which meant good bucks and in the early days new sponsors were charged a 25% premium for use of broadcast news. 

00:49:23 Speaker 2 

Unless you could tell if your newscasts were making money. 

00:49:26 Speaker 2 

But the reading books then began to split their time into half hour and it was impossible. 

00:49:30 Speaker 2 

To determine if a 5 minute newscast or the program content of the other 25 minutes was pulling the audio. 

00:49:37 Speaker 2 

Some stations seemed to carry news because they felt that the presence of the PRTSC was important. 

00:49:42 Speaker 2 

Some FM stations have dropped hourly newscast lately, and whether this is an expanding trend in the future, only time in the CRDC can tell. 

00:49:50 Speaker 5 

Journalism is certainly a romantic, Mr. Canning’s. Did you travel to many faraway places? 

00:49:56 Speaker 2 

Well, I think the only place I missed was South Africa, but I did NATO tours. 

00:50:04 Speaker 2 

I covered the Korean War for the CAB through Jim Allard. I did the Cypress War in 64 and 68 again. 

00:50:14 Speaker 2 

I had a side trip to Beirut in 68. I did the part of the Irish shore, went to Belfast, but there wasn’t very much doing. 

00:50:21 Speaker 2 

I did. 

00:50:22 Speaker 2 

Mexico, Panama, Peru, Buenos Aires, Moscow, he went to Moscow with Air Canada one time, stopped off in Copa. 

00:50:31 Speaker 2 

But there was a a **** festival on. 

00:50:33 Speaker 2 

We were to shoot some pictures and missed our flight. 

00:50:35 Speaker 2 

So we missed that one. 

00:50:37 Speaker 2 

I went to Australia and Fiji and back through Tahiti and Mexico City. 

00:50:41 Speaker 2 

And again in Europe, I did France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy, but one thing stood out in much of that. 

00:50:48 Speaker 2 

We’re up in the Baltic, the one time to show us where the old Nazi missile bases had been. 

00:50:58 Speaker 2 

And between US and East Germany, there were there was a sort of Ridge, treed Ridge and two guard houses. 

00:51:04 Speaker 2 

And in the middle it was about a 30 foot area of plowed sand that had been furrowed every morning seen. 

00:51:11 Speaker 2 

I thought they’d be a great idea. 

00:51:12 Speaker 2 

There were twenty or thirty of us, and the bus had stopped there and it was raining like hell. 

00:51:17 Speaker 2 

I thought would be good idea to what the the western press looks like from the eastern side. 

00:51:21 Speaker 2 

So I backed out onto the strip. 

00:51:23 Speaker 2 

First thing I know was on the other side and I’m. 

00:51:26 Speaker 2 

Focusing on the group. 

00:51:29 Speaker 2 

All of a sudden I hear clicks and to one side there’s a guy coming with a band at the other side of the guy with a burp gun and he’s he’s cocking it. 

00:51:37 Speaker 2 

And by this time and then shout started from the bus side, where the press party was. 

00:51:41 Speaker 2 

And this time I was two inches off the ground, really running. 

00:51:45 Speaker 2 

But what they were shouting at me was not to run, and when I looked over there, everybody disappeared. 

00:51:49 Speaker 2 

They’re all flat in the mud. 

00:51:50 Speaker 2 

Because they thought this people going to start shooting. 

00:51:53 Speaker 2 

But by the grace of God, it does. 

00:51:55 Speaker 2 

Nothing happened. 

00:51:55 Speaker 2 

The only thing was that the me and the station made the national pressures from coast to coast stupidity. 

00:52:03 Speaker 2 

I don’t know. 

00:52:04 Speaker 2 

It was an experience. 

00:52:06 Speaker 5 

So many places that must also involve important people. A lot of VIP’s. 

00:52:12 Speaker 2 

Yes, before I got into broadcasting, I was with Churchill and Roosevelt in Quebec City in 43. 

00:52:19 Speaker 2 

And John Diefenbaker and 51 came back from Colombo to a gap meeting and they took second hospital. I used to go and take up a roll of wire copy for him every morning. He was appreciative of that. 

00:52:32 Speaker 2 

Princess Liz, she came through with Princess in 1952 through Venco Vancouver, and it was there. I learned that one of the secrets of lining up a regal tour is that you have to have stopping places every 20 minutes. This is based on a kidney call. 

00:52:49 Speaker 2 

Again in 64, which she was now Queen Elizabeth and mentor in Quebec City, that was a very tense place because they had snipers up in the hills watching for people that were on the Britannia. 

00:53:01 Speaker 2 

They had divers see that there are no limpet mines attached to the hull, there were helicopters, it was, it was a very, very tricky thing. 

00:53:10 Speaker 2 

In 62 on the FREELOAD 1 airline was extending its its line. The the Mediterranean line from Madrid to Rome. So we want to have a a, a semi private audience. 

00:53:22 Speaker 2 

With Pope Paul. 

00:53:25 Speaker 2 

Pope John Paul. 

00:53:26 Speaker 2 

And that was the most fabulous experience. 

00:53:29 Speaker 2 

I’ve met people in my time that I can remember for a few minutes and forget. 

00:53:33 Speaker 2 

But him I’ll never forget. 

00:53:34 Speaker 2 

His presence was so magnetic that you could feel it yards away, and we were on one side of 1/4 about 1012 feet wide, on the other side they had about. 

00:53:46 Speaker 2 

04 hundred, 500 priests and nuns from the lay oil orders in Italy and those nuns are pretty shabby over there now. 

00:53:55 Speaker 2 

They’re their habits are worn, they’re neat and clean, but they’re they don’t look like North American, or at least nuns and. 

00:54:04 Speaker 2 

But when he came down the hall shouting Viva Papa Viva Papa went up from each side. 

00:54:10 Speaker 2 

But you could just feel the presence of the man coming. 

00:54:13 Speaker 2 

And he was doing the old dominoes and biscuits on on on the people. 

00:54:19 Speaker 2 

I’m telling you, the transformation of those nuns on the other side. 

00:54:23 Speaker 2 

You wouldn’t believe it. 

00:54:24 Speaker 2 

The glow that came to their faces with the love and adoration of this man, it was. 

00:54:28 Speaker 2 

It was something that you rarely. 

00:54:33 Speaker 2 

Then again, of course I was very familiar with all the the the top politicians in Quebec, duplessie Paul Sobey, Danny Johnson, Jean Massai, Jean Jacques Bertrand. 

00:54:43 Speaker 2 

Even Renee leveque. 

00:54:45 Speaker 2 

I had two stories there that I liked. One was Danny Johnson. We had to. He was opening a 1/2 billion dollar down at Manitowoc. 

00:54:55 Speaker 2 

And he invited all the top people from Europe and the United States, top financial people. 

00:55:00 Speaker 2 

They had the asters and the halls and the duponts and all the big investors. 

00:55:04 Speaker 2 

And we had swarms and swarms of reporters for the morning. I got up and I I went to breakfast and I heard of somebody saying, yeah, it’s too bad. We’re talking about Danny’s dead. 

00:55:16 Speaker 2 

So I went and asked somebody. 

00:55:17 Speaker 2 

Yeah, he died in bed. 

00:55:18 Speaker 2 

So I went outside and there was a gravel truck, went by, loaded, and it was a terraced hill to get up to the VIP bungalow I gave the guy 10 bucks and we went up and 14th gear up this road. 

00:55:30 Speaker 2 

To confirm that Randeck was dead, at least to Dennis Johnson was dead. 

00:55:35 Speaker 2 

I ran down the hill and I got to a phone and I phoned through to my station and just at that time the QPF the police cut the telephone line, so we got national credit right across the country. 

00:55:48 Speaker 2 

They didn’t say he was dead. 

00:55:49 Speaker 2 

They said we said he was dead. 

00:55:51 Speaker 2 

And the second thing with Ronnie Leveque in 58 or 59, he had a they had a producer strike with the CBC in Montreal. 

00:55:58 Speaker 2 

And when he was marching in the in the picket line and to get a an interview with him, he wouldn’t come out of the. 

00:56:03 Speaker 2 

So I marched with him. 

00:56:05 Speaker 2 

And lo and behold, the star took a picture. 

00:56:10 Speaker 2 

And that was me with a tape recorder and show to see if woman. 

00:56:14 Speaker 2 

And talked to Renee Leveque and the police in the background. 

00:56:18 Speaker 2 

Course management took a very, very dim view of that, but I got the interview. 

00:56:26 Speaker 2 

Borisov, I knew him well when he was back in 66 when he was financial critic of the National Union of the Liberals against the National Union. 

00:56:36 Speaker 2 

He wasn’t a very strong man in 1970, fell apart with that, probably had there, and he had a fella named Paul Deroche who used to handle all the graft and give out the jobs and whatnot. 

00:56:47 Speaker 2 

John Turner well in 1968 as a as a news director of an affiliate, I was called in to help cover the election that the nomination rather that that Saul Trudeau named. 

00:57:02 Speaker 2 

And part of our job was to gather information for the people on microphone. 

00:57:07 Speaker 2 

You know, those long, boring periods when they collect ballots and have to count ballots, maybe for an hour or two hours. 

00:57:12 Speaker 2 

You got nothing to talk about. 

00:57:14 Speaker 2 

So we had to gather all the things like find out whether they slept in their pajamas. 

00:57:18 Speaker 2 

They like their eggs boiled or fried, what they do. 

00:57:20 Speaker 2 

They beat their wives. 

00:57:21 Speaker 2 

We had everything. 

00:57:23 Speaker 2 

My two were John Turner, Judith, the mark. 

00:57:26 Speaker 2 

I’m telling you, I interviewed maybe 15 or 20 people and there was a very, very strong indication that John Turner was a weak man. 

00:57:34 Speaker 2 

He was indecisive. 

00:57:35 Speaker 2 

He listened to the last strong man. 

00:57:36 Speaker 2 

He could never make up his mind. 

00:57:38 Speaker 2 

And I’m wondering now, 20 years later, if he’s a loser, then that he’s going to be a loser now. 

00:57:43 Speaker 2 

The other wacky Bennett I knew him well too, but I think of all the people I met were were Jewish people. 

00:57:51 Speaker 2 

I’ll tell you why. 

00:57:52 Speaker 2 

In Vancouver, being involved with the drugs I set up a thing called Addicts Anonymous. 

00:57:58 Speaker 2 

And we used to go into a church basement and we’d get addicts who were on the way to recovery to talk to the addicts were there, and it was quite good, except that every time we left one of these places, the mountains would be outside. 

00:58:10 Speaker 2 

And they grab these guys and frisk them because they were packing dope. 

00:58:16 Speaker 2 

Yet when I came to Montreal, two fellows who had been addicts were one was in Dorchester and the other was in Saint Vincent de Paul, and I got out, heard I was in Montreal. 

00:58:26 Speaker 2 

They came to me, so we started again. Addicts anonymous. I had an executive that had two judges, 2 lawyers and 2/3 social workers. 

00:58:36 Speaker 2 

Think it? 

00:58:37 Speaker 2 

And we’re trying to do these things now the the whole business was to get jobs. 

00:58:41 Speaker 2 

The Jewish people came forward and I’m telling you the way the way they worked to help out these addicts, even though they got some bad times for these addicts, was tremendous. 

00:58:50 Speaker 2 

I became great, great admirer of the Jewish people. 

00:58:56 Speaker 2 

Well, I guess memories of Quebec might be another thing. The first year there got 26 bottles of liquor. 

00:59:02 Speaker 2 

I’ve only been there three months. 

00:59:03 Speaker 2 

They were sent to the director of dues. 

00:59:04 Speaker 2 

Not to me. 

00:59:05 Speaker 2 

I didn’t know. 

00:59:05 Speaker 2 

Buddy and and then in 56 I involved I got found out what this payroll was all about. They called the election. 

00:59:16 Speaker 2 

And I would some remote writing moment the letter some way down East. 

00:59:24 Speaker 2 

Some guy was nominated as the National Union candidate, and they had introduced him in Montreal because out of here flowed all the news everywhere. 

00:59:33 Speaker 2 

Duplessie was there and this guy there was no story to it. 

00:59:38 Speaker 2 

But I was given an envelope and when I got back to the studio I found a $50.00 bill on it. 

00:59:43 Speaker 2 

So I said I went to mine and said what? 

00:59:44 Speaker 2 

What he said, well you you can give it back to me. 

00:59:47 Speaker 2 

I’ll stick it in this pocket. 

00:59:48 Speaker 2 

You can give it a charity. 

00:59:49 Speaker 2 

You can keep it as long as it doesn’t affect the story I said. 

00:59:52 Speaker 2 

Well, there is no story. 

00:59:54 Speaker 2 

So that was a a long period of of getting handouts from the National Union leader. 

01:00:00 Speaker 2 

The the federal Liberals. 

01:00:02 Speaker 2 

They set it up to in. 

01:00:03 Speaker 2 

In an election. 

01:00:08 Speaker 2 

I guess every Christmas was very rich in terms of bottles and other expensive presents and that expense once keep from the police union. 

01:00:19 Speaker 5 

So how do you compare modern news broadcasters with the? 

01:00:24 Speaker 5 

Newsmen of your time. 

01:00:27 Speaker 2 

Well, I don’t think there’s that much difference, except that the modern people have so much more equipment and such a wider input in terms of broadcast, broadcast, achieve. 

01:00:38 Speaker 2 

Now the present crop, as I see, they’re very much the same as in my day except for quantity and training as I’ve described. 

01:00:44 Speaker 2 

TV TV, of course, has brought in the field and made physical appearance, often as important as the voice and reputation of the anchor. 

01:00:51 Speaker 2 

And there are still far, far too many anchors who are elevated by hype more than performance. 

01:00:56 Speaker 2 

They get on the and say listen to. 

01:00:58 Speaker 2 

Whatever to whomever. 

01:01:00 Speaker 2 

But but insured performance, there’s a lot of a lot of people that really shouldn’t be there. 

01:01:06 Speaker 2 

And Toronto, the Toronto mark, is a good example. 

01:01:09 Speaker 2 

You you get the beauty of teeth, the hair, do the ears. 

01:01:12 Speaker 2 

Maybe the eyes are the hallmarks of too many of these dubious on their performances. 

01:01:18 Speaker 2 

Now I find often that you get good promotion manager and he can write hype that’ll make the bum look like a hero. 

01:01:27 Speaker 2 

And people become hypnotized when they hear a repetitive claims about something. 

01:01:32 Speaker 2 

It’s it’s it’s unbelievable in terms of looking at what’s being described, but they they believe because it’s an input, they listen, they listen, but they don’t. 

01:01:42 Speaker 2 

I always figured that the the quality of a man is or a woman is to be able to ask questions, and you’ll find that Barbara from as an example that very often she answers her question in her question. 

01:01:56 Speaker 2 

She gets it, answered she, but she heard of answers to herself in good parts. 

01:02:00 Speaker 2 

You know what’s coming from the. 

01:02:02 Speaker 2 

The party on camera and. 

01:02:07 Speaker 3 

I think. 

01:02:07 Speaker 2 

So then what? What? 

01:02:08 Speaker 5 

Is your opinion of women in in use then? 

01:02:11 Speaker 2 

Oh, I’m all in favor of them. 

01:02:12 Speaker 2 

I think there’s some dandies, the Barbara Smith who went through our shop in Montreal is on CBC from is good that. 

01:02:22 Speaker 2 

I forget her name. 

01:02:23 Speaker 2 

She’s a very plain looking girl. 

01:02:26 Speaker 2 

Woman, about 38, had been their correspondent in the Middle East who was on there for a while. She was pulled. 

01:02:30 Speaker 2 

Off she was. 

01:02:31 Speaker 2 

Very good. 

01:02:32 Speaker 2 

And Medina? 

01:02:32 Speaker 2 

Yeah, that was she. 

01:02:35 Speaker 2 

No, it’s. 

01:02:37 Speaker 2 

I’m in favor of not for the looks, but for the delivery and the believability. 

01:02:41 Speaker 2 

And I’ve trained many women reporters and two anchors and all of them had made their way into into good jobs. 

01:02:46 Speaker 2 

And I think there’s a big place in broadcasting for women. 

01:02:50 Speaker 5 

Do you have an opinion about the journalism schools that are operating in? 

01:02:55 Speaker 2 

Ah, they’ve been a subject to much argument. 

01:02:59 Speaker 2 

The the journalism schools of my day in the 50s and 60s, they were awful. 

01:03:04 Speaker 2 

They became repositories for salesman who couldn’t sell, announcers who had either hit booze or reading books. 

01:03:11 Speaker 2 

Engineers who had lost their screwdrivers and and it was just a collection of nothing. 

01:03:17 Speaker 2 

Their student product was mediocre and the main, except for the odd graduate. 

01:03:21 Speaker 2 

We have the facility and the imagination to write our interview now. 

01:03:25 Speaker 2 

Even today I know a case of several failures in newsroom who have found refuge and. 

01:03:32 Speaker 2 

Titled in journalism schools, in one case in Hamilton as an example, the party had gone to promotion, gone to commercials, had gone to The Newsroom. 

01:03:42 Speaker 2 

Michael there the party just couldn’t write, so I had a lot of arguments and I fired the party. 

01:03:49 Speaker 2 

Where did the party wind up as teaching master in writing? 

01:03:54 Speaker 2 

At the School of Journalism in Toronto? 

01:03:56 Speaker 2 

Yeah, it’s. 

01:03:57 Speaker 2 

Hard. It’s hard to believe. 

01:03:59 Speaker 2 

Now I’ve lectured in many of these schools, including BCIT and in Vancouver, the southern Alberta, into technology in Calgary, fan Sean London, Conestoga in Kitchener, Carlton in Ottawa. 

01:04:02 Speaker 4 

Give it to you know. 

01:04:11 Speaker 2 

Long, long time ago, and McGill, Sir George and Loyola in in Montreal and Dalhousie and in Halifax. 

01:04:19 Speaker 2 

And usually it was the same pitch. 

01:04:20 Speaker 2 

Just tell them a few things and then ask questions because that’s what gives people more information. 

01:04:25 Speaker 2 

If you can answer their questions. 

01:04:30 Speaker 2 

I found that journalism schools now are a real advantage in broadcasting. 

01:04:35 Speaker 2 

If the staff is good and I I’ll put in a plug for Carlton, you’re one of the best in Canada. 


Is it? 

01:04:43 Speaker 5 

Now you’re in contact with a lot of people during your career. Were you able to help people’s career in journalism and? 

01:04:50 Speaker 2 

I I think so. 

01:04:51 Speaker 2 

I think so. 

01:04:52 Speaker 2 

For some reason my newsrooms were sort of manning pools for the industry. 

01:04:56 Speaker 2 

I’d get someone to train them to a point, and then all of a sudden they’d be hired away. CBC took 32 people from me over the years between Vancouver and Montreal. 

01:05:06 Speaker 2 

Names I can mention Mel Cooper, whose owner of Cfax Radio in Victoria, Mike Duffy, the CBC. 

01:05:13 Speaker 2 

I brought him in from some. 

01:05:15 Speaker 2 

Lonely Station on the Nova Scotia coast Darrell James was the anchor CFD in Calgary. 

01:05:20 Speaker 2 

Fred Kasakoff of CFRN TV Edmonton. 

01:05:24 Speaker 2 

Bill Hoagland, who joined us as office boy in 58, now anchored CFCF in TV in Montreal. Gord Martineau, who was anchored city TV in Toronto. 

01:05:35 Speaker 2 

He was a radio man and one weekend, all of our voices were sick and we put him on on a Saturday night. 

01:05:41 Speaker 2 

I was there to see that he didn’t trip too badly. 

01:05:44 Speaker 2 

And all of a sudden I was engaged in hour and answering the phone because the women phoned and he had these big eyelashes like Venetian blinds, and he was. 

01:05:52 Speaker 2 

And that was a a good voice. 

01:05:53 Speaker 2 

He made a big hit. 

01:05:57 Speaker 2 

Then John Bester, news director at CHF and Hamilton Donigan, who is news director at CF in Montreal, Tom Clark of CTV, he was one of our boys Norm Federative CDH Ottawa, he. 

01:06:09 Speaker 2 

And of course I’ll have to mention Jack Webster of Vancouver. In 1953, he was the city editor at the Vancouver Sun, and he had some disagreement with with Hell. Uh, straight. 

01:06:22 Speaker 2 

So he came over and he said he wanted to learn something about the radio news. 

01:06:27 Speaker 2 

Now the only difference was that the writing. 

01:06:30 Speaker 2 

The in writing for the eye in writing for the eye, you put the attribution at the end, it’s going to rain tomorrow, the mayor said in radio. 

01:06:39 Speaker 2 

You put it at the beginning, the mayor said. 

01:06:40 Speaker 2 

Is going to rain tomorrow. 

01:06:41 Speaker 2 

It’s very simple difference he was with. 

01:06:43 Speaker 2 

Us for a week. 

01:06:43 Speaker 2 

And then he went on to. 

01:06:46 Speaker 2 

To he was with CLG in North Bend and he went to CGR and in Vancouver did his radio piece and eventually went to to television. 

01:06:55 Speaker 2 

And he’s done. 

01:06:57 Speaker 2 

He’s done fabulously. 

01:06:59 Speaker 2 

He had a very abrasive interior and exterior and he’s he really sold himself. 

01:07:06 Speaker 2 

He he did a hell of a good job so. 

01:07:09 Speaker 2 

In the in the main, uh. 

01:07:11 Speaker 2 

I I think I’ve helped a few. 

01:07:14 Speaker 5 

Now news directors belong to associations. 

01:07:16 Speaker 5 

One of them is the radio TV News Directors Association. 

01:07:19 Speaker 5 

Did you play an active role in the RT NDA? 

01:07:23 Speaker 2 

Yeah, that was radio, television News Director Association was an American origin. 

01:07:29 Speaker 2 

I joined the outfit in 48 and we developed an exchange of ideas with stations in Seattle and Denver, and we simply had program ideas, coverage, ideas, all kinds of things that helped us a great deal. 

01:07:42 Speaker 2 

Now there are some 12 Canadians were members of the international in 55 and we attended annual conventions in many American. 

01:07:49 Speaker 2 

Cities were organized RT and D, Canada in 62. In Los Angeles, we started out with some 22 members and I think now it’s over 300. 

01:07:59 Speaker 2 

We had an international flavor. We held the International Convention in Canada three times in Montreal, in 16 and 74, and in Toronto in 67. 

01:08:09 Speaker 2 

We had a very, very hard job of selling this idea of of RTN and data management because they looked on us as a Union rather than the Trade Organization. 

01:08:18 Speaker 2 

Charlie Edwards of Broadcast News was our biggest and best salesman because he could walk in and talk to and argue with managers. 

01:08:26 Speaker 2 

I went before the Canadian Association of Broadcasters across Canada three times at annual conventions and and I also talked to the BBC, Broadcasters, Western Broadcasters, Central broadcasters and the maritime broadcasters. 

01:08:39 Speaker 2 

How were the idea of of? 

01:08:40 Speaker 2 

Getting their news people involved. 

01:08:45 Speaker 2 

It was. 

01:08:46 Speaker 2 

It was an interesting time and it was simply a big trading association and ideas that were best. 

01:08:52 Speaker 2 

We got to know all the people like Cronkite and rather, and what’s his name? 

01:08:59 Speaker 2 

Peter Jennings on on ABC. 

01:09:03 Speaker 2 

We met them all of these conventions, had long talks with them, have a drink with them or cigar was. 

01:09:09 Speaker 5 

Many of these associations honor work in their own professions. 

01:09:14 Speaker 5 

Did you win any awards for your news broadcasting? 

01:09:19 Speaker 2 

Yes, in 67 I got the Centennial Medal for news activities in 1980. I got the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. 

01:09:29 Speaker 2 

I’m in Jubilee award for news. 

01:09:33 Speaker 2 

I won the first RND Canada President’s Award for news and then in 92 I was inducted into the National News Hall of Fame in Toronto. 

01:09:42 Speaker 2 

So it it was. 

01:09:43 Speaker 2 

I have all those in my wallet at home. 

01:09:45 Speaker 5 

Apart from the awards that can you recall any of the highlights and perhaps some of the low lights of? 

01:09:51 Speaker 5 

Your your news life. 

01:09:54 Speaker 2 

Yeah, there were a lot of them. 

01:09:57 Speaker 2 

I I was very deeply involved with police, even to the point of loaning our can they see a helicopter to the provincial police force for various searches. 

01:10:09 Speaker 2 

We had bank and we had field searches and they cooperated this one time. 

01:10:13 Speaker 2 

There were four men robbed a bank and they the car went in the ditch and they went after them. 

01:10:17 Speaker 2 

Now through the woods, you of course, you couldn’t see anything because the trees were there. 

01:10:21 Speaker 2 

So we put the bird up, took the doors off and they put the machine gun in it. 

01:10:25 Speaker 2 

And we went out and here they were, out in the middle of the field. 

01:10:28 Speaker 2 

So they fired a couple of bursts and they we hovered until the the ground crews got there. 

01:10:33 Speaker 2 

The police ground crew to the fence and they stayed away from them until we went back, unloaded the gunner put in our camera, went out and showed them with their hands up in the middle of the field before the cops got to them. 

01:10:44 Speaker 2 

It was just a gimmick. 

01:10:46 Speaker 2 

It is helped. 

01:10:49 Speaker 2 

I cultivated politicians and I I learned to keep tabs on a couple of good organizers because these are the guys that have their finger on. 

01:10:55 Speaker 2 

The pulse of. 

01:10:56 Speaker 2 

Everything, and even today, I know too from uh, from Quebec that I contact if I want to know what’s behind something. 

01:11:03 Speaker 2 

If they know they’ll tell me because I I I don’t use anything anymore. 

01:11:06 Speaker 2 

So they. 

01:11:10 Speaker 2 

The police contacts were especially valley built in in the 60s and 70s, with that LaPorte murdered and the kidnapping of Cross. 

01:11:18 Speaker 2 

And we had many stories, first because of tips from the police and these political sources. 

01:11:23 Speaker 2 

Now I got deeply into drug addicts and pushers in Vancouver. 

01:11:28 Speaker 2 

And I I told you we organized. 

01:11:31 Speaker 2 

What’s the name addicts anonymous. 

01:11:33 Speaker 2 

And then again in Montreal, we repeated it. 

01:11:36 Speaker 2 

Now it was fun helping people in distress. 

01:11:38 Speaker 2 

There were. 

01:11:38 Speaker 2 

A few people who. 

01:11:40 Speaker 2 

You know, have put their hands in your pocket or roll, holding your hand up, but largely the assists are most thanks. 

01:11:46 Speaker 2 

I guess salary was another memory. I started $150.00 a month at the WX that was in 45. 

01:11:53 Speaker 2 

I went to Montreal for 650 a month, 10 years later that 1700, a year. 

01:11:59 Speaker 2 

I was asked to go back in 59 to WX at the thousand a month. CF offered $1200 a month in the chance to TV, so I stayed. 

01:12:08 Speaker 2 

On retirement, I was making about 32,000, but that same job and now for TV only pays about 76,000. So you can see the how the I think one of the. 

01:12:21 Speaker 2 

Biggest disappointment was in selecting a deputy that first came from a successful career in the Maritimes, but he had a 9 to 5 fixation as an example. 

01:12:30 Speaker 2 

A Scotland Yard had located a suspect in that $6 million Train Robbery in in Britain. 

01:12:39 Speaker 2 

And that one of their people had left for her. 

01:12:41 Speaker 2 

We got the tip from London that one of their people had Scotland and had left for Canada to pick them up at a place called Rego, which is about 30 miles West of Of Montreal. 

01:12:51 Speaker 2 

Well, I was up checking the BULLMARK missiles up north at the time and I heard it on our blower that this had happened. 

01:13:00 Speaker 2 

And I didn’t say anything to the deputy. 

01:13:03 Speaker 2 

I figure she had to, you know, he’d be out doing these things, but instead. 

01:13:07 Speaker 2 

When he was advised, he said we we’ll be there not first thing in nine in the morning. 

01:13:11 Speaker 2 

Well, the police pulled the raid at 7:00 o’clock that night and had him on a plane by 9. 

01:13:15 Speaker 2 

So you know he’s in Britain. 

01:13:21 Speaker 2 

Case was that when? 

01:13:27 Speaker 2 

When Robert Kennedy was shot in LA, CTV wanted to go live. 

01:13:32 Speaker 2 

I was out of town RND business, but he phoned the news director and said they. 

01:13:36 Speaker 2 

Want to go live? 

01:13:37 Speaker 2 

The guy on duty from the news director home, he said. 

01:13:39 Speaker 2 

I’ll be in. 

01:13:40 Speaker 2 

At 9:00, I’ll. 

01:13:40 Speaker 2 

Talk to you then. 

01:13:42 Speaker 2 

Well, in the meantime, the CTV Mary Sherko over had phoned the manager, the president. 

01:13:48 Speaker 2 

He was down his bedroom slippers. 

01:13:52 Speaker 2 

Loan bills. 

01:13:53 Speaker 2 

We had to let that fellow go and had a second choice was equally bad. 

01:13:58 Speaker 2 

He cut morale in the office to ribbons by playing the staff against each. 

01:14:03 Speaker 2 

When I was out of the office, of course, and finally I got a former employee, Mike Donegan, who still is news director at in Montreal. 

01:14:12 Speaker 5 

Mr. Cannings, what did you do when you went into retirement around 1974? 

01:14:17 Speaker 2 

Well, in 74 I bought a veteran’s holding in southern Quebec down the Vermont border and I. 

01:14:25 Speaker 2 

Set up a consulting company called News Pod News Public Affairs. 

01:14:31 Speaker 2 

My first job in 75 was to straighten up the PR branch of Bryce Mackasey’s post office. Well, I found in three days at very simple thing they have the wrong people in the wrong places and they they would delegate responsibility without authority. 

01:14:46 Speaker 2 

But the daily tea was pretty fat, so I made that last two months. 

01:14:51 Speaker 2 

And then in 76, Charlie Brockman had bought CFCF. 

01:14:57 Speaker 2 

And City TV in in Toronto, UH, which was operated by Moses and Leimer. 

01:15:03 Speaker 2 

And Bumpin wanted a newsroom at city, and it was a rare experience. 

01:15:07 Speaker 2 

There was nobody higher. 

01:15:08 Speaker 2 

Nothing built, nothing bought. 

01:15:10 Speaker 2 

So I was called in and I had no chance to give message message. You said here $738,000. Send us the. 

01:15:17 Speaker 2 

Out of that, I had to hire 4 staff and buy typewriters, cameras, editing bays, newswire, film service, and refurbish the whole floor, and on the basis that I can only pay staff and the new staff for $8000 and the cameramen were rich at $7000. 

01:15:37 Speaker 2 

Now, there were so many applications that very often I can hire three or four people at a time. 

01:15:44 Speaker 2 

I I’d pick out the best, and if there were more than one after four weeks of of field work of learning, writing, shooting, editing, and interviewing as I wanted it, then I would ask each survivor to use 200 words or less to describe the color blue to a blind man, he said. It’s silly. 

01:16:04 Speaker 2 

Well, maybe, but you’d be totally surprised at how many creative ideas came out of those submissions. 

01:16:10 Speaker 2 

I had hired Gord Martineau as an anchor and Ivan Fezzan, who is the president, CVC programming chief as producer and we made two rating points in the first three months and then claimed to four or five later and we were in competition never with CFO but with CBC and and Global. 

01:16:28 Speaker 2 

We were having a good fight. 

01:16:35 Speaker 2 

In 79 and I went to CFC radio in Calgary to overhaul a fading newsroom. The former news director there had gone over it to the television station of the same company and didn’t leave a good successor. 

01:16:48 Speaker 2 

So under new terms of reference, the successor was made responsible to the station manager rather than the program manager. 

01:16:54 Speaker 2 

He was literally then running The Newsroom, and that is a curse of many stations where you report to an A program manager who knows nothing about news. 

01:17:04 Speaker 2 

Well, then it took me about two months to select and train a successor, and then August 80. 

01:17:11 Speaker 2 

I was. Uh, well in 79 to go back a bit. I was called back to CF radio to smooth out a problem there. 

01:17:19 Speaker 2 

The news director at quit and he wanted to be a reader writer. 

01:17:21 Speaker 2 

It was no great effort, but I stayed there long enough to get a good man. 

01:17:26 Speaker 2 

In August 80, I was called to CHCH TV in Hamilton. 

01:17:32 Speaker 2 

I was supposed to go for two months, but I stayed nearly five years. 

01:17:36 Speaker 2 

The news director had quit under pressure and The Newsroom was a shambles and Operation air product. 

01:17:41 Speaker 2 

The the the shooting was was was bad. 

01:17:45 Speaker 2 

The writing was loose and the editing was very sloppy and in operations and their product and all these things were reflected in that. 

01:17:53 Speaker 2 

The Newsroom still was using the old CP Sixteens were about the best of the old film cameras, and we had a color processor. 

01:18:02 Speaker 2 

There was no delegation of responsibility and, as an example, the Secretary sat all day watching the soaps with her feet up. 

01:18:10 Speaker 2 

This was in The Newsroom, not in Indy, so I bought new Sony cabin cameras and editing base and I called the secretary’s hair and reset it for and appointed with raises of Chief Cameron. 

01:18:21 Speaker 2 

Chief editor and assignment editor and a lineup editor. 

01:18:25 Speaker 2 

I selected one likely news man as possible news director and brought him along. 

01:18:29 Speaker 2 

I handed it over to him, uh, in 1981 and spent the next four years as a public in the Public affairs department. In fact, I was the department. I didn’t have a producer or cameraman or report. 

01:18:41 Speaker 2 

And I did many, many shows myself. We won two pro can awards and that ended in 1985. 

01:18:48 Speaker 2 

Well, since 86 I lived in Ottawa. 

01:18:53 Speaker 2 

I did 150 hours in the archives in the Parliamentary library researching a possible book which is intituled the genesis of News Broadcasting in Canada. 

01:19:03 Speaker 2 

Now the color of the material hopefully will come from old timers, many of whom I’ve worked for or with long ago. In 1980. In 1985, there were fourteen. Now there’s only 11. 

01:19:13 Speaker 2 

So I guess time is becoming a factor. 

01:19:16 Speaker 2 

research across Canada can be very expensive and. 

01:19:19 Speaker 2 

I applied to Canada Council for a grant, but I lost out on that bid, so I’m now pondering the possibility of spending about 12,000 of my own money to produce what may be a good reference book for newsrooms or journalism schools. 

01:19:31 Speaker 2 

It never will be a best seller and I think a decision on that book will have to be made in very. 

01:19:37 Speaker 5 

Well, Mr. 

01:19:38 Speaker 5 

Cannings, that’s not what most people would call a retirement. 

01:19:42 Speaker 2 

Well, it’s been interesting, but one of the fallacies of old age is to see all the experience that you’ve gone over the years suddenly put away, folded neatly into drawers. 

01:19:54 Speaker 2 

I like to spread it. 

01:19:55 Speaker 2 

I spread it as a consultant and I like to do the odd bit of. 

01:19:58 Speaker 2 

Lecturing now but. 

01:20:00 Speaker 2 

Just have to wait and see. 

01:20:01 Speaker 5 

Well, thank you for appearing with us today. I’m raymie canuel, and this has been a career interview with Bert Cannings. The interview was done at Carleton University in Ottawa on May 19th, 1988. 

01:20:17 Speaker 6 

This is an interview with Harry Boyle conducted in Toronto by Phil Stone in November 1988. Harry Ball began his broadcasting career in 1936 at CK&X Wingham, Ontario. 

01:20:29 Speaker 6 

As a news man, in 1941, he went into the newspaper world working for the Beacon Herald in Stratford ON. 

01:20:36 Speaker 6 

Back to radio in 1942 with the CBC as a farm broadcaster, later program director of the Trans Canada Network in 1968, he became a member of the Canadian Radio Television Commission as a vice chairman. In 1975, he became the CRC’s chairman, and that lasted until 1977. Harry back in. 

01:20:56 Speaker 6 

In 1936, with no broadcasting schools, nobody could train you. How did you get into radio? 

01:21:01 Speaker 4 

Ohh it was very simple. 

01:21:03 Speaker 4 

I was in a small town called Wingham and Western Ontario, and I knew that I’d gone to school there high school there and and I was kicking around in this freelancing. 

01:21:13 Speaker 4 

4 newspapers, especially the London Free Press and the globe. 

01:21:17 Speaker 4 

Oh, and the star and the Cleveland, you know, whatever you could get. 

01:21:20 Speaker 4 

And I was in Wingham for a preliminary hearing on a murder trial. 

01:21:25 Speaker 4 

And the preliminary hearing was concluded. 

01:21:26 Speaker 4 

I was at a boarding house, couldn’t afford a hotel. 

01:21:30 Speaker 4 

And I heard the radio and I had known about this guy who had this radio station. 

01:21:36 Speaker 4 

Everybody knew him. 

01:21:37 Speaker 4 

Doc crookshank. 

01:21:39 Speaker 4 

And he had been working in the foundry in then he could over radio or a tire tire repair business. 

01:21:46 Speaker 4 

And he had been Popular Mechanics, and he’d built his little transmitter, which he carried around in a cheese box. 

01:21:52 Speaker 4 

And the local people sort of support him. 

01:21:54 Speaker 4 

Got a radio club together and they put a. 

01:21:57 Speaker 4 

Everybody threw a dollar membership in and they got after the local MP and their left local MP got after old Commander Edwards and Ottawa and. 

01:22:04 Speaker 4 

And they put the heat on to get a commercial license because he had he had a. 

01:22:09 Speaker 4 

An experimental license 10 BP. 

01:22:12 Speaker 4 

And it was just about the time that I had arrived there that they had become the commercial CKX with a commercial license. 

01:22:18 Speaker 4 

Imagine the town of 1300 people getting this so you can know that they expected in Ottawa. The thing would fold. 

01:22:24 Speaker 4 

The only reason they gave it was there was so damn much political pressure on him that he he yielded to him that this thing will fall. 

01:22:31 Speaker 4 

I heard it and I thought to myself they were reading. 

01:22:35 Speaker 4 

Canned coffee sent by Christian Science monitor and it’s awful. 

01:22:38 Speaker 4 

It’s four or five days late. 

01:22:39 Speaker 4 

You know, this newscast went into DOC, and I knew Western Ontario like a book because I’d been chasing around, doing, doing reportage from all parts of the country. 

01:22:49 Speaker 4 

I’d be sent in when the local correspondent couldn’t handle it. 

01:22:53 Speaker 4 

So I braved it in and said, listen, that’s the terrible thing you’re doing on the air for news. 

01:22:57 Speaker 4 

Let me do a local newscast. 

01:22:59 Speaker 4 

There’s no reason for you to do national news, your local station. 

01:23:03 Speaker 4 

And the only answer to it is that if you cover locally what’s going on, it’s the only way you can compete and you know, went through the whole business about saying look at the way we can newspaper operates, I mean, no, no national paper can compete with the local paper. 

01:23:16 Speaker 4 

This is what you should be doing. 

01:23:18 Speaker 4 

Doc said, well, try it. 

01:23:20 Speaker 4 

So he said. I said when he said, oh, tonight. Good God. So I I don’t know what he did that night or the next day. I don’t want was for 7:15 at night. They gave me this spot. 

01:23:31 Speaker 4 

So I rounded up and tripped a bit from the local weekly and did all sorts of things and didn’t use gas. 

01:23:36 Speaker 4 

And of course, I’d been at the the inquiry, the murder hearing which everybody was brought up of it, and I did it and they got a better response. 

01:23:45 Speaker 4 

And he said, well, why don’t you? 

01:23:46 Speaker 4 


01:23:47 Speaker 4 

So I tried it for a month and I got my sea legs and I was tremendously helped by Stu Mason and Godrich, whose brother was Bill Mason of the Sudbury Star, and Stu was a remittance man. 

01:23:57 Speaker 4 

He drank too much and he had he was the correspondent for all the papers in the county town. 

01:24:03 Speaker 4 

Lived in a hotel, was a great guy and he he really helped me tremendously. 

01:24:07 Speaker 4 

He was my my mentor. 

01:24:11 Speaker 4 

At the end of a month, my God, I hadn’t made any money. 

01:24:14 Speaker 4 

He wasn’t paying me, so I went to Doc and said this can’t go on because you know, I’m. 

01:24:18 Speaker 4 

I’m I’m a freelancer and I’ve got to got to make my money and there’s no salary tax. So he said, OK, let’s put me on payroll at $3 a week and that’s how it all started. But what kind of studio, what kind of MIC did you have? 

01:24:31 Speaker 4 

Oh, I mean, dark headed. 

01:24:33 Speaker 4 

It was on the Main Street, and it was next to the Brunswick Hotel, and there were three little stores in the butcher shop and a tea room. 

01:24:40 Speaker 4 

And and and docks radio repair business. 

01:24:43 Speaker 4 

He and and he sold Stromberg Carlson radios saw he imagine his conventional store the front part which would be what? 

01:24:51 Speaker 4 

Oh, maybe 15 by 12 or so where he sold radios and he repaired them. 

01:24:57 Speaker 4 

There was a door leading into a little corridor and there was a little tiny office, which would be maybe 6 feet square. 

01:25:02 Speaker 4 

Then there was a control room. 

01:25:04 Speaker 4 

And behind that, there was the studio Chesterfield, a couple of chairs and that was it. 

01:25:10 Speaker 4 

And it was the transmitter was there in the control room. 

01:25:14 Speaker 4 

And it was a homemade transmitter which Doc had made to replace the one he originally had in a cheese box, which he used to carry around to do remotes. 

01:25:23 Speaker 4 

And the now the equipment was concerned. 

01:25:27 Speaker 4 

It was an old God. 

01:25:28 Speaker 4 

There was a microphone or just an old. 

01:25:31 Speaker 4 

I can remember an technical escapes me altogether, but just one of those old sort of square looking microphones wasn’t around job. 

01:25:39 Speaker 4 

He had the wrong job before that. 

01:25:41 Speaker 4 

The one that like in the picture, the rooster reminds Frank Willis. 

01:25:41 Speaker 6 

Right, the big job. 

01:25:44 Speaker 4 

You always see that microphone. 

01:25:46 Speaker 4 

And that was. 

01:25:46 Speaker 6 

It what kind of hours did you work? 

01:25:49 Speaker 6 

Did you work all? 

01:25:49 Speaker 6 

Day and night? 

01:25:50 Speaker 6 

Or did you ever shift? 

01:25:51 Speaker 4 

Well, not really. 

01:25:53 Speaker 4 

I what I did was I started to do. 

01:25:55 Speaker 4 

I I got the idea that he should be also doing farm news so I have. 

01:26:00 Speaker 4 

I knew the egg reps and I used to do so. 

01:26:03 Speaker 4 

We did a farm broadcaster. 

01:26:05 Speaker 4 

It was a newscast and a farm thing. 

01:26:07 Speaker 4 

Whatever you want to call at noon. 

01:26:09 Speaker 4 

And a newscast at 7:15 at night. 

01:26:12 Speaker 6 

And that was my job. 

01:26:13 Speaker 6 

Was was, which I did myself, was to chase up these newscasts twice a day. 

01:26:17 Speaker 6 

Everything was life, wasn’t it, Harry? 

01:26:19 Speaker 6 

There was no type, of course. 

01:26:20 Speaker 4 

No, no, we had no recording facility. 

01:26:21 Speaker 6 

So if you made a mistake, it was done and you. 

01:26:24 Speaker 6 

Had to overcome it. 

01:26:24 Speaker 4 

That’s right, everything was life is completely and absolutely. 

01:26:28 Speaker 6 

What was the attitude of the townspeople towards a person like you? 

01:26:30 Speaker 6 

Did they respect you for what you were doing, but at first? 

01:26:33 Speaker 4 

It was a fad. 

01:26:33 Speaker 4 

It was not, you know. 

01:26:36 Speaker 4 

For years, Doc had been known as a kind of not around town, and there were enough people had faith in him, of course, but others didn’t pay very much attention to. 

01:26:43 Speaker 4 

And but it in time attracted attention to small town and people knew it was the place where the radio station was didn’t have very big coverage. 

01:26:52 Speaker 4 

Of course, that only went out. 

01:26:54 Speaker 4 

I think at night when hell of a time to get past this age of the town, but and there must have been about 5050 people in town had thrown a bit of money in the pot to help them get started. So they were. They were boosters for. 

01:27:10 Speaker 4 

And gradually. 

01:27:12 Speaker 4 

It became. 

01:27:13 Speaker 4 

The thing to do would be, for instance, to listen at noon, because we covered everything, auction sales, debt, births, deaths, all entertainment of which I suppose auction sales were one of the major things, so that it became a habit, I mean, and the same thing at night. 

01:27:31 Speaker 4 

So those islands, the news business. 

01:27:34 Speaker 4 

Well, then, in addition to that, he developed a burn dance on it. 

01:27:37 Speaker 4 

Live burn dance on Saturday night, taking it around to different parts of the, you know, different town. 

01:27:44 Speaker 4 

Tony Lombardi, I think used to play in a dance band. 

01:27:47 Speaker 4 

Remember him come up the list of them and I was broadcasting it, this sort of thing. 

01:27:52 Speaker 4 

It was all local. 

01:27:55 Speaker 4 

The accident was on the local stuff. 

01:27:58 Speaker 4 

It was ages before we got any kind of a national news service and you couldn’t get any place else if you wanted to know what was going on. 

01:28:04 Speaker 4 

You tune in at noon and you found out who died, who who, who was born, you know who was married and who was in court. 

01:28:12 Speaker 4 

You know, everything was there. 

01:28:14 Speaker 4 

You wouldn’t call it sophisticated. 

01:28:15 Speaker 4 

Radio was more humbly was. 

01:28:17 Speaker 4 

No, no. 

01:28:17 Speaker 4 

And he and then Howard Bedford came in to work with Doc, and he was a promoter. 

01:28:23 Speaker 4 

And he coined the idea of the Ontario farm station. 

01:28:26 Speaker 4 

And of course, that’s what identified it, and that we identified because up to that point, we couldn’t get. 

01:28:30 Speaker 6 

Rewards advertising the clerks actually remained there for a. 

01:28:32 Speaker 4 

Long, long time. 

01:28:33 Speaker 4 

Ohh yeah the. 

01:28:36 Speaker 4 

I was married. 

01:28:36 Speaker 4 

I was at the Commission when they sold it to to London to see if the dock had cancer and he was anxious to sell it before he died. 

01:28:44 Speaker 6 

You went to the CBC from C KNX as a farm broadcaster. 

01:28:47 Speaker 4 

No, I went to. 

01:28:48 Speaker 6 

We went to. 

01:28:49 Speaker 6 

The newspaper first. 

01:28:49 Speaker 4 

I went to the track for being I was there for five years and and and I, you know, I was getting tired. 

01:28:54 Speaker 4 

Of it and. 

01:28:54 Speaker 4 

I had we. 

01:28:55 Speaker 4 

It was a wonderful experience. 

01:28:57 Speaker 4 

Nobody knew what nobody knew, what they were doing, so we could make all kinds of mistakes, and there wasn’t make any difference. 

01:29:03 Speaker 4 

So you learned to write copy. 

01:29:05 Speaker 4 

My God, I used to go around even and collect bills. 

01:29:08 Speaker 4 

On Saturday, the only way we can get paid. 

01:29:09 Speaker 6 

This is at the Beacon Herald. 

01:29:11 Speaker 4 

In in William. 

01:29:11 Speaker 6 

I beg your pardon? 

01:29:12 Speaker 6 

You’re still here. 

01:29:13 Speaker 4 

Yeah, used to. 

01:29:13 Speaker 6 

OK, we used to go around and collect money on Saturday just to pay our pay ourselves. 

01:29:19 Speaker 4 

Or take a basket of groceries. 

01:29:20 Speaker 4 

Sometimes times are pretty tough in. 

01:29:22 Speaker 6 

And remember the kind of copy you wrote to her. 

01:29:22 Speaker 4 

There in the 30s. 

01:29:24 Speaker 4 

Oh sure, I wrote advertising copy. 

01:29:26 Speaker 4 

I wrote spots. 

01:29:27 Speaker 4 

I did the whole bit. 

01:29:28 Speaker 4 

So the what? 

01:29:30 Speaker 4 

As a matter of fact, they even produced a soap opera once a week. 

01:29:33 Speaker 4 

Doctor, I never. 

01:29:34 Speaker 4 

I don’t think even had heard one. 

01:29:37 Speaker 4 

But I got a bunch of kids in the local high school and every Sunday afternoon we used to do this thing and we even got fleishman yeast to sponsor. 

01:29:44 Speaker 4 

And that was. 

01:29:45 Speaker 4 

But as I said, nobody tell you not to do this. 

01:29:49 Speaker 4 

So you did it. 

01:29:50 Speaker 4 

You experimented and it worked. 

01:29:52 Speaker 6 

Most of it worked, and if you fell on flat in your face, you could get. 

01:29:55 Speaker 6 

Up again and. 

01:29:56 Speaker 4 

You learned something, didn’t make any difference. 

01:29:57 Speaker 4 

You walked out the door and you met somebody on the street. 

01:30:01 Speaker 4 

Who had just heard you on the air? 

01:30:03 Speaker 4 

I mean, there was. 

01:30:04 Speaker 4 

You’re you were that. 

01:30:04 Speaker 4 

Close to your audience. 

01:30:06 Speaker 6 

As I was saying a moment ago, from there you went to the Beacon Herald and then you went to. 

01:30:09 Speaker 6 

The CBC and that. 

01:30:10 Speaker 6 

Must have been totally different. 

01:30:14 Speaker 4 

It was an amazing thing because as I say, I fell into broadcasting and my knowledge of broadcasting prior to going to Wingham was so limited at the college. 

01:30:24 Speaker 4 

We had those little crystal radios. 

01:30:26 Speaker 4 

And there we used to most of it was to. 

01:30:29 Speaker 4 

I think was to defy the priests more than anything else. 

01:30:31 Speaker 4 

We used to have these things in our in their bed at night, and be listening to them. 

01:30:36 Speaker 4 

And that was my contact. 

01:30:37 Speaker 4 

My father would had a bug on it, but he used to buy these big old fashioned homemade radios. 

01:30:41 Speaker 4 

Most of it never worked and you get a few bursts of music and KDK a Pittsburgh and things like that. 

01:30:47 Speaker 4 

That was he was had a country store and he had this, but it never really caught me until. 

01:30:53 Speaker 4 

Until I landed into Wingham and then suddenly became aware of the fact that this was, you know, all the things I’d ever learned as a newspaper, as a local newspaper man and working, and I’d worked on on the cartridge signal star for a while before that. 

01:31:05 Speaker 4 

So I was grounded in the business of reporting on local places, but this was a. 

01:31:09 Speaker 4 

Natural for them. 

01:31:13 Speaker 4 

You couldn’t get that. 

01:31:14 Speaker 4 

You couldn’t, no matter where you went, you couldn’t beat that experience. 

01:31:18 Speaker 4 

And what happened was that Don Fairburn, who was the firm commentator on CBC for Ontario, had an uncle and William police be allowed to rent a bookstore? 

01:31:27 Speaker 4 

And I was a great frequent her of the bookstore. 

01:31:30 Speaker 4 

And one day I was in there and and. 

01:31:33 Speaker 4 

Old HB introduced me to his nephew, saying, you know, this is he’s in broadcasting too suddenly. 

01:31:39 Speaker 4 

Knew about the CBC. 

01:31:40 Speaker 4 

I hadn’t. 

01:31:41 Speaker 4 

We were up in an area where you couldn’t get very little CBC reception. 

01:31:47 Speaker 4 

As a matter of fact, what we got mostly were were Detroit stations, WJR, WJ, BK. 

01:31:53 Speaker 4 

This sort of thing. 

01:31:55 Speaker 4 

And even even the Canadian stations were limited. 

01:32:00 Speaker 4 

And I suppose that’s one of the reasons why we had the station, but however this. 

01:32:04 Speaker 4 

As I say, I knew nothing about broadcasting. 

01:32:06 Speaker 4 

Whatever it was I learned there. 

01:32:08 Speaker 4 

I went to Stratford as district editor. 

01:32:11 Speaker 4 

I wanted to get away from it for a while and you know it was. 

01:32:13 Speaker 4 

It was it was too small. I mean, I hadn’t done everything I could possibly do, but I knew I was limited. I was. I was only 26 years older than I am. 

01:32:23 Speaker 4 

And I wanted to to move to do something day after me job, just together with the car and with a lot of things to really do transfer to, to to the newspaper. 

01:32:32 Speaker 4 

What I was doing on radio. 

01:32:33 Speaker 4 

That was pretty much what it was. 

01:32:36 Speaker 4 

And one day I got a. 

01:32:38 Speaker 4 

I was in in the office upstairs, getting ready for the morning edition of the paper. 

01:32:42 Speaker 4 

And the girl told me don’t Fairburn is down the stairs. 

01:32:46 Speaker 4 

And he said Orville Chug wants to see it. 

01:32:48 Speaker 4 

The CBC. 

01:32:49 Speaker 4 

He said. 

01:32:49 Speaker 4 

I’m leaving. 

01:32:50 Speaker 4 

I’m going overseas and they want to offer you the job. 

01:32:54 Speaker 4 

God, I won’t drop dead. 

01:32:56 Speaker 4 

I mean, never thought of it. 

01:32:57 Speaker 4 

Never even thought of it. 

01:32:58 Speaker 4 

So I got on the train. 

01:32:59 Speaker 4 

They came down to. 

01:33:00 Speaker 4 

Came down to Toronto and I’m in Orville, OJ, Orville JW Shugg SHUG still lives in. 

01:33:09 Speaker 4 

And Neil Morrison, his assistant, we were up to the old Piccadilly on King St. 

01:33:14 Speaker 4 

Colman’s ran. 

01:33:17 Speaker 4 

Sat there and and and dingy old Berry smelling joints, and he offered me a job. 

01:33:23 Speaker 4 

And I said, sure, you know who do I have to kill to get it and fine. 

01:33:28 Speaker 4 

So I went back, packed up, came to Toronto by myself to find someplace to live, landed in the Davenport Studios. 

01:33:37 Speaker 4 

I didn’t know anything about it at all. Walked in it. It was where the TC Barns are now. But there. And there’s a guard with about 50 medals on and a gun, and he won’t let. 

01:33:46 Speaker 4 

In the old Canadian National carbon factory, nobody told me I had to get a get a pass to get into the joint. 

01:33:55 Speaker 4 

And he was an abusive old ******* to. 

01:33:57 Speaker 4 

And finally I got into it. 

01:33:59 Speaker 4 

I walked across this long compound. 

01:34:02 Speaker 4 

Come walk up to the second floor in this industrial factory, the Dingiest, dirtiest joint you can have. 

01:34:08 Speaker 4 

And look at the girl at the desk. 

01:34:11 Speaker 4 

Who are you? 

01:34:11 Speaker 4 

I said I’m. 

01:34:12 Speaker 4 

I come to work. 

01:34:13 Speaker 4 

She’s welcome to the Legion of Lost Souls. 

01:34:15 Speaker 4 

Or somebody thing sent me in. 

01:34:18 Speaker 4 

There’s a couple of studios. 

01:34:20 Speaker 4 

There’s a recording room. 

01:34:21 Speaker 4 

There’s a place for The Newsroom. 

01:34:22 Speaker 4 

There’s one private office and there’s this great open space factory space. 

01:34:26 Speaker 4 

And there I’m surrounded by all these people. 

01:34:29 Speaker 4 

You know, you know, this is my. 

01:34:30 Speaker 4 

This is this time. 

01:34:31 Speaker 4 

This is big time. 

01:34:32 Speaker 4 

My God. 

01:34:33 Speaker 4 

I mean, does it look like as if you’re going into the scrap yard in liver? 

01:34:39 Speaker 4 

Someone asked her said she was Frank Willis. 

01:34:42 Speaker 4 

The secretary took me in hand and read forces. 

01:34:44 Speaker 4 

Who was a great guy, sat me down at the desk. 

01:34:47 Speaker 4 

The next thing I know, Frank Willis comes down and shakes hands, you know, and I suddenly realized what a tremendous gang of people I was in the middle. 

01:34:54 Speaker 4 

And that’s how you joined. 

01:34:55 Speaker 4 

CNBC you were there with. 

01:34:58 Speaker 4 

Oh, yes. 

01:34:58 Speaker 4 

I mean, these are. 

01:34:59 Speaker 4 

And they were wondering, they were, they were tremendous. 

01:35:01 Speaker 4 

I mean, you know, I was this dream kid. 

01:35:03 Speaker 4 

Give me. 

01:35:04 Speaker 6 

Well, when you think of what they had, they hit the kind of studios they had a kind of equipment they had compared to CK and X was kind of a shock to you or was it was a terrible shock to me because I expected to see something really flossy in this matter of fact, it wasn’t a hell lot better than CNX. 

01:35:20 Speaker 6 

You know, it was a granted the control rooms and but. 

01:35:24 Speaker 4 

It wasn’t. 

01:35:24 Speaker 4 

It wasn’t really basically the IT was the same thing. 

01:35:27 Speaker 4 

What was the attitude? 

01:35:29 Speaker 6 

Where’s broadcasting by the people that worked there? 

01:35:31 Speaker 6 

Did they feel they were in an innovative industry? 

01:35:34 Speaker 4 

Oh, the as I said, the moment you got in that door, you realized what you’re amongst the spirit was fantastic. 

01:35:41 Speaker 4 

The IT was war time, of course, and there was this overlay of doing the war, things you know, and remember that in those days, I mean, it’s they. 

01:35:49 Speaker 4 

The CBC was a pillar for the country, because if you had anybody. 

01:35:53 Speaker 4 

Overseas, the only place you’re going to really learn about it was on that on the CBC News. 

01:35:58 Speaker 4 

And that was just beginning. 

01:36:00 Speaker 4 

Unfortunately, they’re really beginning their overseas service and it and as it went on, it got better and better and better all the time, you know, and it was. 

01:36:06 Speaker 4 

And the and the CBC came of age in the war time. 

01:36:09 Speaker 4 

There was no right. 

01:36:09 Speaker 4 

So I was at the right time to to come into it. 

01:36:12 Speaker 4 

And everybody was charged. 

01:36:14 Speaker 4 

They were missionaries. 

01:36:15 Speaker 4 

My God, they believed that this, you know, this is the most important thing in the world to do. 

01:36:18 Speaker 4 

And it exceeded you. 

01:36:20 Speaker 4 

And it was also very democratic. 

01:36:22 Speaker 4 

That was the other thing about it. 

01:36:25 Speaker 4 

Three days after I was there. 

01:36:27 Speaker 4 

I remember so well. 

01:36:28 Speaker 4 

Somebody said we had to go down to York Street. 

01:36:31 Speaker 4 

Because there was a meeting, this was at night. 

01:36:32 Speaker 4 

I get down there and everybody’s there. 

01:36:34 Speaker 4 

Office, Boys, girls, everything, producers, announcers, nothing else and Bush knows holding a program meeting. 

01:36:39 Speaker 4 

And everybody’s expected to talk about it. 

01:36:41 Speaker 4 

You know, I. 

01:36:41 Speaker 4 

Couldn’t get over. 

01:36:42 Speaker 4 

This, and they were arguing in detail, other everything going on in the office, boys arguing with. 

01:36:48 Speaker 4 

Additional I mean and that was the kind of that was the kind of everybody’s. 

01:36:50 Speaker 6 

The input was from everyone and. 

01:36:53 Speaker 6 

Farm Broadcasting, which to a lot of young people who might hear this tape. 

01:36:57 Speaker 4 

Well, fernbrake. 

01:36:57 Speaker 6 

It’s something they wouldn’t relate to. 

01:36:59 Speaker 4 

You see, firm broadcasting was it was the unique thing. 

01:37:02 Speaker 4 

This fella Shug was the one he had been, a farmer. 

01:37:05 Speaker 4 

He’d been in the newspapers in the Okanagan Valley. 

01:37:08 Speaker 4 

And his father had a farm at Watford, Shane Watford and Albinson and Orville chugged came by. 

01:37:15 Speaker 4 

On the farm and he was listening to the CBC One day and he said, you know, it’s a damn shame because there are no CBC should be broadcasting markets because farmers are at the mercy of the Packers. 

01:37:26 Speaker 4 

Because they they’re in the drivers, because they don’t know what’s going on and the radio could do a wonderful job with this. 

01:37:31 Speaker 4 

So we wrote to Gladstone Murray, who was then the general manager of the CBC, and he told him this. 

01:37:36 Speaker 4 

Gladstone Murray wrote back and said. 

01:37:38 Speaker 4 

I think you have a great idea. 

01:37:39 Speaker 4 

Why don’t you come and do it? 

01:37:41 Speaker 4 

And that’s what started the firm broadcast. 

01:37:43 Speaker 6 

He became the program director, didn’t he? 

01:37:44 Speaker 4 

Don’t know. 

01:37:45 Speaker 4 

He became the supervisor of firm broadcast, and he set them up this way. 

01:37:46 Speaker 6 

Or super right? Right. 

01:37:51 Speaker 4 

Each region that is the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario is all separate regions, the prairies and BC would have a an individual broadcast for themselves. 

01:38:01 Speaker 4 

And it would be at noon, and it would have far markets at the beginning. 

01:38:05 Speaker 4 

It would have a dramatic cereal based on a farm family, which in the case of Ontario was the Craigs. 

01:38:10 Speaker 4 

And at the end of it, it would have commentary and and interviews was agricultural specialist. 

01:38:15 Speaker 4 

So every day five days a week there was this thing set up across the country and there were farm families indigenous. 

01:38:21 Speaker 4 

To the each each you know the drama to each region. 

01:38:25 Speaker 4 

The Craigs were here. 

01:38:26 Speaker 4 

The gillens are in the in the Maritimes, and so on. 

01:38:30 Speaker 4 

Carsons are in BC and so on. 

01:38:32 Speaker 4 

And of course, in the fact was that it had has meant much mucher or more city audience because people were fascinated by these prices. 

01:38:40 Speaker 4 

But the prices of vegetables and the prices and the farm family, I mean this was it was this kind of soap Lords of propaganda thing. 

01:38:48 Speaker 4 

It was, it was, it was built or it was written so that propaganda. 

01:38:52 Speaker 4 

But the war effort would be put into the farm family, but they managed, you know, they were on the air for 30 years or something. 

01:38:58 Speaker 4 

They it really became an. 

01:39:01 Speaker 6 

You moved around in the CBC, did you not? 

01:39:04 Speaker 6 

You didn’t stay in Farm Broadcasting. 

01:39:05 Speaker 4 

Oh I. 

01:39:06 Speaker 4 

Remember that you know I was there. 

01:39:07 Speaker 4 

I was a farm. 

01:39:08 Speaker 4 

I was a farm commentator for a year. 

01:39:10 Speaker 4 

I was the assistant Supervisor, farm broadcast for a year or so. 

01:39:13 Speaker 4 

And then I was the supervisor farm broadcast for another period of a couple of years, and then I took over the transcontinental. 

01:39:20 Speaker 4 

And it was there until. 

01:39:22 Speaker 4 

Oh, the 60s. 

01:39:24 Speaker 4 

And then there was program director for television and radio for both for Ontario region. 

01:39:30 Speaker 4 

Then I was then I was a oh, what was actually special. 

01:39:37 Speaker 4 

Some special some titles. 

01:39:40 Speaker 4 

And and I was and and then I was and I was a free letter. 

01:39:44 Speaker 4 

I was a what do you call producer? 

01:39:47 Speaker 6 

Executive producer in television when you were programming the transgender network back in those days, there was a lot of talk. 

01:39:55 Speaker 6 

Modern of his music or not, was it not music? 

01:39:56 Speaker 4 

Oh, no. 

01:39:57 Speaker 4 

No, no, no, no. 

01:39:58 Speaker 4 

No, there was a lot of. There was a your prior to back in the seat back in the if you think of broadcasting back in 32 to 36 in the CRBC days, there were a fair amount of very good commentaries. As a matter of fact people like George. 

01:40:14 Speaker 4 

Ferguson, there are all these people. 

01:40:18 Speaker 4 

There wasn’t so much. 

01:40:19 Speaker 4 

And then when I came in. 

01:40:22 Speaker 4 

It was changing the the war had an effect on it too. 

01:40:29 Speaker 4 

And there were a lot of programs that were done were done, you know, Alfred Lankey an awful lot of dramatic programs. 

01:40:38 Speaker 4 

It was comrades in arms. 

01:40:40 Speaker 4 

Fighting Navy. 

01:40:41 Speaker 4 

These are all these are all drama. 

01:40:45 Speaker 4 

Not John and Judy. 

01:40:47 Speaker 4 

I forget the name of that one, but there were a lot of dramatic shows and there was a lot of music too. 

01:40:52 Speaker 4 

But there wasn’t so much talk, you know, there were some forums. 

01:40:55 Speaker 4 

To a firm forum and Citizens Forum, which we’re discussion programming, which you had a tremendous effect, particularly at the end of the war and sort of readjusting people towards it, but. 

01:41:09 Speaker 4 

Oh, I I can’t begin to tell you the number of the number of. 

01:41:14 Speaker 4 

You know, we started CBC, CBC, Opera companies, became the became was the nucleus of the Canadian Opera Company started with CBC on CBC Wednesday night. 

01:41:24 Speaker 6 

But you did try to offer something for everyone, didn’t you? 

01:41:26 Speaker 6 

Oh, yeah. 

01:41:27 Speaker 6 

Well, a private station might stay in one groove. 

01:41:29 Speaker 4 

Not on the children’s programs. 

01:41:30 Speaker 4 

Everything you can imagine then we had time zones to counter across the country and you know at the beginning it was it was going live. 

01:41:38 Speaker 4 

When I first went in there, it was quite a long time before it began that it began. 

01:41:41 Speaker 4 

To delay it for the time regions. 

01:41:43 Speaker 6 

Do you remember Monica? 

01:41:45 Speaker 6 

Yes, that was a made-up of segments. Yeah, short items. That was did. 

01:41:51 Speaker 6 

You create that. 

01:41:53 Speaker 4 

Well, I guess no where mine was. 

01:41:54 Speaker 6 

The same I’ve been to assignment. 

01:41:56 Speaker 6 

No, he said monitor assignment. 

01:41:56 Speaker 4 

No, no, I wondered. No, I created it. See, when they I remember very well-being called in one day and I was just sort of project special program projects and. 

01:42:06 Speaker 4 

There was a meeting with the private stations and this was in the days when the CBC CBC was still regulating the broadcasting season. 

01:42:14 Speaker 4 

They regulated broadcasting up until the 19th until the the BG was. 

01:42:21 Speaker 4 

They had. 

01:42:23 Speaker 4 

CBL and CBY which became CBC. 

01:42:27 Speaker 4 

The two stations and they were they were. 

01:42:29 Speaker 4 

They duplicated each other but the private stations wanted a network of their own and because we had we had created things like CBC Wednesday night which eliminated commercials all one night there was a there were people were wanted time for national commercials. 

01:42:44 Speaker 4 

So they conceived the idea of taking cby CBC and and 26 private stations and forming the Dominion Network, and they wanted a program that was distinctive for that. 

01:42:55 Speaker 4 

And they asked me what to do and I I created. 

01:42:57 Speaker 6 

Assignment and assignment was just that. 

01:43:00 Speaker 6 

You assigned people to survive. 

01:43:01 Speaker 4 

That’s right. 

01:43:01 Speaker 4 

As a matter of fact, what we did was the tape recorder, where the idea came to me from when I said, and it was the same thing as I thought about back in Wingham, and that was there are all kinds of stories in this country that go on every day, beautiful stories that get cut off. 

01:43:17 Speaker 4 

I was in the CPP office in Winnipeg one night, and I was. 

01:43:21 Speaker 4 

The operator there and he was bringing the wire stuff was coming in from the region and he was feeding to the national line and what he was doing was cutting. 

01:43:29 Speaker 4 

He couldn’t. 

01:43:30 Speaker 4 

He didn’t have time from from the Moose River and Buffalo jump. 

01:43:34 Speaker 4 

And I don’t know where. 

01:43:35 Speaker 4 

All not Moose River, but Moose Jaw and and all these places. 

01:43:38 Speaker 4 

He’s cutting these and I’m looking at them. 

01:43:40 Speaker 4 

Beautiful little stories about, you know, things that are happening all the time. 

01:43:43 Speaker 4 

So this is what I what I tried to create an assignment. 

01:43:47 Speaker 4 

We would look for the stories that were there that the that the news just didn’t carry because enough time for. 

01:43:54 Speaker 4 

And what happened was and because with the tape recorder, it was easy to do, you could edit them down and we’d run for a maximum of 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. 

01:44:03 Speaker 4 

And we would, we would canvas to start with the people who were working on those private stations to tell them we had a market for them. 

01:44:11 Speaker 4 

What happened, of course, was that and we were paying, I think $35 or something like that for these first 25 minutes and 35 and Warner, Warner Troyers told me the story of what happened when he was working up the lake. 

01:44:24 Speaker 4 

He said he heard this program. 

01:44:27 Speaker 4 

He heard there have been no came around saying we we welcome contribution. So he sent a story in. He got a check for $35 and he sent in two stories and he got $70. Just making more money. 

01:44:36 Speaker 4 

It wasn’t the thing, and he came to Toronto and I tell you that years afterwards, when I was with the CRC. 

01:44:44 Speaker 4 

And Pierre, Juno and I would be arriving a town like this, and people would come up and say I used to work for you. 

01:44:49 Speaker 4 

And Juno said, my God, did everybody in Canada work for you one time or another, and it was all people who had contributed to assignment, including me. 

01:44:56 Speaker 4 

Yeah, sure. 

01:44:57 Speaker 4 

No, no. 

01:44:58 Speaker 4 

And I remember Andrew Allen telling me. 

01:45:00 Speaker 4 

He said he was driving back from Detroit. 

01:45:02 Speaker 4 

And he turned the radio on. 

01:45:03 Speaker 4 

So first the acquaintance he had with with her. 

01:45:06 Speaker 4 

The same and he got. 

01:45:08 Speaker 4 

You know what this business about all across the country, the things that were going on started homely little things. 

01:45:13 Speaker 4 

And yet some of them were rather good, and that was it. 

01:45:15 Speaker 4 

But it was almost like a a national tapestry. 

01:45:18 Speaker 4 

And it was a good show. 

01:45:21 Speaker 6 

You went into television also. 

01:45:23 Speaker 4 

Well, I tried to do the same thing on television as they were doing there because they did a program called across Canada. 

01:45:29 Speaker 4 

And it was the first program was the world’s worst program to be in the Smithsonian. 

01:45:36 Speaker 4 

It was unbelievably bad because there was a fight between myself and the. 

01:45:41 Speaker 4 

Producer I mean this. 

01:45:42 Speaker 4 

Was I knew what I wanted and he wants conventional television until I got a new. 

01:45:48 Speaker 4 

And then it worked and I think and but the problem was it was the time element you’re always fighting against the regions because I had to be in at supper hour. 

01:45:56 Speaker 6 

But they’re doing it now pretty much. I mean, the journalism example pretty much what you’re talking about, except they do it internationally. You started in 1936, we’re talking 30 odd years later. 

01:46:07 Speaker 6 

With the needs and expectations of broadcasting different than people expect different things that they need different things. 

01:46:13 Speaker 6 

Well, it was a novelty then, of course, and now people are sated with it. 

01:46:20 Speaker 4 

I think I suspected what we. 

01:46:23 Speaker 4 

What we’ve always needed is some knowledge of what’s going on around us and. 

01:46:30 Speaker 4 

I think in many ways the concentration of the imitation that goes on in an awful lot of television is the worst curse there is for it and the lack of innovation. 

01:46:41 Speaker 4 

It’s easy to imitate and to run along with the thing. 

01:46:44 Speaker 4 

And it’s very difficult to innovate. 

01:46:46 Speaker 6 

You were on both sides of the fence, though. 

01:46:48 Speaker 6 

You worked in public broadcasting. 

01:46:50 Speaker 6 

You worked in private broadcasting and then you worked for regulatory body. 

01:46:54 Speaker 6 

Actually three different aspects of broadcasting. 

01:46:57 Speaker 6 

How, how was that? 

01:46:58 Speaker 6 

How did you feel about it when you sat in the chair of the CTC as a vice chairman, then the chairman? 

01:47:03 Speaker 6 

Well understood. 

01:47:04 Speaker 4 

Some of the difficulties of the private stations, because it’s a it’s it’s fairly easy for people on the CBC to criticise private stations and say, you know, they should do this and they shouldn’t do that and. 

01:47:14 Speaker 4 

They should do something else. 

01:47:17 Speaker 4 

I know the difficulties that are inherent in it. 

01:47:20 Speaker 4 

That it’s they’re caught in the kind of mind I don’t think they do. 

01:47:27 Speaker 4 

I don’t think private stations. 

01:47:28 Speaker 4 

And I always believe this don’t do enough innovation. 

01:47:31 Speaker 4 

There’s lots of time. 

01:47:32 Speaker 4 

They’ve got lots of time off time when they can do things. 

01:47:35 Speaker 4 

They could let their own staff go. 

01:47:37 Speaker 4 

And I think management is too rigid in terms of an awful lot of things. 

01:47:41 Speaker 4 

I think they have, we have better broadcasting. 

01:47:43 Speaker 4 

You know, I’m talking about radio, and I’m talking about television. 

01:47:49 Speaker 4 

You know, there’s so many things that could be done to the effort, but the the difficulty about the difficulty about private broadcasting to me is that I watched when I was at CRC and it seemed to me that. 

01:48:01 Speaker 4 

That the sales office and the Accounting Office took over from the program office. 

01:48:05 Speaker 4 

Too many times and what happens is they’re just watching everything for ratings and watching every other station and that imitation rather than innovation. 

01:48:13 Speaker 6 

Did you worry about ratings in your early days? 

01:48:16 Speaker 4 

Did you care what they I must take is. 

01:48:18 Speaker 4 

I must tell you about ratings. 



01:48:20 Speaker 4 

I had a newscast on Williams, sponsored them call from. 

01:48:24 Speaker 4 

And there were around about 8 Stratford and on 8 different stations and they had this agency had placed this their contract with these local newscasts. 

01:48:35 Speaker 4 

And I discovered they had all been cancelled, but mine and I couldn’t figure it out. 

01:48:38 Speaker 4 

I didn’t think we had that big enough, and one my cousin, the young girls, were about 16 or so who lived there, met her on the street from there. 

01:48:46 Speaker 4 

And she said no, Harry, by the way, she said no. 

01:48:49 Speaker 4 

You know, I did a telephone survey on your program and she said I got my sister to help me, she said. 

01:48:56 Speaker 4 

They called me and asked me if I do. 

01:48:57 Speaker 4 

I don’t really got my name. 

01:48:59 Speaker 4 

And she said we did the survey and she said, you know. 

01:49:03 Speaker 4 

What we did was that when we, when they didn’t know what they were listening to or they weren’t listening, we. 

01:49:08 Speaker 4 

Just put down your name. 

01:49:11 Speaker 6 

It didn’t last about three months later, and I guess they double checked and they threw it all. 

01:49:16 Speaker 6 

Well, Harry, yours is. 

01:49:18 Speaker 6 

The name has become celebrated and linked so much with the Canadian Broadcasting history and. 

01:49:23 Speaker 6 

On the thank you on behalf of the archives for being our guest pleasure. 

01:49:27 Speaker 6 

Our guest has been Harry Boyle, interviewed in Toronto, November 1988 by Phil Stone.