Warren Barker


00:00:03 Speaker 2 

Hi, Warren, it’s Tara. 

00:00:04 Speaker 2 

Calling from the Canadian communication from is this a good time for you? 

00:00:06 Speaker 1 

Snowies, Tara. 

00:00:08 Speaker 1 

That’s fine with me, yeah. 

00:00:10 Speaker 2 

Oh, great. OK, so I’m. 

00:00:12 Speaker 1 

Will you just ask me questions and I’ll try to answer them? 

00:00:15 Speaker 2 

OK, that sounds easy. 

00:00:17 Speaker 2 

OK, so my first question would be basically just the background of BC networks, how they came about to serve isolated communities. 

00:00:24 Speaker 1 

Well, basically it was. 

00:00:28 Speaker 1 

Set up on to try to give us province wide coverage of events in British Columbia, and so just a second line. 

00:00:38 Speaker 1 

Look at look at my notes here. 

00:00:39 Speaker 1 

I tried to make a couple of notes. 

00:00:41 Speaker 2 

Oh, no worries. 

00:00:54 Speaker 1 

OK, the BC network, the idea was that CKNW and Greater Vancouver became the central the home station, the. 

00:01:04 Speaker 1 

And the idea was to have a story exchange of radio news with operations in all areas of the province. 

00:01:13 Speaker 1 

For example, the central station was hooked up with the radio stations in the Victoria, Nanaimo Trail, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George. 

00:01:24 Speaker 1 

And several other smaller centers around the province. 

00:01:29 Speaker 1 

How it worked. 

00:01:30 Speaker 1 

Basically, let’s take an example. 

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CCI and Prince George might file a telephone voice report to us at NWC on a reasonably big story in their area, with some interest outside their immediate area. 

00:01:49 Speaker 1 

At NW, we would immediately turn it around and send the story on a broadcast line to all the other stations on the BBC network. 

00:02:00 Speaker 1 

N would then, after filing the voice report out, would then tape up the text of the Prince George item and send out the print to all of those stations so they wouldn’t have to worry about. 

00:02:13 Speaker 1 

Rewrites or getting the text for the rewrite. 

00:02:19 Speaker 1 

This network also involves some programming, such as there’d be a daily talk show on CKNW, which was morning talk show that was fed to all the stations, or at least to a certain ones who subscribed to it. 

00:02:37 Speaker 1 

Some of them did not want. 

00:02:39 Speaker 1 

Than NWT talk show or Greater Vancouver talk show. 

00:02:44 Speaker 1 

Another extension of it and probably covered not all, not just all the stations on the BC network, but some others as well who were non subscribers to news wanted the Canuck radio hockey broadcasts all the games of the Vancouver Canucks were under franchised. 

00:03:03 Speaker 1 

CK and W and those would be distributed over broadcast line live. 

00:03:10 Speaker 1 

Of course, that’s basically how the BC network operated. 

00:03:15 Speaker 2 


00:03:16 Speaker 2 

So CK W was the main hub was there. 

00:03:18 Speaker 2 

Other ones at all or? 

00:03:20 Speaker 1 

No, I should mention we also that NWW. 

00:03:25 Speaker 1 

Paid for a a Bureau in Victoria at the provincial parliament buildings and the staffer over there and. 

00:03:34 Speaker 1 

He would feed everything of from the legislature or government offices of interest and we relay it again to all the all the other stations, but the other stations got their stories basically to the network by phoning NW&NW, just turning it around and. 

00:03:54 Speaker 1 

Sending it out to. 

00:03:57 Speaker 1 

All the other station. 

00:03:58 Speaker 2 

Wow, what years did CK&W start up? 

00:04:03 Speaker 1 

While CK and W itself started in 1944 but this. 

00:04:09 Speaker 1 

BC Network, I think, came into being pretty well in the. 

00:04:15 Speaker 1 

Somewhere in the 1950s, late 1950s, perhaps and. 

00:04:23 Speaker 1 

Is somewhat diminished. 

00:04:24 Speaker 1 

I believe at the moment from its maximum scale through the Sixties, 70s. 

00:04:30 Speaker 1 

90s but. 

00:04:32 Speaker 1 

Under new ownership of the station, I do believe, except for connects hockey which? 

00:04:38 Speaker 1 

We don’t have. 

00:04:39 Speaker 1 

Momentarily for because of the NHL lockout, but I think it has a news. 

00:04:46 Speaker 1 

Origination it has diminished to a number of fewer stations now, but. 

00:04:52 Speaker 1 

It was in its hayday through the 60s, seventies, 80s and 90s. 

00:04:56 Speaker 2 


00:04:57 Speaker 2 

What were some of the major news events in that time? 

00:04:59 Speaker 2 

That you guys covered. 

00:05:02 Speaker 1 

Well, there would be things like, let’s see here. 

00:05:05 Speaker 2 

And dates if you have them as well actually. 

00:05:07 Speaker 1 

The of course the Clifford Olson case, the child killer who murdered all the children and is now serving life in prison with no prospect of ever being released. 

00:05:19 Speaker 1 

There were two riots at the BC Penitentiary, a prison that is a federal prison that is no longer in existence. 

00:05:27 Speaker 2 

Do you have the dates for any of the? 

00:05:31 Speaker 1 

1950s. I haven’t looked up precise dates. 

00:05:32 Speaker 2 

OK, OK. 

00:05:36 Speaker 1 

There was a 1956 we had a Tran Air Canada was then known as Trans Canada Airlines. We had an airliner crash in. 

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November of 1956, after the. 

00:05:50 Speaker 1 

Grey Cup game in Vancouver and virtually the whole Saskatchewan Rough Rider team. 

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Along with many other passengers. 

00:06:02 Speaker 1 

Trans Canada. 

00:06:04 Speaker 1 

Jeff or not, Jeff, pardon me, North Star crashed into Mount Salesi, which is near Chilliwack, but 90 miles. 

00:06:14 Speaker 1 

South or southeast of Vancouver? 

00:06:17 Speaker 1 

We had there. 

00:06:18 Speaker 1 

Before my time at NW, there was a massive flood in 1948 on the Fraser River and NW, which was then in existence 24 years. 

00:06:28 Speaker 1 

Today I’m told. 

00:06:30 Speaker 1 

Fantastic job of covering that. 

00:06:33 Speaker 1 

We had a typhoon that did several $1,000,000 damage in 1963 Typhoon Freda. 

00:06:41 Speaker 1 

Let’s see political wise in the mid 1950s, there was a Royal Commission inquiry which turned up a lot of graft and corruption in the Vancouver City Police Department. 

00:06:55 Speaker 1 

And those are the ones that come to me right off the. 

00:06:58 Speaker 1 

Top of my head, OK. 

00:07:02 Speaker 2 

Was there any of those events that had a significant impact on the community at large? 

00:07:08 Speaker 1 

There are still repercussions, I think of the. 

00:07:14 Speaker 1 

Clifford Olson case because people who. 

00:07:19 Speaker 1 

It’s now being, in a way, played out in somewhat parallel case with the investigation into the. 

00:07:26 Speaker 1 

Mass murders of sex trade women. 

00:07:31 Speaker 1 

In Van East, in Vancouver east, and there is a trial scheduled of the suspect in that case coming up to begin sometime next year. 

00:07:42 Speaker 1 

And that’s trying to recall whether the. 

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Number of charges. 

00:07:47 Speaker 1 

I think it’s somewhere we’re well over two dozen charges of murder, murders of prostitutes have been linked to this gentleman. 

00:07:58 Speaker 1 

On the. 

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One event which I could have. 

00:08:02 Speaker 1 

Mentioned I suppose was. 

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Policy invoked by the. 

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WAC Bennett government in the early 1950s. 

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Against all experts who said it was foolish spending of too much money. 

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Of dam series of dams on both the Columbia and the peace. 

00:08:28 Speaker 1 

But it proved that Mister Bennett was quite correct because we’re now. 

00:08:33 Speaker 1 

Running into a situation in BC where there is even a shortage of hydropower developing. 

00:08:40 Speaker 1 

The province has become a net importer of. 

00:08:44 Speaker 1 

I do electricity. 

00:08:50 Speaker 2 

Was there a specific moment that confirmed news was providing a valuable service? 

00:08:54 Speaker 1 

I beg your pardon. 

00:08:55 Speaker 2 

And a specific moment or news event that confirmed that newsers providing a valuable service to the. 

00:09:03 Speaker 1 

I think it happens there every day there is some. 

00:09:06 Speaker 1 

There’s some moment that people. 

00:09:08 Speaker 1 

Usually want to hear about or they watch television or turn on the radio. 

00:09:12 Speaker 1 

It’s I don’t think there’s a specific one moment in history I can pin down. 

00:09:19 Speaker 2 

And what is your reaction to trends in news gathering and presentation, both positive and negative? 

00:09:26 Speaker 2 

The recent trends. 

00:09:28 Speaker 1 

Well, computerization has certainly made it possible to. 

00:09:32 Speaker 1 

Distribute material. 

00:09:35 Speaker 1 

Much more readily. 

00:09:37 Speaker 1 

Much easier, particularly. 

00:09:39 Speaker 1 

Information from a central point to subscribers I I don’t know if. 

00:09:46 Speaker 1 

If some of the. 

00:09:48 Speaker 1 

I think some of the stations. 

00:09:49 Speaker 1 

Are suffering now a lot of them from? 

00:09:53 Speaker 1 

Budget cutbacks and that have not enabled them to continue with the. 

00:10:00 Speaker 1 

Number of skilled staff and news reporters that they had. 

00:10:06 Speaker 1 

Previous days, I think there’s been too many and too much emphasis at the managerial level on the bottom line and. 

00:10:14 Speaker 1 

News is a great service to the community, but I think some ownerships have lost track of the. 

00:10:25 Speaker 1 

The relations, the importance of community service and. 

00:10:29 Speaker 1 

Just looking at the month end returns. 

00:10:36 Speaker 2 


00:10:37 Speaker 2 

And significant technological developments in news gathering, how has it changed the field other than the computerization you were? 

00:10:43 Speaker 2 

Just talking about. 

00:10:46 Speaker 2 

Like with. 

00:10:46 Speaker 1 

Oh, I guess all kinds of electronics. 

00:10:49 Speaker 1 

And there’s no report, of course. 

00:10:53 Speaker 1 

Who doesn’t have a cell phone or or more than one of them? 

00:11:00 Speaker 1 

I’ve been out of the actual news gathering. 

00:11:03 Speaker 1 

I’m no longer connected with it. 

00:11:06 Speaker 2 

What year did you retire? 

00:11:08 Speaker 1 

Let’s say I I retired as an as news director at CKNW in 1991, and I did about 10 years of just two commentaries a day after that and in 2000. Then one, I was terminated by N. 

00:11:28 Speaker 1 

And so I’ve been in retirement since then. 

00:11:32 Speaker 2 

That’s kind of fun. 

00:11:35 Speaker 2 

Can we go back to the background of BT networks for a minute? 

00:11:38 Speaker 2 

What were some of the major difficulties in starting up these networks around the community? 

00:11:48 Speaker 1 

I guess that would be perhaps. 

00:11:51 Speaker 1 

Selling individual managements on the value of having a. 

00:12:00 Speaker 1 

We would of course to some extent be competing with broadcast news, but in, let us say in. 

00:12:08 Speaker 1 

In a market perhaps like Prince George or Kelowna, where there were maybe two or three stations and. 

00:12:15 Speaker 1 

Somebody wanted it a little different, or an alternative, or what they may have considered a somewhat better voice service, in particular on news. 

00:12:25 Speaker 1 

They would, perhaps. 

00:12:28 Speaker 1 

Jump that jumped at the chance to. 

00:12:30 Speaker 1 

Go with our organization rather than being like their competitor down the street, relying solely on broadcast news for service outside of their own market area. 

00:12:44 Speaker 1 

That might be. 

00:12:45 Speaker 1 

Either an advantage of course, and that had to they they had to be convinced of the merits of going with us. 

00:12:53 Speaker 1 

I was not. 

00:12:55 Speaker 1 

Directly involved in the creation of the network. 

00:12:59 Speaker 1 

It was other people in the state. 

00:13:02 Speaker 1 

Did most of the work in getting it. 

00:13:04 Speaker 1 

Set up. 

00:13:06 Speaker 2 

I think that’s just about everything. 

00:13:07 Speaker 2 

If I have anymore questions, can I give? 

00:13:09 Speaker 2 

You a call back. 

00:13:10 Speaker 1 


00:13:10 Speaker 2 


00:13:11 Speaker 2 

Is there anything I’ve missed at all that you wanted to add or? 

00:13:14 Speaker 1 

Not particularly. 

00:13:15 Speaker 1 

What is Sidney Margolis doing now? 

00:13:20 Speaker 1 

It’s a good deal more informed on details than myself as a chap was still working at CKNW named John Ash. 

00:13:31 Speaker 2 


00:13:31 Speaker 1 

John Ashbridge he could be reached. 

00:13:34 Speaker 1 

He’s on, does works a news shift every morning at the CKNW and you could reach him. 

00:13:43 Speaker 1 

Reach him there and set up an interview with him because he has. 

00:13:48 Speaker 1 

He was for almost. 

00:13:51 Speaker 1 

Almost a full time. 

00:13:55 Speaker 1 

Director of this network for a good many years. 

00:13:58 Speaker 2 

Oh, OK. 

00:14:00 Speaker 2 


00:14:01 Speaker 2 

I’ll pass that along and. 

00:14:01 Speaker 2 

See if they want to contact him as well. 

00:14:04 Speaker 1 

OK then. 

00:14:04 Speaker 2 


00:14:05 Speaker 2 

Thank you so much for all your time. 

00:14:06 Speaker 1 

You’re welcome. 

00:14:07 Speaker 2 

Have a good day. Bye.