Monday, August 3, 2009
A Public Broadcaster's Farewell
David A. Anderson is a colleague who I worked with at CBC Radio back in the 80s and 90s. His title was Senior Editor - News Specials. In that capacity he planned, produced and did the studio direction of dozens on news specials, often on 10 minutes' notice.
At CBC Radio, a news special could be an election night program which involved months of planning, rehearsals and scheduling, or an immediate reaction to an event of such compelling interest and national importance, that, with the approval of senior management, the Radio News folks would interrupt regular programming, take over the network (usually over the howls of protest of local show producers whose programs we would knock off the air). It was not always done gracefully.
Dave was one of those indefatigable, no BS radio types. He was always there when it was hard slogging and pushing to go on the air, when the lines that had been booked for weeks mysteriously failed to materialize and when phone lines from Islamabad lived up to the last syllable of that place. Somehow, Dave managed to pull it all together. He did it mostly with calm and sometimes with a short-lived Vesuvius of profanity. In short, he was a pleasure to work with.
Dave had been at CBC Radio for more than thirty years. With the budgetary shortfall at the CBC, he was offered a "buyout" and he took it. I hope there is a replacement for what he did. I know there will be no one who can replace him or his powerful commitment to public broadcasting journalism in quite the same way.
Here's the note he sent out to all staff last week:
This would be my last night checking email before
bedtime. Tomorrow I hand in my laptop and cell phone and accounts and
what amounts to 30 years of doing this shit. Tomorrow night I won't be
able to check email.
So, here's the what's next. I have had one of the most
wonderful careers possible. I've worked with the absolute best in this
profession. And, that's you lot.
I'm leaving because the new world has no room for
people like me. You are staying because you either can't leave or you
see a role that you can fill. Either way, it will be hard.
The new world order makes much of being new. I hope
that you will remember that journalism requires you to remember.
Journalism requires that you hold the history of shit that has happened.
If you don't there will be no stories to tell, only spin to repeat.
Hold the history.
Ask what cooking gas costs. Ask what it costs to commute
to work. Ask the shit that people can relate to. Most of all, ask why.
Right now you are not allowed to ask that question about
the nature of public broadcasting. One day you might.
When you can, ask why.
It has been a great run.