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 ARCHIVES FOR ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV

14.  ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV AUGUST 23 2020

Hello Everybody: 

First of all, I'd like to thank Bill Morris for all the technical help he gives me with this column.  I don't thank him enough.  Without Bill's help, I'd still be walking Ken Gibson's dog for a living.

This month's main feature is about the big "Move" in 1975, but first this fun story from John Kirkup who was in charge of Film Procurement at CBC Vancouver in the 1970's and 1980's. 

FRANKLY MY DEAR, I'M GONE WITH THE WIND! 

by John Kirkup 

Because there was no hockey and lots of programming time to fill, the powers to be agreed to a first time airing of the classic Gone With The Wind on a Saturday Night in prime time on CBUT! (It would also be available south of the border if CBUT's signal was available!).  I was very pleased about that decision and it would be a feather in my cap and really p.o. Toronto!  

 

So on that memorable Tuesday morning before Saturday's telecast, I received a phone call from film editor Debbie Grinke (she usually edited the movies and thank heavens she was an old movie fan!).  Debbie said "John, you had better come downstairs, there's a problem with Gone With The Wind that you are not going to believe!" 

So, I dutifully went downstairs to editing and Debbie loaded up the problematic reel of the movie on the Steenbeck (editing machine), and smiling mischievously said "Watch this!", and found the spot where Clark Gable says to Vivien Leigh (Scarlet O'Hara) -  Frankly my dear I don’t  give a damn!   Except, to my shock, "Damn!" was missing! 

I immediately got on the phone to the MGM Distributor and after I told him my problem, and everyone had a good laugh, he said "Don’t panic yet, I will see what I can do!"After 24 hours passed he was on the phone and said that apparently my GWTW was previously telecast in one of the southern states and because DAMN was considered to be offensive, it was removed and never replaced after telecast! (Don’t forget this was the 1970s!)

He further elaborated by saying he had located a fully intact reel in, of all places, Atlanta! Atlanta said they would ship the reel immediately, but if anything happened to it while I had it, I would have to give up my first born!   Thankfully, it arrived on time and "Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn" was intact!  So, it was aired without further incident and received praise for being telecast for the very first time in prime time in the Vancouver market (in the Pacific Northwest, for that matter!) 

If Debbie had not been a classic movie fan, and another editor had worked the film, it is possible that it would have gone on air in prime time with DAMN missing, and the newspapers would have had a field day saying something like "CBUT doesn’t give a damn!"  Toronto would have loved that, chuckle, chuckle. Thank goodness for Debbie Grinke!

Thanks John.  Some GWTW trivia: 

1,400 women were auditioned for the part of Scarlet O'Hara.

When adjusted for inflation, Gone With the Wind is the highest grossing film in history.

Shooting of the movie was delayed two years until Clark Gable was available to play the part of Rhett Butler.

Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie Hamilton in GWTW, died last month at the age of 104. By contrast, Vivien Leigh, who played Scarlett O'Hara, died at age 53.

None of the movie was shot in Gibsons, B.C.

John Kirkup bio    

During his many years with the CBC, John worked in Accounting/Finance, Performer's Contracts, Purchasing and Supply, Shipping and Receiving and a few others places he wants to forget, but he enjoyed his best times in Film Procurement during the 70s and 80s when he was responsible for Feature Films and Syndicated Programming on CBUT.  He also served as Local President of CUPE-O&P for 5 years.  John says he almost always had a camera with him and luckily for us, he used it frequently to capture his co-workers in the office and at social gatherings.  Following his CBC retirement, John worked for a time with the B.C. Corps of Commissionaires before relocating to Toronto.  In December 2019 John moved to Ottawa to be nearer his son and family.

 

Debbie Grinke bio  

Debbie Grinke began her CBC career in 1976 and was trained as a Film Editor by Fran Rayner in CBC Vancouver’s new premises at 700 Hamilton Street.  She became the sole negative cutter for The Beachcombers series.  With the demise of film, Debbie transferred to TV Technical as a VTR Operator and then Master Control operator where she remained until her retirement on November 1, 2001.  Following retirement, Debbie and husband Dave Padgham moved to the Sunshine Coast where they enjoy gardening, playing the ukulele and spending time with their adored Chihuahua, Skylar, whom Debbie trains for dog competitions.

Pictured is Debbie in Master Control at the Hamilton Street studios.

Says Debbie: I never thought I would have ended up In Master Control one day! As a young 20 something delivering film to telecine for on air play back, all those buttons & wires used to scare me. How does one learn to operate all that??? Well,…..I found out!  Lol!”

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THE MOVE

When I asked for contributions to this column to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the consolidation of the CBC Vancouver facilities at the Hamilton Street location, I hadn't put my mind as to who might contribute. I realize now there were people like me who left CBC before the move, there were those who saw the move but have passed away in the 45 intervening years, and there are the large number of CBC-ers who joined after the move who never knew the fun and games of the relocation and consolidation.  But, we do have some memories.  First up from Al Vitols, some critical comments on the new building's location, and some aspects of the move.

The Move, by Al Vitols

 1.  Long Before the Move – Where will be the Permanent Home for CBC in Vancouver?

 The ‘new’ CBC is where it is because of what I call the "idiotic notion" of one of the top brass (let's call him "Mr. X") that the National Broadcaster should be part of the Vancouver Arts Scene, i.e., next to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The original plan, I was told, even included a pedestrian overpass connecting the QE Plaza and the CBC site. That got dumped due to costs. 

The leading contender among the other proposed locations was the acreage where the Vancouver Museum and Music School (Academy?) are now located, almost under the Burrard Bridge.  All the TV production facility was to be a single story structure with studios and all services handy. One of the studios, 42, was planned to have a glass wall overlooking the West End, a kind of permanent news set background. All the rest, the non-TV stuff, was to be in a multi-story structure at the back of the property, Radio, French and English, accounting, sales, etc.  With unlimited parking and also close to public transport, that ideal location would have been the envy of any network, Canadian or not, but Mr. X nixed it. 

It may be an urban myth but it is said that one of upper management in CBC Vancouver personally nixed a few floors of parking under 700 Hamilton, some to be used for staff, and the rest for paying public - especially QET audiences.  When he was told it would be very helpful for CBC employees to have a convenient parking place, his response was "Let them take a bus".  Rumour has it that someone then asked "What bus will you take?" 

When the Queen Elizabeth Theatre was being built, the blueprints called for permanent camera cable ducts to 3 or 4 locations, locations, by the way, decided by engineers, architects, Mr. X himself - who knows, but definitely not anyone possibly doing productions from there.  It didn’t really matter as eventually the sharp angles in the ducts were too tight for the huge back then camera cable connectors. They could not be pulled through. For a while there was discussion re having the QET ends of the cables wired to the connectors in situ, but that, too, was nixed, and mainly because of costs. 

It would not have mattered as we wound up doing just a couple (if that) of productions out of there, The QE’s were under a different union jurisdiction, and every CBC technician and stage hand had to have a stand-by theatre dude. Sky-high costs! 

2. The Building

 Of course, a huge complex such as the new CBC Centre necessitated input from a whole host of sources including such major ones such as money (Ottawa), Engineering (Montreal) and Architects (Vancouver).  The local brass in Vancouver also has their say – too much in my opinion, and too early in the planning process.  They didn't allow the Vancouver producers and other people who would actually use the new TV and Radio studios to see the plans until the producers threatened to go public with a complaint.  Who insisted on reducing the dressing room space so that at times stars had to share the "chorus" dressing room which in any event which, designed by the brass, and was not big enough to handle a choir or an orchestra or a dance company?  Who demanded an elevator by the executive offices thus separating the three elevators which would have been much more functional as a group at the main entrance? Who wanted the cafeteria to be hidden from public eyes until overridden by Montreal, so instead the executive floor had its own private kitchen installed whose occupants could hide themselves from the public? 

I do recall that almost every request for things in the new building was answered by “You’re asking too soon”, followed not too long after with “It's too late…” 

I very carefully explained to some planning joe that the Hourglass area had to have doors in very specific places in order to avoid the public on their way to the ‘green room’ wandering past desks which may have had secret stuff visible. They could not have put the door in a worse place. 

We had long discussions how the screening room would fit in with the film editor’s room. The editor could play back film from a projector, single or double system, in the editing room and the noise would be kept out of the screening/meeting room. It also was to have dimmable lights. They managed to do the exact opposite - and it could not be reversed. Dimmer switches in an editing suite? Projecting into the editor’s room?  

The negative-cutting suite must be dust free. They did install positive air pressure system, but what was on the floor? Wall to wall dust gathering carpet! 

The gentleman in charge of furniture had some good ideas such as desks that could be disassembled for moving, but his couches and other seats were so low that no woman could sit down or get up and keep her, er, dignity intact. 

I’ve been at dinner parties where one of the architects involved with the design of the building always wound up defending it. I thought that assigning floor space according to need was a good idea and if that meant that executives were on the top floor, so be it. The immense air ducts could have been hidden, but why bother. They serve their purpose of moving a lot of air very quietly as opposed to small diameter noisy ducts. 

I'll let others comment on the joys of the move.

Alan's Notes on Chatting with Patsy Gill (MacDonald) about the Move 

Patsy:  My biggest surprise from the move was how much I missed the old Georgia Street location at first.  1200 West Georgia was "cozy", we knew how to get from Studio 42 to the newsroom by ducking under the air conditioning ducts.  We knew almost everybody we saw.  We knew the limitations of our studios and equipment, but we got the most out of them.  We knew where we could park our cars!

I quite enjoyed the airy, bright and friendly cafeteria in the new building – the first time we could dine without leaving our building.  But at the same time, I missed going out to the other places for lunch and coffee, as nothing much else existed in that part of town – the Sandman Inn came along later. 

Of course, the new studios were fabulous.  But it took us a while to get everything running smoothly.  Some technical equipment (including videotape editing equipment) hadn't arrived, so we were running back and forth from Hamilton Street to Georgia Street for much of the spring and summer in that first year, 1975. 

Sometimes, however, it was easy to think that the new building had been designed by a committee, none of whose members ever worked in show business.  Dressing rooms for performers was an early issue [Editor : – see Ken Gibson's comments below].

As a result of moving to Hamilton Street, we had the opportunity to work with our colleagues to the south, many of them Canadians.   The new building's facilities and exceptional crew allowed them to bring their variety productions to Vancouver, such as "Wolfman Jack" and "Paul Anka".  Those times were informative for all of us, technical and production crews, as well as administrative staff.  None of this would have been possible if we had not moved to the new building.

As a Production Assistant, the first major television production I worked on in the new quarters was the 50th anniversary salute to the Composers, Authors & Publishers Association of Canada ("CAPAC") which was aired on December 5, 1975, directed by Neil Sutherland.  It was while working at the new building that I moved from being a Production Assistant to being a Contract Producer, and all the shows that I directed while there are very pleasant memories for me. 

Ken on Dressing Rooms: There was a large en suite and a small dressing room which had to accommodate not just hosts but also their “name” guests, and that was for both Studio 40 and 41 which were adjacent to each other on the Studio floor.  Down the hall on the same floor was the make-up room and opposite that were two large changing / washrooms with lockers in the former. Those were for the band members, dancers, back-up singers, etc.  I complained to John Williams of the Design committee that we needed more dressing rooms pronto as the guests on the Rovers’ shows were both male and female. Furthermore, often while we were taping, there was another show in Studio 41 and there wasn’t a dressing room for any of the performers.  Almost immediately John had three smaller changing rooms built opposite the main dressing rooms, and a further three were added later close to the Rehearsal Hall. 

Neil Sutherland (interviewed at the time)

The CAPAC show called for a heavy production and rehearsal schedule and, for the first time, we were able to rehearse in a hall which was right next to the studio.  We were able to go onto the set at a moment's notice to check out actor's movements, etc., while in rehearsal.  The cameramen were in seventh heaven, being able to shoot up without exposing the lights as they would have done in the old building.  We should have a happy future here, and it's going to be a terrific building to us all.  We just have to make sure we do good shows, and the investment comes out the other end in terms of high quality production.  For the producer, it's a marvelous tool, but the tool isn't the ultimate.  It's what you put in, and how you use the tools that counts.

A MOVING EXPERIENCE by Peggy Oldfield 

I remember the move as though it were yesterday, not 45 years ago.  CBC Vancouver staff, scattered in various buildings through the downtown area, had anticipated the consolidation for a long time and many conversations started with the phrase, “Just wait ‘till we’re all in the same building!”.

From the start of my CBC career, it was common practice for me to go to the studios at 1200 West Georgia or the Hotel Vancouver or to other offices within the space where I was, first at 1192 Alberni Street and then 747 Bute Street, to talk to someone, pick something up or drop something off.  As a result in those early years I knew almost everyone – at least to say hello to – in radio, TV and the support departments.  I often spent lunch hours watching studio drama productions and stayed after work to join studio audiences for show tapings in the evening.  It was exciting and fun and furthered my education about the workings of television – the bonus of which was that I understood the language and meaning of the memos, dictation and meeting topics which were a major part of my job as Secretary to the TV Production Manager, Executive Producers and Unit Managers and later, the Director of Television.  I thought it would be wonderful to work with all those people under one roof and to interact with them much more often.

Peggy packing up at 747 Bute

I was one of the first to move to 700 Hamilton Street and I made the move twice.  Or more correctly, I was involved in the work of the move twice.  The first offices to unpack in the new premises were those of the Regional Director Bob McGall and the Manager of Public Relations Reg Jessup on the second floor.  Grace Sigmund, Vivian Jorgenson, John Lysaght, Jack Hundley and I, unpacked boxes, filled desks and filing cabinets, and when we were all too tired to do any more that night, someone ordered pizza which we ate sitting on the carpeted floor in front of the gorgeous wood panelling that separated the main reception area and Vivian’s desk from the Regional Director’s washroom and shower, the coat closet and the entrance to the Regional Director’s Hospitality Suite.  A few days later, the Director of Television Bob Service and I unpacked our own offices on the main floor.

The only office I ever had of my own in my years with CBC was at 747 Bute Street.  I was sorry to give that up, but my new work station was an alcove next to the Director of Television’s office with a window overlooking the corner of Georgia and Hamilton Streets and the lovely new CBC plaza with its own “grove” of trees and pool complete with waterfall.  I loved that space and enjoyed it for many years before reconfiguration of the area changed things yet again.

Did it prove better to have all of us under one roof?  I would say yes and no.  State of the art facilities for production was of course fabulous.  But – the new premises brought changes that meant staff in jobs like mine were more tied to their desk and had less freedom to go to other departments.  The telephone replaced the personal visit and consequently one didn’t necessarily meet new staff.  Having an in-house cafeteria was great but somehow I never managed to take many breaks there .  I do remember that at first the cafeteria was open to the public.  On one occasion when I was there on a lunch break, a group of workmen were at a nearby table and we could hear them exclaiming over the “stars” who were there. We wondered who they were recognizing and, assuming one or more famous movie stars or entertainers were taking a break from the studios, we looked around to see who was attracting such excited attention.  We found them – Bill Good Jr., Ted Reynolds and Jack Wasserman.  It was a nice reminder that we were lucky to mix with the stars every day!

Looking back, it’s interesting that there is a nostalgic yearning for the days of maneuvering the labyrinth of halls, pipes, stairs, twists and turns that had to be negotiated at 1200 West Georgia Street to find the newsroom, design and technical departments and the studios.  Some great parties planned by the then Staff Association, took place in the old studios there and having a bar and food was a given – there were no concerns about damaging the floors.  The new premises understandably required more respect and care, and therefore parties encompassing all staff moved to hotel and restaurant venues.  That said, the Regional Director’s Hospitality Suite at 700 Hamilton became a great venue for smaller departmental gatherings, as did other boardrooms throughout the building.

There were good memories in both the old and the new buildings, and I treasure having being part of them.

 

747 Bute Street housed most of the office staff and the TV program staff.  A fine-looking building, only to be demolished when less than 25 years old (because of the previous occupants?).  The photographer's location is now a liquour store (fat lot of use that is now!)

THE LAST MAN STANDING   By Mike Oldfield 

And so, it came to pass that as the spring of 1975 wore on,  the old CBC headquarters at 1200 West Georgia Street transferred its occupants down the road to the new Regional Broadcast Centre at Georgia and Hamilton.    One by one, all the departments made the big move.   The TV technicians, the office workers, the stagehands, propsmen, scenic designers and painters, graphics people, make up artists, costume designers and everyone in the news room packed up and moved out.   That left only me.   I was a technician in Studio 49, the film sound department and our premises in the new building had not been completed.  

Some people cannot stand the thought of working alone but that has never been a problem for me. I would buy a coffee at the McDonalds on Alberni Street on my way into work each morning and walk down to the old CBC building to begin my day.    My job consisted of doing film sound transfers, creating sound effects and doing film sound mixes for the film editors who were now in the new building.    A delivery van service had been set up and the driver would bring work up to me and take whatever I had completed back to the film editors.   The phone system still worked so the film editors could call me up and tell me what they needed.   All in all, it worked quite well.

 

Apart from going out to lunch, my only other human contact came at the end of the day when the nighttime security guard showed up and started doing his rounds.   He was an old Englishman and had a lot of stories about things he had seen while working for other companies.   It always struck me as amusing but, there we were, the only two humans in a deserted building and yet, when he wanted to confide something confidential to me, he would move in until he was only a few inches away and whisper about some  illegal goings-on that he had witnessed in days gone by. 

Then, finally, the Big Day arrived.   I received a phone call from my supervisor telling me that the new film sound premises were ready in the new building and that I should report there on Monday morning.    So, on my last Friday in the old abode,  I bade farewell to the night security guard and took my leave of the old building which had once been an automobile dealership and showroom and from which CBC Vancouver’s earliest TV offerings to the network had originated.

 

PROPPING UP THE DEPARTMENT (Design Props and Set Decorating, that is….)

by John Rogers

 I got a call at 1am on a week day in 1975 not long before the impending move from John Williams, Design Manager, telling me as senior Set Decorator in Vancouver that I should be prepared to hire another five Set Decorators!!!  And to do so as soon as possible.

We were told the new premises would be very busy. Within three months, Alfio Berardo, Jimmy Chow, David Cole, Sean Kirby, Kim McKenzie and Garry Olson had joined the department, doubling our group. 

Ian Belcher... now a Design Coordinator…. looked at the Studio 40 grid and smiled. The idea was to fly sets out of camera range to save time.....just like a theatre.  However, there was a flaw: the studio cameras on a wide shot passed the top of the grid! The flown sets would still be visible.......so much for EHQ research!  (The flaw never was resolved!) 

We moved to Still Creek and were given 50,000 square feet which we filled up in three months as a result of a great deal of donated furniture from viewers.  People loved CBC and donated house loads of furniture!  Calls from the public began coming in as a result of seeing the Props Department during the Open House which was held to show off the new building, studios and state of the art equipment. I picked up the items as the offers came in and Regional Director Len Lauk asked only that donors furnish a letter stating that the pieces were donated.  A call also came in from Crown Assets Disposal Corporation in Richmond, offering army and navy surplus which we were pleased to accept. Then the question was where to put everything! Added to this a second carpenters shop (the first being at the new building) was opened in Burnaby to feed the Super Special demand.  We had already reached the point where there was nowhere to store sets and they were being kept in the parking lot under canvas. 

A very busy start......then Wolfman Jack arrived! Wolfman Jack taught the CBC how to do Big City TV…the sets were all on wheels ready for quick skits - roll in and roll out.... Big TV had arrived! 

 

THE MOVE by Al Weemay

Yes, I enjoyed my new office with a view of everybody arriving or leaving by the front door of the new building.  Much more important than my office were the new studios – bigger, brighter, way more modern and flexible, and above all, more "headroom" - studios higher by anywhere from two to six feet than the old studios on West Georgia Street.  With the higher studio ceilings, we had greatly increased opportunities for higher camera shots, crane shots, lighting subtleties, set designs with ceilings, and so much more. And the boom operators were in heaven not having to constantly duck their heads to miss the studio lights. 

If I had one big complaint about the new building, it was the lack of underground parking – or any parking.  In my job as a director and producer of TV shows, I was constantly travelling to off-site locations for meetings, rehearsals and other stuff, so "in and out" parking was a pain in the butt. 

I remember the first show I was to direct in Studio 40, with one exterior shot.  It-was a live television remake of Gone With The Wind.  For the shot of Atlanta burning to the ground, I had this brilliant idea of setting fire to the whole of the old 1200 West Georgia complex, and I approached the Vancouver Fire Marshall about the idea.  "If you do", said the Fire Marshall, "it would probably set fire to the whole of the West End!", and I said "Wow, what a great shot that will make for my show!" 

(Editor: At this point I realized that I was probably getting my leg pulled).

MOVE MISCELLANY 

The inexpensive and varied menu that appeared in the June column was, of course, from when the cafeteria opened in the new building.

Numbers: From Bob McGall. CBC Director for B.C. in April, 1975: 

The capability of the plant is great but our major problem is staff.  At this time we only have 518 people including our operation in Prince Rupert.  We produce The Irish Rovers, the highest rated television variety show in the country, and we have only one TV Variety Producer.  We really don't have any backup.  A critical shortage is in design and staging where we have only three carpenters.  An expansion in staff must take place in order for us to use this place properly. The capacity that is here far exceeds the manpower we have, and so we are negotiating with ESD to get more resource to meet the potential of the building. 

Alan:  Didn't extra space have to be rented for office staff in the nearby B.C. Turf Building in less than a year after the move? 

Numbers: From Bill Campbell, CBC Technical Supervisor, in April 1975. 

We have four Technical Producers and something like 130 technicians, male and female, in television. 

Alan:  I found that comment interesting. When I left CBC Television just two years before, there wasn't a single female technician at CBC TV in Vancouver.  Somebody made the breakthrough! 

SHOW BUSINESS SALUTE

The move overall was so successful that a Broadway musical was based upon it.  The show is still running on Broadway (or, at least it will be when Broadway re-opens). 

It's called "Hamilton".

 

In next month's column coming out on September 27, the plan is to feature stories about the incredibly successful CBC TV "Beachcombers" series.  If you had any connection with the show, whether at on-location shooting, studio post-production, behind the scenes helping shows happen, or at the fun times of social get-togethers in Gibsons, and you have a story – short or long - do send it to us.  Your story can be funny, mildly amusing or serious.  If you think you're not a writer and wouldn't be comfortable telling your story, send the gist of it to Peggy or to me, and we will polish it up for you.  Peggy can be reached at pegomik@telus.net, and I'm at alangwalker@gmail.com  We hope to hear from you!

13.  ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV JULY 26 2020

When we live in a time when a video of your favourite pet can be sent around the world in a couple of seconds, it's amazing how complicated it was 50+ years ago to cross the world with television pictures. Here's the story from Al Vitols.  

In early television, Our World was the first live, international, satellite television production, broadcast on 25 June 1967. Nineteen nations were invited to perform in separate segments featuring their respective countries. Unfortunately Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany, Soviet Union and Hungary reneged because of something the West did which was not to their liking. Viewers in those countries missed being part of the estimated 700 millions who tuned in. Our World used four satellites “Early Bird,” “Lani Bird” and “Canary Bird” and ATS-1, a NASA bird, to achieve world-wide coverage.


The show was coordinated in London where the English contribution was the Beatles performing a song written especially for the show by John Lennon - “All You Need Is Love.” It was broadcast from a crowded Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios. The group had invited many friends, including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Marianne Faithfull to join in the chorus and add to the atmosphere. It looked like a Beatles concert.  

Some of the “rules” of the telecast were confining. For instance politicians were a no-no and the USA lost their argument and was not allowed to show the meeting of president Lyndon Johnson and Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin. They wound up showing the outside of the house where the two leaders met and describing voice-over as to what was going on inside.

Also, everything had to be ‘live’ - no pre-recorded material.

Mexico did a complicated dance number and denied pre-recording and editing. However, the dance number was so fast and the hundreds of camera cuts so precise that it was impossible to have done it live with never missing a beat.

The technically complicated point in the broadcast came, as both the Japanese and Australian satellite ground stations had to reverse their signals: Tokyo had to go from transmit mode to receive mode, while Melbourne had to switch from receive to transmit mode. This was accomplished with the tiniest of twitches in the picture and was a lot less noticeable than the glitches that have frequently happened between our studios and master control.

The show started with looking at babies born that day around the world starting with Japan then various places winding up in Edmonton where a Cree baby was born.
It was summer evening in Paris, winter morning in Melbourne and just before lunch at my location.
Japan showed the construction of the subway in Tokyo. A bit iffy as laid out in the show’s premise.

Australia had a boring pre-sunrise bit from Ayers Rock (back then, now
Uluru) as well as an item from the Parkes Observatory tracking a deep space object, also boring.

France had Cousteau underwater near Monaco with flares and bubbles and frequent loss of sync. Exciting, but difficult to watch.

I don’t recall what all of the Canadian segments were. Toronto was the Canadian control point and their contribution was, if memory serves, Stanley Burke interviewing Marshall McLuhan in a TV control room. How did that fit in with Sunday activities?

Oddly, don’t recall anything from Montréal or the east coast. Perhaps there was nothing, although that seems a bit far fetched.

Alberta used a BC crew and the location at Ghost Lake, featured the Two Rivers Ranch and showed a rancher on his cutting horse singling out a calf from the herd. The site was so distant from civilization that Andy Martens, the technical producer, had to have a score of telephone poles ‘planted’ on which to hang the wires in order to get the signal out.

Vancouver segment was to be a picture taken from a high rise balcony overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge and the inner harbour, with announcer Mike Winlaw providing the description.

Or so it was supposed to be.

At the last moment because he was not feeling well, I was asked to ‘sit in’ for Len Lauk, the original producer who was assigned to do the Vancouver bit. I was told that everything had been done and all I had to do is be there during the Saturday rehearsals and the Sunday morning telecast. Fine, I agreed.

Well, I found out during the first communications check that Len had moved the BC location to the pool at UBC where Elaine Tanner, the “Mouse”, would attempt a new world record. On Saturday when the executive producer in London at the coordinating centre saw our picture there was great unhappiness. Apparently it was not at all what the script called for.

Stanley Burke, the CBC News anchor back then, and for this telecast also the Canadian host in Toronto, suggested that to improve the situation I should have a freighter steam under the Lions Gate Bridge at the moment our bit was seen around the world. “Cue the freighter!” I heard myself saying.
As it was, nobody in Toronto or London apparently thought the idea outrageous as I didn’t hear any derisive laughter. I mentioned that there was not enough in the budget to lease a freighter for the time period required and eventually Burke’s suggestion was deep-sixed.

Ultimately London made it clear that this Vancouver site would be eliminated unless the location was changed to someplace more suited to the script. All this took place late Saturday morning. The show itself less than 24 hours away.

So that was my ‘inheritance’.

At this point I found the script, a tome of hundreds of pages, and from the précis found out that the idea of the show was to show people’s activities taking place around the world on a Sunday. Patently, a wide shot of Vancouver harbour, freighter not withstanding, did not fit the concept. The location had to be changed to stay in the game.

We had to move the camera and associated equipment which included cables dangling from the 11th floor balcony of a West End high rise to… somewhere.

An ad hoc meeting with assistant Technical Director Bill Skelcher and my Technical Producer regarding a possible alternate location eventually produced Kitsilano Beach.

It seemed to me that indeed any one of our beaches - the show aired our portion before noon our time - would fit the concept. We could use the old Kits boathouse as a ‘control room’ and it certainly was a place for human activities on a forecast sunny Sunday morning.

While video was sent to Toronto via microwave, audio used land lines, as did communications, for a total of four. Could we by lunchtime on Saturday: a) get permission to use the Kitsilano park Sunday morning, and b) get four audio lines to the Kits Beach boathouse?

Well, somebody at the CBC, I think it was Reg Jessup, knew somebody at the Vancouver Parks Board and got permission. The Master Control supervisor’s next door neighbour was high up in the BC Tel hierarchy and Eric Lavell found him mowing his lawn, and he authorized the closing down of all the public telephones in the Kitsilano Beach area and had BC Tel people string lines overnight from tree to tree from the various phone booths to our location at the boathouse in order to provide the required audio links.

By late Saturday it was a go, at least on paper. I tracked down the executive producer in London and he accepted the new location providing it was all I promised it to be by dress rehearsal time early Sunday.

At dawn Sunday morning when the dress rehearsal took place the beach looked like 5000 people had dropped their garbage all over the place, which is indeed what had taken place.

London was happy with the location, but the executive producer was very concerned about the trash on the beach. Stanley Burke tried to suggest a different angle that would not include the beach, the only reason for the location, but was finally shushed by the Toronto executive producer. Back then the news readers didn’t have to shine brightly.

I guaranteed London that the beach would be pristine by showtime even if I had to clean it myself. Actually the beach cleaning machinery arrived around eight o’clock and did what it does every morning – raked the sand and removed all the trash.

By 9:30 on this sunny Sunday the beach was filling up with people taking up favoured spots against the rows of logs. While the log in the foreground of our wide shot had people on the beach side, our side, the side facing our camera and the sun, remained empty.

I managed to convince a bevy of bikini’d beauties who were a bit farther down the beach to move to “our” space by promising that they’d be seen around the world.

And so the Vancouver Sunday morning dress rehearsal sequence begun with a shot of the four not quite naked sunbathers, then pulled back to a wide shot of the beach and English Bay and the still snow-capped North Shore mountains in the background. Some people would be seen playing with Frisbees, a few splashing in the shallows, some with dogs, with the show stopper being the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s Sunday morning dinghy race with many boats flying multi-coloured spinnakers sailing just a few hundred yards off the beach. Could not have done better if I’d planned it. 

The London producer complimented me on doing a good job - cleaning the beach… 

Editor's Notes: Wasn't Al lucky to be directing part of a show that will always be a part of television history?  Len was not so lucky.

You can see most of the show on YouTube. The show was in black and white. Some have suggested it was in colour but that's likely because the section with the Beatles was extracted years later and colorized to form part of a Beatles anthology.

The BBC didn't think to have the closing credits checked by their Canadian counterparts. The credit for CBC's participation in the show was to the "Canadian Broadcasting Commission".
==================================================================================================================

***********************************************

A man saunters into a tavern carrying a thesaurus.... 

SLIP SLIDIN' AWAY IN STUDIO 41

Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away

In 1958, myself and four other handsome young men were trainee TV technicians at CBC Vancouver. Two of us expressed an interest in becoming cameramen, myself and Ray (that's not his real name in case he might see this)! We practised for hours and hours when the studios weren't in use for shows.
The TV cameras in those days were Marconi Mark II's and Marconi Mark III's. The picture you see in this article is a Mark III.  At this point we need a little camera construction lesson. The camera itself weighed about 130 pounds, and because of that we took the much lighter Mark II's to sporting events. If you look at the picture with Camera 2 in it, you'll see, above the triangular base, a big black tube. That tube was filled with lead weights that counterbalance the camera's weight. With that arrangement, you could make the camera move smoothly up and down on its pedestal. However, the camera unit now weighed 260 pounds plus the very heavy base. Not easy thing to push!

The large ring you see with cameraman Jim Currie's hand on it is the steering ring. It had a big red arrow on it to tell you where the camera would go if you pushed it. Now look at the triangular base of the camera. Inside that base were three heavy wheels which guided the camera's path when pushed. You could lock all three wheels to point in the same direction.. But you could also have all three wheels operate independently. You only would do that if you wanted to re-align the base – either the flat side towards you or if occasionally you wanted the pointed side towards you. After re-aligning the base it was imperative to change back to the mode of the three wheels pointing in the same direction.

Back to Ray. Our technical supervisor gave Ray his first "live" camera job on the late local news at 11.15. There was nothing scheduled that day after the early news finished at about 7.30, so Ray had almost 4 hours to practice his camera debut. What was he required to do? Well, the late news started with a wide shot of the newsreader and the news set, and on cue from the producer in the control room, the cameraman dollied in (moved in) with the camera until he had a medium close-up of the news announcer. At the end of the news, the reverse happened, and the cameraman pulled back to a wide shot. Complicated, eh? Ray practiced moving in and out, and kept changing where the base of the camera pointed as he couldn't make up his mind which way suited him best.

So Ray, hugely nervous, eventually sees the red light glow on his camera, and knows he's on the air. He waits for the cue from the news producer in the control room. It comes. Ray (who was of small stature) pushes his camera hard to move in, only to find his camera moving rapidly to the left, with the result that the newsreader appeared to be moving rapidly to the right. Ray had forgotten to put the camera wheels back into all steering in the same direction!! Ray was clinging to the steering ring, pushing frantically forward, only to cause the camera to move faster sideways. The newsreader, George McLean, was professional enough to keep looking at the camera lens despite the camera exiting rapidly to his right.

Most of the technicians in the studio, including me, were laughing so hard we could hardly stand up. Finally, an experienced cameraman ran over and grabbed the camera from Ray, and put the show back on the road.

The newsreader later commented that he thought some damn fool producer had decided to open the news a different way, and hadn't told him. Ray never touched a TV camera again. He did go on to be a senior technician in other areas.

My editor said make sure the readers don't think you're talking about our illustrious retired cameraman Ray Waines. It won't happen I said, because Ray has already read my article and has made fun of his own boo-boo in the following.

SURPRISING BOB FORTUNE BY RAY WAINES

I remember being on camera one night for the 6pm Studio 42 newscast. Before the weather segment, a hair had blown onto the camera tube in my camera. Funny thing about a hair on a lens or on a camera tube – you can barely see it with your naked eye, but on a TV or movie screen, it looks like the Grand Canyon.

During a commercial break, I took off one of the four big lenses on the camera turret, and put it down on the camera pedestal base. Then I rotated the turret so that I could see the camera tube and give it a puff with our handy blower, (one of those large enema syringes)! It worked, so I went over to shoot the weather with Bob Fortune.

Bob was well into making his perfect circles, when all of a sudden the big lens sitting on my camera base fell off onto the studio floor, making a very loud noise and of course surprising Bob who did well to hide his shock as he acknowledged with a small smile the strange sound that everybody could hear at home too.

I was hugely embarrassed. During a break I re-mounted the lens back that I had forgotten to put back earlier.

My mistake was duly recorded by Master Control on the daily "fault" report. The report was circulated to the appropriate supervisors the next day, including my boss, Ross Whiteside, and I had to explain to him how I made that objectionable noise during the newscast. Actually Ross was not too upset, so I got off pretty easy!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From Gordon Hunt
CFPR PRINCE RUPERT PART TWO

This is part two of a CFPR Prince Rupert recall of the sixties.   I was one of five announcer-operators at this small northern CBC location in 1964.  We were on the air from 6.00 a.m. to a few minutes after midnight in those days, and life as a broadcaster was extremely varied.  Your assigned "record shows" would range from classical music to rock and roll, and most days one would also edit news reports for local casts, man the typewriter for station logs and music clearance reports, and document the performance of transmitter operation.  Kind of an all- in-one, hands-on radio experience.  Just what most of us needed. 

From the early years of my time at CFPR (see Part One), it wasn't long before major changes were planned for the station.  The feeble 250 watt Marconi transmitter which was buzzing away in the studio next to us, was about to be replaced by a 10KW Gates monster that needed a new home.  That home would be several kilometers away on Digby Island and to get there the station would require a boat.  I can still hear the cheer from the announcers as we all celebrated our good fortune.  We could do some fishing, maybe even water skiing - a station boat, does it get any better?  About an hour after the announcement there appeared on the control room door, this notice.

          USE OF THE STATION BOAT WILL BE LIMITED 

          TO TRANSPORT BY TECHNICAL STAFF TO

           THE TRANSMITTER SITE AND RETURN 

And, that wasn't the only setback.  Teething problems soon developed in this new technological marvel.  We had control (off and on) of this new transmitter through a microwave link from studio to site (Kaien Island to Digby Island) And, that link wasn't always reliable as I soon discovered.  I think it was during the return to earth of Gemini 3 in March of '65 with all ears glued to CBC's  coverage of the splashdown.  It went something like.. "We should see the capsule".. poof, off the air we went and I jumped up to turn the transmitter back on..."Yes, I believe that's .."  poof again and more jumping for ... "Now, we get our first look..." poof.   You get the idea.   

It may not sound like it, but most of my time at CFPR was well spent learning the trade.   The station manager Will Hankinson proved to be just the man I needed to work at reading those multi language serious music scripts.  He was a stern and unforgiving teacher but he offered his time after hours and he knew his stuff. 

One last example of the great variety of duties at CFPR.  I was to interview a beautiful young woman from the Prince Rupert Little Theatre group.  In an effort to publicize their new season, she would play the part of "spring", and my questions would allow her to expand on the coming theatrical season from the dark of winter.  She succeeded despite my lame questions.  Thank you to my guest that day,  the Hon. Iona Campagnolo (aka "Spring"). 

That's just a few of the growing experiences as a broadcaster thanks to CFPR radio.  Shortly after I was transferred to CBC Vancouver (1967), the old shack next to the coke bottling plant was torn down, and CFPR moved into a new building on Stiles place in Rupert.  Sadly, that building is now a Pizza Hut as CBC northern (B.C.) operations have been moved to Prince George. 

 Thanks Gordon.

This summer will be the 45th anniversary of the move of our various CBC locations into the new building. I'm hoping to round up stories of the move for this column (probably to be aired in August). What are your recollections? If you have a story, send it in to me at alangwalker@gmail.com It doesn't matter how short or how long it is. It doesn't have to be funny but interesting is good. Perhaps write something about how it was to arrive at the new location. A couple of photos if you have any would be great. Thanks. Alan

12.  ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV JUNE 28 2020

Hello Everyone, and welcome back.

I was working on this edition when my Editor walked by looking at my work and said "What the hell (he is known for his crude language) are you writing about CBC Radio for - have you forgotten the name of your column?"  "Why don't you fire me?" I retorted. He did. He's given me twelve months' notice.

From Gordon Hunt

CFPR PRINCE RUPERT PART ONE

It's time, my friends, to talk about the "senior service"... that's radio, of course. I know, I know, this column is about CBC TV Old Days. But I think it would be nice (after all, we're Canadian eh) to give radio a stationbreak. My first on-air experience took place at the only other CBC owned and operated station outside of CBU in Vancouver... call letters, CFPR Prince Rupert. Chuck Davis, Bill Good Jr., Dan McAfee, and Craig Oliver (CTV bureau chief) are just a few who started careers at CFPR.

CFPR has an interesting history. It actually predates CBC by just a few months in 1936. A group of northern B.C. men bought a 250 watt Marconi transmitter and literally hand built the items needed to put a station on the air. The station was a vital link to first nations villages through the daily "message period" and became an important link to lighthouse keepers and fishermen during the war years. That's when CBC entered the picture, signing a lease with CFPR before buying it outright in 1953.

It's eleven years later, 1964, and this big city 22 year old is driving the nearly 1,600kms from Vancouver to try his hand at radio. When I got there I found the station on Second Avenue, a three- room shack built up against a coke bottling plant. Clarence Insulander, the technical supervisor and one of the original founders of the station, showed me around. "Mr. I" had an easy manner that served to calm the fears of young radio novices.

The station manager, Will Hankinson, was next to greet me in his office across the street. Mr. Hankinson, the less than benevolent dictator, was quite the opposite of Mr. "I". But this day he had a problem and saw me as his solution. I was, apparently, an oddity, an announcer who had experience in serious music and he needed an interviewer to promote a concert tomorrow night in Rupert. The city was one of the stops on the "Alaska Music Trail", and a young Japanese cellist and his Canadian accompanist were waiting to be interviewed over at the station. This is not how I imagined my first words would be delivered into the CFPR mic. In fact, the "words" scribbled onto my notes were shaking so badly I couldn't read my questions. My poor guests, cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi (newly arrived in the west but now a distinguished Canadian artist) did his best to answer my questions and we were saved by the presence of his Canadian accompanist. I wasn't sure there would be a second day of life at CFPR as, covered in perspiration, I stumbled out of the station.

But there WAS more and I soon decided that my aim was, like all the other young announcers, to get out of Rupert and into the "big time" at various major CBC outlets. I decided that, since Prince Rupert was known as the "halibut capital of the world", I could send reports down to the daily Vancouver farm and fish broadcast and gain the attention of that major market. On a rainy morning I took my gear down to the docks to speak with the crew of a herring vessel about their catch. A word about my gear. The recording machine we were using in those days was a Nagra IIC. The announcers all hated this outdated machine as it was heavy and required one hand to wind a crank to keep it going and the other hand to hold the mic We all lusted after the lighter Sony units used just about everywhere else. But I was a reasonably athletic 22 year old, I'll just leap over this rail and join the crew for a chat. Suddenly the Nagra slipped from my shoulder, hit the greasy deck and, like the coyote chasing the road runner, was suspended over the open ocean before disappearing forever. Can you hear the applause back at the station?                     

It wasn't just the outdated Nagra that proved to be an obstacle to modern day broadcasting at CFPR in the early sixties. The building itself, although quaint, was old and well worn. Soundproofing was sometimes an issue. The control room door, although a foot thick, was hampered by a well-worn step. It was discovered that small bearings or marbles could be rolled under the closed door. Don't ask me how I know this, O.K. ?

There was a small room next to the control room that could be used as a recording studio for interviews. I remember one interview with the much loved mayor of the city, Peter Lester. He was valiantly answering questions about a delicate issue in the city. It went something like..."what is the plan to fund this ambitious program?" Before he could answer the airwaves were filled with a sound from the bathroom next door. FLUSH !

It may not sound like it, but things were on the move at CFPR. Plans were afoot for the removal of the old 250 watt Marconi transmitter which was buzzing away not 6 feet from the control room mic, and in part two of this history, I have words about a more modern CFPR. 

Thanks Gordon.  Part 2 of Gordon's story will appear in the July 26 issue of this column

When preparing Gordon's article it was wrongly understood that our CBC Announcer Emeritus, Gloria Macarenko, was one of the graduates of CFPR Radio.  Gloria kindly corrected with these comments:

I did get my start as a radio announcer in Prince Rupert in 1978. It was at the private station there, CHTK Radio. I was 16 and benefited greatly from the weekly elocution lessons with former CBC Prince Rupert manager Will Hankinson. The manager of CHTK arranged the sessions. I would read the newscasts on Saturday and Sundays from 6am to noon. After my shift on Saturdays I would staple together my scripts and take them to Will's home (he was the husband of my piano teacher). He had recorded my newscasts on a big reel-to-reel machine. We would go through the scripts line by line and that experience has served me well over the years.
So, sorry I don't have a CFPR connection. I still feel fortunate to get an opportunity like that at such a young age.

Thanks Gloria.

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TV STATION LUNCH, Aussie Style by Alan

In 1974 in a fit of insanity, I asked my family if they would be interested in going to Australia, and seeing where the "old man" came from.
"Family" at that time consisted of one wife, two children and four step-children. Considering the family's size and the cost of transportation to Australia, I said we would need to go for at least a year to justify the cost, and I would have to work which would reduce travel opportunities in Australia somewhat. All seven dependents said "Let's do it!"
In the mid-1970's, it was still cheaper to go long distances over water by boat, rather than by air, so we booked the eight of us on the Oronsay, a P&O ship. Planning for our trip was going ahead well until I was advised at the last minute that the Oronsay couldn't "afford" to pick up passengers in Vancouver because of the fuel prices resulting from the 1973 oil crisis. Instead, P&O proposed to fly all the Vancouver passengers to San Francisco, to join the Oronsay on its trip to Sydney.
When checking in at the Vancouver Airport, a bored CP Air ticket clerk, without even looking up, asked me how many bags I was checking, and when I replied "33", I immediately had his attention. (Any excess baggage charge would have been paid by the cruise line).  When the bags were finally checked for my party of eight, I thought the worst was over. It was not. The dockworkers were on strike in San Francisco, and with only the most modest help from the rest of the extended family, I carried 33 bags from the dock, down four decks on the elevator-less Oronsay.     Immediately upon arrival at our intended destination, Canberra, my hometown, I looked in the local paper for job ads.

Amazingly, on my first look, there was an ad from the local ABC television station for a job as a TV cameraman! I applied. I was interviewed. Questions were like – what did you do at the CBC? And I answered truthfully that I had done camera work on regular stuff like news and sports and talking heads and sports, but also on musicals and dramas! They were impressed. Nobody asked me when I had done that last, which was in fact back in 1959, some 15 years ago! As it turned out, this never was a problem as the camera work involved at this small TV station was never too difficult.
I'm finally getting to the point of my story. On my first day in the new job, I said to my fellow technicians: "I know there's no cafeteria here, so where is the nearest place to have lunch, or to buy some takeout?"
"Uh, we don't go anywhere for lunch. We just go out the back of the [TV] station".
I didn't know what they meant, but when it came lunch time (which is 12:30 in Australia not 12) one of my fellow technicians said "Okay mate, come out the back and I'll show you how we make lunch".
So I go out the back of the station where I see about 22 barbecues lined up. And then, my new best friend says, "What would you like for lunch? Here's the menu." And then he rattles off "bangers, chops, burgers, kidneys, prawns, steaks, chips, red peppers, onions, green peppers, ribs, corn, asparagus, carrots, potato pancakes, tomatoes, 

and   


****************************BEER!***********************


I said "You're allowed to drink beer at work?" "Yes, as long as we don't get p*ssed, especially when Goff or Hawkie are going to be on." It turned out that "Goff" was the Prime Minister of Australia, Gough Whitlam, and "Hawkie" was Bob Hawke, the leader of Australia's largest trade union (and subsequently another Prime Minister of Australia).
Later they explained the mechanics of collecting funds to pay for the food, buying and bringing the food to work in "eskies" (Aussie for "coolers"), and using the station's several fridges.
With that luncheon menu, I don't know why I ever returned to Canada. Perhaps it was the cafeteria in the new building.

End notes:
The TV station in Canberra was equivalent to CBOT, the CBC station in Ottawa. It was a small, and basically had hardly any status except it was in the capital city, and thus much easier to get people for interviews such as the Prime Minister, other politicians and heads of institutions.
I met both Gough Williams and Bob Hawke while working at the station. Just a year later, Gough Williams became famous as the only Commonwealth prime minister to be fired by his Governor-General. Bob Hawke was the only Australia prime minister who cried while being interviewed on national television. He was a well-loved PM.

 

******

Look at this great menu!  Where does it come from?  Answer will be in the August column of this literary masterpiece.

 

SEA TO SKI - A LIVE PROGRAM FOR NO REASON

Almost every former CBC-er reading this will remember suffering from, and cursing, the cuts to CBC's budget – forever happening. Can you imagine a headline "Giant Increase in CBC's Budget"? No. In the spring of 1959, we, CBC TV Vancouver, produced a live one hour show for broadcast live (mostly) across Canada called "Sea to Ski". The theme of the show was simply that Vancouver had such a great climate, that you could do almost anything outdoors at any time of the year (a gross exaggeration of course).
Coordinated by a host in our Vancouver studios, we had remote cameras feeding images of skiers on Grouse Mountain, fishermen in the Capilano River (including CBC's Ernie Rose), and cricketers (including CBC's Bob Quintrell), on the Stanley Park Oval.
I have no idea how the show was held together. I had the most important job on the show (up on Grouse Mountain) of burying the audio and camera cables in the snow, because I was the most junior technician. Not having anything to do on the show itself, I skied into the picture, with real skiers, and then watched myself when the original live show was sent out by delayed tape to CBC Vancouver from Toronto.
In those days, Grouse Mountain had no gondola – everything and everybody went up or down Grouse Mountain on the chairlift, then located to the side of the "Cut". Imagine carrying a TV camera on your lap up the chairlift. Even then, as one of the most junior employees at CBC Vancouver, I wondered why we were spending the money to do this show when at best it could be said it was helping "tourism Vancouver".
The highlight of the whole experience, in my mind, was when we were lugging up all the equipment on the chairlift, when one of the cameramen (whose name, Harold Haug, will go unmentioned), dropped the test pattern chart that we used to calibrate the cameras, halfway up the Cut. Harold was then ordered by the technical supervisor to walk halfway back down the Cut, without benefit of skis, to pick up the test pattern.
It was a good show, even if it didn't have any purpose.
I showed a draft of this article to a couple of retired producers from CBC who immediately said "Obviously, the Public Affairs Department of CBC Vancouver was trying to get rid of leftover monies in the budget – you don't spend it, you don't get it next year.

 

This summer will be the 45th anniversary of the move of our various CBC locations into the new building. I'm hoping to round up stories of the move for this column (probably to be aired in August). What are your recollections? If you have a story, send it in to me at alangwalker@gmail.com It doesn't matter how short or how long it is. It doesn't have to be funny but interesting is good. Perhaps write something about how it was to arrive at the new location. A couple of photos if you have any would be great. Thanks. Alan

11. ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV MAY 24 2020


Hello Everyone:
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work for an organization like CBC but in a different country? Al Vitols has this fascinating summary of his visit to check on the operations of the BBC.

BBC’ish by Al Vitols

Sometime back in the 70’s I had a message to see Hugh Palmer, our Director of Television. Nothing unusual about that as being in charge of Hourglass assured frequent meetings regarding something we had aired, and somebody had not liked.
This was different as instead of standing in front of his desk, I was invited to sit.
After a few pleasantries, Hugh cleared his throat, as was his wont before saying something important, and asked me if I’d like to visit BBC to see how they handled current affairs. Does a bear, um, do stuff in the woods?
Hugh had presumed, correctly, that I would jump at the opportunity, and handed me a cheque for an obscene amount and a return Air Canada ticket to Heathrow. Am I required to get and submit receipts? No. How long am I to stay there? As long as the money lasts. I presumed that it was his way of reducing his end-of-fiscal-year surplus.
Leaving my senior producers to take charge of Hourglass on alternate weeks, I boarded an Air Canada 747 and after the in-flight movie and chats with a couple of flight attendants, landed sleepless at Heathrow during a drizzle.
I was looking forward to an experience similar to the one in Goodbye Girl with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, a film I had just seen on the plane. The protagonist also disembarked in a drizzle, and then began his British adventure. His was romantic. I would settle for interesting or unusual.
Did not happen. Instead of a shared taxi with Ms. Mason, I took the Heathrow Express, a train dedicated to moving passengers to and from the airport, and wound up in Paddington Station sooner than I expected.
A London taxi delivered me to the front of The Inn On The Park, back then a Canadian-owned hotel where I had booked a room before I left Vancouver. After watching my suitcase disappear from the taxi through a hotel back door I was duly signed in and escorted to a second floor closet for which I was going to pay £150 per night. My suitcase was already there, on the bed and open wide.
The room was tiny, austere; light shone from under the doors, both, from the hall and from the bathroom; it had a tiny TV bolted to a table, probably so people wouldn’t pocket it. It did have a cubby next to the door, accessible from the hall, for shoes left to be shined. I wore Clarks desert boots - suede.
At these prices I’d be back in Vancouver sooner rather than later. And if one added the atrociously priced, but very poor quality, plate of bacon and eggs, the trip would end in days!
I followed Hugh’s suggestion and got in touch with the CBC London contact, a woman who, it seemed, did and knew everything and everybody. When I expressed shock at the cost of my accommodation she, too, thought it was outrageous, Canadian owned or not, and asked what kind of room did I actually need. A bed, a shower and a TV, and a good place to have breakfast within walking distance.
So after the third ‘contracted’ day at The Inn, apparently a commitment I could not break, I found myself in a hotel still facing Hyde Park in a room with a bed, a great shower and colour TV at a fraction of the previous price. Coffee shop was downstairs on the main floor with a view of the park. The place catered mostly to tours and when the buses departed at eight o’clock, it quieted down considerably.
It poured good coffee and served an excellent, free with the room, breakfast, American or British, the difference being that with the eggs the local version also had a spoonful of baked beans, a couple of slices of black (blood) pudding, and instead of bacon, a couple of ‘bangers’ All breakfasts seemed to come with half a fried tomato called a ‘slice’, and cold toast in a rack. Hotel and coffee shop staff mostly from the subcontinent.
The CBC woman took me over to the current affairs building, a separate and quite distant location from news, and introduced me to the head of BBC-TV Current Affairs. He had already been notified that I would make an appearance and need assistance. He thought that I should have an expert guide and that his secretary needed a “vacation” and, throwing two stones at one bird, assigned Barbara to look after me for as long as I needed her. Mrs. Barbara Mitchell.
Her first task, something that I’d forgotten to ask the CBC person, was to arrange a ‘hire’ car. What kind? Oh, something small and inexpensive. Mrs. Mitchell escorted me to a car hire place and we drove off in a Triumph Stag, the equivalent of a BMW 325i Euro. Very posh, very fast, very convertible! Very expensive? No, not at all. Mrs. Mitchell had some sort of connection with the car hire people and because of reasons I still don’t understand, got it for about the price of a Morris, the sedan not the Minor. On my next trip to London I tried to hire one, but they were no longer available.


“Executive Producer” on my CBC business card seemed to carry a lot of clout over there. I was always introduced to the boss of wherever I went. Or perhaps it was just Mrs. Mitchell continuing to be very efficient.
Aside from special coverage, there were three ongoing public affairs (or current affairs, I no longer recall which word they used and I think they were probably interchangeable) shows: Panorama, an Hourglass kind of program, aired daily at the supper hour. There was also a weekly half hour, not unlike Pacific Report which I started after I left Hourglass, telecast on Fridays, and a monthly 60 minute flagship, I don’t recall the name, nor the telecast day.
BBC ‘Green Rooms’ fascinated me. They seemed to operate on the class system. The head honcho denied it, but the way it worked there wasn’t much doubt - Upstairs, Downstairs in real life.
The Panorama Green Room was open to everyone - technical people, production staff and guests when such were booked. Beer and assorted wrapped plain sandwiches available all day, and for a couple of hours after the telecast.
The weekly half-hour show had a higher status and their Green Room had reasonably good wine, beer and assorted basic booze. There were sandwich platters, some hot dishes, soups and assorted desserts. It was staffed by BBC and food came from the cafeteria. Restricted to guests and production people only – no technicians or staging people or other ‘riff-raff’.
The monthly one hour flagship’s Green Room was catered by an outside company and had a proper hot buffet, a good selection of booze, including expensive brandies, good wines and an assortment of beers and ales. All quite fancy.
Who were the recipients of this largesse? Not the technicians. Not staging people. Not the production staff. Only guests. It was there mostly to keep them happy and relaxed before they were escorted into the studio,
Actually there were two Green Rooms, as the one catering to the lowly was always available, an ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ kind of situation.
At ITV, the private network, there was just the one Green Room and it was much like a small cafeteria with a “quiet corner” for pre-show interviews.
All cameras at the BBC public affairs building were equipped with Autocues, a far superior system to Teleprompter. Similarly at their news division. When I got back to Vancouver I tried to convince the people in charge that we should switch to Autocue, but CBC was married to Teleprompter, an unwieldy system.
I noticed that all script assistants carried rolls of adding machine tape. Why? In a corner of every studio there is a Vidicon camera focused on a variable speed moving platform. The frame is the width of the tape which equals one line on the camera-mounted monitors. Regular typewriter fonts get enlarged to the proper size. Text could be typed on any typewriter anywhere within the BBC, rather than on a special ‘Teleprompter’ typewriter as at the CBC. That is why all the S/A’s carried their own supply of ‘paper’.
The content of the higher-ranked shows I happened to observe was what back home I’d consider average, if not below. The BBC producers were ecstatic. Why? One of their 650 MP’s had agreed to appear. He probably should not have been allowed in the Green Room prior to the telecast as by the time the red tally light went on he had obviously sampled some of the more expensive wares.
To me the most fascinating part of the evening was the show post-mortem in the Green Room. I couldn’t agree with their definition of a successful show, but interesting it was. Just the fact that an MP had been interviewed was enough to make it, in their opinion, a “good show”
Interdepartmental battles must be world-wide. One morning as I arrived at Panorama there was a bit of a problem, a “minor nuisance” as one of the producers put it. There had been a nurses' strike going on in England for some time. The Panorama producers had decided that the show should originate from a ‘struck’ hospital close to the Welsh border. The problem was that on this same day there were football matches everywhere in the country and the Sports Division needed every bit of remote equipment the BBC owned. After a minor war in the office of some executive in charge of the mobile equipment, the Public Affairs people won and they had the use of a mobile truck at the hospital. So, what was the problem?
The problem was that the night before the telecast, i.e., last night, the strike was settled and there was no more need for the remote. Fine. Just cancel the location and revert to a studio show. No, can’t do that. Why not? The next time that there was a facilities conflict, the Sports People could use this as a good example of Public Affairs wasting facilities.
So the semi-panic was about what kind of show could now be done from the hospital? The head of the nurses' union could still be interviewed about the new benefits, but for an entire show! As it turned out, it was a good show with hospital management and patients talking about the almost-nurse-free time and what the future would bring. I’d been happy if it was Hourglass.
Virtually every BBC location has its own pub. The only ones without their own have a public house just a few doors down the street. The people I was with would have a pub sandwich, usually a Ploughman, a meal of bread, cheese and onions, and at least one pint of ’bitters’ I joined them for a small glass of their dark “Are you sure you want to try it?” ale and was looking for a place to crash as opposed to getting back at work. Mrs. Mitchell did her pint same as everyone and was no worse for wear. I seem to recall that the lunch hour was actually 90 minutes like in CBC Montréal, but perhaps everyone just stretched the hour.
Early on I asked Mrs. Mitchell to suggest a good place for us to have lunch. We wound up in the basement of a small building, almost like the ones in Montréal with its outside staircase leading up to the second floor. We ducked under and wound up in a very cozy Italian establishment, the ubiquitous red checkered cloths on every table.
Thinking it was time for Mrs. Mitchell and I to get on a first name basis, a rite sometimes celebrated with a glass of something alcoholic drunk from entwined arms, I ordered a martini. What arrived was indeed a Martini, a water glass full of warm Martini & Rossi vermouth. An enjoyable lunch, despite the vermouth problem. Mrs. Mitchell became Barbara, which we accomplished with the traditional sip of wine, but no matter how hard I tried, I remained Mr. Vitols.
One small hitch at the end was when Barbara couldn’t find one of her shoes. Why? One of her ‘quirks’ was removing her shoes whenever she sat down. She did at the restaurant as she would every time the opportunity presented itself. Somehow it had been kicked under the next table, but after a brief search we returned to the office - one of us lightly tipsy because of Martini & Rossi, the other, having only had a glass of ale, alcohol-unaffected.
Barbara’s shoe fetish was well known by her co-workers and they quite often would hide one or both of her shoes. Mind you, I had noticed that she didn’t bother wearing shoes while in the office and walked, mostly ran, in nyloned feet.

Public Houses, pubs, are ubiquitous throughout the country and one would be hard pressed to find a village without one. So it was with the BBC in that every location in London, and undoubtedly everywhere in the UK, if there was no BBC pub there would be a brewery-owned pub nearby.
Pubs were also part of the TWW, Television Wales and West, the Welsh border station, as well as the Welsh studios in Cardiff. I thought that having a brief visit with Welsh TV and later with Scottish studios would give me a better perspective on BBC London.
Found much sameness everywhere. Before I visited I thought that because both the Welsh and the Scotts, sharing a common hatred of the English, would be ideological partners, but not so. They also hated each other. Hate is probably too strong a word, but dislike each other they did.
I suggested that I buy the Public Affairs people lunch at the best restaurant in Cardiff, expecting to sample some Welsh cuisine. I was taken to an Italian place and ate yet again at a red and white checkered tablecloth covered table. Best food in Cardiff? Yes. Welsh food not up to scratch? Well… there’s leeks and there’s rarebit.
It was someone’s birthday and they were going to celebrate it at their pub. I was invited (Barbara had remained in London in order to entertain her traveling booze salesman husband). Oh, no, you’ll just stand around the piano and sing Welsh songs,” I declined the offer. That would not do and they insisted that Welshmen are not like you see them in films, etc.,etc. I capitulated. After about an hour in the pub all the men were standing around the beat-up, cigarette scarred, pint-ringed upright singing their hearts out. I didn’t have the nerve to remind them of what they had promised.
The next day I did readily accept an invitation by the head of the Public Affairs department to join him to a ‘take-away’ lunch at his cottage. It turned out to be a fantastic place on the Welsh shore of the river Wye (Afon Gwy in Welsh), the river separating Wales from England. We were joined by one of the Welsh historians who explained some of the ongoing English/Welsh problems. The lunch almost turned into dinner and only the need to be near the studio at show time brought it to a close.
My Triumph Stag was due back at the rental garage, so I hustled back to London on the M4. Got lost in downtown and with the ‘petrol’ gauge flashing ‘E’, I just couldn’t find my way. I was about to park and call a taxi and have him lead me to the rental place, but just before I gave up the PanAm skyscraper loomed ahead and I knew where I was. A great car and if the Triumph people were to make a left-hand drive version and export them to Canada, I’d be first in line.
Barbara also took me over to ITV to sit in on their Sunday morning one hour current affairs show. No problem getting to the studio on Saturday for rehearsals, but Sunday morning everything was locked up and only Barbara’s list of helpful telephone numbers got us in the building in time. Everything seemed very disorganized right up to telecast time.
In England, possibly elsewhere in Britain and Europe, all playbacks are 35 mm film. AMPEX 2” tape is used only as back-up. I’m no longer sure if there even was a 16mm possibility. On this particular Sunday the producer kept changing his mind regarding the order of the four items on the show. This involved re-editing the double system 35 mm film rolls. Having to have a 10 second roll-up didn’t help matters. I failed to ask why the items were not on separate reels, but they were not. Finally, just a few minutes from on-air the producer changed his mind once more and then was told by the Technical Producer (I can’t recall if they’re Technical Directors over there) that there was not enough time to edit and they’d have to use the back-up videotape. Frankly, standing at the back of the control room I couldn’t tell the difference in quality, but would be the first to admit that all commercials, they too being 35 mm, looked better in England.
Most of my time in London was spent with BBC’s Panorama. After all, it was just Hourglass with a foreign accent. There was not muchdifference between BBC and CBC, and that included producers complaining about being poorly paid and inadequate compensation for out-of-town expenses.Barbara was a constant companion and her Rolodex opened a lot of doors. She was very useful even outside the BBC. There is ‘roundabout’ in Hyde Park which you enter from underground into the middle. There are three or four lanes going around the centre and a bunch of streets leading from it. A wagon wheel of traffic. I had been stuck in the circle a number of times as there almost never was a gap in traffic big enough for me to change lanes. I tried to avoid this circular hell, but somehow wound up its victim a number of times. And so I did with Barbara in the car. After I circled around a couple of times she wondered what I was doing. I explained my problem. She solved it. Apparently the rule, official or not, is that one simply puts on the turn signal and then eases over. The car behind adjusts accordingly. Simple - but only if you know the unwritten rule.
On my final day in London before I took the train to Glasgow I wanted to treat Barbara to a really splendid meal. The Savoy dining room seemed like a posh enough place. It turned out not only posh, but snooty as well. The valet practically sneered as he parked the Stag in among the Rolls and the Bentleys.
In the marble-columned dining room we were treated decently as the staff there didn’t know in what kind of car we arrived. There were two of us looked after by four splendidly-clad waiters. Back then I was a smoker and had barely got the pack out from my pocket when one of them was offering a flame from his lighter. Similarly, before we could manage our napkins, they were picked up just as we reached for them and placed on our laps. Barbara was out of this world and quite likely will never have such a lunch again. For once she kept her shoes on. Actually it was all too much even for me and the Dover sole, prepared at the table, didn’t make up for it. Also the price probably shortened my trip by a day or two.
I may have overtipped the dining room staff, but I definitely made a point not to do so when the valet brought our car. I did what I had once seen in a movie. I had a decent bunch of bills in my hand as if that was to be the tip and then removed most of it as he stood looking. Barbara thought he didn’t deserve any tip whatsoever.
So ended my final day with BBC London. I had given my thanks to all the Public Affairs people and said goodbye the day before, so Barbara was the last contact. I got a kiss on the cheek, just the one.
The next day I was driving to Wales and then when I returned to London I almost had to spin around and entrain for Glasgow, my last stop in the UK.
I had been to Edinburgh before and loved it. Hated Glasgow from the moment I stepped off the train. Why? I’ve no idea. Just as I’ve no idea why I dislike Denman but love Hornby Island. That dislike continued as my hotel was being totally redone and I spent a couple of days and nights in a construction zone.
Perhaps the television people could sense my opinion of Glasgow and I was tolerated as opposed to received with pipes and drums. Found it all to be just like any other small town station with no new ‘discoveries’ to take home. Come to think of it, my opinion of Glasgow was shared by some of the staff who lived and commuted from Edinburgh, 60 minutes by train.
Having seen the airport virtually within city limits, called a cab an hour before my flight to Vancouver. “Which airport?” Confessing surprise about there being a choice, I was asked my destination and ‘America’ meant the ancient London-type of cab would be hard pushed to get me to the right one on time. With the promise of a generous tip if we actually made it - we did somehow. That even included a brief breakdown on the motorway. I made the flight, my suitcase did not.
I gave Hugh four or five pages of notes that he thought covered my trip adequately. My main conclusion was that basically in the production of Current or Public Affairs, there’s not much difference between the BBC and CBC, but the beer is better there.

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Energy Brought Them Together – Peggy O’Neill and Mike Oldfield Meet at CBC by Peggy Oldfield


In exchanging banter about CBC Vancouver productions going way back, Alan Walker and I somehow got into a discussion of the Watergate era and the supposedly accidental 18.5 minute audio tape erasure of recorded material by Richard Nixon’s Secretary Rose Mary Woods. The Uher Universal 5000 recorder/playback machine she was using was the same type I used at work to transcribe sono tapes of interviews for various programs and I’ve always felt that accidentally erasing a recording was simply impossible. Bringing up transcription of sono tapes reminded me of their part in introducing Mike and me …. I had been on staff since 1966 as Secretary to the TV Production Manager, Executive Producers of TV Drama and Variety, and the TV Unit Managers. In May, 1971, Mike was hired as a Summer Relief Film Sound Technician in the 1200 West Georgia Street studios and, working with Producer Dick Bocking to record studio interviews for the documentary Energy: The Price of Power”, began delivering sono tapes of those interviews to my office in the TV Admin area of the offices at 747 Bute Street for me to transcribe. A full sono tape contained about 40 minutes of material and if speech was clear without a lot of “umm, errrrr, ahhh” interruptions (which had to be included in the transcription), it took about three hours to type out. If the tape had to be replayed over and over to catch everything, that time could occasionally end up doubling. That one show had Mike delivering 150 audio tapes to me and I often jokingly greeted him with, “Go away! I don’t want to see you!” Luckily he didn’t listen and when his Summer Relief job ended in early July (he returned on permanent staff in September), he invited me for coffee on his last day and then asked me out on a date. My Dad was in hospital at the time and Mom and I were visiting him daily so I wasn’t able to accept the date nor on the next two times Mike asked. He didn’t give up and our first date towards the end of July was dinner on a Saturday night at Hy’s Encore. Best first date ever. I was pretty shy in those days and could never think of anything to say so conversation with a guy could be excruciatingly non-existent. With Mike, I was at ease and he got me talking about travel which had me going on endlessly about Hawaii – my favourite destination which I’d been to twice at that point. I remember on that date that he laughingly said, “I feel sorry for the guy who marries you. He won’t have any choice about where you go for your honeymoon.” Almost a year later, on July 15, 1972, we were married….and yes, our honeymoon was in Hawaii.
Did you meet your future spouse while working at CBC? If so, we'd love to hear your story – short or long as it may be!

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From Ray Waines - Feedback on my article Naked on the Ice in last month's issue
Some of the best feedback came from Greg Douglas, who was pleased to finally see a video of the streaking. On his website I found this and I still get a chuckle thinking about Ted Reynolds at intermission sitting with Babe Pratt who was the analyst of the highlights from the first period of Canucks Hockey. Imagine Ted trying to keep a straight face, asking Babe "What did you think was the highlight of that first period?" and Babe says:

‘Oh without a doubt — roll it again George’!
Of course the playback of the streakers came up on air for many viewers who were hoping to see a replay, and Babe disappointed no one except the Commissioner of NHL, Clarence Campbell, who just happened to see the playback of the streakers on that intermission. Mr. Campbell got on the phone and raised hell.
"The hockey club was instructed by Mr. Campbell to eliminate and destroy every print and piece on video or tape," said Douglas. “He thought it was outrageous and was calling from Montreal saying "Stop this madness!"
Jim Robson told me that after reading my story, he agreed that it was right that our cameras were allowed to show the streaking.
Note: Greg Douglas was from 1970 to 1977 the original Canucks Public Relations Director, and assistant to the General Manager.
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MISSPELLED COLOR COMES TO CBC by Alan


When CBC Management were discussing the introduction of colour TV to the CBC stations and the CBC network in the 1960's, the main topic for discussion wasn't the cost of re-equipping all of the CBC stations and transmitters, or the cost of training staff, but was how to spell it; should it be "colour" as the word is spelt in Canada, or should it be "color" as the Americans spell it, and would show up on any colour show that was being imported from the U.S. As everybody knows, the U.S. spelling won out.
Pressure was on the CBC for a long time to provide colour TV because the major population centres in Canada, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, already had colour TV courtesy of the American border TV stations. CBS had color telecasts as early as 1951 with a mechanical color television system which was overtaken by an all-electronic system invented by RCA (owner of NBC at the time). NBC started broadcasting some color television programs in late 1953, almost exactly the same time as CBUT went on the air with all black and white programming.
Some 13 years later in 1966 at CBC TV, we were getting excited about colour TV finally arriving. Those of us working in TV control rooms were scheduled for a test of our "colour eyesight". We laughed about the upcoming test, and we all said we weren't colour blind although most of us seemed to have known about a friend who was. Remember those books with pages of number combinations in colour which picked you out if you had a colour eyesight deficiency?
Our colour inspector arrived one day, and opened his box of tricks. The first test was composed of 15 shades of purple which we were required to put in order of colour intensity – more purple to less purple. I failed miserably. I can't remember what the other tests were. Amusingly, at no time in my subsequent career at CBC was I ever asked to do anything that involved analyzing colour.

I happened to be on duty in the transmitter booth the first time we broadcast colour from CBUT. After the late movie finished about 1:30 a.m., we ran some silent colour film (mostly of flowers) on air for the benefit of the technicians at the CBC transmitter on Mt. Seymour, for the adjustment of their new colour transmitter equipment. My job was to pick some music to go with the silent colour film, and I picked "Red Roses for a Blue Lady", and being ironic "Black is Black (I want my baby back)". Nobody noticed my choices. Colour went live on September 1, 1966 (just after Peggy was born).

For the longest time, the daily schedule at CBC TV consisted of a mixture of black and white and colour programs. The newspaper listings had an asterisk when the show was in colour. I remember the Sunday night lineup:
Walt Disney (in colour), Ed Sullivan (black and white), Bonanza (in colour, and starring former CBC announcer, Lorne Greene), Close-up (in black and white).

Colour Comes to the Studios
I'm not really qualified to write about the effect of colour TV coming to the studios, but I do know it was a fantastic relief for our CBC set designers, costume designers, painters and make-up people who previously created interesting color sets, costumes or faces, but at the same time, had to know how the colour would be "translated" when broadcast in black and white. I'm planning to add to this article a photo of me on a boom in a studio 41 set, and beside it the same picture only this time in black and white.

Those brilliant craftsmen/craftswomen knew whether a bright indigo colour would turn out to be a light grey, dark grey, light black, or black black, when appearing on TV.
The costume designers were also relieved when colour came in as the previously forbidden white shirt was now allowed. In black and white television, a white shirt was way too bright in the scheme of things, and all on air people were required to wear blue shirts or blue clothing instead of white clothing. The black and white picture of me on the boom shows how white comes out too bright.

Al Vitols has a comment on that point: I started in TV in London, Ontario, designing commercial settings, anything from cars to cans. We were famous for having the used cars look better than at our competition. The dealers would scrub the cars to get them as clean as possible before they delivered them to the studio. The first thing we did was send a propsman out to drive it a bunch of miles along dusty, back country, concession roads and get a good layer of dust all over. That eliminated the TV camera's problems with shiny things, a kind of dulling spray, if you will. Eventually we wised up and just used baby powder on the camera side. I’ve seen grown men, horn players, weep when they saw me spraying their shiny instrument with dulling spray.

The introduction of colour studio telecasts at CBUT was a slow process. Only CBC Toronto had the technical facilities to produce colour shows in their studios when colour officially came to CBC. Ray Waines may have a future article for us on the first colour programs created at CBC Vancouver.
End notes
1. Canada was the third country in the world to get colour TV.
2. CTV started broadcasting in colour the same day as CBC.
3. When colour TV was introduced in Canada, fewer than 1% of Canadians had a colour TV set. Many, however, had 8-track tapes.

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Is anybody reading this old enough to remember the wonderful and complex songs from the 1950's? If so, perhaps you remember this Dean Martin classic:

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This summer will be the 45th anniversary of the move of our various CBC locations into the new building. I'm hoping to round up stories of the move for this column (probably to be aired in August). What are your recollections? If you have a story, send it in to me at alangwalker@gmail.com It doesn't matter how short or how long it is. It doesn't have to be funny but interesting is good. Perhaps write something about how it was to arrive at the new location. A couple of photos if you have any would be great. Thanks. Alan

10.  ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV APRIL 26, 2020

Hi Everyone:


This month Ray Waines gets us off to an amusing start with an incident from a 1974 Hockey game:


NAKED ON THE ICE by Ray Waines
In the early 1970s, streaking had become a custom that would either surprise or shock the fans and the athletes. I had been covering the Canucks for the 4 seasons since their first game in 1970 and all of the crew thought that one day soon we would be streaked at the Vancouver Coliseum. I was working the play camera on a HNIC game and right below my position, was the location for our Television Mobile and Cruiser parking.
I heard this loud noise below from some of our crew going down the metal steps to rush over to the visiting players’ entrance to the ice, to watch 3 women in long fur coats disrobe, leaving them totally naked! The women waited for a cue from a chap to open the gate before they ran down the entrance to carefully step onto the ice. No one slipped so their special shoes did work to keep them from being embarrassed by falling on the ice.


Meanwhile on my camera, the players stopped playing Hockey when the gate was opened. I panned over to see the 3 naked women coming out of the gate on to the ice. I could hear the reaction from the fans and it got louder! I zoomed in to a full length 3 shot of them running past the shocked players at their benches! When they got to the exit for the Canucks, a photographer had opened the gate and that’s when they cut to Jack Bell’s camera on a tighter shot as they left the ice using the exit through the bleachers.


I panned back to the ice to see some of the players like Andre Boudrias laughing while sitting on the ice and hitting their hockey sticks on the ice to applaud these 3 very gutsy women, who were from the Penthouse night club.
Now, for those of you who watched the streaking live, maybe at a pub or at home, it would be interesting to hear how you felt about this fad being televised to your homes. Were any of you as teenagers watching the Canucks Hockey? Did any of you men call to your wives, “I don’t believe it, you got to see this!” or maybe did you phone your buddies, hoping for a replay in the intermission.

Well, it just so happens that Babe Pratt did not disappoint anyone, not just for viewers watching on HNIC across the CBC network, but also for all those in New York who watched a feed of their New York Islanders team playing the Canucks that night.
Babe was playing back the highlights from that period of hockey and could not resist showing the streaking, (in colour). His VTR operator had kept his machine recording a high iso camera, when he left the Cruiser to see the 3 streakers. Unfortunately on Monday morning Babe Pratt was called up on the carpet by the brass, who were upset with the streaking being shown again as a replay. Knowing Babe Pratt, this would not have bothered him at all.
I was so glad that our Director was Ron Harrison, who just let it all happen. Our crew would have been very frustrated if another Director had told us cameramen to show the fans, not the streakers! This has happened on other live telecasts like on the Grey Cups where the streaking was not controlled, but here it was like a perfect short strip tease.
Here is the short video and I just know that Babe Pratt would like to share this with you one more time.
CLICK HERE
Now, you are wondering why it’s black & white? Well we have to go back to when our CBC studios were on Georgia street and the Telecine and Kinescope machines had a chap who operated them for many years. After seeing the streaking live, he wanted to make a copy for himself. He had VTR send a feed of Babe Pratt’s highlight to his Kine recorder which recorded it on 16 mm black & white Film. Now he had a copy of the streaking for his telecine machine.
When this chap was going to retire from CBC, he gave me a 5 inch roll of film and said to me, “Ray, see what you can do with this.” I gave it to Chuck Lere to transfer the film to VHS. When Chuck showed me the VHS, it was black and white and I was surprised to see once again those 3 women streaking past the Hockey players, just like they had planned it!
This is the only copy that I know of and for those of you who missed this streaking 46 years ago, I hope that this story has given you a glimpse of that crazy fad back in the 1970s.
I would like to thank Glenn Weston for suggesting that Ron Greenwood, (Sam Greenwood’s son), with his background and expertise in editing videos, could make this streaking video more respectable for all the viewers on Stationbreak. So thanks Ron, without this decent video, I could never have written this story.
Ray Waines

Ray's Bio:
My career as a television cameraman started in 1960 with CBC Vancouver. I enjoyed covering the BC Lions, and in the studios, musicals such as Some of Those Days and Let's Go. Dramas were even a greater challenge and by 1968 I became a Supervising Technician. In 1970 I started working the play camera on the Canucks games and for the 1972 Canada/Russia game. The Irish Rovers were great to work with, first in the studios and then taping shows over in England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. I was fortunate to cover the Olympics at Montreal 1976, Los Angeles 1984 and then the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. I retired from CBC in 1991 and continued working as a freelance cameraman until 2010. In 2007 I became President for the Southern Interior Chapter of the CBC Pensioners' Association and in 2013 I was elected to the position as Vice-President. Having completed my term in that role, I am now a Director on the Board.


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CBC, SPACE & CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, by me

Some space trivia questions to get started. The answers are at the end of this month's column. If you use Google to get your answers, you will be fired, one way, into outer space.

1. How many humans have landed on the moon?
2. How many were Russians?
3. How many were female?
4. What were the first words said on the moon by the two American astronauts, Armstrong and Aldrin?
5. Who was the commentator for CBS Television on most of the space shots?
6. How close was anything Canadian to the moon, just before Apollo 11 landed?

I was very ignorant of "space" at the beginning. When the USSR's Sputnik flew, I didn't know what all the fuss was about. I had no knowledge of how much power it took to get an object from earth into space. I had no concept of how a country's satellites might rain atomic missiles down on enemy countries. Fortunately, just a few years later when the Russians and Americans were getting ready to orbit the earth and beyond, I was working at CBC TV in the master control/transmitter booth area, and we were all well aware of the space race. We were, nevertheless, totally surprised when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter outer space when he orbited the earth on April 12, 1961, in Vostok 1.
Only a month later, we at CBC were taking a feed from CBS as to the successful launch of American astronaut, Alan Sheppard, into a sub-orbital flight as part of the Mercury Space Program. (It was not until John Glenn's flight in 1962 that the Americans caught up to the Russians with an orbital flight).
Being on duty in a CBC control room during a space flight was exciting. The lift off time for a space flight was often at 6:30 a.m. in Florida, 3:30 a.m. Vancouver time. We would be on the air at least one hour before blast off, and having a shift beginning at 2:30 am. was exciting to us if perhaps not so exciting to our spouses. We also received a lot of overtime pay working these weird shift times.
CBC, with its CBS feed, carried all the space shots of the Mercury and Gemini programs, and some of the Apollo program. In the early stages of the American program, many flights were cancelled at the last minute (some flights cancelled as many as four times), so we had a lot of "space" shifts.
As there were three of us handling the job of "co-ordinating producers" in the Studio 50 control room, it didn't work out that I would be on duty during the historic moon landing by Neil Armstrong. However, I did view the landing on my little black and white TV at home with my wife and two young children. My brother-in-law boasted that he was going to watch the moon landing "in colour!" on a new large TV that he had just bought ("large" in those days was probably 21"). He was later embarrassed to find out that all of the moon landing was televised in black and white. (Later programs about the first moon landing show some colour, but that was from colour film that the astronauts shot, and was later processed on earth after they returned).

There was an incredibly large audience for the moon landing, followed by an incredibly small audience for the subsequent Apollo 12 moon landing. And it took the near-disaster of Apollo 13 to bring back many viewers.
The lack of interest in the subsequent five successful voyages to the moon have often been characterized as "been there, done that", although they were all miraculous space voyages, and far more potentially dangerous to the participants than we ever knew.

Perhaps it was a similar public attitude at the time of Columbus, and his four transatlantic voyages to the New World. Let us imagine:
Christopher returns to his old home in Italy in 1492, and runs into his old school friend, Fabrizio.
Fabrizio: Hi Chris, I read that you sailed off and found a short cut to India. Does that mean I'll get Indian food quicker when I order in?
Christopher (not really understanding the question): Well, I did discover the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola and a bunch of other islands. I'm calling them the "West Indies". What have you been up to Fabrizio?
Fabrizio: Well, Maria just had our 4th child, but I'm hoping she will get back to work quickly".
Several years pass, and Fabrizio runs into Christopher again at a Starbuck's café in Milan, and Fabrizio says: "Yo, Cristo, have you discovered more?", and Christopher says: "Yes, in 1493 I did discover a bunch more islands, and I'm calling them the "Lesser Antilles".
"Strange name", Fabrizio mumbles to himself. "You know, delivery of Indian take out hasn't got any faster! And I should tell you, Maria has had two more bambinos, and now we have six!"
Christopher leaves as quick as he can, and is happy not to see Fabrizio in the next five years or so until: "Hey, CC, whatcha been discovering?", and Christopher replies: "Well in 1498, I discovered Trinidad and Venezuela, and I think I'm gonna call the whole area where Venezuela is "South America". It's an amazing place! We sailed past the mouth of a river that had such a flood of fresh water that it pushed us way out to sea. I'm naming the river "Orinoco Flow".
Fabrizio: Wow! Did you name the river after that song by Enya?
Columbo: No, it was for the cover by Celtic Woman.
Fabrizio: You should meet all my bambinos, we now have enough for a football team.
More years pass. It's 1502. Another meeting (but the last).
Fabrizio: I'm sorry to tell you my old friend that my darling Maria passed away recently after giving birth to our 15th child. I think she must have had a weak constitution.
Christopher: So sorry to hear Fabrizio. I guess you don't really care that this year I discovered Central America.
Fabrizio: But I do care CC, what's next! Eastern America, North America or what?
Columbus' answer is not recorded. It may be on the Nixon tapes.
It's ironic to realize that Columbus never set foot in what is now the U.S., and he obviously did not set foot in Canada. Nevertheless, there are more place names in the U.S. and Canada celebrating Columbus than there are in Central America or South America or the Caribbean. How come we're "British Columbia"? Sounds like a Jeopardy answer.

Answers to the quiz:
1. 12
2. zero
3. zero
4. Many trivia game answer cards state "Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed". Those were the first formal words said, but prior to that, Armstrong had said "Contact Light*, OK, Engine Stop", and other technical landing stuff.
5. Walter Cronkite. I just wanted to get his name mentioned so I could tell this little true story. Cronkite and his wife, Betsy, were visiting in Vancouver and someone told them the story of the notorious Hollywood film star, Errol Flynn, who died in Vancouver on a 75 foot yacht in the company of a 17 year old girl. When Walter said "What a way to go!", Betsy said: "Walter's more likely to pass away on a 17 foot yacht with a 75 year old girl".
6. The legs of the Lunar Excursion Module were made in Canada, and fortunately arrived on the moon just moments before the two astronauts.

* The contact light came on when a 5 foot lunar surface sensing probe, attached to one of the foot pads hit the surface, giving the astronauts a brief window in which to turn off the thrusters in order to reduce moon dust blow back, obscuring the spacecraft's windows, and affecting its delicate equipment.

A lot of good space movies came out last year, no doubt because of the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon. One that I particularly enjoyed but might have been overlooked by many was "The Last Man on the Moon". Nobody has asked me but in my opinion, humans will not land on Mars in this century, much as it would be great if they did. The complexity of a Mars visit is truly daunting. If it turns out that I'm wrong in this prediction, please email me at alanyousillyoldbastardwhatwereyouthinking.com


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BONSAI BOSS BACKOUT BUMMER by Gordon Hunt


For a number of years I was assigned to a CBC TV daytime show called "Summer Unlimited" which was a summer replacement for the Bob Switzer daily show. Bob had always been a friend and mentor, and I had a huge respect for his work. In the 60s and 70s the show content and prep was largely left to Bob`s considerable skill. I don`t mind admitting that I struggled to seek out the three or four interesting guests for each show (and five days a week that`s 20+ guest spots)
In the summer during the PNE the show took advantage of the CBC presence at the fair and we worked in sometimes precarious locations. One such was situated under the chair lift/gondola ride from the west side of the park over to the midway. I'm not sure they were fans of the show, but some young riders would hurl comments or popcorn as they passed overhead. On one weekday I had arranged to interview a representative of the B.C. Bonsai Association, along with a distinguished Japanese expert who was visiting Vancouver. We had arranged a change of the set during the commercial break to include several examples of the bonsai plant art. With efficient props and studio assistance, it was a busy time as we thanked the previous guest, brought the new guests in, arranged mics along with the bonsai plants which had to be placed on the coffee table in front of us.
With just seconds remaining before a return to the "studio", the woman who was the president of the BC chapter of the Association, and my main interview subject, bolted from the set pleading a stomach upset. 3,2,1 no time for a change of topic now, I smiled and introduced my "special" guest from Japan who bowed respectfully and smiled. Now to say that I knew little about bonsai art would be a massive understatement. I know nothing and I mean nothing about gardening, OR the Japanese language which is why I was relying on the nice lady from the Association to answer all the questions. Now she was outta' there and I was left with the nice Japanese-speaking man from Japan. But, with perspiration beginning to show, I welcomed the bonsai expert to Vancouver and asked him how to begin choosing a suitable plant. My guest responded in a few words that, I'm sure, were couched in bonsai knowledge in JAPANESE "OK, I'll "branch out" I said (the humour was lost on everyone) with a few choice artistic suggestions hoping one of them would stick. The expert seemed to be enjoying the interview but didn't divert from his replies in Japanese. My eyes went to the production assistant standing beside the camera lens asking for the time remaining. Five minutes ! Might as well be half an hour!
Somehow I filled the time with riveting information about next week's guests and fun to be had at the fair. Just not HERE. Wishing I was up with those kids on the gondola heading for the midway, I wished everybody "Sayonara"!
*******


WHAT ARE OLD FRIENDS FOR


I ran into an old friend from my CBC days last week. We banged elbows, and then he said "Alan, I see you're writing a column for CBC about old times, but whose picture is that in your column?" "Actually, it's me", I said …."but from about 50 years ago".
"Well, you haven't got any better looking", he said.
As he walked away I began to think what nasty lies I could write about him.


****
This summer will be the 45th anniversary of the move of our various CBC locations into the new building. I'm hoping to round up stories of the move for this column (probably to be aired in August). What are your recollections? If you have a story, send it in to me at alangwalker@gmail.com It doesn't matter how short or how long it is. It doesn't have to be funny but interesting is good. Perhaps write something about how it was to arrive at the new location. A couple of photos if you have any would be great. Thanks. Alan

9. ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV MARCH 22, 2020

Hi Everyone:


Al Vitols starts us off this month with some wonderful recollections of working with the legendary CBC TV sportscaster, Ted Reynolds:

TED AND I

Panic ensued at CBUT-TV when Ken Bray, the sports producer, left to take up a better paying life elsewhere. Not only did the remaining producers not want to have anything to do with sports, they did not know how. One exception was Doug Gillingham who volunteered to do football, but the actual coverage was mostly done by the cameramen and the switcher as Doug got engrossed in the game and forgot he was directing.

While still a studio director I wound up getting various nondescript shows on the air, many of them sports items assigned to some producer who sometimes did not even show up for the telecast. This usually involved working with Ted Reynolds who was not bothered by working with a lowly studio director. Eventually I took a salary cut and signed a contract to “produce and direct programs as assigned,” meaning I’d produce sports-oriented shows until the next century.
I no longer recall what all the ongoing shows were, but Ted hosted almost all of them. Sportscene and Time Out For Football, to name a couple. The only sports oriented show Ted did not host was Ski Scene. Mike Winlaw could ski and back then did not have a daily studio commitment so he could travel to locations.
For quite a while Ted and I were the entire TV Sports department so I got to know him probably as well as anyone because we spent a lot of time together.
The Canadian National Ski Team was just starting and were housed and fed by Notre Dame University. Ted thought a show about the nascent team would make good television.
Freelance cameraman Jack Long was going to meet us there while Ted and I boarded an Air Canada jet expecting to land at the Nelson airport, allegedly the most challenging one in North America. It is ‘pilot-optional’ meaning the flying chauffeur decides if it is safe to land. It is situated at the bottom of a deep ‘bowl’ surrounded by the Selkirk mountains and landings and take-offs are iffy at the best of times.
Didn’t get to experience any of that as the airport was already closed due to heavy fog and once we were airborne we were advised of that fact and told we’d be bused to Nelson from Penticton. Had Air Canada been honest and told us before boarding that our destination airport was closed, Ted would have driven and got us there faster.
The Greyhound lunch stop was the Grand Forks bus terminal coffee shop. Ted had relatives in town so he escaped the menu choices. When I asked about wines, I was told: We have both, a red and a white.” Back then I didn’t know yet that BC’s best borscht this side of Bydgoszcz was to be had at a small riverside gospoda, so I suffered meatloaf, gravy and grey peas, but skipped the ‘red’.
Long after dark we were dumped on a poorly lit street in downtown Nelson near the Hertz offices. There was no sign of life there and the only visible lit window was on the second floor of the adjoining building. Ted went to check it out. It turned out to be a lawyer working late and he told us that the white Chevy sedan parked on the street in front of the Hertz office was our car - keys under the floor mat. “You can leave it at the airport when you go.” Small towns.
Dave Jacobs was the coach and did everything Ted or I asked from him and more, as did Nancy Greene, the only woman at the time, who would squat against a wall during the ‘rest’ breaks in their exercise routine. I tried it and lasted a dozen seconds. She did it for the entire five minutes three or four times per session. Outdoors she’d carry a male teammate piggyback up and down one of the Nelson-bordering mountains.
In the cafeteria the team was allowed to pile their plates as high as they dared, but second trips to the buffet were not permitted and our future racers who were burning calories like Vancouver’s Olympic Cauldron, always lived a bit hungry.
Ted thought it would be a good bit for the film to see the team dig into a ‘real’ meal and I (the CBC) bought three team-sized prime ribs which Ted roasted to perfection and were accompanied by an assortment of vegetables prepared by the hostess of the borrowed house. Again, Long and I were happy.
Filming slalom practices on the slopes of Red Mountain was somewhat complicated as neither Ted nor Jack could ski so moving locations involved ski patrol assisted toboggan trips to the base to get on the chair lift again and again and then after the lift was stopped in the appropriate spot jump off into deep snow. Ted and I did it relatively easy, but Jack also had to drop his gear, something about which he was not too happy. Not a grumble out of Ted and his mid-mountain chat with Jacobs was remarkable.
Fred Engel, who was a film editor back then, spliced together a pretty good show while Ted looked after the narration. If I recall correctly, later some network show used a part of the slalom practice.
Ted and I did a fair number of special shows together, such as Oncorhynchus, all about sports fishing in our salt chuck. On that shoot I also had to be his temporary doctor as Ted while slicing a pork roast had almost cut off his thumb. That was two days before we had to leave. The shoot took place mostly in and around Georgia Straight, Desolation Sound and Rivers Inlet.
Up in Rivers Inlet while talking with the local float-store owner I happened to mention that John Wayne had his converted USN minesweeper anchored at the head of the inlet. The store owner then recalled a bald guy with a big belly who looked a little like the Duke had been in the store the previous day. Without his girdle and rug Wayne was hard to recognize.
Me, a medic? Well, yes, Ted’s stitches, a dozen or so tiny ones, had to be removed while we were still on location. Being right-handed with the stitches in his left, I think Ted could have done it himself, but I think he wanted to see if I’d keel over seeing what was under the bandage.
Although we spent the week or ten days being ‘guided’ by Mike Crammond, the Vancouver Province’s self-proclaimed fishing guru, the total catch amounted to one mud shark. Excellent footage of ‘fighting’, as the shark did put up a brief exhibition, but not a single frame of landing. Fortunately we met a Reynolds fan who let us borrow one of his Chinooks and we managed to fake the netting. On the show Ted had to explain the lack of a spirited fight when the fish was out of the water by suggesting that it was tired out after the lengthy duel.
The sound man had failed to record the sound of the fish running so we re-create it at a dock with Ted acting as the chinook and running along the dock with the line in his hand, giving it a few extra jerks. Ah, showbiz!
The CBC had made an arrangement with KING TV to share pictures of the ski races from Crystal Mountain. The downhill and GS courses were long and NBC was only interested in Americans, it being before Nancy did became famous on the slopes. NBC sent two feeds to Seattle in that the top of the course was covered separately from the finish line. As the broadcast progressed, NBC could follow an American all the way down and they didn’t care what a Canadian was doing on top of the course.

I had both feeds incoming at the VTR Cruiser and I could follow Canadians all the way, etc. Then when the races finished in late afternoon, Ted and I would drive back with the tapes and prepare a late night (post news from Std 49) ski race show with Ted’s ad-lib commentary. These races happened over three or four days. Then after the show was done, we’d drive back to Seattle in order to get as much sleep as possible before the next day. There was a lot of chat time on those three hour drives, plus the well past midnight ‘dinner’ at the only place we found open at that time of night - Marysville Coffee Shop near Everett. Good burgers, impossibly good pies.

(By the way, I tried to argue with the border people that the tapes I was bringing back were the same tapes I had brought down and thus should not have to pay the large duty. I lost the argument. The CBC was charged for the value of the different arrangement of the ferrous oxide!)

We used to cover assorted sports for delayed telecast after the late news. One such occasion was a rugby game with a team from ‘Down Under’ against a BC team. Back at the studio, while the crew and I were chatting still hanging around Studio 49, Ted came by and told me that he had made a mistake while calling the game. He had given the opposing team’s try to the wrong player. How so? Some of those antipode ‘bastards’ had exchanged their numbered shirts at half-time and Ted had, late in the game, given the right name according to the jersey, but wrong when worn by someone else.

"No problem. Studio 49 is still idle and we’ll just re-record you calling the game with the right name. Easy-peasy."
And so we did. However Ted didn’t sound anything like he did on the original recording. Totally different. Now what?
Ted knew. He went into the next door washroom and yelled his lungs out. He came back in a couple of minutes and the new take was a perfect vocal match. Ted had realized that his voice had become very tired by the end of the game, but had recovered by the time we did the first take, thus the holler fix-it.

He was unbelievably professional. I recall him doing a ‘live’ commentary over footage of the Knox Mountain Hillclimb in Kelowna. The editing had taken forever and Ted wound up doing the commentary ‘live’ from notes given to him by the writer or P/A or someone connected with the shoot. Assorted bits of information went into his headset and beautifully constructed and correct narration emerged from his mouth a few seconds later.
Not many are aware, but his expertise extended into politics and he was one of the mainstays in our election coverages. Great long and short term memory. He already had the previous election results in his personal memory bank, and then careful and concentrated study of the latest results made him invaluable in our election coverage. As invaluable as CKNW radio. When Len Lauk first slipped on the Current Affairs mantle a Provincial Election soon followed. I don’t recall, or never knew, but this particular election coverage was to be a computerized wonder. All kinds of data at the touch of a finger. Fantastic rehearsal after a two or three day setup.
On election night a few minutes after the polls closed the computer crashed. There was no back-up. There was, however, Jack Webster, one of the ‘colour’ commentators and he was providing the latest numbers and other tidbits. How could he? He had a pocket Sony radio with an ear bud and he was surreptitiously listening to CKNW coverage. They were not computerized.
Between Jack with the present and Ted with the previous election knowledge, the show went on as if it was so planned.
Ted also had a great sense of passing time. Now and then in Studio 42, while waiting for something or other, we’d hold contests to see who was the best judge of time passing. Ted, George McLean and Bob Fortune would be given a topic or subject to talk about for, say, 47 seconds. The winner was almost always Ted, but George was no more than a couple of seconds out. In my view the thing that also set Ted apart was that what he said seemed carefully thought out, and given a topic such as ‘yellow HB pencil’, his piece sounded as if a Farber copywriter had slaved over the text for days.
Those who were present at any party where Ted had consumed some liquid refreshment will always recall his ability to recite works by Robert Service. All of them. And he was not
reticent about reciting, say, The Cremation of Sam McGee. I think it was his favourite. That's 86 lines of poetry!
He was good, as good as they get, and equally ease at a swimming pool, soccer pitch, hockey rink, basketball court or election coverage. I don’t really understand (actually I do) why the Network/Toronto opted for someone like Ernie Afghanis who had Q-cards prepared for him that said:
“Good afternoon, I’m Ernie Afghanis”
If one needs an idiot card for one’s own name, well…
I can’t recall the reason why we did the Unlimited Hydroplane races from Kelowna. It may have been a “co-production” with Seattle’s KING-TV. Prior to traveling to Lake Okanagan Ted confessed that he had never done a hydroplane race, it not being one of our Canadian strengths. After a brief instructional chat with "Bill" Muncey, the American Unlimited Hydroplane racing legend, who was in Kelowna on behalf of KING-TV, according to Muncey, Ted did as well as any of the Seattle announcers.
(As an aside, because of weather delays for the final heat, my main camera wound up shooting into the setting sun and all the pictures from it covering the back stretch were unusable. Cliff Gilfillan and I spent an entire night making up the final race from pictures of the qualifying heats. All we had available from the final were wide shots from high up on Knox Mountain and extreme head-on closeups from a camera facing the back stretch as well as the turn around the end of the course. I don’t think Muncey would have been able to tell that it was not the real race.)
A thing that bothered every TP and lighting director and some producers was Ted’s upper lip. Regardless of what they tried, the edge was predominant and ‘shone’ as if lit separately. Phyllis tried everything she knew in terms of makeup and Jim Ellis and Jim O’Brien, the lighting directors, tried every imaginable way to light Ted’s face so the upper lip edge would not ‘gleam’ but all failed. The thing is, nobody could figure out just what was actually causing the problem.
Ted was the ultimate professional. I don’t think there ever was a better sports reporter in Canada, and perhaps only a handful or fewer in the USA.
A line in his obit said it all: “He had the intangible quality of elegance”
=================================================

Al Vitols joined CBC Vancouver staff as a TV Technician in 1958 and thereafter became a TV Production Assistant working mostly with Ain Söodor on “Let’s Go”, Vancouver’s contribution to “Music Hop”. A couple of years later Al became a Producer/Director, having the “B.C. Open Golf Tournament” as his first assignment to be followed by “The Canadian Open Tennis Championships”, “The Canadian Kayak Championships” as well as “The Macdonald Brier” from Kelowna. For the next few years along with Ted Reynolds, Al was responsible for all CBC Vancouver sports productions which included football, hockey, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, sports fishing, track and field, kayaking, rugby and series such as ”Sports Scene”, “Ski Scene” and “Time Out For Football”.
AL IN FORMAL ATTIRE

Variety series included “Let’s Go” (1964), “A Second Look” (1969), “Pifffle & Co” (1971), “The Pat Hervey Show”, “Reach for the Top”, “Big Band Jazz” and the Vancouver edition of the “Carol Baker Jamboree” A Dixieland jazz series with Lance Harrison from the Horseshoe Bay pub (1983). He produced “B.C. Parks” and “On the Scene” and profiled some of the better known BC artists, such as Toni Onley, Benita Sanders, Haida artists Robert Davidson and Bill Reid, John Horton, Wayne Ngan and Robert Bateman. “The Inventors” which Al produced in 1979 was a series highlighting amateur inventors. For a number of years he was Executive Producer of the nightly News/Current Affairs’ program “Hourglass” as well as other Current Affairs programs. Later Al created the highly rated “Pacific Report” with Carole Taylor as host. After leaving CBC, Al started a production company, but eventually shut it down when he and wife Barbara moved to Vancouver Island where they are happily settled and Al claims he has ‘tolerated’ retirement.

=====

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Last month's column "Reaching for the Top: Jeopardy" caused a few of our hundreds of thousands of readers to write to us. Normally we get no letters, and sometimes not that many. Here's a selection:


From Chris Paton
Last month I read Alan's article about the 1960s era Vancouver Reach for the Top host auditions. All these years later, and given a reason to once again consider the show concept, it dawned on me that Reach for the Top was truly a brilliant program idea - a quiz show that unlike any other, had both solid entertainment and educational values... in other words, it was a kind of Jeopardy for high school students, parents and grandparents - a perfect example of what was once CBC television at its mandated best. Maybe it's time to partner up and farm the format idea to an independent production company for a CBC rebirth of the series.


From Ken Gibson…
I was one of those new producer/directors who were forced into doing Reach for the Top. Terry Garner was really irritated, hating having to “train” a new producer seemingly every year or so. I got in his bad books very quickly as after a couple of shows with lengthy dead air while excerpts from classical music were played and the kids were asked to name the composer, resulting in further long deadly silences, I suggested we exchange classical for popular music questions and Terry was adamant that he wouldn’t accept that, turning to the others at our pre-program meeting for agreement.
Being stubborn and knowing I was correct, I eventually informed him that while I was the producer and therefore fully responsible, we would do it my way and that was final. By then he knew I could get just as angry and argumentative and I wasn’t going to change my mind. I suggested we try it my way just once. Suddenly the contestants were coming up with answers (I wrote the questions) and there was no longer dead air. Terry capitulated grudgingly and eventually agreed to other suggestions coming from me. I don’t remember him actually asking how long I would remain with RFTT. But initially he was far from being a happy camper and did not like a new producer usurping his position as trainer of subservient newcomers.
Actually I quite enjoyed my brief stay with the show, it being a complete contrast to the variety shows I was producing.


From Gordon Hunt…
It's hard to believe now, but back in the early 70s when Lottery draws were relatively new, the Corp. actually covered a drawing on live TV. My foggy memory says it was 1972 at the North Vancouver Centennial Theatre. I was sent over there to be the "warm up man" and handle the voice over intro/exit to Alex Trebek's hosting. In those days, I was a serious music guy for most BC radio shows and Alex was the CBC Toronto serious music host among many other duties. I recall the conversation we had in the dressing room before the show as Alex told me he was thinking of "pulling the plug on old Mother Corp". He told of his prospects south of the border, specifically game shows like Aces Wild or Joker's Wild. (?) I had a lot of respect for Alex and his language skills on many serious music programs on the net and it was my advice that he "might be making a big mistake"! I try not to pass along advice these days.

From Anonymous…
I was intrigued by Jeopardy from the beginning with its format of giving the answer, and asking for the question. After a couple of years of watching, I started to get worried that the show might run out of material, so I sent some to them. I received a quick reply which said: "Thank you for your submission of the answer "Because not many of them know how to dance" for our Jeopardy show. Please note however that we must also have the question".
I wrote back immediately "Of course, silly me, the question is "Why do mice have small balls?" I haven't heard back from them since, but I know they're really busy.
===============================================================================================================

WHO PICKS YOUR LOUSY MOVIES?

It's a common program format for TV stations to have news, sports and weather at about 11 p.m., followed by a late movie, if not a "Tonight" type of program. For an average TV station, it means having to obtain and air some 30 movies a month. And how do TV stations get these movies? Well, other than in the most exceptional circumstances, like the Turner Classic Movies channel, movies are rented to TV stations, not sold.
It took no time at all for those companies who held an inventory of movies to realize that TV stations would never rent the "bad" movies unless they were forced to do so. So the suits at the movie distributors offered for rent only "packages" with a typical package of 100 movies having perhaps 10 "good" movies, 40 "OK" movies and 50 "crappy" movies. And worst still, because of the cost of renting these movie packages, a typical TV station had to air each movie twice, and sometimes three times to be able to afford the cost of the movie package.
Imagine the home viewer's reaction to the resultant process. One night there may be a "lousy" movie, and within the next 90 days or so, that same "lousy" movie might well be aired another two times. This process was explained to me by Sam Shaw, the irrepressible film buff who was in charge of "movie selection" at CBC in my time. Sam always reminded me of someone who starred in "Fiddler on the Roof".
As a co-ordinating producer at CBUT, one of three at any one time as it took three of us to cover all daytime and nighttime shifts, seven days a week (not quite 24/7). One of us was always on duty during the late movie being aired, and unfortunately for us, the main telephone line for CBUT was patched through to our control room in studio 50 after the regular switchboard operators left at about 11:30 at night.
In my early days as a co-ordinating producer, I would try to explain the process for the selection of movies to the complaining viewer (and often it was a viewer who was a little drunk who would phone). It rarely worked. After a while, when an unhappy viewer phoned after 11:30 to ask "Who picks your lousy movies?", I would answer "Mr. Sam Shaw. You may reach him at this same number on weekdays", and then I would hang up very quickly.
I don't think I ever told Sam that I did that.

The success of this column's future lies entirely in your hands. Comments would be welcome, and your contributions would be greatly appreciated. If you have an item to add to a future column, please email me at alangwalker@gmail.com . If you require any assistance in editing, I would be happy to help. If you think my articles need editing, please email me, and I would be happy to have your help.

In this frightening health scare time, please stay clear of your best friends but do contact them by email, text, phone, mail or even fax!

ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV FEBRUARY 23, 2020


Hi Everyone: First up this month from me:


Reaching for the Top: Jeopardy


I'm always disappointed that after almost 8,000 Jeopardy TV shows, Alex Trebek hasn't given me credit for his fame and fortune. "Why should he?", I hear you say, and here is the why.
It was 1961. I was working at CBUT as one of coordinating producers. It took three of us to man the Studio 50 (transmitter booth) control room because we were on the air 17/7. When we had two coordinators on duty, one would be tasked to pre-screen an upcoming late night movie. We did that with all late movies so that we could determine the best place to insert commercials. We also did it so that we could provide a plot summary for the coordinator who would be on duty when the movie actually aired.
To pre-screen a movie, we needed to book a "screening room", which not only had a 16 mm film projector for the obvious purpose, but also had a boardroom table with a bunch of chairs, and thus was a meeting room as well.
There were two screening rooms in the 1200 West Georgia location – not nearly enough for the various uses – and one had to be very careful to make a firm booking of one of the two rooms.
On this particular day, just as I was setting up for a movie screening, along came one of the junior producers at CBUT, Jim Carney, who said "I want that room!". I was about to tell Jim where he could put his request when he added "I'm hosting a group of people to discuss the creation of a high school quiz program to be called "Reach for the Top", and he ranted some more before I gave in (having done so because I knew that he could go over my head to the Program Director, no doubt resulting in my being unceremoniously ejected from the screening room).

And now the cliché: the rest is history! After its most successful on-air debut in 1961, the Reach for the Top ("RFTT") show concept was picked up the next year by CBC in Edmonton, and by 1966, another 23 stations in all 10 provinces were carrying their own local version of the show!
And who hosted the Toronto version for seven years: Alex Trebek! And who went on to be the host of Jeopardy in 1984, and ever since Alex Trebek!
So, as you can see, there is a direct correlation between my surrendering the screening room, and today's iconic Alex. [Stationbreak editor: What do you think folks – is Alan getting a little carried away with himself?]
A little Reach for the Top and Jeopardy trivia:
Terry Garner hosted the Vancouver version of RFTT from 1961 – 1982. In my view, he was every bit as good as Alex.
RFTT was a training ground for many junior producers, in Vancouver, and elsewhere at CBC. With a good video switcher, a very competent script assistant keeping score, and above all a very talented quizmaster, the trainee producer learned a lot without really doing anything and screwing up the show.
The original Jeopardy was created by Merv Griffin in 1964. The original show, and its first successor, were cancelled, but Alex's debut in 1984 was clearly the cause of Jeopardy's continuing and present-day success.
The TV program set for RFTT in Vancouver featured a clock on a wall where the clock hand moved backwards, counting down the remaining minutes of the show. During one taping, the clock hand fell off. Terry Garner didn't notice as he had his back to the clock. The school contestants didn't notice as they were too busy concentrating on the questions. But the rest of the studio people, and the control room staff, were laughing so hard they could hardly stand up (or sit down). Somehow the show kept going and was ultimately aired with the detaching clock still in place.
Two former prime ministers of Canada have appeared on RFTT, Stephen Harper and Kim Campbell.
There has been speculation recently about a replacement for Alex Trebek on Jeopardy because of Alex's ill health. The producers of the show have quietly been seeking suggestions from the public for replacements. I plan to submit the name of Don Cherry as I understand that Don has recently become available for additional work and of course, like Alex, he's a Canadian. What do you think of my idea? [Stationbreak editor: more evidence of Alan's mental condition]
And, to end this article, a short snapper from Gordon Hunt (more from and about Gordon below),
I would only guess at the year this might have been...but, Reach for the Top was getting ready for their weekly show in studio 42 when I arrived to record the next day commercials and promos up in studio 50. Passing Jack Webster in the hallway near reception, I asked what he was doing here..."Oh, I'm supposed to be the "mystery guest" in their show". This, of course, was the part of RFTT where the kids were blindfolded and the game was to see who was first to guess the name of the guest through questions about them. At the end of my arduous commercial session I tripped down the stairs to see Jack pacing back and forth at the front door waiting for a ride home. "How did it go Jack?", I said, "Hrrrrmph" as only Jack could , an added, "wouldn't be so bad except that their first guess was Ben Ginter !! Ben Ginter, imagine that ! ^%*(^%* ". Jack wasn't prepared for the kids to come up with the name of a then famous BC brewer before himself, an even more famous broadcaster. Jack...gotta' love him RIP.

From Gordon Hunt….
I worked on the Royal Tour team with Monty (Lamont Tilden) and Stan Peters back in 1971. It was on that same tour that the Queen visited Queen's Park in New Westminster and Bill Good Jr and I hosted the national show. At the time, I was a serious music host, mainly on radio, so Bill insisted that I handle all music related issues in the broadcast. Also, since I was colour blind, he would be the man to respond to anything related to colour. I'm sorry, I can't remember the name of the director for that show but he complained that "this show is like the blind leading the deaf".
Round about 1969/70 I was the regular late night news reader at CBUT and Bill Good, a friend from 'way back at CFPR, was the sportscaster. He liked his smoke before the show and we would stand outside the fire doors on Alberni Street in the minutes leading to the news. Somehow, the doors were not firmly closed and in the middle of the news a man burst through the doors, shouting and banging the doors against the wall. Six foot 4 Bill kindly ushered him back out onto the street. That kind of thing never happened in the "new" building and neither did the crawling under air conditioning pipes to get from newsroom to studio.
Thanks Gordon for those stories. Gordon has a really interesting biography which I am going to share with you. Who knew that the CBC chauffeur would end up being the serious music host on CBC in Vancouver!

Gordon's bio:


I began violin lessons at age six and took that into UBC Music School in 1960. Probably too lazy to pursue that career and after two years at UBC, joined the CBC as an office boy. During those first two years at CBC I progressed (?) through many positions (even "CBC Chauffeur", no kidding, which involved driving a station wagon between CBC ops. Hotel Van-Bute St.-Davie Building-etc. every half hour, 16 times a day!) Came to my senses with a move to Prince Rupert as a Nabet "announcer operator" at CFPR in '64. Transferred to CBC Vancouver in '66 mainly in radio and serious music shows. Television news announcing began shortly thereafter. Worked both services until about '88 and concentrated on radio until retirement in '95.
Television shows in the years 67-88 included Night Final (5 nights/week), Hourglass (sub for Harvey Dawes and host of Summer edition), Switzer (Summer show), Royal Tour specials, Klahanie (last few years) but majority of work in radio with a number of national music programs like Command Performance, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Vancouver Chamber Orchestra (both weekly) Bob Kerr show (sub) and Hot Air jazz show. In those days announcers were multi taskers and I feel this helped to enliven the sometimes boring job. It allowed me to also meet the biggies of motorsport as I reported on car racing (Jackie Stewart, Michael Andretti, etc. at Westwood).

An Electrifying Event
From Dagmar Kaffanke Nunn:
Ann Elvidge and I sat side by side in Radio Arts on the third floor for several years. One very fond memory is the day of the CBC Christmas Party that was being held down in the big TV studio. I think it was in 1980. We were still at our desks when Tom Robinson came around the corner wheeling a cart bearing two electric typewriters for us. Until then we'd been slaving away on ancient manual machines. Ann, being a drama queen, got up from her chair and collapsed prone on the floor in a mock faint. Poor Tom was quite concerned but I burst out laughing and we couldn't stop giggling for the rest of the evening. Before going down to the party, we rolled sheets of paper into our new electric typewriters and happily clicked away for a while!
Editor: Anybody who has worked at CBC will know that the delay in providing these ladies with modern equipment was a "budget issue". It was hard enough to get funding for a radio or TV program, much less to get funds for the proper tools to create those shows.
Dagmar was with CBC Vancouver from 1976 to 2008 and her career encompassed the roles of Production Secretary, Production Assistant, Associate Producer and Producer in Radio.
Ann Elvidge was on staff from 1975 through the mid 1980s as a Production Secretary and then Program Assistant in Radio. It was in the Radio Variety Department that she met her husband, Producer Tod Elvidge. Sadly, Ann passed away December 8, 2019.

Valentine's 2020
My wife said: "I've been reading on the internet that Valentine's Day is being celebrated less and less, which is a shame when you think that Valentine celebrations were first held in 496 A.D." "I thought that Valentine's Day celebrated Rudolph Valentino from the 1920's", I responded. "No, Silly. The Wikipedia article says there are way more people between 55 and 90 celebrating Valentine's than there are between 20 and 55. Why don't we do something sentimental and nostalgic for Valentine's this year? Let's go to a restaurant that was in business when we were courting". "I'm always happy to go to Denny's", I said. My wife turned, looked at me icily, and said "I was thinking of the White Spot!"
We compromised by ordering a medium sized margherita from Nat's New York. It turned out to be a prudent decision as Al Vitols reported that the White Spot was overwhelmingly busy. Gord Gill said that Denny's was OK, and strongly recommended the Super Duper Slam at $6.99.

The success of this column's future lies entirely in your hands. Comments would be welcome, and your contributions would be greatly appreciated. If you have an item to add to a future column, please email me at alangwalker@gmail.com . If you require any assistance in editing, I would be happy to help. If you think my articles need editing, please email me, and I would be happy to have your help.
Alan

7. ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV JANUARY 25, 2020

Hello Everyone, and Welcome Back. This month we begin with a couple of stories about a most-respected contributor to CBC Television in British Columbia.


Being Bob Quintrell

1. How to Become Your Own Host


Bob Quintrell was an "A Class" cricketer in Australia in his younger years, and played for Canada against England in 1954. How and why Bob came to Canada and ended up working for CBC Television, is unknown to me. What I do know is that Bob was already a TV producer at CBC in Vancouver when I joined in 1958. I also know that we junior technicians liked Bob – he was friendly, and remembered our names. I could tell you about some other producers who were just the opposite, but I won't.
When I joined CBUT, the evening current affairs/entertainment show was called "Almanac", and its on-air personalities were Bill Bellman (later boss of CHQM), Alan Millar, and Bob Fortune. The producer of Almanac at that time was Dagg Overgaard (an unfortunate first name if you come from or have ever lived in Australia). It was, according to the big brass, time to retire Almanac in favour of a new show, to be called the "The 7 O'Clock Show". (Guess what time it started? Wrong, not 7 o'clock but 7:01 p.m. because of commercials).
I believe it was Gene Lawrence, executive producer, who said to Bob "Find me a great host for our new show!" So, Bob started auditions. In the break we had most nights between the early news and the late news, Bob organized on-camera auditions of would-be hosts for the new show. Usually, the would-be host interviewed a local celebrity, but not someone who could ramble on without any questions being thrown at him or her (Dave Brock comes to mind). We, the technicians, also got into the act, and we'd say something to each other after an audition "he was the sh*ts, wasn't he?" I don't remember a single interview of a female – but those were the times.
After many, many unsuccessful auditions, Bob said "I'm going to audition myself!" He did, and he won (somebody else obviously reviewed Bob's audition).
More follows here about Bob's career in a story contribution by Chris Paton who in the 1960's worked with Bob on the nightly current affairs program, The Seven O'Clock Show, and on many of his remote telecasts.

2. The Versatile Mr. Quintrell
by Chris Paton

To many of his colleagues, and the audience members who remember him, Bob Quintrell is still thought of as one of the best and most versatile broadcasters on CBC television. At the core of what made him exceptional was a deceptively simple sounding thing, but a rarity in the TV business - he was the same person on camera as he was off. A quiet man with a soft hint of an accent from his Australian birthplace, and an open and engaging charm that the camera embraced and audiences loved. In interview situations, Bob not only listened to what was being said, he processed and followed up on it instead of mindlessly sticking to a list of prepared questions. A top notch talent and a pleasure to work with, there was something else about Bob that made him invaluable - he was one of the most adaptable broadcasters in the business. When disaster struck, as it so often does during live television productions, Bob was not only amazing at salvaging what was swirling 'round the drain, he often managed to make the screwups more entertaining than what was originally planned. One Quintrell moment in particular remains as a memory of that versatile Quintrell style.
In the 1960s we were in Victoria with a full television crew to do a live telecast of the opening of the B.C. Parliament. At those openings the Lieutenant Governor reads the Speech from the Throne - a speech normally prepared by the Government in consultation with the cabinet. This particular year the Lieutenant Governor was a well loved, esteemed and dedicated gentleman, but a man who, as an official earlier in the day pointed out to us, liked to "brace" himself for these events with a shot or two of good brandy. On this particular day, word went out that he had somewhat overdone the bracing.
In the very hushed and respectful tone of voice normally associated with sports announcers covering major golf tournaments, Bob was at the microphone with a live voice-over play by play of the events taking place inside the Legislature. As he explained the historic significance of the proceedings being shown on the screen, the Lt. Governor of the day, dressed in traditional garb, including a hat with a large triangular brim, slowly and uncertainly made his way up the stairs to the throne. Once there, he stood in front of the thing gently swaying from side to side. In the assembled house, and outside in the remote TV truck, people collectively held their breath waiting for the moment when he'd step back and sit down. Finally with an audible plop that echoed throughout the house, the gentleman tentatively bent his knees and collapsed onto the throne. Normal breathing resumed among audience members, but just as he leaned back, his black tricornered hat hit the back of the throne and dropped down over his face. He must have thought the lights had suddenly gone out because for a moment that seemed endless, he made no attempt to return the hat to the top of his head. Bob missed not a beat and commented, "the Lieutenant Governor is now seated on the throne, and in what I believe was once a traditional gesture, has doffed his hat to signal the start of the proceedings."
"He did what to his hat?" one of the control room crew asked. The technical producer replied, "I think he said he doffed it." "Offed it?" - "no, he doffed it." Later when the production wrapped and many of us, including Bob, went to the local pub, there were questions about how and where Bob had learned about the hat doffing tradition. Bob smiled. "Well, I've been thinking about that. I may have been confused. Doffing may actually be an old Australian tradition, but it looked a lot like what this Governor did."


No more mention of Hat Doffing surfaced after that night. Surprising, as Victoria has long been home to many a scholar dedicated to the official history of the B.C. Government and Legislative Assemblies. But then, at least to my knowledge since that Opening Day Ceremony of the British Columbia Legislature, no other Lieutenant Governor has ever Doffed,

Bob Quintrell's last production was a remarkable documentary - one which he produced, directed and hosted for the UBC Film Communications Department in 1987. It was a personal and valiant story about cancer, and his own battle with the disease. Bob died at age 57 on February 21, 1988.

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Tales of the CBC TV Switchboard


1. OVERHEARD


At the old TV studios at 1200 West Georgia, the Master Control area contained about 4,000 cubic feet of electronic equipment, most of it being plugs and sockets for directing and re-directing video and audio circuits for the entire three buildings that comprised the 1200 West Georgia Street studios.
One master control operator who had nothing better to do was nosing around in the back end of his territory, and found a bunch of circuits relating to the public address system emanating from the switchboard office which was located downstairs near Studio 41. Once he figured out what circuit was what, our master control operator plugged the microphone in the switchboard room into the PA system, and bypassed the on-off switch on the microphone. The result was that not only the valid announcements made by the switchboard operator went out over the PA system but, also, all the private conversations between the two on duty switchboard operators! You could hear laughing throughout the three buildings when people realized what was happening. It didn't last very long – for obvious reasons.
Once the cause of the brouhaha was discovered, it was reported that one of the switchboard operators said "After we catch him, he's going to be a soprano!"


CBUT Switchboard

2. SODBE


It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was on duty as a coordinating producer. The program on air was a live telecast on the CBC Network via Toronto, of a major league baseball game, starring some guy named Micky Mantle.
It was the bottom of the 9th inning, the overall score was tied, the bases were loaded, Micky was up, and the count was 2 and 3. Just as the pitcher wound up, the telecast cut away at precisely 4.00.00 pm (the scheduled ending time of the live game) to "Magic Moments with Mantovani". You can imagine the reaction of viewers! The switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree, and the poor switchboard ladies didn't know what had happened, or why it happened. The male viewers phoning in were particularly adept at using profanity.
Over the years since, one of the former switchboard ladies, and I won't mention her name because Patsy MacDonald told me not to, attributes the cutting off of the game, and the substitution of regular programming, to me. I kinda like the infamy, but I never had the authority to terminate a live sportscast. SODBE, some other dude back east, was the author of that kerfuffle.

                                                                                                          That's Not Patsy McDonald on the left


P.S. The CBUT switchboard operators were incredibly talented. Not only did they handle the incoming phone calls for several hundred TV employees and performers, they also dealt with long-winded calls from viewers praising or criticizing (sometimes abusively) the shows that were being aired on CBUT.
P.P.S. The first picture above of the CBUT switchboard is fake news.
P.P.P.S Above: -that's not Patsy on the right either.

For those few viewers who are wondering about my dealings with the Nigerian FBI, I can now report that they are prepared to investigate on my behalf for the sum of Ten Million (10,000,000.00) U.S. Dollars. I'm meeting with my banker tomorrow.

6. ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV DECEMBER 22, 2019

Welcome back everybody. First up this time is a recollection from Taylor Ogston on one of the sad events of the 1960's.


June 5, 1968: A Night to Remember


I was a summer relief audio operator, working in the Transmitter Booth (also called "Studio 50). At around 11.45 pm on this night, CBUT was presenting its regular local newscast with Dan MacAfee being the newscaster.
The newscast location in our old premises at 1200 West Georgia Street had just recently been relocated from Studio 49, at the opposite end of the hallway, to our Studio 50, and the very small announce booth attached. An old studio camera was set up beside the audio operator in the control room, shooting through the glass into a ‘phone booth’ sized studio.
Following that regular newscast, Dan McAfee returned to the newsroom, filed his script away, and was about to go home when he heard the various news teletype machines all chiming continuously with their news alert bells*. Thankfully, Dan looked into the teletype room (actually an air conditioning/furnace duct ‘closet’) and saw the enormous quantity of wire copy spewing out of the machines. A quick scan of the stories revealed the tragic news of the shooting just minutes earlier of Senator Robert Kennedy, just after he gave an election speech at a hotel in Los Angeles.

Grabbing an armload of teletype copy, Dan ran back to the announce booth, told the Presentation Co-ordinator, Tom Dodd, and the Technical Supervisor, Dave Sharp, what had just happened in L.A. Quickly it was decided to get Dan back on the air with this breaking news while some quick phone calls were made to enable CBUT to carry live coverage coming from Los Angeles.
CBUT was the first Vancouver station to have live coverage just minutes after the shooting.
Yes, a night to remember.
*Both wire-service and private teleprinters had bells to signal important incoming messages and could ring 24/7 while the power was turned on. For example, ringing 4 bells on UPI wire-service machines meant an "Urgent" message; 5 bells was a "Bulletin"; and 10 bells was a FLASH, used only for very important news, such as the assassination of President Kennedy.

Taylor (Ogston) has had an interesting career having been, among other things, a "Boss Jock" at CKLG, an associate producer/director for CBC's Hourglass, and Canadian Vice-President of Fuji Film Motion Picture Sales.
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This month's sports trivia question:
What sport is at least 5000 years old? Answer at the end of the column.
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Meeting Lorraine

In 1958, Lorraine McAllister was a beautiful 34 year-old entertainer who already had a career on radio and at concerts as a singer with big bands across Canada, and as a solo vocalist. At the same time, I was a callow 19 year-old, working as the most junior technician at CBC Television in Vancouver.
Ms McAllister was starring in her own TV show "Meet Lorraine", a weekly nighttime presentation on CBUT. Lorraine's musical accompaniment was by the Chris Gage Trio, featuring the amazing keyboard talents of Chris Gage, with Stan Johnson on bass, and Jim Wightman on drums.


Lorraine & husband Dal Richards

In our crowded main Studio 41 at CBUT, the show's technical staff would likely have consisted of three cameramen, Harry Hooper, Jim Currie, Bob McQuay, Harold Haug or Max Albrechtson. Our switcher was probably Art Doig, video control Andy Martens, our audio operator Dave Liddell (who was known for making the funniest comments over the talkback mike listened to by the boom operators), and perhaps Bob McFarlane and Bill Kyashko on boom. (Bill Kyashko was perhaps the friendliest technician you could ever meet, and I was very sad to hear of Bill's recent passing.)

The producer of the whole musical extravaganza was Jörn Winther, a Danish ex-patriate who went on to a brilliant career in the U.S., directing among other things, many of the "Sonny and Cher" shows, and the interview series with David Frost and the disgraced President, Richard Nixon.
And then there was me – totally in awe of the whole process, especially looking at the gorgeous star. My job on Lorraine's show included pushing the boom men around on their boom dollies, pulling the heavy camera cables out of the way of other equipment and people, and incidental tasks like the one I am about to describe, the highlight of my whole existence!
On this particular show, the esteemed director decided that he wanted some "wide" shots of Lorraine singing with the band in the background, which would have been a problem creating without the boom equipment showing. "I have the answer" said director Jörn, "we'll have one of those small microphones concealed in Lorraine's cleavage!"
Guess whose job it was to install it? The microphone was called a "BK6", and it was the size of a short, fat cigar. I approached Lorraine with the mike and the cable, and asked her to pull the mike and cable up inside her dress to her "front". Lorraine asked me to help, and I was doing my nervous best when she said to me, "Haven't you ever touched a woman's breast before?" And I said to myself as I blushed, "Not as much as I'd like to."

Lorraine continued her most successful career at CBC TV and elsewhere, but passed away at the relatively early age of 62. By contrast, Lorraine's husband, Dal Richards ("Vancouver's King of Swing") survived to age 97, and just passed away in 2015.

During the same time period, I occasionally worked on CBC TV shows starring the incredible Eleanor Collins, "Vancouver's first lady of jazz", who just turned 100 years old last month. I was never asked to help put on her microphone.
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For those few following my attempts to get $10,000,000.00 US from Nigeria, I can now advise I am negotiating with the Nigerian FBI as to how much I need to send them before they begin their investigation.
* * *
SURELY, I CAN'T LOOK THAT OLD
A story from a former CBCer. She does not wish to be identified.
Have you ever been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking, “surely I can't look that old?”
I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist.
I noticed his diploma on the wall, which bore his full name. Suddenly, I remembered that a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name had been in my high school class some 30-odd years ago.
Could he be the same guy that I had a secret crush on, way back then?
Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought.
This balding, gray-haired man with the deeply lined face was way too old to have been my classmate.
After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Delbrook High School.
"Yes, yes, I did. I was a football and hockey star" he gleamed with pride.
"When did you graduate?" I asked.
He answered, "In 1975. Why do you ask?"
"You were in my class!" I exclaimed.
He looked at me closely, and then, that ugly, old, bald, wrinkled- faced,
fat-ass, grey-haired, decrepit, s.o.b. asked,
"What subject did you teach?"

Yesterday's Bad News: First day of Winter. Yesterday's Good News: The days are starting to get longer.
Trivia Answer:
In the 1930's, a British anthropologist discovered a child's grave in Egypt more than 5000 years old which appeared to also contain a crude form of bowling paraphernalia. Underneath the bowling stuff was a Stationbreak flyer from Peggy urging attendance at the next scheduled get together at the Giza pyramid lanes.

4.  ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV NOVEMBER 25 2019

Hello Everyone and welcome back!


First up this month is a fascinating history from Al Vitols about Jack ("Wass") Wasserman's time with CBC TV.
Jack Wasserman, after whom a block of Hornby Street was named “Wasserman’s Beat” in the wake of his untimely death, used to write negative columns for The Vancouver Sun about the CBC based on information being fed to him by someone on staff. It got to the point where the Program Director issued a ‘top secret’ memo threatening the ‘leaker’ that when discovered he or she would be dealt with severely, possibly fired. In the next day’s column Jack was quoting from the memo.
Eventually he told me who the ‘leak’ was. It was… well, perhaps it better remain a secret.
Wass first appeared on CBUT during some sort of telethon-like money raiser to present something to be auctioned. I no longer recall what it was, but he sat on the set in Studio 42 scared out of his wits. Not at all like his print life where he could hold his own against anyone and do so with impunity.
He felt quite comfortable while searching for items for his column in various clubs and eateries snatching forkfuls from the plates of his column fodder to the extent that he became known as The Fastest Fork in the West.
Len Lauk, who knew Wasserman professionally, eventually convinced Jack that he should do some work for the CBC while still a columnist in the Vancouver Sun, and Jack bought the idea. After I took over Hourglass, Len told me that the only reason he got Jack to be on the show was to stop his constant knocking of the CBC. It worked.
At the beginning Jack was terrible, but Len persevered and Wass became a very good interviewer as well as a source of program ideas. It wasn’t easy for him because he seldom finished his column before three in the morning in his Gastown office and didn’t get to sleep in his West Vancouver bed until somewhat later. We held program meetings at ten o’clock and he was expected to attend. He was forever sleep-deprived.
Much later, when he was already established as an ongoing member of Hourglass and was scheduled to interview Al Johnson, the big CBC boss at the time, Al told Jack in the pre-interview specifically not to ask a certain question. On the show, when the camera red tally light went on, the first question Jack posed was that a very one. As it turned out, Johnson managed to answer it so eloquently that he forgave him and even bought us dinner.


After dinner we wound up drilling and rehearsing him for his scheduled meeting with the pushy Vancouver branch of, I think, Friends of the CBC, or Friends of Broadcasting, or some such organization, the actual reason for his trip out west. Apparently our practice session was helpful as most of the questions he faced had already been posed by Jack and me.
Although there was supposed to be great rivalry between the Mouth that Roared - Webster, and The Fastest Fork in the West - Wasserman, that was mostly a promotion by the Vancouver Sun publicity department. There is a picture of Wasserman threatening Webster with a typewriter, all part of promoting both of them as being the Sun’s stars. In real life they trod different boards and in doing so had very little reason to be jealous of each other. Publicly, of course, they bristled at the mention of the other Jack.
Wass was developing a balding pate. He didn’t care, but it was gleaming in over-the-shoulder shots. At first we used spray to minimize the problem, but eventually that was not enough and I had him get a hairpiece. For a while he only used it when he was on camera and it was kept in makeup. Then filming (yes, there was this medium that used rolls of acetate with holes down the side to capture pictures and sound) also saw the need to hide the shine and Jack kept the ‘rug’ in his care. Eventually the on-again off-again of the hairpiece became a nuisance and Jack started to wear it all the time.
One such occasion provided much laughter for the Hourglass staff. To do a political summary the director, and I don’t recall who it was, had Jack emerge from Lake Okanagan like a surfacing Ogopogo and while doing so his rug slipped off and floated out of camera shot. As I remember it, the director let Jack carry on for a bit as obviously he was not aware of his hair departing.
Actually there were very few things that he refused to do. During yet another election campaign I had him chopper around the northern communities, including the Cariboo, and find out how ranchers and others living in remote communities felt about the candidates. He spotted what looked like a setting for a Currier and Ives painting and the chopper landed as close to the ranch house as the pilot dared, but still some distance away. Jack jumped out into the snow and his city shoes plowed his way to the ranch and wound up with a very interesting item.
He and I used to grab a post-show, mid-evening bite at a steakhouse on Seymour St. We used to go there mainly because they set a bowl of the best chopped liver, Jack’s favourite nosh, on the tables as kind of a gigantic amuse-bouche. We would practically lick the bowl clean and sometimes ask for another. Keeping in mind that Jack would get ‘comped’ in the place, as he did in most eateries that were hoping for a positive mention in his column, we were constantly trying for something inexpensive and we'd order hamburgers.
One evening the owner came by and asked if we would please have steaks because his kitchen didn’t stock cheap meat and for our burgers they had to use their steak tartare, the house specialty, and the most expensive kind of beef.
Even after years on Hourglass he had very little savvy about how things worked. After we did a special program about the similarities and differences of two native settlements, both within the shadow of a metropolis, the stand-up recorded at the intersection of Marine Drive and Taylor Way in West Vancouver was unusable because of heavy traffic noise. Not too heavy per se, but did not go with the serenity of the Cocknawaga community.
I brought him in to lip-sync the piece and Jack was sweating blood about having to do this. The way it worked was that the original audio was fed into a headset and all he had to do is repeat himself. When Wass found out he didn’t have to remember every word of his intro he was so relieved that he almost kissed the sound technician.
He became very ill for a couple of days while we were in Montréal on the shoot, but his own doctor back in West Vancouver pronounced him in perfect health.
Some weeks later during an amusing speech as he was ‘roasting’ Gordon Gibson at the Hotel Vancouver he collapsed at the lectern. The audience laughed thinking it was part of his speech about the collapse of the Liberal Party. Not so.
Jack died while he was the centre of attraction, his ongoing aspiration. He was aged fifty, plus seven days.
There could be more, particularly about the people who used to drop in late at night, early morning really, for a chat and a nightcap. Politicians, union leaders, and just folk who had something to say and were hoping, perhaps, to make it into print. The downstairs gate was locked at midnight, but a few pebbles thrown at Jack's office window, providing one knew which was his, would have Wass throw down the key.
Not all chats were identified as ‘off the record’, some tipsy politicians blurted out state secrets, but Jack always used his own sense of what could or should not be in his column.
He was very possessive of his spot in the paper. As I recall, it was below the fold on the back page. The time he had a fight with the publisher and got moved to inside the paper hurt his pride quite badly. Eventually he got his spot back.
And so it goes.....-30-
Thanks Al

No Icing on This Cake


Before I begin my story, a little trivia:
What is Canada's official sport? See answer at the end of this article. No Googling, please.
One of the tasks of the Coordinating Producers at CBC Vancouver in the '60's and '70's was to be in charge of the Control Room at 1200 West Georgia when a live hockey game was being telecast from the Forum (later the Pacific Coliseum).
Although all the main action of the telecast was handled through the CBC's TV mobile vehicle, some aspects of the telecast such as commercial inserts could only be carried out at the downtown studios. And thus the output from the mobile truck was fed to 1200 West Georgia for appropriate inserts, and from there went out to the cross-Canada TV network, as well as to the local CBUT transmitter.
A few days before I had my first scheduled time in the Studio 50 control room for an upcoming network hockey game, I was required to have a meeting with the hotshot producer/director of network hockey games from Toronto. "Al", he said, "I want you to know that our hockey sponsors, Imperial Oil and Esso, pay big bucks to put their commercials into our hockey games, and it's therefore important that you don't screw up when inserting commercials into the game." "Okay", I said to myself, "Rule one is that there isn't to be any screw-ups." Hotshot went onto say, "We're not allowed to cut away from the game when in progress to put in the commercials. We can easily stick the commercials at the beginning or end of the game, and between periods, but all other commercials have to be inserted on the fly, without interrupting the game, and that's why a lot of commercials are "supers", ones that we can superimpose over the game. I'll tell you when to insert them. And", he added, "Never ever insert a commercial during a fight on the ice. Hockey fans want to see those fights. It's the same thing as auto racing fans want to see a giant smash-up between cars, but they never admit it." "Rule 2", I said to myself "no commercials during fights". On the day of the game, I was sitting nervously in the Studio 50 control room, and the hotshot director is loud in my headset. I kept thinking of the rules, "no screw-ups and no fights in the commercials, oops, no commercials in the fights".
The first commercial I inserted before the play started went without a hitch. Then the game started, and after a while, Hotshot calls through to me and says, "Ok, Al, stick in that Esso super after the next icing". "Icing!", I say to myself, "What the hell is an icing?" (Did I mention I'm from Australia?) I looked around the control room to see which technician I would be the least embarrassed to ask what was an icing, and then I noticed a kind of pause in the hockey action so I yelled "roll film" and an Esso super appeared over the rink. Nobody had detected my ignorance of hockey terminology, or indeed of the whole game. 

Some weeks later I got around to asking one of my fellow workers, "Is there a hockey rule called frosting?" He looked confused for a minute and then said, "Do you mean icing?". When I said "Yes", he started to laugh so hard he couldn't answer my question. Duh!
Later that same year I had my first opportunity to insert commercials into a CFL game being played at Empire Stadium, and sent out to the CBC network. Once again I met with a hotshot producer/director from Toronto who specialized in network football games. By now, being somewhat cocky because of my hockey experience, I said to him, "You'll tell me when to insert the commercials, right? And there are to be no commercials during fights." He looked at me like I was crazy and said "What are you talking about? We don't have fights in football games and, you tell me when you want to insert a commercial and I call through to the referee on my headset and tell him to stop the game. Then you'll hear Ted Reynolds say "There's a time-out on the field", and after that, you stick in the commercial." My breast billowed with the knowledge of my power over the CFL.


Thinking back on my dumbness about hockey rules, I had this daydream about a Vancouver cameraman (who looked like Ray Waines) who was asked for some strange reason to travel to Australia to be one of the cameramen on an international cricket game. Ray arrives in Sydney, and the first day just about kills himself crossing the road because he was looking to his left for traffic instead of the right (Australians drive on the left). Ray sets up his camera, and then hears on his headset the director say "Ray" (it sounded more like "Ry" because of the director's Australian accent), "swing your camera around and get a medium close-up of the fielder at silly mid on". Ray says to himself, "What the hell is "silly mid on?" Of course, there's no point my telling Stationbreak readers where this cricket position is located, but you might be interested to know that the fielding position is so close to the batsman that the word "silly" is meaningful.
Footnote:
Years later when I was training a new coordinator on inserting commercials into a baseball game (which was a slam dunk because you simply inserted commercials after every half inning or complete inning), my trainee said to me "What period are we in?" I smiled to myself. I won't mention my trainee's name, but he became famous at CBC later on as a studio director because of his habit of wearing white gloves.
Hockey trivia:
In 1931 in the pre-icing days, the Boston Bruins and the New York Americans played a game that resulted in a scoreless tie, possibly because the Bruins iced the puck 87 times.
Answer To Trivia Question:
I know that hundreds of thousands of Stationbreak's readers answered "hockey". A few thousand, fearing a trick, put "lacrosse". The correct answer however is…the question is wrong, it should be "what ARE Canada's official sports", and the answer to that question is hockey as a winter sport, and lacrosse as a summer sport and synchronized swimming as a spring sport (I lied about synchronized swimming). If you answered correctly, you are entitled to join the Stationbreak Hall of Fame, with its numerous non-financial and intangible benefits.
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My ability to remember song lyrics from the 60's far exceeds my ability to remember why I walked into the kitchen.
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For those few readers who are following my saga of obtaining Ten Million ($10,000,000.00) U.S. dollars from various persons in Nigeria, I can report that my bank has advised that all the money orders I mailed to cover initial expenses have been cashed. I am beginning to think this is a scam. I may shortly contact the Nigerian FBI.


The success of this column's future lies in your hands. Comments would be welcome, and your contributions would be greatly appreciated. If you have an item to add to a future column, please email me at alangwalker@gmail.com . If you require any assistance in writing, I am happy to help. Alan

Be sure to read Alan Walker's Old Time CBC column coming up on December 22nd when Taylor Ogston tells a sad story about an assassination in the 60's, and Alan reports on getting up close and personal with a CBC musical star.

3.  ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV OCTOBER 25 2019

Last month's column on a Royal Tour brought back these memories of royal visits to Al Vitols:

The Queen Mum and the Brownie caper

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, Empress consort of India, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, but known to one and all as Queen Mum, visited Victoria on March 19, 1966. She was in Victoria to lay the cornerstone for the new Royal British Columbia Museum, an event being covered by the CBC with Len Lauk in charge. While in Victoria she was also reviewing a batch of Brownies. I was to blame if things went south at that location. Mum, as befits royalty and government appointees, was staying at Government House and the Brownie event was to take place in front of the main entrance. While the crew was busy setting up I wandered around the mansion and wound up in the kitchen where, having explained to him what I was doing there, the chef invited, nay - insisted, that I sample the breakfast he was providing for Her Highness. It turned out to be a British kind of breakfast, kippers and all. I still don't see the Brit's love for smoked herring at the crack of dawn. I suppose I'd be correct in saying I shared Queen Mum's breakfast. If I recall correctly, the event was scheduled for ten o'clock to be telecast across the CBC network as well as fed to CTV, the only other Canadian network at the time. By nine-thirty, we were all set and ready for the ten o'clock appearance of Her Highness. At nine thirty-five it started to drizzle. By nine forty the event was moved indoors into the Government House ballroom without consulting me regarding what the move would do to the nation-wide telecast. But move we had to.
Not only was the location changed, but because the ballroom stage featured a grand piano, a short recital was added to the ceremony by the local Brownie leaders. I don't recall how and why we had enough camera cable to reach all the new camera positions, but we did. There certainly wasn't enough time to fetch any from the old mobile in downtown Victoria. There was one camera up on the ballroom balcony, a place shared with a few light standards to add some extra illumination to the otherwise candelabra-lit parquet floor and whatever light seeped in through the windows. Another camera was at floor-level inside the ballroom and the third covered Her Highness while she chatted with invited guests in the lobby. We were not allowed to actually hear what Her Highness was saying and had to 'bury' her comments into the general hubbub. When the time came for her to move into the ballroom, cameraman Bruce McDonald outdid Bannister* and Landy in getting his camera from the foyer through a short hallway into the ballroom to see her disappear through one door and watch her arrive through the other. No mean trick with a top-heavy, tiny-wheel, hard to steer tripod.  From there on all went boringly as planned and I hope people in Punkeydoodles Corners, ON and Spread Eagle Bay, NL enjoyed our seamless on-air effort.


1968 – Vancouver – The Two Jacks
Anyone of my vintage will remember Jack Wasserman and Jack Webster. They were fierce but friendly rivals although the reality was that Wasserman was really a celebrity columnist and Webster was an investigative reporter. Their real competition in later years was not in the print medium but as talk show hosts on competing radio stations. Both appeared many times on CBC TV in Vancouver both as guests, and sometimes as hosts. Wasserman became a regular host on CBC's Hourglass, and Webster had five years as a panelist on CBC's Front Page Challenge. The royal connection? When the Queen Mother visited Vancouver on the royal yacht Britannia, a few "important" people were invited to dinner aboard the royal yacht. One of those individuals was Jack Webster and not even on his deathbed did he divulge what took place during that dinner or what they talked about. Wasserman was quite jealous that he was not invited.

Editor's Note:
In next month's column we'll be featuring some more stories from Al Vitols about Jack ("Wass") Wasserman.

* Many will remember the great rivalry between the two long distance runners, Englishman Roger (later Sir Roger) Bannister and Australian John Landy. Both had broken the 4-minute mile barrier in separate meets earlier in 1954. The first time they competed with each other was in the 1954 British & Commonwealth Games held at Empire Stadium in Vancouver in August, 1954 in which both men broke the 4 minute mile barrier, but Bannister won. The press called it "The Miracle Mile". You can see the whole race on film in CBC's archives.


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For readers of last month's column, I can report that I have not yet received the first of the anticipated TEN MILLION ($10,000,000.00) Dollars U.S., likely as a result of postal delays.

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My column this month is a little personal – I hope you won't mind.


I Travelled Halfway Around the World to be an Office Boy at CBC


Part I
When I was a teenager living in a dusty, small town in south-east Australia, I came upon a travel magazine which dedicated a whole issue to travelling by train across Canada. There were CP trains and CN trains dashing hither and dither through and around mountainsides, across rivers, through forests and wheat fields, around and across lakes, and occasionally stopping at some obviously historic railway stations. What a vision! I determined there and then to go to Canada as soon as I was old enough, and had enough money.
My school friends scoffed at my plans – why don't you do what we're all going to do, and go straight to England – see Big Ben, buy a ticket to the Folies Bergère, and drink beer at the Oktoberfest in Munich? They also pointed out that you could enter England without a visa, and get a job almost immediately. I wasn't dissuaded then, but when I applied for a Canadian visa at the Canadian High Commissioner's Office (the name for a Canadian embassy in a Commonwealth country) I almost changed my mind.
It took me a year to comply with the various visa requirements. (Many years later, a Canadian immigration official explained to me that in those days when I applied to emigrate to Canada, there was an unwritten policy among some Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, not to "poach" immigrants from each other's country, but rather to concentrate on getting English and European immigrants to their respective countries. Presumably, a Canadian in those days would have had as much trouble getting an Australian visa as I had getting a Canadian one.)
When I thought I had completed everything, the junior Canadian consular officer said to me, "Just one more thing, Mr. Walker, we need you to provide us with a TB x-ray, certified by two Canadian doctors". I was stunned! Where would a teenager living in a dusty, small Australian town find two Canadian doctors? But then I thought, my dusty small town is Canberra, the capital of Australia, and Canberra has a national university. Maybe they have The Canadian flag in 1957
graduate medical students? And they did, and I got my X-ray and then my Canadian visa after proving that I had the minimum necessary finances of $300 Canadian dollars!
After stops in New Zealand, Fiji and Hawaii, and many nights and days of partying, my P&O ship and I arrived in Vancouver in late October, 1957. As the Lions Gate Bridge came into view, I said to myself, "Holy wombats, I thought we were going to Vancouver first, that's the Golden Gate Bridge!" This was the tip of the iceberg of my ignorance of Canada and Vancouver.
As we were approaching the ship's berth at CPR's pier B/C (now Canada Place), I saw this giant lighted tower with a large "W" on top (it was the Woodward's sign). I nudged my new shipmate friend, and said, "Look at that – they put up that sign just to welcome me to Vancouver, "W" for "Walker"!". My friend said, "Not funny." He was eastern European.

The classic elevated sign "W" for Woodwards,
Vancouver's own department store chain, much
beloved by locals and much missed on its demise

After establishing my residence ashore at a rooming house at a giant $7.00 per week, I walked up and down Granville Street and went into every store and asked if they had any jobs. I was a bit surprised when everybody said, "No", and some even seemed to be laughing at my audacity in even asking for a job. Of course, if they told me that 1957 was a recessionary year in Canada, or even told me that Fall/Winter wasn't a good time to find a job (hence all those ads by Manpower Canada re "Why Wait for Spring, Do It Now"), I might have understood.  I gave up on Vancouver, but on the day my bus was scheduled to leave for Toronto, I received a call from CBC Personnel, to come for an interview for the position of an office boy as a result of an application I had made several weeks earlier. I survived three interviews, including one by legendary Personnel Director, Cal Pepper, and joined a group of six other office boys who were bossed around by Brian O'Dowd and Jack Hundley. My salary was $160 a month, but then a case of beer only cost $2.52, and my rent, in a shared West End apartment, was only $40 a month.

Competition to my arrival in 

Vancouver in 1957.  Can't

remember the singer's name.  Enos?

Part II


Location, Location, Location!
When I arrived for my first day's work as an office boy at CBC's "office" location in the Day Building on Burrard Street (then between Christchurch Cathedral and what would later become the Park Place high-rise), I found out that that CBC was spread out! CBC Radio alone had three locations, (including the station itself), all in the Hotel Vancouver on the 16th Floor, the First Mezzanine, and the basement. Just visiting CBC Radio's location to distribute and pick up mail kept an office boy busy. CBC TV was just as bad with its sprawling Georgia Street location, which needed two of us office boys to service. Later the office staff would move from the Day Building to an office building at the corner of Burrard and Davie. The TV program staff later moved to the upper floor of a small office building at the southeast corner of Alberni and Bute, and subsequently moved to a floor of a brand new building at the southwest corner of Alberni and Bute, part of the Pacific Palisades complex.


                                                       Vancouver's West End 1957

Only 6 weeks after my start as an office boy, a vacancy came up
for a junior (very junior) TV technical position, and relying on my
teenage hobby of electronics, I applied, and was accepted.
My boss' boss at the time, Betty Rollins, said to me "I'm Competition to my arrival in Vancouver in 1957.
recommending you for the promotion, not because I think you Can't remember the singer's name. Enos?
have any talent, but because you're one of the worst office boys
we've ever had. On the average, an office boy takes 20 minutes to do the rounds at TV, but you take 2 hours. I know you are watching shows in the TV studios". (Many, many years later when I had a different career and Betty became one of my clients, I reminded her of this conversation, and she said "I wasn't wrong, was I?")
Although CBUT was only 4 years old when I joined it, it was already a very sophisticated television production centre, and I had a lot to learn. More later on my initiation into show business.


                                          Vancouver downtown when I arrived in 1957.

Since then:
- The ugly Shell sign on the top of the Vancouver Block building has gone, but the historic building itself and its clock remain;
- The black shadow to the right was the Courthouse, and is now the Art Gallery;
- The beautiful old Birks Building at the corner of Georgia and Granville has gone, replaced by the uninteresting Scotiabank tower;
- across from Birks on Granville Street was a large parking lot, the former home of the second Hotel Vancouver (demolished in 1948) , and subsequently became part of Pacific Centre with the Eaton's Building (later becoming Sears and then Nordstrom's);
- the large fountain in the middle of the grassy area, courtesy of Premier W.A.C. Bennett, came, and went;
- Opposite the Bay and kitty corner to the Birks Building was a series of low rise offices, subsequently becoming the tip of the iceberg for the underground Pacific Centre Mall.
The West End still had a multitude of classic houses from the 1920's and 30's, and earlier

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Breaking News!
CBC Toronto has announced an upcoming one-hour special on women's underwear to be called "The Nature of Thongs". =================================================================================

An Abbotsford couple were treated for injuries yesterday after their Smart Car hit a squirrel on the trans-Canada highway near Langley. The squirrel refused treatment, and left the scene.

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The success of this column's future lies entirely in your hands. Comments would be welcome, and your contributions would be greatly appreciated. If you have an item to add to a future column, please email me at alangwalker@gmail.com . If you require any assistance in editing, I would be happy to help. Alan

2. ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV Sept 22, 2019

Hello Everyone and welcome back!

In my last Stationbreak Magazine article, I invited those readers who did remember me from CBC TV early days but I had neglected to mention their name in my article, should write to me and tell me I'm "old and stupid". Well, I've had hundreds of replies, although, strangely, all of them were from people whose names I really didn't remember, and they all lived in Nigeria. "Perhaps the CBC pension goes further in Nigeria", I thought. Each email offered me the opportunity to join with the email sender in a scheme where I would get TEN MILLION US DOLLARS ($10,000,000.00 U.S.), with just a little assistance from me. Well, I've written back to them all, and most have replied that I just need to send them ONE THOUSAND US DOLLARS ($1,000.00 U.S.) to cover initial expenses, and the game will be afoot (not quite sure what that means).I'm getting the money orders together now for mailing. Readers will be excited to know that when I receive the first lot of TEN MILLION US DOLLARS ($10,000,000.00 U.S.), I plan to give it to Stationbreak so that the editors can enhance the website, or perhaps pay Peggy an honorarium. Stay tuned!

And now for something completely different.

You've Lost the Queen!

Almost every July since 1959 I've has this recurring dream. In my dream I'm a cameraman working on the televised Gay Pride Parade, and the show's technical producer yells at me through my headset over and over again "Alan, Alan, you've lost the queen!" It has been suggested to me by paid professionals that my dream is likely a kind of ongoing trauma brought about by a real life incident that occurred during a visit to Victoria by the Queen and Prince Phillip. The following is the story of what happened.

It was a hot July in 1959 when Vancouver technical producer John Christensen called a group of us technicians together to give us details of our roles in what he described as "an overseas live telecast". I was slightly less excited when I realized that "overseas" meant Victoria, but then I was the most junior technician in the group, and thrilled to be going on a special assignment.

The Queen and Prince Philip were on a royal tour of Canada, and our TP explained that CBC would provide live coverage of the arrival of the Royal couple in Victoria's harbour from Nanaimo on a Canadian naval ship. "Your job, Alan", said the TP, "is to operate a microwave dish near the edge of the harbour so that your dish tracks the ship which is hosting the Queen and Prince Philip. We will have cameras aboard the ship, but we won't be able to get the signal out to the network without firing the signal from a fixed microwave dish on the ship out to your dish on shore, and then your dish will the shoot the signal to the mobile truck, and then onto the network". "Wow", I thought.

After being dumped at a very hot former quarry on Victoria's harbour edge with nobody there except me and my dish, I waited eagerly for something to happen. I had no monitor to see what was up. I did have a headset, and could hear the TP who said he would help me aim my dish by telling me continually the signal strength, like a game of "hotter/colder", except he said "good, better, worse" and sometimes "gooder and worser".

I proudly pointed my microwave dish at their Majesties' ship in the middle of the flotilla as they cruised into the harbour, reveling in the thought that all Canadians watching this program were relying on my stalwart hands moving the microwave dish to stay aligned with the Royal couple's moving headquarters.

And then, the TP screamed into my ear "Alan, Alan, you've lost the Queen!" (Afterwards I thought, "You don't hear those words every day!") I was confused – I hadn't done anything differently. I furiously swung my dish back and forth and up and down, and finally after 20 seconds (it felt like 20 minutes) the TP said in my ear "Great Alan, the signal is even better than it was before!" I was surprised because my dish was pointing in quite a different direction from earlier. Later it was determined that my dish had been pointing all along at the wrong ship in the flotilla, but by a fluke chance the signal from the Queen's ship was reflected by the superstructure of an escorting ship, right into my microwave dish. I was embarrassed of course, especially when I heard an ethnic slur on my headset from some unknown technician as to "that dumb Australian". (Did I mention I was from Australia?)

I somewhat redeemed myself the next day when the Queen and Prince Philip arrived in Vancouver – again by way of a flotilla of Royal Canadian Navy ships. This time my microwave dish and I were stationed on top of the mini lighthouse at Brockton Point in Stanley Park. This time, being more experienced and much closer to the action, I could identify the appropriate ship, and the viewers across Canada had the benefit of my dish-tracking skills. The Queen obviously forgave my error in Victoria, and instructed CBC to send me this certificate. I understand that no more than 6,500 certificates were issued. I have been resisting the temptation to put mine up for sale on e-Bay.
Alan

1. ALAN WALKER'S OLD TIME CBC TV Sept 1 2019

Hello everyone. The editors of Stationbreak Magazine have kindly allowed me to write a column to be called"Alan Walker's Old Time CBC TV". (It took us a long time to come up with that catchy title). Part of the column will be my reminiscences of working at CBC Televisionn Vancouver from 1958 to 1973. The other part of the column will be, hopefully, your reminiscences of working at CBC Vancouver, whether during or after my years. The Stationbreak editors and I believe there are lots of readers out there who could contribute shortitems about something funny or interesting that happened during their time on the job. As our technical editor Bill Morris says, it's not necessary to write "War & Peace", in fact an item could be as short as a couple of sentences.

I think of my decade and a half at CBC as the "Happening Age" because so many things happened during that time that changed television, or in some cases changed the world. Those events included the completion of the television network across Canada, TV competition in Vancouver, the coming of videotape and color to CBC, television via satellite and sending men to the moon. There were also international emergencies including the FLQ crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis, local tragedies such as the Second Narrows bridge disaster and Hurricane Freda, and three world-shaking assassinations, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Before getting to my first reminiscence, I'd like to acknowledge, in the list below, the staff at CBC who I recall. Certain departments of CBC TV are not well reflected in my list because most of my time at CBC I was hidden away in the master control area – so apologies to some in staging, props, graphics, carpenter shop, costumes, makeup, design and stores. If I did know you back then and failed to mention your name below, please email me and advise that I'm old and stupid.


And now, to reminisce:

The Rabbit Warren – 1200 West Georgia
Ottawa, 1952: An imagined conversation between the Head of Plant & Engineering, CBC Ottawa (the "Boss"), and various employees of his department (the "Team").

The Boss, addressing the Team: "I need you guys to go out to Vancouver, and find a place to house the offices and studios for when CBC Vancouver goes on the air next year with the first television broadcasting station in British Colombia."
Team Member: "Will we get hardship pay?"
The Boss: "Don't be a wiseass. We only have a limited budget, but you will need to find a downtown Vancouver building that is big enough to hold a large TV studio, a medium size studio, and a utility studio – as well as space for 100 or so employees".
Team Member: "What about utilizing some space in the existing CBC Radio location?"
The Boss: "Dummkopf – the CBC Radio studios are in a hotel. Do you think we can take over the hotel's ballroom and make it our Studio 41!?
The Boss: "And the building must have a microwave direct line of sight to a nearby mountain called "Mount Seymour", because that's where the transmitter is going to be".

........Two months later, the search team returns to Ottawa to report to the Boss......

Team Leader: "We have good news and we have bad news".
The Boss: "What is the good news?"
Team Leader: "We have found a location in downtown Vancouver that is within the budget, and has a direct view of Mount Seymour".
The Boss: "And what is the bad news?
Team Leader: "It's a two-story building on a corner....
"And, it's connected to an ugly one-story building....
"And the ugly one-story building is connected to an ugly three-story building.
"And the space where Studio 41will go does not have a very high ceiling, so the boom operators will need to be midgets.
"And, they'll need signs throughout the buildings as there are so many entrances, exits and staircases.
"And the teletypes for the newsroom will need to fit under the equipment in the air-conditioning room.
"And there's no room for the office staff.
"And we will need to pray that someone doesn't build a tall building kitty-corner because if they do we will never see that mountain called "Mount Seymour" again (they'll be calling it "Mount See-Less").
The Boss: "Well, it may not be a great location but we only need to use it for a little while because a brand new complex for all of CBC is planned to be built in Vancouver within the next five years."

Actually, it was 22 years before the new building.

                Home of the future studios                           1200 West Georgia Street circa 1974
         1200 West Georgia Street circa 1931

It's interesting to compare the two photos. You can see how much the contractors had to do to the exterior to turn the Willy's buildings into studios and offices. I don't know when the later picture was taken, but the butterfly on the corner shows that it was after color TV arrived in Vancouver, and after the Pacific Palisades complex and the Empire Landmark Hotel in the background were built (the Landmark in 1973). Time marches on: one of the Palisades building in the background was demolished by imploding more than 25 years ago, the brown building partially seen above CBC to the left was a 5 story office building, once partly occupied by CBC Program staff and torn down 25 years ago, and the Empire Landmark hotel on the right was recently demolished, floor by floor.

For all the jokes about the rabbit warren studios of CBC TV in those days, it was the home for an amazing amount of television production of huge quality and great quantity, and everybody who worked there was proud of what we accomplished.


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From the staff magazine Intercom, February 1961:
Dear Mr. Editor,
Listening to the program "Cornucopia" on Saturday, January 21st, I was overjoyed with Greg Barnes' suggestion that Gerard Hoffnung be invited to the Vancouver International Festival this year. Splendid idea Mr. Barnes – should the authorities sanction exhumation since Hoffnung having ceased composing, is now rapidly decomposing.
Bill Terry, TV Tech

Alvin Armstrong was the still photographer at CBC TV for umpteen years. He was always busy shooting stills of productions for record purposes, shooting stills of sets to assist set designers, creating scenic and graphic slides for station breaks and commercials, and a million other projects. Not everybody was aware of his sense of humour unless they tried to phone him, or read this letter in the staff magazine Intercom in February, 1961:

Dear Mr. Editor,
Try phoning Alvin Armstrong on local 297 when he's not in the back room. A voice says "Just a moment"; you hear 4 gun shots fired in succession; there's a long pause and the dull throated voice at the other end says "he's no longer here".

Memories from Hugh Beard.
Practical jokes were an accepted fact of life at CBC Vancouver in the 60's. Some elaborate classics included a goldfish swimming inside an electronic scope. This took days to prepare allowing the perpetrators to witness a brief moment of surprise on the intended victim's face. Or the master control supervisor's desk lamp that was wired to turn off ten minutes after the supervisor sat in his chair in the darkened room. Thinking it was a burned-out bulb he got up to get a new one. When he returned with the new bulb the desk light was back on. A few minutes later, after he sat down, it turned off. So, he thought it must be a faulty lamp. He plugged in a replacement lamp, but after a short while it also turned off.

This frustrating event went on for hours much to the delight of the master control technicians who had rigged his chair with a contact switch that activated a timer to turn off the power to the electrical outlet that his lamp was plugged into. Hours of prep to pull off a practical joke.

For a brief part of my CBC career, I worked in studio 42 as a switcher. Doug Haskins was the host of a live 15-minute program titled "Scan" that showcased upcoming CBC programs. He was good at his job, but very nervous. Before going on air, as the switcher, I would cut between the two studio camera shots of Doug allowing Harry Taylor, the video tech to match the cameras. Then I would leave up a close-up shot of Doug as we waited to go on air. I noticed that Doug always checked himself out in the studio monitor. He'd adjust his tie, and then he would take out his comb and run it through his Brylcreem greased hair. This was his nightly ritual before going to air.

So, I got an idea. I would stay on the close-up of Doug until he just started to run his comb through his hair, then quickly cut to colour bars. Doug would be frozen with his comb partway in his hair waiting for me to cut back to his close-up so he could finish adjusting his hair.

I started to play this game every evening for months. Sometimes I would keep Doug frozen with his comb partway through his hair with only seconds until air time — much to the delight of my friends Harry Taylor and audio mixer Bob Hepworth, who shared in my practical joke. I was careful to vary the timing, and not to do it every day, so Doug never found out that I was playing a game with him.

That also reminds me of a practical joke played on Len Lauk who thought he was 10 minutes late for the evening news broadcast ... but that's a story for another edition

The success of this column's future lies entirely in your hands. We would greatly appreciate your contributions. If you have an item to add to a future column, please email me at alangwalker@gmail.com. If you require any assistance in writing, I am at your service.
A