May / June 2023
Compiled by Ken Gibson for May 1st
  with technical assistance from Bill Morris.

ITEMS IN THIS EDITION:  click on title required ...




RUSS BOWER  TV Maintenance


NORTHERN EXPOSURE by Sheldon O'Connell.


CBC MEMORIES   (from Stationbreak, November 1995)  

Cathy Chilco and Bob Gillingham really need no introduction to CBC personnel. They both have gained enviable reputations as being among the very best in their areas of expertise, and their careers within the Corporation. This month we bid them adieu and they take with them our best wishes for the future. Cathy in her new position in New York as Vice President of International productions for the Children’s Television workshop and Bob for a well deserved retirement. We thank them for sharing some of their memories with us.

TV Producer.

It’s rainy and it’s almost November. It was a very rainy November 11th in 1980 when I arrived here from Toronto and it kept raining for longer than I thought possible. But now … hey …I don’t even notice it!  I’ve become a true West Coaster … I don’t own an umbrella. Memory fragments keep drifting in and out of focus like bad special effects as I am here cleaning out my office after 15 years of production, surrounded with photos, tapes and totally unexplainable accessories. I’ll provide the visuals and you can add your own soundtrack.

 Sitting on producer Al Vitol’s sailboat in the sunshine eating home made chowder with Al and performer Raffi in March, doing my first production here “Raffi, Belugas and Friends.”

Shooting at the Children’s Festival every year in the pouring rain!
Shooting “The Rick Scott Special” in the pouring rain! For an entire week the crew looked like large yellow ducks as we splashed through Stanley Park and the streets of Vancouver. John Juliani was splendid in his lucky tiara!

Live to tape in North Vancouver with David Steinberg and a huge cast … producer Tony Gilbert and I laughing in the parking lot so we wouldn’t cry.

The truly horrible “Great Divide”… my very worst memory … that left me a scar on my chin so I’d never forget how bad things could get! 

Several near death experiences, most of which I shared with my fabulous assistant Deidre Roberts. There we were in a small boat set adrift in the stormy ocean off Tofino, unable to see anything but thick fog. Our crew were out there somewhere but we had no idea where. Doug Sjoquist can validate the colour of green we were when they finally found us.  Or how about the slow motion trip through the air into the snowy ditch in the Yukon in the rented van full of equipment! The one Deidre missed was the time the small plane we were in flew into the eye of a hurricane up near Hardy Island (I’ll always remember the sound of the camera hitting the roof of the plane). The wonderful Stephanie Robitaille was present for two of those experiences. All of these stories had happy endings, thank God, and we’ve had many laughs about them since.

Waking up ij the middle of the night with the idea for “Night Video” that later became “Futurescan.” It was so exciting making that show! That reminds me that I want to acknowledge Alex Frame who was responsible for bringing me out here from Toronto. He was so supportive and encouraging of the creative process. My experience in those early years was so great … just come up with good ideas and Alex would find ways to make them happen.

“Pilot 1” is one of my favourite memories, probably the hardest work I have ever done but what great pay-offs! Every person on that show felt personally involved and they were. Helen Slinger was then and still is a gem.

“Venture” and “Sesame Street” brought me to B.C. and communities that really enriched my life ... helicopter skiing, oyster farming, Haida Gwai dancing and Gulf Island artists … stories of humour and wisdom I will never forget.

So, it’s stopped raining. There’s that beautiful light of autumn. I feel very happy to be moving on to the next challenge. The air is full of promise. New York City seems to me to be the distilled essence of everything that life and humans have to offer ... from the sublime to the just plain scary.  I carry all of the wonderful people I have met and worked with here in my heart as I go. I can see myself in the first snowy twilight in New York looking out the window and smiling as I see the mountains in my imagination which, as the children have taught me, is our most precious gift and our salvation.




I started as an all night DJ in Calgary … talking to the world …a fresh faced child explaining the universe.

A blink of the eye … it’s Chuck Berry, handing me his guitar and saying “Don’t drop it man!” while he tries to make a point the hard way in a crap game at the rear of the stadium.

A blink later - Fats Domino attempts to read a promo for my show and can’t get it right. His valet tells me the man makes ten million a year and can’t read or write.

Another blink … I’m MC of a country and western music show headlining Johnny Cash.

I introduce Johnny Horton. He’s not even there! I’m dazed and confused and maybe a little drunk.

Moving on … Victoria is next… radio and TV.

Blink … play by play hockey … they pay me to do this!

A Montreal Canadiens training camp.

Charlie Hodge picking a fight in a bar and then claiming I started it.

The Rocket Richard, bitter and glowering, plucked from a sporting goods shop in Montreal where he was trying to make a living tying flies!

A day with ex-heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano on a fundraising tour. One of the nicest people I ever met.

Another blink … play-by-play television wrestling.

The world’s female champion, the Fabulous Moola, showing me how it’s done. I got tossed around the ring like a sack of flour … and she liked me.

Blink blink – Late for the early morning show and running to make it. A policeman is responding to a jewelry store robbery and he thinks I did it!  He pulls his gun and is ready to fire when he suddenly recognizes me.

Vancouver is next … a year at a radio station CJOR.

Pat Burns is in his heyday but eventually gets fired! His loyal supporters want to burn down the station but cooler heads prevail.

BCTV is next … it was then called CHAN.

Blink … Get to read the sports. Get to read the news.  Get to read the weather. …Get to do commercials…Learn a lot but don’t make much money.

Network Sports beckons …CFL football … Grey Cup games to cover … players to interview.
In Toronto I told Ottawa player Margene Adkins that he’d won a car. He was the wrong player and he is still looking for me!

Onward to CBC.

I interviewed Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Jane Russell in one week. Gina was the nicest.

Covered a riot in Nelson, sent the tape back to Vancouver and read the script live on the air in Nelson.

Waded ashore from a float plane in Kelsey Bay in the dead of winter after the dock burned down and I nearly froze to death.

Four and a half years in Victoria covering politics (purgatory).  Politics conventions were the best . The Liberals and the Conservatives had the most fun … the NDP the least.  All they did was work.

I was the first person to interview Bill Bennett on TV  -  maybe the last.

Back to Vancouver, flying with the Blue Angels at the Abbotsford Air Show. I actually flew the plane for ten minutes and managed to get through the whole exercise without losing my lunch.

Blink…covering the Mt. St. Helen’s disaster from start to finish.  I revisited the mountain ten years later and walked in the crater.

Working on the CBC Action Line, helping people solve some of their problems.

Getting assaulted by a developer after trying to question him about his business practices. Then hearing the judge give him an absolute discharge in court, saying that the man had suffered enough having the assault shown on television!

Getting a cheque from the WCB for more than ten thousand dollars for a man who had been fighting them over the money for a couple of years. He got the cheque three days before Christmas!

There’s a lot more but I’ve run out of blinks for the moment. Now the roller coaster has stopped and it’s time to get off.

What a ride it’s been … and I don’t regret any of it.  Who knows?  There may be a few more blinks along the way yet!

TV Maintenance.                                                 (From Stationbreak Oct-Dec 2001)

“CBUT Vancouver” went on the air in December 1953. I joined the Technical Maintenance in early May of 1954. Ross Whiteside was Technical Director and Ernie Rose was the Maintenance Supervisor.  There were a number of technicians who had started at the outset of CBUT’s on air debut. Ken Lowe took me on a technical tour of the establishment on my first day. Then there was Dave Sharp, Bill Skelcher, Doug Rogers, Eric Lavell, Bill Campbell, Bill Deacon, Herb Bateman, Dave Liddell, Des McDermot, Mel Bishop, and Walt Durrant.  Alvin Armstrong was the one-man department as the Still Photographer. Installations were still in progress as we had to step over open cable ducts in the floor of the equipment room and Telecine. Telecine was where the programs originated. The Telecine camera used the old iconoscope pickup or “image” tube for film. The flying spot camera to the control room was used for slides. The iconoscope was the earliest camera image tube used in the present day NTSC system of television.

1964 was the year of the British Empire Games. This was CBUT’s first major production. I believe all staff was involved in it in some capacity, and there were others involved. TV cameras were brought in for live coverage as we did not have any TV cameras operating at that time.  Empire Stadium was built for the British Empire Games, where many of the games originated. The United Nations brought in two kinescope recorders and two film processors and associated electronic equipment. Fritz was the UN technician (I don’t remember his last name) whom I was assigned to work with. This was before our own kinescope recorders were in operation. The two kine recorders and processors were installed in the south end of the basement across the corridor from Studio 41. The area was later used for storage and line terminal room.  The kine recorders and processors were installed in tandem so that the exposed film from the kine recorder went straight into the processor, was processed at the same speed and came out dry and ready for airing, in half an hour after filming.

Remember the name George Retzlaff?  I had not seen or met but but I might recognize his voice, as he co-ordinated the British Empire Games from the transmitter site on Seymour by radiophone. All program feeds of the games were microwaved to the transmitter site from the various locations where the Games were played, such as UBC, the cycledrome on Broadway and the studios. And there was another location which escapes my memory. These program feeds were selected and microwaved to the studio where we recorded them for repeat or delayed broadcast.

All of the equipment including our test equipment and portable audio recorders used tubes or “valves” in English terms. Consequently equipment failure was quite frequent in spite of our preventative maintenance schedule, due mostly to tube failure, and some equipment like the flying spot scanner was fussy about new tubes, even of the same type with very slight differences in characteristics.

I think it was near the end of '54 or early in the following year we got our first “live” cameras. They were the Marconi Mark 11, using the Image Orthicon tube. The black and white pictures they produced were a treat to look at compared to the grainy pictures coming from the old iconoscope camera in Telecine. This was the beginning of live shows produced in Studio 41. Studio 42 did not yet exist, as that section of the building was still occupied by a service garage, If I remember correctly, our first live show was a remote of an Air Show from the Vancouver Airport, using the Mark 11 cameras with the mobile unit. Then there were the live shows from Studio 41 like “Hidden Pages”, an afternoon children’s series in which one of those episodes Len Lauk played the part of King Henry V111, to perfection I thought. There were many shows done live (after rehearsals) as we did not have any means of recording shows and our own kine recorders were in operation.  

With improvements taking place, Telecine was upgraded when the new vidicon camera was installed, replacing the old iconoscope camera, resulting in a very noticeable improvement in film reproduction from Telecine.  Next came the new studio cameras, the Marconi Mark 111. These were larger, heavier, and used a 3 inch Image Orthicon tube and a massive four lens turret, whereas the new vidicon camera in telecine was about one tenth the size of the old iconoscope camera.  

As we became more knowledgeable and familiar with the equipment, confidence led to the occasional practical jokes between the maintenance day shift and night shift. Operating technicians were sometimes involved. Some of these practical jokes were just pranks, others were bordering on being educational, technically speaking. We also had to avoid getting our names on the Daily Technical Fault Report, known back then as the 197. It would have been about 1956 that the CBC moved into the remaining west section of the building that had been a service garage. It was occupied by the News Department, Stores, Film Department, Studio 42 and garage space for the mobile unit. Studio 42 inherited the Mark 11 cameras while Studio 41 kept the Mark 111s.

July 1st of 1958 marked the opening of the CBC TV Network. Bob Service and I got the job of setting up the microwave link (the KTR 100) on the roof of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria for the event.  The celebrations and Canada Day ceremonies were broadcast coast to coast. Our microwave link did double duty, as the following day Princess Margaret visited the area and there were ceremonies on the grounds of the Parliament Buildings. Our work day came to an abrupt halt at 4:30 when the word spread that all media personnel were invited to attend a reception for the Princess at the Empress Hotel.

By the early '60s there was much talk about the coming of colour television. All technicians had to take a colour test to determine what degree of colour blindness we had. Telecine was equipped with the new GE colour cameras for film. The first transition to colour for the studios was the mounting of the Auricon film cameras on the right side of the Marconi cameras in an inverted position. The pair then shared the same optics through a system of prisms and mirrors, so that the film camera saw the same picture as seen by the camera operator in the Marconi viewfinder.  The exposed colour film was processed by an outside lab, edited by the Film Department and aired from Telecine.

Remember the night that the transmitter’s effective radiated power was increased by 100,000 watts by switching to the new antenna tower?  The date and time of the transition had been publicized so viewers were watching. It was followed by a massive power blackout over the greater Vancouver area! It was coincidental, of course, that the public and the media blamed the CBC for overloading the hydro power system. The CBC was vindicated but the real cause of the blackout was never known. So many interesting early memories!

Here's a fun WHO AM I and we'll give you 3 updated extra clues.  Read on:

1. I have the largest collection of cookbooks known to mankind  ... perhaps that's a slight exaggeration!
2. I have a dog named Molly.
3. My daughter drives an ambulance.
4. My first paying job was selling hotdogs at the racetrack.
5. I took honours calculus at university.
6. Whenever possible I spend Sundays in my armchair watching NFL football.
7. My favourite snack is popcorn ... lots of it.
And now here are 3 updated clues
8. She was Miss Toronto in 1964.
9. She left CBC in 2005 and turned to politics.
!0.Her husband was a Vancouver mayor.

 You'll find the correct answer below.

by Sheldon O'Connell

Sheldon was a Montreal based announcer with CBC International Service in the 1950s, then transferred to Northern Service as a Station Manager. He later occupied the position of Production Manager in Montreal from which he eventually retired. He and his wife then settled in Vancouver.

In its Chaplinesque days , the CBC Northern Service rivalled the celebrated comedian in its embrace at Klondike themes that gave distinction, romance and adventure to the Far North, Locally hired and trained announcer-operators with managers jettisoned from neighbouring regions or driven from local volunteers gave programs zest and surprise..

As an announcer with the CBC International Service based in Montreal in the late 1950s, I leapt at the opportunity to go north to manage in a succession pf tiny chilly North Service radio stations. Taped network radio programs were shipped top these community points in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.  A trip "outside" was a wonderful experience and established kinship with other CBC points as well as personnel and providers of military service.

Promotions of local personalities and development of native language programming called for interesting travel visits. A brief flight from Inuvik to Aklavik in the western arctic region led to surprises. The Mounties kept their dogs in a large pen stained with the pee of "Mush On's."  Don't know why I expected the canine pen area to be snow white. A Saturday night dance music operator mystified dancers by playing an odd-sounding tape. "An old folk song?" I guessed. "Naw," the music operator replied. "It's Dean Martin singing "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometme". I just played it backwards."  Puzzled why local women chose to leave their hair in curlers at a Saturday Night Dance, I was told it was something ethnic. They just washed their hair to look nice for Sunday church. Later visitors to storied Dawson City, Yukon  provided interesting contrasts. Ghosts were heard in the hotel late night and a stern-faced Queen Victoria still dominates the lobby in a framed early days calendar. I remember being chased by a border crossing agent - I believe at the Skagway location - waving his rifle in one hand while holding his pants up with the other. I had found no one at the border stop - no Immigration Customs agent - and didn't even notice the hand-drawn Wait sign.

Easy to develop a fondness for Inuit carvings in CBC Frobisher Bay's community. When asked to explain some of the puzzling soap stone figures, the Inuk in charge of the handicraft counter gave a broad smile. "Sometimes the carver makes a mistake, something breaks or we can't do anything about it. We call 'em Spirit figures. People like me. Nobody can figure them out!"

Tiny Annie Padlo produced our Inukituk phone-in programs on Northern Service shortwave out of Montreal. She wanted to share an experience of the previous night when she had dreamed of her grandmother. "She came to me in a dream," Annie recalled and I said "Oh Grandmother, you look so beautiful. I have never seen you look so beautiful. 'Cause when you were alive, you were ugly." Annie went on to life outside the CBC in a chorus line until she knocked out one of the other chorines in the butt during a kick-line number, and later more happily she found work with Native Affairs in Ottawa.

Jack Craine and Andrew Cowan were the main architects of the CBC Northern Service along with Lloyd Moore, Technical Services.

Answer: CAROLE TAYLOR, Chair, Board of Directors, CBC Radio-Canada, Her husband was Mayor Art Phillips.  Today, she is the Canada Chair for the Trilateral Commission, a non-governmental, policy-oriented forum focused on finding solutions to geopolitical, economic and social challenges.


Long ago and far away, in a land that time forgot, 
before the days of Dylan, or the dawn of Camelot. 
There lived a race of innocents, and they were you and me, 

For Ike was in the White House in that land where we were born, 
where navels were for oranges, and Peyton Place was porn. 
We longed for love and romance, and waited for our Prince, 
Eddie Fisher married Liz, and no one's seen him since. 
We danced to 'Little Darlin,' and sang to 'Stagger Lee' 
and cried for Buddy Holly in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

Only girls wore earrings then, and 3 was one too many, 
and only boys wore flat-top cuts, except for Jean McKinney. 
And only in our wildest dreams did we expect to see,
a boy named George with Lipstick, in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We fell for Frankie Avalon, Annette was oh, so nice, 
and when they made a movie, they never made it twice. 
We didn't have a Star Trek Five, or Psycho Two and Three, 
or Rocky-Rambo Twenty in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

Miss Kitty had a heart of gold, and Chester had a limp, 
and Reagan was a Democrat whose co-star was a chimp. 
We had a Mr. Wizard, but not a Mr. T, 
and Oprah couldn't talk yet, in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We had our share of heroes, we never thought they'd go, 
at least not Bobby Darin, or Marilyn Monroe. 
For youth was still eternal, and life was yet to be, 
and Elvis was forever in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We'd never seen the rock band that was Grateful to be Dead, 
and Airplanes weren't named Jefferson, and Zeppelins were not Led. 
And Beatles lived in gardens then, and Monkees lived in trees, 
Madonna was Mary in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We'd never heard of microwaves, or telephones in cars, 
and babies might be bottle-fed, but they were not grown in jars. 
And pumping iron got wrinkles out, and 'gay' meant fancy-free, 
and dorms were never co-Ed in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We hadn't seen enough of jets to talk about the lag, 
and microchips were what was left at the bottom of the bag. 
And hardware was a box of nails, and bytes came from a flea, 
and rocket ships were fiction in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

T-Birds came with portholes, and side shows came with freaks, 
and bathing suits came big enough to cover both your cheeks. 
And Coke came just in bottles, and skirts below the knee, 
and Castro came to power near the Land That Made Me, Me. 

We had no Crest with Fluoride, we had no Hill Street Blues, 
we had no patterned pantyhose or Lipton herbal tea.
Or prime-time ads for those dysfunctions in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

There were no golden arches, no Perrier to chill, 
and fish were not called Wanda, and cats were not called Bill. 
And middle-aged was 35 and old was forty-three, 
and ancient were our parents in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

But all things have a season, or so we've heard them say, 
and now instead of Maybelline we swear by Retin-A. 
They send us invitations to join AARP, 
we've come a long way, baby, from the Land That Made Me, Me. 

So now we face a brave new world in slightly larger jeans, 
and wonder why they're using smaller print in magazines. 
And we tell our children's children of the way it used to be, 
long ago and far away in the Land That Made Me, Me. 

Thanks for reading this, we hope you enjoyed it. The next Magazine covering July / August will be posted on July 1.