PHOTO FLASHBACK Alan Stewart "Switchback"


I started at the CBC in 1976 as a TVA and became a full time studio/mobile sports cameraman in 1980. At that time, CBC was actively involved in producing a variety of programming, and it was a great time to be a studio cameraman. I worked on everything from kids' shows such as Fred Penner, New Year's Eve galas, the Queen's tours, the Pope's tour, Variety shows, Game shows, Dramas, EFP productions, and numerous sporting events including diving, swimming, CFL, NHL, curling, World Cup downhill skiing, Commonwealth Games, the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and on and on. From both a personal and professional perspective, the experiences were interesting and enriching. In 1990 I took the full time position as ENG cameraman. My job as an ENG cameraman has taken me to all corners of the province, the country, and the world, including Hong Kong, Norway, Denmark, Mexico and Afghanistan. The places I've been, the people I've met and worked with, and the experiences I've had are too numerous to mention.
Through it all, it has always been the people I've had the privilege to work with over the years — some who have moved on and others who are no longer with us — that made CBC the best place to work. It's been a fascinating cast of characters, both behind and in front of the camera! It's the job I always wanted, the job I was fortunate enough to have, and the job that provided me with an exciting, interesting, and enjoyable career. I retired from the CBC in July 2015 and it's hard to believe how many years have passed already. But I'm enjoying new adventures and staying connected with old (okay, longstanding) friends.

Alan provided us with a crew photo from the popular kids' series Switchback on which he was a cameraman.  For those who are curious, here's a brief history of the show.

Produced by Nijole Kuzmickas and originally hosted by Canadian folk musician Rick Scott, CBC Vancouver's Switchback was a weekly Sunday morning live broadcast that began in January 1981. It was a live magazine variety show which employed a fast-moving format of rock videos, camp serials like Batman, puppets, personality interviews and toll-free phone-in contests. The name "Switchback" referred to the program's original format, which invited young viewers to trade used toys, comic books, and other bric-a-brac. Viewers could either call in or write in with offers, which were written on a board on the studio set or later featured in a free classified-ad-style publication put together by the show and mailed out to viewers who requested it. This feature was dropped after the first season. The show regularly featured phone-in contests and write-in raffles for prizes such as T-shirts, LPs and toys. An old cowboy cliff-hanger adventure serial was also featured weekly during the first season. The second season began with host Gordon White, soon replaced by Richard Newman (later a voice actor), who remained with the show for two and a half years. A memorable show during Newman's tenure was the "dippy-dome" episode, which ran mock news flashes and backward footage of the inflation of the original B.C. Place Stadium roof. The episode unwittingly predicted, nearly a quarter-century before the fact, the dome's accidental deflation in 2007!  Producer and writer Phil Savath took over the program and hired a teenager, Andrew Cochrane, at that time attending Churchill Secondary School and performing with the Vancouver Theatresports League.  Cochrane went on to host Switchback in Halifax while he was attending law school at Dalhousie University. Years later he was teaching in Dalhousie's business and law schools, when in 2007 a senior CBC executive called out of the blue and hired Cochrane as regional director of TV for the Maritimes (TV and radio were separate at the time)!  Replacing Cochrane in 1987, the latest Vancouver producer Herb Baring contracted Stu Jeffries as host although Stu would be hosting simultaneously the CBC Vancouver video series Good Rockin' Tonite .... but not on Sunday mornings when Switchback went live to air.  Switchback was notable also for being one of the first regular broadcaster of rock videos in British Columbia. In the early years of the show, guest hosts included Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats in his pre-Band Aid/Live Aid incarnation. Through interviews and by broadcasting videos, Switchback also did much to promote local Vancouver rock musicians, notably the Payola$, Loverboy, Doug and the Slugs and Bill Henderson, lead singer of Chilliwack, who earlier on was guest host for one week.

Starting in the early 1980s, Switchback was produced by other CBC regional stations, including Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. Each city's show was autonomous, but they all shared the name, the graphics and the weekly serials.

Vancouver Hosts:
Rick Scott  (1981)
Gordon White  (1982)
Richard Newman (1982-1984)
Andrew Cochrane (1984-87); then Halifax Host (1988-1989)
Stu Jeffries (1987- 90)

In the photo below are the members of the crew when Stu Jeffries was host:
Top row. Keith Purley (staging), Peter Lyew (lighting), Jeff Hill (TVA), Jim Pate (props), Peter Dobo (switcher), Tom Winstanley (TVA), Steve Ramsay (font), Jack Bell (Technical Producer), Lauren ? (freelance makeup)
One row down: Leigh Tunstall (audio), Karen Swantje (script assistant), Murray Wooding (camera)
2 rows down: Marc Benoit (audio), Mike Johnston (camera), Patsy Gill (director), Stu Jeffries (host) with his best friend Broadway, Al Stewart (camera), Kevin Dutchak (production assistant on phones) and sister Kimberley Dutchak (production secretary).
On floor: Chris Stear (audio), Herb Baring (producer), ?  (unknown)

And so we've come to our last NEW Photo Flasbbacks. From June, we will be posting photos from the past in our ENCORE collection.  Should we receive by any chance NEW photos for Flashback from you, they will be labelled NEW and posted sometime after September.

JUNE 1:      Ritter's Cove Cast & Crew 1980
JUNE 15:    Beachcombers Cast & Crew 1985