The media, journalists and those associated with it have been getting a pretty rough ride lately..and it has gone beyond just the average criticism that we’re either ‘pro this’ or ‘anti that’, to downright hostility and harassing behaviour.  Last month, a group of anti-tax, covid deniers confronted a group from a news service in Kelowna, calling them liars, complicit in hiding the ‘truth’ and saying they will all be tried and held criminally responsible at impending trials.  Recently, a colleague of mine was getting posts on her social media feeds from someone asking how she could be so naive and complacent on pretending everything in the world is alright, when the media is working to destroy our society and that she will surely face the consequences when the impending ‘trials’ take place.   There are other stories of camera operators and reporters who are constantly harassed and harangued by people calling them liars and spreaders of propaganda.  This goes beyond the usual level of mistrust and criticism, much of it not only implicit but threatening.  It has fuelled mistrust in the media to an all time high.  So much so that I’m noticing many people, who I usually consider rational, open minded individuals, echoing the same rhetoric and claiming they’ve always ‘mistrusted’ the mainstream media.  Much of this has been amplified by the pandemic and our collective impatience over how long it’s gone on and how our government’s have handled it.  But to subject your wrath against the media, which, believe it or not, is trying to get at the truth as much as you want, is misguided…and the treatment individuals are getting as a result is just wrong.  It’s one thing for us to react emotionally and passionately to these situations, but that doesn’t mean journalists or reporters don’t.  Many times they do, and earlier this week there was a good example of that.

Ben Miljure, one of our reporters at CTV Vancouver, was covering the story of the tragic discovery of the bodies of 215 children found buried on the grounds of the Kamloops residential school.  A horrifying story for everyone, but it became much more for Ben,   He was ready to do his live report that night from the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, where a memorial made up of 215 pairs of children’s shoes had been set up,  The anchor introduced Ben, who then started his report.  But instead of a stoic, somber explanation of the scene around him, his voice cracked with sobs and tears as he described what he was seeing.  What had happened was an awakening of emotions he had kept suppressed  for decades as he realized this was also a story about his heritage..a heritage he had been cut off and isolated from for his entire life.  It’s not for me to tell Ben’s story here, so I urge to go to and read his story ‘I, Ben Miljure, am an indigenous man’   It is compelling, honest and insightful and, I hope, will give you an appreciation of how seriously and passionately journalists take their work.  There are many examples of reporters and anchors who have been overcome by the moments they report on.  Like many of them, Ben was honest, brave and has nothing to be ashamed of.  And for every one who has shown emotion on the air, there are a hundred times more who probably break down off the air.  Many reporters have had to witness tragedy, or spend time hearing the stories of those affected by it.  They go through court documents detailing horrific behaviour or tragic outcomes.   For others, it the challenge of trying to find the truth when dealing with governments, law enforcement, companies and organizations…all who spend a great deal of time and money trying to spin, manipulate and deflect the truth.

Now I know I’m not a journalist in any sense, but I have worked in radio and television newsrooms for over 40 years.  I have worked with many talented, top notch journalists like Ben and learned much from all of them.  Never, in all that time, have I ever seen any example of any reporter or news organization hiding, manipulating or manufacturing any kind of story or existing one to push either some political, corporate or personal agenda.  The only agenda is to get the facts, tell the story and how it relates to the viewer/listener/reader and how it will affect their world.   Sometimes we make mistakes,  Sometimes we get it wrong, but the good ones will always owe up to it and get it right.  It’s always been that way.  There are no daily conference calls with Justin Trudeau, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates and the Hollywood Illuminati,  Stories and scripts are not written & vetted and passed down to the anchor desk by our corporate masters to push their agendas.  Yes, we miss some things and we focus too much on the wrong things at times.  I; for one, would like to see more well reported, researched and developed stories, so one can assess and determine what they think, rather than have a panel of pundits sit around telling you this is what you should think.   But as I mentioned earlier, it is even more difficult for reporters today than at any other time.  They have less resources to work with and many now find themselves shooting, editing and filing their own stories as newsroom budgets shrink and staff gets trimmed. Not to mention deadlines, time constraints and the pressure to either get the story first, or get something the other guys don’t have.   To make matters worse, now anyone with an iPhone or video camera who wants to push an agenda or unrealistic idea can post a video online of any event or confrontation which suits their purpose and call themselves a ‘journalist.’  Most of the time, it seems their only motivation is attention.

The pressure to perform and produce is enormous.  The last thing any of them need is someone telling them they peddle lies, and therefore should be tried & imprisoned or called ‘the enemy of the people.   Nor should they be harassed for doing their jobs or what someone else ‘thinks’ they’re doing.

I’m not saying that the media should never be criticized and I know it always will be.  People will always react based on their own bias and beliefs…I get that.  But we have to return to a sense of reason, reality and rationality.   After all, we’re only human.



Well, it’s finally gone.

The most reviled, eventful, anxiety inducing and life altering year is over.  There seems to be universal agreement that it was one of the worst, most chaotic years in recent memory.  True, although I’m old enough to remember that 1968 wasn’t exactly a treat and,  for some reason, a lot of people had a bad time in 2016 (which actually was a great year for me!)   Still, we couldn’t wait to see the back end of 2020 and now that we, if you will excuse the metaphor, emerged from that back end, we seem certain that 2021 HAS to be better,  No doubt it will, but there are some things that I would never want to see again, some things I would like to continue to see & some things I would like to see return.

What I don’t want to see again are videos of another Karen or Kevin or whoever, regardless of gender, having a meltdown because they think wearing a mask is an infringement on their personal freedom.  Sure, it’s sometimes entertaining in an appalling sort of way, but the act gets tiring.  They’ve used up more than their 15 minutes of exposure and have gone from being amusing to sad.  Besides, why is it whenever one of these videos features a man (hence my use of the name Kevin), its always some 60 plus year old dude?   Can you guys stop giving the rest of us reasonable 60 plus dudes a bad reputation?

Another thing I don’t want to see is people having to be separated from those they love, especially when they need to be together.  I cannot imagine having your parent, grandparent, mother, father, someone you love, have to be isolated when the one thing they truly needed was a healing touch, especially if it was one of the last things they needed

I also really don’t want to see what would happen if I step on the weight scale right now.

OK…things I would like to continue to see from 2020?  The long overdue respect for health care and essential service workers, and it should be more than banging pots & pans.  It shouldn’t take a pandemic to show us just how valuable these people are.  And speaking of value, how about paying some of these grocery, cleaning and service providers a little more than minimum wage?

I’d like to continue to see people get inspired to learn a new skill, a new pastime or discover a talent or a quality they never knew they had.

I’d like to continue to see that renewed spirit of community and the understanding that our individual actions can have a positive effect the welfare of others.

I’d like to continue to see people discover, or reaffirm, what or who is most important to them

I’d like to see gas prices stay below a dollar 30 a litre….maybe even lower!

I’d like to be able to continue to have a little more room in the elevator (even though it probably won’t last)

I’d like to continue to see us being kind, calm and safe….even without a pandemic

Among the things I’d like to see return in the new year is watching sports teams playing to packed arenas & stadiums again.  Better still, I’d like to be sitting in a packed arena or stadium cheering on my favourite team again.

Subsequently, I’d like to see an actual live band or group of musicians playing in a packed stadium, arena, festival, club, basement….anywhere.  I’d like to go watch a live play in a great theatre…a very funny stand up comic in a cool club,  I’d like a lot of talented and creative people I know get the opportunity to perform and show that talent in front of an actual audience again.

I’d like to see every table at a restaurant or a patio full, rather than every third or fourth table…not to mention a seat at the bar.

Most of all, I’d like to be able to shake someone’s hand again….or give them a hug, if appropriate.

Until that happens, my wish for all of you is a happier, healthier and productive New Year!



While I watched the return of the MLS, NBA and NHL, along with the determination of the NFL to play a full season come September,  my hopes for seeing some sort of CFL season were dwindling.  Then, to really no one’s surprise, the season was cancelled, due in part to the league being turned down for a 30 million dollar interest free loan.  Disappointed, yes, but this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, for all indications are the CFL now has an opportunity to fix a lot of things that have been holding it back for far too long.

I have been a CFL fan since I was 15, when I first started watching football.  I became a die hard Toronto Argonaut fan, where I became convinced the term ‘die hard’ applied exclusively to Argo fans.  The 1971 team, which made it to the Grey Cup for the first time in 19 years, only to lose after the infamous fumble by running back Leon McQuay on the soaking wet astroturf of Empire Field in Vancouver.  They were the first team that broke my heart ..certainly not the last, either.  Nonetheless, my parents bought me seasons tickets one Christmas and I remained a dedicated fan (and back in those days, they had a 30,000 person season ticket base!).  Since moving away from the Toronto area, I have supported the CFL and teams in the places I’ve lived, such as Saskatchewan,  Winnipeg and, for most of my time here in Vancouver, I have been a season ticket holder for the BC Lions.  I’ve had the opportunity to experience the game from the stands, the sidelines and the practice field.  I’ve met many players, coaches, owners and many people associated with many teams.  Many of them are some of the best people I’ve ever met.  In their own way, they have devoted a life to a game which they love and have invested so much of themselves into it and, for far too long, very little reward in both a financial sense but also an acknowledgment from the casual sports fan as to just how good this game is.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to offer the league, and those who run it, a few suggestions to consider if you’re serious about using this lost season as a chance to reset..

  1.  Promote your greatest asset….your players.  And it should be a league led initiative, not just the individual teams.  The NFL and the NBA have been doing this for a long time, with the NHL just figuring this one out a couple of seasons ago.    It wasn’t that long ago that names like Matt Dunigan, Doug Flutie, Pinball Clemons, Gizmo Williams, Anthony Calvillo, Mike Pringle and more were recognized across the league.  Now, sometimes you need to look at a roster chart to figure out who’s playing.  Showcase the best, wherever they play.  Also, focus on them as people and personalities.  Many of these players also do outstanding work in their respective communities.  Promoting them not only as great players but great people.  And this also leads me to my next point….
  2. Keep the players around for a while…’s no use showcasing players who probably aren’t going to be on your team next year.   I know the nature of pro sports today has made the prospect of staying with one team for your entire career almost impossible.  But would there be any harm in trying to sign players for terms longer than 3 years?   One of the biggest complaints from a lot of fans, my wife included, is that they don’t recognize anyone on the team from year to year.  Trying to keep them around longer wouldn’t hurt, would it?
  3. Don’t worry about me…..or, to be more specific, fans who are as old as me.   You’ve got us, you always have had our support.  Now’s the time to market to a younger generation, to make up for all those fans you lost back in the late 80’s and most of the 90’s.  Believe me, I know the CFL has shot itself in the foot many times.  I can’t believe that, at one time, I actually watched the Lions playing teams from San Antonio and Shreveport!  Thankfully, you survived and came back a little stronger from that experience.   Now you gotta get younger…find a creative way to show how exciting this game can be to a younger generation.  And even though it’s important, don’t dwell on the history and heritage so much, since everyone may already be sick of hearing how their grandparents used to watch Dick Shatto and Ken Ploen back in the day.  Make it about today as much as yesterday.
  4. Fix the business model.   Now, I’m no financial or business expert, but there was a good reason the government decided not to give this league a bailout.  The league has always been this odd collection of publicly owned teams in Western Canada  to privately owned money pits that are in the rest of the league, including the three biggest markets in the country..Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.   Hamilton has always survived and, after a couple of attempts, Ottawa is back, for now.   It’s a strange mix for a league to operate under.  On the one hand, the Grey Cup makes money, the league itself is on better financial footing, the TV ratings for CFL games have been solid which makes TSN willing & able to keep the CFL on the air.  Somehow, someway, there has to be a master plan or template that either involves a revenue sharing structure or some solid financial foundation for teams that have challenges drawing fans & revenue…and by structure, I don’t mean David Braley owing more than one team.  He’s done that already and has probably done more to save the league than anyone, but even he can’t fix this mess.

Now, I know there are a lot of people who could care less about the CFL, even people who call themselves football fans.  I stopped arguing with those people a long time ago because they’re still convinced that the bigger audiences, bigger money, bigger exposure of the NFL is true football and that everything else is just crap.   That’s fine, even though, once you strip away the shiny allure and compare the games, there’s not much difference.. yet that’s why people love the CFL because it is different.  And if you think this would be a great opportunity for the NFL to set up in Canada….forget it.  It’s not happening because they’re not interested.   For one thing, they don’t need us.  They already have our attention, money and devotion.  We already cross the border to see the Buffalo Bills or the Seattle Seahawks, so they’ve been getting our money.  Plus, I’m not sure even the richest members of the Dragon’s Den have deep enough pockets to come up with the billions of dollars it would take just to get a franchise, let alone a suitable stadium.

I love both the NFL and CFL because I love football.  It’s disappointing I won’t get to enjoy watching games this summer & fall and watching some of the best players in the game.  It’s the players I feel for the most in all of this.  Many will probably find another place to play, wait until next year or, unfortunately, fall behind in their growth as a player & competitor, or finally decide that the game has taken enough from them and leave.  To all of them, I wish you nothing but the best.  You are all great players, great people, and deserve to be showcased as such.

So, there are my points to consider, dear Canadian Football League….good luck with the reset.   I hope you can come back bigger and better.

And if you do, us diehards will be back too!


It was a familiar scene….Pad 39 A at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Watching the countdown with anticipation as American astronauts sat atop a rocket that would ignite a fireball of fuel that would launch them into space. As the final seconds ticked away, there is always apprehension and worry that everything goes as it should. And when it does, it’s always a sight to behold. A sleek rocket soaring through the atmosphere and into space with humans on board. It seems that, no matter where you were watching or what nation you were watching it in, it brought you together with everyone else in a unified sense of joy, pride and wonder. And you would hope that it would somehow provide relief and hope to the crazy, unsettled world those astronauts were streaking away from.

This could easily describe watching the launch of the Space X mission to the International Space Station this past weekend. It was not only the first launch into space in cooperation with a private enterprise, but the first manned launch from American soil in 9 years. Yet it also describes, for me, watching another launch back in December of 1968. I grew up watching the Space Race between the US and then Soviet Union through the 60’s and on this December day, about a week before Christmas, Apollo 8 was about to take it’s three man crew beyond what any other space mission had done to that point, leaving earth orbit and heading to the moon. It’s mission was to reach and orbit the moon several times before returning to earth. It would set the groundwork for the Apollo 11 mission the following July. Watching the huge Saturn V rocket powering its way through the sky and into space was another unifying moment, for it too was leaving behind a world in turmoil, especially in the United States. Not only was a war half a world away tearing the country apart, the ongoing divide between black & white America was as deep as ever. Dr. Martin Luther King had been gunned down and, barely two months later, Robert Kennedy, the man who was on his way to winning the Democratic nomination for President, and probably would have become President, was also assassinated. Riots and demonstrations followed in the cities. Burning and looting occurred. There was a military presence in the streets. It seemed an entire nation lacked leadership, vision or hope as to how to resolve the chaos it was in. So, at the end of that tumultuous year of 1968, it was a magnificent adventure into space that brought a brief moment of celebration and hope to not only Americans but citizens of the world.

So, watching the launch of Space X over this past weekend, even though its destination was not as ambitious, was still a reason watch something hopeful and inspiring. Those two Americans were also leaving behind a world crippled and divided by a deadly pandemic and another senseless death that ignited the consistent flames of hate, racial inequality and injustice. Ironically, it is also during another election year, but also a time again when the situation cries out for thoughtful, reasoned leadership that’s not there. Again, there are demonstrations, some turning violent. There is looting. There is burning. And there is a military presence in the streets.

I have always been a huge proponent of space exploration, even though many, including back in 1968, thought of it as a waste of money that could be better spent fixing some of the problems causing all the unrest and turmoil. Yes, it’s a tremendous amount of money, but I feel money well spent. It has not only lead to opening up the universe but the development of technological change in all aspects of society. One just has to look at the astronauts suits. Gone were the bulky, cumbersome suits which made them look like the Michelin tire guy (and those portable air conditioners they had to carry with them?). Astronauts Bob & Doug (beauty, eh?) showed up in the sleekest, coolest suits this side of Star Trek. The Dragon space capsule was also a marvel of new technology. Gone were the multiple dials, switches and counters spread over a huge control panel which took up half the spacecraft. The Dragon’s control panel was like a interstellar version of a Tesla control panel, complete with video monitors and fingertip controls.

It may not have been boldly going where no man has gone before, but the Space X mission was the beginning of a new era in space exploration. It gave us a welcome reminder that humans can achieve great things and how far we’ve come from those early days of space exploration.

As to what’s going on back here on Earth, especially over the past week, its a sad reminder of what we can never seem to change, and how far we still have to go before we do.


So by now, many of us have made about 7 batches of Rice Krispy Treats and gone through the entire Netflix library twice..and it looks like we may have to endure this new way of life for a little longer. I am fortunate enough to find myself still working and otherwise being hunkered down with my wife, son and dog…all of us doing well and hanging in there. Others may not be so fortunate and find themselves struggling with this new existence. What makes it even worse is that we don’t know when things will get better. That leads to frustration, anxiety or, worst of all, a sense of defiance that is starting to take hold of our neighbours to the south. Yet, for the most part, people realize this is not only the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do. Yes, maybe you’re sick of staying home. but someone else is even more sick than you are, or someone is now gone because of this pandemic. Many generations, including my own, have never had to deal with something like this. The closest I can imagine is how my parents, like many others, survived growing up during the Second World War…and they didn’t have streaming services, smart phones or home delivery, while facing a danger that was far greater.

We really just have to trust the medical experts and also trust ourselves that this will all be over, sooner than later, and life will come back as we knew it. We can go back to work, back to school, back to the restaurants and pubs, watch sports again, go see concerts & shows, shake hands, hug and even kiss each other again (and maybe not in that order). Yes, life will get back to normal. But amongst all this adjustment, there have been some beneficial developments that I hope, once the danger is gone, that I would like to see continue…

No doubt, the biggest thing is a new found respect for health care workers. All of them, from the doctors, nurses..right down to the people who clean the hospitals, clinics and hallways. The nightly salutes are an outstanding way to show appreciation. But how about showing that appreciation even after this pandemic passes? Perhaps governments won’t always look to cutting health care costs when it’s time to trim the budget.

Speaking of budget cuts, I think the same could be said for teachers. I dare say there isn’t a parent out there that now has a new found respect and admiration for the work teachers do…so how about sparing those education cuts next go around too?

Keep showing that love and respect for essential service workers….especially grocery clerks, food delivery workers, restaurant employees…anyone that helps us with those necessities we need. And wouldn’t it be nice if, after this is over, we can keep showing the love by maybe…oh, I don’t know…paying them a little more than minimum wage if you can?

It seems we’ve also started listening scientific and medical experts again, and not politicians who dismiss their advice or recommendations because they ‘can’t understand it’ or ‘trust it.’

I’m also glad to see that people are trusting experienced and credible sources of news again and not from Facebook or Twitter. Ratings are reported to be up significantly for both local and national newscasts as people are starting to understand where the ‘fake news’ really comes from. ( Here’s a hint….if you ever read a post that contains the phrase ‘ I can’t believe the mainstream media is not reporting this’…it probably means its not true to begin with).

And would we be asking to much if gas prices stayed less than a dollar a litre?

But on a related note…for the first time in a long time, in places like Beijing, New Delhi, Bogota and Los Angeles, the colour of the sky really is blue.

And something I’ve noticed during my numerous walks….I can hear the birds a little better than before.

Yes, it would be nice to keep some of that going…

But it would be nice to go shopping again without masks and socialize a little closer than 2 metres…

Most of all, it will be nice to come out of this not only healthy, but with a healthy appreciation for what’s important in life..and what matters most..

Oh yeah…and maybe go see a game again!


For the past two weeks, many people here in Vancouver have been reminiscing about the 2010 Winter Olympics. Many of those memories reflected on how great the experience was, and for the most part, it was true, despite the constant angst during the years leading up to it about the cost overruns, potential disruption of our daily lives, the social inequities it would reflect and, most anxiety inducing of all…lack of snow. That should not have been surprising. We have to remember that of all the cities in a country that spends most of the time in winter, Vancouver is the only city that doesn’t do winter..and when it does show up, we don’t do very well with it. In that regard, the fact that we pulled off one of the most successful Winter Olympics in history is still a marvel to me.

For many of my colleagues at CTV, there are very strong memories from 10 years ago, since CTV was the host broadcaster. For us, it was a showcase for not just a national but international audience. Anchors, reporters, producers, directors, camera operators, technicians…everyone would be showcasing their skills for nearly 18 hours each day for 17 days. Gruelling at times, exhausting but exhilarating. A once in a lifetime opportunity that would become a highlight to everyone’s career. Covering events, history making moments, great athletes, compelling stories, not to mention welcoming the world to our city and showcasing ourselves and our talents as professionals. And I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to take part…

or so I thought.

At that time, I was still technically a part time, freelance employee of CTV. My main duties were as weekend weather anchor and fill in when needed. I was included in all the meetings and filled in on all the coverage plans leading up to the games. CTV Vancouver would broadcast daily as part of the national coverage, including live 9 hour coverage of the torch relay on opening day. Despite showing myself to be ready, willing and able to do more. The fact that I had received a complete CTV official Olympic clothing package ( winter jacket, zip up light weight jacket, pants, gloves, toque) led me to believe I would be involved more. But so far, it was on the opening day only. I was assigned to cover one of the exchange points at the countdown clock beside the Vancouver Art Gallery. So, I manned my post at 6 am that morning, waiting for the moment when the torch would be exchanged as it made its way through downtown towards BC Place and the opening ceremony later that evening. As you can imagine, about 3 and a half hours later, my magic moment on national television came and went very quickly, with my entire segment barely lasting over a minute. The relay continued on as we wrapped up at my location. I walked back half a block to the studio, where I changed from my official CTV Olympic gear to my official City of Vancouver gear. I was heading down to David Lam Park in Yaletown to emcee the first day of Live City, the largest of 2 outdoor venues put on by the city, featuring live coverage of the big events as well as concerts and celebrations. I was asked to emcee both the opening day and closing day activities. As much as I enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity, it became apparent that this was somewhat akin to winning the participatory ribbon. Or, in Olympic parlance, I didn’t make the podium. Because, with the exception of that first day, I would not appear on CTV for any of their remaining broadcasts during the games. I would be absent for almost the entire run and, on top of that, I would be without income for over 2 weeks, since I was paid only when I was on TV, not off it. I would spend the next 2 weeks hoping that, maybe, the phone would ring and I would be needed somehow. But the call never came. The biggest event and opportunity for many of my friends and colleagues was turning into one of my biggest disappointments.

But I digress…

As much as I was discouraged by not being part of covering the games, it did give me time to enjoy them. We saw the luge competitions, women’s downhill skiing and ski jumping in Whistler, as well as taking in the atmosphere downtown and, albeit somewhat envious, watching it on TV. Then, on the final day, it was back down to David Lam Park and the Live City stage to emcee the final day. It would turn out to be my most favourite memory of the games and one that made up for the disappointment of not being more involved. The big event that day was the Gold Medal game in men’s hockey…Canada vs the US. It was shown live on the two gigantic screens beside the stage. After introducing a couple of musical acts, including the great Jim Byrnes, myself and over 3,000 people settled in to watch the game. As we all know, it was a game for the ages…..Canada jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the US narrowing it to a one goal lead in the 2nd and then tying it up in final seconds of the third period. Even though the entire country was watching, it seemed that all of us gathered there were in our own world, emotions running from joy to anxiety. Then, seven and a half minutes into overtime, Sidney Crosby yells out to Jarome Iginla…then the golden goal! I will never forget what happened next….over 3,000 people erupting into an explosion of sheer joy & celebration. Yelling, screaming, crying, flag waving, hugging, high-fiving…it was a perfect ending to what had been a stellar performance by not only our hockey heroes, but the entire Canadian Olympic team. It was also a fitting end to what turned out to be a great performance by our city and the people in it. Being there in that moment, I realized how special this was, how fortunate I was…and all the feelings of being left out…left me. After we wound down the day and the closing ceremonies were about to take place, I walked the few blocks from Yaletown back up towards Burrard Street downtown. For the entire walk, people were out on the street, in their cars, leaning out of windows, cheering, waving flags, honking horns, exchanging high fives and congratulatory screams. It was pure joy and celebration. By the time I got to Robson and Burrard, it was jammed with a mass of celebration and goodwill. Just for that moment alone, all the trauma and division leading up to the games was gone. It was all worth it. And all my feelings of disappointment were gone too….that final day made up for all the previous days.

It would have been nice to build more on that….and it would have been nice if subsequent public viewing of big events would have gone as well, such as the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals…but we know what happened then…

..but I digress…

We’ll always have 2010..and the Golden Goal.


Some would call it coincidence, some a premonition Right now, I’m not sure what to call it, but I had just watched again Time Stands Still, a great documentary on what would turn out to be the last tour for Rush. It’s a remarkable look at the career of, arguably, Canada’s greatest rock legends. Starting out as teenagers, playing high schools, bars and spending years on the road, sleeping in the back of station wagons, camper vans and finally motorhomes. They worked and followed their hearts, creating music that mattered to them and no one else, which in turn created a huge, loyal fan base. And to sustain that creativity and integrity for over 40 years is a story unto itself. The film also showed them coming to grips with the physical and mental challenges of continuing to be one of the most awesome bands on the planet, of how the heart and mind would do this forever, even though the body might not let you. During one interview sequence, Neil Peart talked about staying at the top of his game as he got older. “I can play Charlie Watts drum parts when I’m 71, but I can’t play like Neil Peart drum parts when I’m 71.” It became one of the central reasons, along with Alex Lifeson’s arthritis, that the R40 tour would be the last. I saw the Vancouver show on that tour, totally unaware that it would be the last time I would see this iconic trio perform..

And certainly not aware that this would be one of the last times anyone would see the brilliance of Neil Peart.

Until today, when we learned of his passing…at the far too young age of 67, never mind 71..

Rush was a big part of my life, as they were for so many. If you grew up in southern Ontario in the 70’s, Rush were heroes. Three guys from Willowdale who were making real music rather than playing air guitar in our rooms. Their first album, with original drummer john Rutsey, was basic, rudimentary rock n roll. As it turned out, Rutsey’s musical vision wasn’t as ambitious as his bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, not to mention health issues that made the rudimentary rock & roll lifestyle a danger to him. He would be replaced by a tall, lanky Neil Peart. Their second album, Fly By Night, showcased not only a new drummer, but a newer sound, style and dynamic that Neil helped create not only by his musicianship but his lyrics. During those days and hours on the road during the early days, you would see pictures of him reading, soaking all those influences in to produce memorable lines which every fan has memorized and sang over & over again. At the same time, he developed his precise, meticulous yet thundering style of drumming which no one can imitate. Surrounded by a multitude of drums, blocks, cymbals, bells…anything that would make a sound…he played all of them in a way that was extraordinary, yet never excessive or overly flamboyant. With every subsequent album, you would look forward to hearing something bigger and better.

The one song that solidified my passion for them was The Spirit of Radio, from the album Permanent Waves. It was very early in my radio career, so the subject of the song was compelling. I was at my first radio station, a very middle of the road and unadventurous AM station, longing for the day I could get a job at an FM rock station and play the music I actually loved & listened too. I would get my wish soon enough, however, as a few months later I went to Saskatoon to work at FM 103. a place I called one of the last great FM rock stations and one that did indeed embrace the spirit of radio. The program director, Jerry Lucky, was also a Rush fan. I remember working the evening shift when their album Moving Pictures was released. He said ” I hope you’re playing a track from that every night, right?” He didn’t have to tell me. Later on I would get the morning show on that same station, where I tried to embody the opening lyrics to The Spirit of Radio…..

“Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive

Plays that song that’s so elusive, and the magic music makes your morning mood”

That’s what it was about for me….playing some great music which I liked and hopefully you did too..and getting your day started the right way. And whenever Rush came out with a new album, it was an event to be anticipated and celebrated. And on every album, you would listen for that signature drum fill or moment of magic from Neil Peart and once again be in awe of his talent.

Many years later, after many albums from them and a couple of career changes for me, I got to take my son to a Rush show during the Snakes & Arrows tour of 2007-08. He was a drummer himself, so to take him to see the best on the planet was one of my cherished moments. Needless to say, he became a fan too. We saw 2 other shows after that…each one as powerful and brilliant as the last, with Neil Peart continuing to be their heart and soul. Yet he never sought to be admired or adored. He wanted to be known as a great artist, not a rock star. Through all those years and tours, through his own personal tragedy of losing his first wife & daughter, his aversion for life on the road, playing through a severe foot infection on the last see Neil Peart give an amazing performance every night was something to be cherished.

Many fans like myself are now cherishing those moments more than ever. As someone said in an earlier tribute…the next time you hear thunder, it’ probably him,

Thank you Neil. I know you once wrote ‘ I can’t pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend’ , but you made friends and fans of many strangers, including this one,

Thank you for your creative gifts and your spirit. Thank you for helping me create great morning moods.

Be at peace…


It’s Thanksgiving in Canada. I’ve always loved the fact that we celebrate it earlier than our American friends, much like we get to celebrate our national birthday 3 days before them! Its also one of those times where, much like making New Year’s resolutions, that we like to list off what we are thankful for, rather than striving to be in a state of gratitude all year long. However, having said that and knowing that everyone else has done this at some point this past weekend, here is my gratitude list

I am thankful for living in Metro Vancouver. Even though one can barely afford to live here, it’s hard to imagine anywhere else I would rather live. Having all this natural beauty literally outside my front door makes up for it.

I am thankful for also living in a neighbourhood with great people, even though I don’t remember everyone’s name sometimes

I am thankful for having a long and eventful career in an industry which has been more uncertain than eventful and longevity has become the exception rather than the norm.

I am thankful to my Dutch ancestors for inventing, among other things, Hagelslag….those wonderful little chocolate sprinkles which, when spread over melted butter on toast, turns into a feast from heaven!

I am thankful for not only having, but also being able to appreciate a sense of humour…a quality which seems to be more restricted and restrained in many cases. It is needed now more than ever today, since it always brings sanity and clarity to that which is chaotic and outrageous. Plus, laughing just makes you feel good.

I am also thankful for all kinds of music and all the wonderful musicians who create it.

I am thankful that I can watch professional football from late June until the first weekend in February

I am thankful for those men and women who dedicate their lives and put them at risk to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. I also am thankful to those men and women who also dedicate their lives to promoting , advocating and fighting for peace, equality and those who are the victims of injustice

I am thankful for being born a citizen of a country that has given me freedom and opportunity wherever I have lived, but also being able to be respected when travelling to other countries and being envied for calling myself Canadian

In turn, I am thankful to my parents who, like many who sought a better life from Europe after the Second World War, chose Canada to start their new lives and where myself and my brother would begin ours

I am thankful to those who have taught me…not just teachers and instructors, but those who took the time with advice, encouragement, by word or deed. Sometimes it was simple, but the impact it had was huge. I’m also thankful to those who challenged me to be better or do better, even though I might not have appreciated it at the time!

I am thankful for all the friends I’ve had and those I continue to have

I am thankful for continuing to be physically, mentally and spiritually healthy

Above all, I’m thankful for my beautiful wife and my amazing son, who have brought more love and fulfillment than I could have ever imagined. Without them, none of this would make any sense.

Lastly, thank you for reading this…..and I hope you have many items on your list too!

Happy Thanksgiving!


So there are two important anniversaries occurring this month. The most important, of course, is my 24th wedding anniversary to my wonderful wife Amandah. But the other is also significant.

It was 40 years ago this month when we packed up the family car with my stereo, record albums, a suitcase of clothes and a few other things as my father and I drove up to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario to start my broadcasting career. After sending out multiple tapes and resumes, I was off to do the evening shift at CFYN AM. Even though I had aspirations of working at a cool FM rock station, I had to start somewhere, even for a whopping $500 a month. My friends thought I was insane. Many of them were sure I would be enrolling in a theatre program or hitting the stage at Second City or Yuk Yuks. Why on earth did I want to do radio? I didn’t see it that way…I was getting a chance to do something I wanted to do. A couple of days later, we arrived and found a place to live…a small room in a house near the Algoma Steel Plant. I remember my Dad waking up early the next morning to say goodbye to me. Half asleep, I gave him a hug and he was on his way back home…and for brief moment, I found myself now alone…on my own. In that moment, I thought ‘What happens now? How is this going to go? What am I doing? Are my friends right, am I really insane?’

Once that feeling subsided, I went off to my first shift. That was followed by nearly a year there where I moved from evenings to mid-days and finally to afternoon drive. Then I was off to Saskatoon to work in the format I always wanted to do, FM rock radio. Five great years there were followed by an ownership & format change and another not so great 2 and half years before they had enough of me and I of them. Shortly after that, I found myself in the world of television at the newly launched STV. As strange as it my seem now. television was never on my radar. But here I was, with the same thought in my head from nearly 10 years earlier…’How is this going to go?’

As it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t know, because I could never have imagined how it was going to be so fulfilling, compelling, challenging, at times frustrating but always rewarding this journey was going to be. Along the way, I’ve met and worked with some incredible people. I’ve met the famous, not so famous and people who deserve to be more famous than they actually are. I’ve met some long time heroes and new ones. I’ve got to travel places I never thought I would be. I’ve performed in some great studios, stages and settings…been involved with some great productions. I’ve been part of some great fundraising campaigns and programs for some great causes and institutions. I flown with the Snowbirds and done live broadcasts from vineyards in France. I’ve been through 5 or 6 different corporate and ownership restructurings as well as numerous ‘changes in direction.’ I worked at 4 different TV stations in one building, I’ve been asked to leave buildings 3 times and watched helplessly when others were asked to leave. I’ve seen changes in technology, strategy and philosophy through the entire industry that, even now, it is still trying to come to terms with. But most of all, I have learned so much about myself, much more than I could ever imagine when I was sitting in the dark in that room in Sault Ste Marie.

Would I do it all again? Hell yes…even the $500 a month ( which I should say I make a lot more than that now). I know this a time of great angst and doubt in broadcast media these days. They way we get and receive information and entertainment is still something the traditional broadcasters are trying to keep up with, while the corporations who own and operate media keep their eyes on the bottom line. Many people who have been doing this as long as I have are now questioning if its all still worth it, while many who aspire to get in are now getting cold feet. I’m often asked nowadays whether I would encourage anyone to take up this profession. My answer again is…hell yes! There will be challenging moments and times when you doubt not only those around you but also yourself, but that happens to anyone in any profession. Broadcasting and media not only in this country but around the world needs new people with fresh ideas to help it evolve and change with how we communicate and get our information and entertainment. I think its up to everyone in the industry now to develop and encourage this.

I would also tell anyone who wants to do this is to always trust yourself and be yourself. Over the years, I have had many people tell me how to act, sound, emote and express myself. Yes, you can take some direction here and there, but in the end, it all comes down to being genuine and true to yourself. I’ve been put in situations where they’ve tried to turn me into someone I wasn’t. Needless to say, it didn’t work, even when it meant I was out of work. Now, forty years later, I can say I’m enjoying myself more than I ever have in my entire career. I’m still challenged every day, I’m still enjoying every day and I’m still thankful every day.

And I’m not done yet!

Oh…and Happy Anniversary, honey!


The Toronto Raptors took their place in sports history by becoming the first Canadian based team to win the NBA Championship. Raptor fever swept the nation as they marched over Philadelphia, Milwaukee and finally the defending champions Golden State…and the entire nation was captivated. They went from Toronto’s team to Canada’s team. Jurassic Park style viewing areas formed across the country as the nation held it’s collective breath as the last seconds of Game 6 (which took about 20 minutes), then cheered from coast to coast to coast. All of Canada taking in the post game celebrations and days later the seemingly never ending parade and celebration through downtown Toronto. A moment we will never forget…..and all of Canada was on this giant bandwagon.

Even those of us here in Vancouver…and, quite frankly, I’m surprised.


Sometimes the easiest way you can get someone from Vancouver not to like something is to tell them it’s from Toronto, especially if it involves a sports team. Any mention of the Blue Jays as ‘Canada’s team’ is met with eye rolls and looks of disdain from many residents here. I hear constant complaints about the Toronto-centric coverage on both of the country’s sports networks, as some nights you have to wait for Canucks highlights while they thoroughly discuss what went on with the Maple Leafs that day…even longer on days they’re playing. Not to mention the fact that our NBA experience didn’t go so well. While quite a few fans would love to see the league return to Vancouver, it left even more with a bad taste in the mouth that they still can’t wash out. Other memories faded with time. For the rest, the Grizzles were a team they look up online. So as the Raptors success and the hype grew, my initial reaction to everyone supporting ‘Canada’s team’ was skeptical. It would be a tough sell out here. I mean, even Raptors International ambassador and head cheerleader Drake got kicked out of a casino here!

But I was wrong. More than that, I was surprised just how much Vancouver bought into Raptor mania. Soon I was seeing more We The North hats, Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry jerseys than Canucks gear. We started calling ourselves the No Fun City again because there were no Jurassic Park style viewing events permitted….another thing that didn’t go so well the last time we did that. Despite that, however, there was no denying Raptor fever and this time we went all in. Bars were packed…living rooms and basements erupted in cheers and for the past few days I’ve seen more basketball being played in the street than road hockey. This year, the Stanley Cup playoffs were just there. Chants of ‘Lets Go Raptors ‘ and ‘We The North’ could be heard from time to time. And this time, it seemed ok. Why not? Now, even though Toronto is my birthplace, I never had an emotional connection to them. My experience was with the Grizzlies and, through all their management blunders and ambivalent players, I enjoyed them while they were here. The only Toronto sports team I still have an emotional connection to is the Blue Jays. But I too tip my hat to the Raptors. They showed great skill and tenacity which endeared them to everyone who watched. True, if it weren’t for Kawhi Leonard, we would not have been watching 8 hours of parade coverage across the country. But this was team to be remembered, much like the Jays back to back World Series in the early nineties. And who knows…maybe the NBA will return to Vancouver one day. If it does, I think it would work out a little better this time.

But just one other thing intrigues me……if things worked out differently and it was the Raptors that left after only 6 years, the Grizzlies stayed in Vancouver and went on to become NBA champions…would we have become Canada’s Team? Would they have covered the victory parade on national television? Would everyone in Toronto be chanting ‘We The Coast!’ ?

I guess we’ll have to find out.