Behind The Scenes
The other night at Blue Frog Studios, the MC, City of White Rock Counsellor, Dave Chesney wanted me to write about the “behind the scenes dirt” from my days at the BCTV/Global NewsHour.
Sadly, or gratefully, I can’t remember any “dirt?” It was a terrific group of people, who were the cream of the crop in their profession, and on top of that, we all got along!
There are a few stories I can tell though. Dave asked me about the dog that was under the desk in the Tony Parsons news anchor years. Yes, he was there almost every night. Charlie was his name. A very well behaved little dog that Tony rescued from the pound as I recall.
Charlie would follow Tony everywhere. Tony went into his office, Charlie would follow. Into the makeup room, Charlie was right behind. On the set, Charlie would curl up under the desk.
He was very well behaved, and never made a sound, except at the sound of a doorbell. Ding, Dong, Woof! Woof! Woof! Nobody really knows why Charlie would bark at the sound of the door bell, we could only guess that his previous owner had taught him that trick. Now, you may ask, where do you find a doorbell in a tv news studio? The answer is, the audio department! The audio man, Bert McCormick, who had a wonderful sense of humour, found a recording of the classic “Ding Dong, Avon calling” doorbell, and just for fun, every so often during a commercial break, he would play it over the speakers in the studio and Charlie would go crazy. Tony would just laugh, yell at Bert to stop it, calm Charlie down, and all would be quiet when we came back on the air.
There was a near Charlie disaster on one of the NewsHour Road Trips into the interior. The tv station would set aside a couple of weeks a year and broadcast the NewsHour from a different town each night, and one year we were in Vernon and Charlie decided to leave the venue and go for a walk in the neighbourhood. Not really in character for him, but he got away. Panic ensued! Call the cops! And we did. The Vernon RCMP was alerted and told to be on the lookout for Tony’s dog! We also mentioned it on the broadcast that night, and a viewer saw Charlie walking down the street in front of his house! He called the cops and the cops called us, and all was good in NewsHourland. Tony was relieved and grateful.
One more Charlie story. The newsroom was paid a visit by a group of consultants one year. (A consultant as you know is anyone from out of town with a briefcase.) And they were in a meeting room talking with the News Director and told him they were shocked to see the news anchor had a dog under the desk during the news! That’s just not done, they said! You can’t have that! The News Director then showed the consultants the ratings for the show. At the time, you could take all the ratings numbers from all of the other dinner time newscasts in the city, add them together, and the News Hour still was on top. I can only imagine, when the consultants met with the next tv station on their list, the first thing they recommended was to have a dog under the anchor desk.
BCTV/Global management had a remarkable ability to hire very good people. One of those people was a broadcaster who was one of the best in the business for many years, Bill Good. Bill joined the team to anchor a 5:30 newscast, called Canada Tonight, which was the precursor to Global National that’s on the air today. Bill had been a sports journalist like his father Bill Sr. had also co-anchored the CBC 6:00 news for years, and had his own talk show on radio station CKNW.
During one newscast, we were all in the newsroom watching as Bill read the introduction to a news story about the musical group ABBA. Maybe you’ve done the same thing Bill did that night. You’re telling a story and you think you said a particular word, but you didn’t, and when people listening point it out, you can’t believe them. This happened to Bill. He said in his introduction, “Today, the Jewish group ABBA”…..What? We fell apart laughing in the newsroom. Jewish group ABBA? On the teleprompter and in the script it clearly said the “Swedish group ABBA!” When Bill got off the air, we told him what he had said. “No way” he said, “Oh yes way” we answered. He swore up and down that we were wrong. We had to take him into the back room where all the newscasts were recorded and play the tape of him calling the Swedish group, the Jewish group ABBA. We laughed, and he laughed!
I do believe that was the only time Bill ever made a mistake. At least, that’s what he’ll tell you! Haha!
Till next week...
1 // Tony Parsons 2 // Bill Good 3 // Charlie the Dog 4 // Global News Hour
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2