The ups and downs of cross-country moving

I’ve always been curious: always wanting to know whatever it is I don’t know, see what I haven’t yet seen, do what I haven’t yet done. It’s part of the reason why I chose the career path I have. That said, I never anticipated that desire for adventure, insatiable curiosity and love of news would lead to as many moves as it has over the past 5 years…

Since January 2010, I’ve lived or worked in five cities. Five cities in almost 5 years. This is not something I’d planned for–at all…and yet I have no regrets.

My first move–to Newfoundland–is still the most memorable. I remember packing two suitcases and venturing off to a province I’d only ever read about. When the plane landed that night in January 2010, I couldn’t see a thing out the window for the fog (pea soup is how the locals described it). My boss at the time (a woman I both respect and will never forget) picked me up from the airport and drove me to the B&B where I’d be staying until I found an apartment. She was the only person I knew–not just at CBC NL, but in the entire province.

Over the course of the next 2.5 years, St. John’s became my home; the people I met there, my family. I still believe it’s the best move I ever made.

After that came a short stint in Edmonton, followed by a longer stay in Calgary–a city I never thought I’d love, but can’t seem to get enough of (except when it snows. I’ve had enough of that). There’s something about life in Calgary–life in western Canada that’s grown on me…

Regardless of what part of the country I’ve found myself in, there’s one thing that’s always been the same: Canadians are indeed a friendly bunch. Despite having moved to cities where I haven’t known a soul, I’ve never felt alone: I’ve had more orphan Thanksgivings/Christmases/New Years with complete strangers than anyone should have! Over the past five years, my birthday has never gone uncelebrated (one year, my friends bought me three cakes. Three cakes!). Gifts from friends in NL always appear in my mailbox come Christmas time. And there are still regular phone calls with my cross-country network of friends to discuss work, stories, news (and, of course, all the other “important topics” women in their 30s talk about).

Now, there are only a few things I dislike about all this moving. Chief among them? Packing. It gets easier the more you do it, but it will never be fun. You wanna know what else isn’t fun? Unpacking. The only thing that trumps both of those torturous tasks is having to say goodbye. That never gets easier.

That said, I always look forward to what comes after the ‘goodbye’: the ups and downs of a new city, a new adventure. For someone as curious as me, the change and challenge that comes with a new city has made my cross-country moving all worthwhile.

“Reporting LIVE, from the top of this box…”

standing on two boxes
“Reporting LIVE, from the top of this box…”

I still remember one of my first live hits in Newfoundland–a story about Kathy Dunderdale not too long before she became Premier–and nervously going over my script, while my camera man shuffled around me. Everything was in place–the monitor behind me, the lights, my mic was on–but there was just one problem: I was too short.

Since 2010, this has been the story of my reporter life. No matter what city I find myself in, live truck operators, directors, shooters have to break out the box–sometimes multiple boxes–to compensate for my vertical challenges.

standing on a box in edmonton

I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that a few times a week, I will find myself reporting live from the top of a box. For some reason, elections seem to highlight just how short some of us are (see below).

So far at CTV Kitchener, I haven’t had to stand on a box (give it time), but I have had to…modify the anchor chair…slightly. Over the course of my first few days on the anchor desk, I could tell that something was different, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. After watching the show (twice), it finally hit me: I was too short for the anchor desk. The only problem was that the height of the chair couldn’t be adjusted.

The solution: a stack of papers and a pillow.

"Coming to you LIVE, from atop this pillow..."
“Coming to you LIVE, from atop this cushion…”

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I’m in television news, I will always be perched atop something for the purposes of the camera. I’ll also forever get a chuckle out of the viewers who remark how I look so much taller on television…

 

While interviewing Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil on election night, a Sun News reporter needed quite the boost.
While interviewing Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil on election night, a Sun News reporter needed quite the boost.
During last year's municipal election in Calgary, I too needed a boost.
During last year’s municipal election in Calgary, I too needed a boost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banter with Strangers

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…

This time last year, I was getting ready to mark my one year anniversary with CBC Calgary…and there was lots to celebrate. I had a great job, with great friends in a great city. Though I knew someday (soon), I’d be ready for change, I didn’t think that change would come by force…

…but it did. On May 1st, 2014. When the axe fell at the CBC, I wasn’t on the right side of it. If you’ve ever been laid off, then you know what a wave of emotions that experience is like: shock, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion. The CBC had decided to consolidate it’s weekend newscasts in Alberta. Rather than having a show in Calgary and Edmonton, it was decided that the show would be done out of Edmonton and the team in Calgary would be no more.

My bosses assured all of us there would be work and, for me, there were offers of work in Calgary, Ottawa and beyond. However, with the CBC taking a new (and very unclear) path towards a predominantly digital strategy, I decided that maybe it was time for change.

So, when CTV Kitchener came knocking, I answered.

ctv live hit

I’m very happy I did, for the record.

It has been almost a month into my time here and the experience has been wonderful… and eyeopening. After spending 4.5 years with the public broadcaster, this adventure into news with a private broadcaster is just that–a new and exciting adventure. There are similarities…but I can’t even begin to list the differences between the two…I wouldn’t even know where to start.

There is one change, though, that does stand out: Anchoring.

Up until I crossed-over, I’d always believed that reporting was tougher than anchoring. You have to chase, gather, battle with PR reps and (if you’re a CBC reporter) edit your own stories. It was a straight up, full on hustle. As for anchoring, I’d become so used to the style, that I don’t think I realized how tough it actually was. The shows were so tightly scripted: throws to and from the Weather Anchor were the only real opportunity to showcase your personality, but those moments were brief.

ctv kitchener anchor desk

Enter CTV and their not-so-tightly scripted approach to newscasts. There’s lots of news…and plenty of opportunities to just loosen up and let your personality shine through. Plus, there’s a SPORTS ANCHOR! I haven’t worked on a newscast with a Sports Anchor in 4.5 years!

For this first week of anchoring, every moment–every throw–felt awkward. The directors voices in my ear were different, the show formats were different, the co-anchors were different, the anchor desk felt different (My boss tells me everything looked good to him, so I guess I’m doing something right!). Even though I personally knew the weather anchor, she might as well have been a complete stranger on that first day. Interacting with her and everyone else felt like banter with strangers.

However, as my days on the desk continue, that feeling is slowly starting to dissipate.  Sitting  at the anchor desk still feels weird, but its a ‘good’ weird. An ‘I’m happy to be here’ kinda weird. The people I work with are starting to feel less like strangers and more like co-workers…some of them, more like friends.

In the long run, this move will prove to be good for me in more ways than one. CTV Kitchener is definitely committed to local news and the local audience, so they’re a great station to cut my teeth at…and I do feel like I’m working with a company where growth and progress won’t at all be a problem. I also have a new found appreciation for change and a renewed love for news and anchoring.

Change is, indeed, good.