“Did a man bring you out here?” and other awkward questions.

I love my job. I love asking questions, getting answers and sharing them with the public. However, sometimes, I find myself answering questions, but not the kind you’d expect…

Questions from viewers are never meant to offend…but sometimes they’re just terribly awkward. I remember meeting a viewer for the first time when I lived out east. They were curious as to why I would want to move to eastern Canada (Newfoundland, of all places!) for work. “Did a man bring you out here?,” they asked.

Now, if someone had asked me this question back in–oh, I dunno–the 1940s, it probably would have been fair. But in 2012?? I couldn’t help but laugh before, politely, answering.

Over the years there have been more questions–and sometimes puzzling statements–that I’m still at a loss for words over.

“Are you single?”

“Is that your real hair?”

“You’re prettier in person.” (Well, what do I look like on TV then?!)

“I love your tan. It’s just such a lovely shade!” (NB: The viewer was talking about my skin tone…)

“Are you from Africa?” (See my earlier post about this FAQ)

In my defense, there is no appropriate response for some of these questions/statements (#3 is a perfect example). Often when I return to the newsroom and share these stories, the only thing my colleagues and I can do is laugh. The viewers are sincere and this is just their way of letting you know that they like you (they really like you!).

I’ll be honest, I don’t entirely mind these encounters. Awkwardness aside, it confirms an important fact: people are still watching local news. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.



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.