Stationbreak Magazine

Compiled by Ken Gibson for March 1st, 2018.
(with technical assistance from Bill Morris.)

Contents - Click on the Title below:



by Chris Paton

Once upon a time there existed in the CBC Vancouver VTR technical department, a video tape accumulation reel of some of the most devastating, and at the same time, funniest screw-ups ever to have occurred on CBC live local and national television. For years new bits were added to the reel, most of them thanks to the super quick action of operators and editors who could recognize the buildup to a good debacle when they saw one, and had the smarts to hit the machine record button. Other blunders were often dubbed over from program backup recordings made for delayed distribution to CBC affiliate stations.

The special reel of video bloopers was usually only brought out and played for special occasions like the annual cast and crew holiday season get-togethers.That tradition ended years back when word circulated that the accumulation tape, by that time likely more than just the one reel, had mysteriously vanished. Well maybe that was so. But personally, I suspect those reels live on and lay gathering dust in a secret vault known only to editors and operators all of whom were long ago sworn to secrecy.

This past Christmas season I found myself thinking about long ago holiday times with CBC colleagues and dear friends, and those celebrations brought to mind the long lost tapes.To the best of my ability and memory, I began to make a few notes about what I remembered. Most of what was caught on tape really had to be seen to be appreciated. But for the videos where a description might work, it seemed like a fun idea to write and share some of what I recall. In fact, if reading this piece jogs any memories about other accumulation tape contents, I'd love to hear about them.

One part of the tape that always made me chuckle was a montage of fun announcer flubs and spoonerisms. In one I remember, announcer Dan McAfee reporting that Jack Nicklaus had just won a tournament with a "ten put futt." But among those announcer gaffes, there existed one that was absolutely the most memorable. At this point it feels like a good idea to paraphrase some information normally supered on the screen of some TV shows and movies - and that is to state there were no injuries to animals, cast or crew during any of the events captured on the tape accumulation reels - there was however, a lot of embarrassment involved. With exceptions such as exploding or falling lights, or the danger of being run down by a large studio pedestal camera racing to get from one side of the studio to the other (usually at the insane behest of a newbie control room director) TV studios normally don't present much in the way of a menacing work environment. But in my experience, there is one highly innocent looking, but ominous piece of apparatus that still lurks in TV studios throughout the world - the riser.

In the early1960s a National news reader who, to save further embarrassment shall remain anonymous, finished up the night's newscast. In closing he offered up the traditional sign-off line "For the CBC National, Goodnight." Then holding the script in one hand, he used the other hand to push himself away from the desk. What viewers saw next was a head and shoulders shot of a startled looking man flying backwards. Then came a horrendous crash. In what can best be described as a half gainer the news reader, having just forcibly fired himself off the back of the riser, went feet up and somersaulted out of the bottom of the camera frame - chair and all. My guess would be that it was in a mutual state of shock that the show's director and switcher left the empty camera shot up on air for what seemed like an eternity. Muffled expletives were heard coming from the dark behind the desk, accompanied by the faint sound of the National's theme music playing in the background. Finally one lone hand appeared in the shot and was seen reaching up and clutching at the news desk. With that the screen finally and mercifully faded to black.

Back in Vancouver in that same era, but in a more personal vein, there happened another tape reel scenario - one that I remember all too well. It came about when I was script assisting on The 7O'Clock show, a nightly current affairs program that for nearly a decade followed the supper hour news. At the time Roger Kennedy was producing and directing the show. The host was Bob Quintrell, a man blessed with intelligence, a gentle wit and a personable demeanor the camera recognized and loved.

All these qualities shone through on one particular evening when we'd scheduled a live interview with a UBC Professor, a man with some expertise about the then raging war in Viet Nam. The professor still hadn't arrived at the studio by the time we went on air. There was a standby tape story all cued up, but nevertheless I'd left word at the reception desk to call when he arrived. That call finally came about 3 minutes before the show's first taped item would come to an end. With Roger in agreement, I raced downstairs to retrieve the guest. I found him sitting alone in the old 1200 West Georgia reception area, and quickly explained that we'd have to rush as he was late. I have a dim memory of him saying that he was sorry to be late, but he thought he'd actually been very early. As we blew by the old makeup room down the hallway from reception, I have another memory of telling him there wasn't time for makeup or powder. My recollection is that he looked amused and said "no makeup? really not a problem."

Painfully aware of the time, I clutched my stopwatch in one hand, while with the other I took hold of the man's arm and half dragged him up the two flights of stairs, down a hallway and another staircase, and finally into old studio 42. There was something in the order of 20 seconds to the end of the tape package when the studio director took the man off my hands, seated him in the chair opposite Bob where an audio assistant attached a mic. I made a mad dash up to the control room, threw open the door and immediately began counting down the last 10 seconds to the floor and Bob's introduction. "We're back with Professor (can't remember his name, but it goes here) who has been carefully watching the news coming out of Viet Nam this week. Professor what do you think about what's happening there?"

I remember a fleeting moment when I noticed that on the camera covering the guest, the professor looked strangely puzzled during Bob's introduction. I put that down to the insane race up the stairs and felt only gratitude that I hadn't given the man a heart attack. Then Roger cut to that camera. "Well Bob, I'd probably have to give the situation more serious thought. I'm actually not a professor. I came down here to see my son who's going to be on the Reach for the Top program tonight." In the control room there was a collective gasp. Roger Kennedy shot me a blood chilling sideways glance and uttered the obvious, "you got the wrong man." But Bob, far from fazed, smiled and said "well sir seeing as you're here with us, as a citizen your view on what's happening would still be much appreciated. The guy then gave a sort of stunned, but under the circumstances, not half bad answer. Bob even had a follow up question about how it was the man had come to feel as he did. At the conclusion, Bob made an apology to him and wished his son well on Reach for the Top. Then beautifully and seamlessly he ad-libbed a word perfect introduction to the standby tape item. It's my belief that because Bob handled the screw-up with such grace and diplomacy, he saved the day, my job, and in retrospect, gave the Reach for the Top Dad a story he could dine out on for decades.
And before you ask, no, I don't know if the real professor ever made it to the studio. But over the years it's given me a certain amount of pleasure to think that he just might have ended up in studio 41 as a Reach for the Top audience member.

A footnote here. While writing about the guest who really wasn't, I came to realize that this was a story about something that could never happen again. Present day security sign-in regulations and required name tags would have outed the identity of Bob's guest long before he made it up the stairs and into the studio. Given the times in which we live, it's obviously a sensible procedure. But it brought to mind the days of workplace openness and freedom of access that so many of us enjoyed and even took for granted. People presently beginning careers in the business will have grown up with all the harsh realities of security procedures. But for those of us who started careers in a place as open and welcoming as that old yellow studio building at the corner of Georgia and Bute streets, it's a world well remembered and missed.

And as for the old accumulation tape reels, nowadays video and pictures no longer vanish. Gaffes and bloopers are instantly uploaded to the internet where they will exist, unfortunately for some, in and beyond the clouds forever.

.... Explore the NEW site at www.stationbreak,ca !
Included are EAP's quarterly newsletters with TV, Radio and French notes and a Leisure section; 20 Year Association's How to Join, Auld Acquaintances and upcoming events for everyone; all you need to know about EAP; a weekly Movie Review; Staff and Retiree photos, and other items. FYI from April 1, Human Solutions will replace Family Services.

Here are some excerpts from the Stationbreak Spring Edition in 2008.
Television Notes:  "Hockey: Under the leadership of Murray Wooding, our crew is busy almost every Saturday night and the playoffs begin producing the much loved HNIC.  Once again CBC Sports produced the excellent coverage of Hockey Day in Canada which saw Karin Larsen, Brad Coates, Ron Greenwood and Dick Schaber travel to Duncan BC to cover the festivities on the Island. Looking forward to more hockey coverage.  Projects: Over the past year we have completed 15 different engineering projects, the latest being the robotic camera installations and the Ignite upgrades. Peter Dobo has spent so much time programming the Ignite system that he may have developed a wrist injury.   News: Over the past 3 months, Karen Marzocco, Garry Campbell, Michael Moss and Scott Stewardson have had an opportunity to walk a mile in Catherine Gage's boots. We have met new people and learned a lot about the news operation. Catherine has been able to take a much deserved break and Liz and Wayne have been patient with their trainees. Car trouble? A reminder that John Baxter is the fleet organizer and will soon to taking over duties as the fleet coordinator for RTV Vancouver as well.  Winning prizes: In the last stages of production but already winning international prizes is Saving Luna, a feature documentary by Mountainside Films for CBC The Lens. On February 20 Saving Luna won the Best Documentary Awards at CFPTA Indie Awards, having already won the Audience Choice Award Best Feature; Santa Barbara Int'l Film Festival, San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, Best Feature Santa Barbara Int'l Film, Audience Award San Francisco Ocean Film Festival and Best Documentary Victoria Film Festival. Watch for it on CBC Newsworld's The Lens this fall. 
Murray Wooding provided us with Sports News: "After Jerry Williamson retired, I have the priviledge of being the only remaining TP and am fortunate to work most of the Network remotes that our crews work on. Over the past 4 months we have contributed to World Cup Downhill skiing in both Lake Louise and Panorama, The Hour, The National: At Issue Panel, The National World Figure Skating and of course almost weekly Hockey Night in Canada. The other mountain at Lake Louise was host to both the men and women's Downhill and Super G.  I took over as TP in 2002 when Garry Campbell went into the same retirement stream as Bob and Joe. The crew came from all parts of Canada with about 15 from Vancouver, 20 from Calgary, 5 from Edmonton, 6 from Toronto and 5 from other cities."

From CBC Radio
  Vancouver is the new home for Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Sunday afternoon in Concert, the network's flagship classical music programs on CBC Radio 2. Bill Richardson began hosting both shows from Vancouver in mid-January and later this year the production team working with Bill will be re-locating as well. Welcome home, Bill!  The David Grierson Mentor of the Month award was named after David, the former host of On the Island in Victoria who passed away at the age of 49 due to a heart attack. The nominated mentors to date this year include Doug Lane, Steve Lus, Betsy Trumpener, Chris Walker, Jennifer Chen, Wally Chin, Elaine McKay, Brian Dance, Tate Clarke. The mentors are honoured at a monthly meeting and at the end of the year one lucky person will be nominated Mentor of the Year.   CBC Records wins a Grammy!  A first for CBC B.C., CBC Records' producer Denise Ball, engineer Don Harder, technical assistance Bruce Dierick and Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra. The CD was a recording with Canadian violinist James Ehnes called Barber/Korngold/Waltobn: Violin concertos. it's also nominated for a Juno.  Radio 3: The winners of the 2nd annual "Buckie" (Best Canadian Indie Music) were announced this week and a special video podcast is being launched. The R3 Canadian Independent Songs of the Year show will be on web radio and sirius over the holidays.  CBC marked BC's 150th anniversary with a series of Heritage Moments produced by broadcaster and history buff Margaret Gallagher, such as Ripple Rock, BC's undersea mountain in the Seymour Channel between Quadra and Vancouver Islands which damaged or sank 119 vessels was blasted into submission in 1958.  John Mang, CBC Radio Production & Resources.

From Peggy Oldfield's Auld Acquaintances:
"Spring may be well underway but I still have Christmas on my mind ... specifically the annual 20 Year Association dinner party at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club held on December 4th. Special guests of the evening were five of the ten 25 Year honourees... Helene Dupre-Espeut, Harold Dupuis, Ken Golemba, Keith Martin and Cecilia Walters, and following dinner they were presented plaques by Johnny Michel and Leo Foucault. A record $505.00 was raised through the sale of raffle tickets in support of the Vancouver Food Bank and Robert Sunter took home the prize gift basket.  Mike Winlaw reports that he completed a video for CHBC Kelowna for the BC Cancer Society, Southern Region. Mike was responsible for producing, researching, writing, directing, hosting and providing the voice-over which he found challenging and fun.  Mike Oldfield did his bit to preserve some Canadian history by sending a collection of his old photos as well as articles he had written to Nipissing University in his old hometown of North Bay, Ontario.  The photos were taken by Mike with his first camera while in his teens and depict vintage steam locomotives of the Ontario Northland Railway and some of the early jet aircraft at RCAF Station North Bay. Congratulations to Larry and Nan Watson who became grandparents again last month with the arrival of identical twin girls to their daughter Stacey and son-in-law Craig Matsumura.   Irish Rover Will Millar not only excels in the musical world but has quite a reputation as an artist. Will's painting collection will be on show for a month at the opening of the newly refurbished Excellent Frameworks gallery in Duncan on March 17th and you are welcome to join in the fun which will include music, beer, wine, soda bread and more. Happy St. Patrick's Day from Will!"

PERSONALITIES TRIVIA from Stationbreak April 1996
Test your memory and see how many people and programs from CBC Vancouver Television you remember from the past.

1. In The Beachcombers, who played a) the constable and b) constable Constable.
2. CBC TV has produced recent cooking shows such as "Wok with Yan" and "Urban Peasant." What was our first cooking series and who were its two hosts (one was a chef and the other a TV staff announcer ... yes, that's BS).
3. Who was Pacific Report's first female host and what was her husband's name?
4. Name the comedy series hosted by Bill Reiter and Terry David Mulligan.
5. A drama producer was married to the star of "Miss Patricia's Phantasmagorical Presentation of Songs and Things." Who are they?
6. Phil Keatley produced a drama on BC's feisty newspaper woman Ma Murray.  Who played Ma and who is that actor's husband (he's a retired producer/director)?
7. Who followed Ross Whiteside as Head of Technical Services?
8. What famous Toronto radio personality hosted a TV talk show in Vancouver for just one season?
9. Who was the news reporter who at his retirement was co-host of a TV magazine series?
10. What was the title of CBC Vancouver's first TV gardening show?
11. Back around 1976, Riff Markowitz produced The Wolfman Jack Show. Riff produced 2 Specials as well. What were their titles?
12. Who was CBC Vancouver's first female manager and which department was she in charge?
13. Name 3 Vancouver sports newsreaders prior to Eric Dwyer.
14. Name 2 male and 2 female news anchors before Kevin and Gloria.
15. How's your memory for names of hosts?  Good?   Well, try these:
a) Trivia   b) Switchback - before Stu Jeffries   c) Then and Now (2 co-hosts)   d) Canadian Express   e) One of a Kind.
And by the way, in what year did CBC-TV move from 1200 W Georgia St and CBC-Radio from the Vancouver Hotel into their present premises?
1975, and for the rest of the answers, scroll down to the end.


Talking dog
A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: 'Talking Dog For Sale '
He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.
The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.
'You talk?' he asks.
'Yep,' the Lab replies.
After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says 'So, what's your story?'
The Lab looks up and says, 'Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so... I told the CIA.  In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.
I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running ... But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.  I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired.'
The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.
'Ten dollars,' the guy says.
'Ten dollars? This dog is amazing!  Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?'
'Because he's a liar. He's never been out of the yard!'

In Canada, our government recently passed two laws. They are:
1. Legalized gay marriage
2. Legalized marijuana
Legalizing gay marriage and marijuana at the same time now makes perfect Biblical sense.
Leviticus 20:13 says: "If a man lies with another man they should be stoned."
Apparently we just hadn't interpreted it correctly before!

My wife and I were sitting at a table at her high school reunion, and she kept staring at a drunken man swigging his drink as he sat alone at a nearby table.
I asked her, "Do you know him?"
"Yes", she sighed, "He's my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear he hasn't been sober since."
"My God!" I said, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?!"
And then the fight started...

When our lawn mower broke and wouldn't run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed.  But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the shed, the boat, making beer.  Always something more important to me.  Finally, she thought of a clever way to make her point.
When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house.  I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again I handed her a toothbrush. I said, "When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway."
The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp!

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our forthcoming anniversary.
She said, "I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 225 in about 2 seconds."
I bought her bathroom scales.
And then the fight started......

New Wine for Seniors, I kid you not .....
Clare Valley vintners in South Australia, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic.
It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night.
The new wine will be

1. Terry Kelly was the first constable and Jackson Davies was Constable Constable.
2. Chef John Lindenlaub and BS is Bob Switzer.
3. Carole Taylor who is married to (mayor) Art Phillips.
4. Taxi! Taxi!
5. Producer David Pears was married to singer Pat Hervey.
6. Joy Coghill played Ma. Her husband is retired producer Jack Thorne (Tidewater Tramp)
7. Dave Currey and Andy Martens.
8. Peter Gzowski
9. Bill Dobson
10. Gardening with Bernard with Bernard Moore following J P Dickson's first garden series.
11. BOO! and Bananas.
12. Ruth Levy of the Music & Record Department
13. Ted Reynolds, Bill Good, Bruno Cimoli, Steve Armitage, J. P. McConnell, Barry McDonald.
14. Mike Winlaw, Harvey Dawes, Bill Good, Cecilia Walters, Judy Piercy.
15. Hosts were a) Red Robinson. b) Andrew Cochrane. c) Terry David Mulligan and the Province's Insider film columnist Lynne McNamara. d) Terry (Seasons in the Sun) Jacks. e) Iona Campanolo.

He was the only athiest in the whole town but the people came to the wake just the same.
Said Paddy, looking at the corpse laid out in his very best suit. "What a waste. All dressed up and nowhere to go!"