Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Life in TV

During my final year of high school, I had big decisions to make. What career path would I choose? I tossed around several ideas - everything from radiology to photographer. I finally decided to take a one year certificate program at Lambton College called Media Fundamentals. Taking this course would give me some more time to figure things out while I continued to live at home and explore the media industry further. I loved that first year at Lambton. We learned all kinds of cool stuff related to shooting, editing and producing video, DJing the campus radio station and a sprinkling of journalism thrown in. It was great! As the end of the year loomed ahead of me, I was back to decision making. What next? The program at Lambton had an agreement with Mohawk College's Radio and Television programs which allowed students to enter into the second year of their third year program. I decided to go for it and jumped into the world of TV broadcasting.

Two years later, I was an intern at "The New PL" in London. I worked with the Creative Services department on projects like Station IDs, Episodic promos, and commercial shoots. It was a great seven weeks and when I finished, they offered me a part time job in the newsroom. The newsroom?? I didn't consider that to be my dream position. I wanted to be part of the Creative team. But, at the encouragement of established staff members, I took the job with the intention of moving into Creative in the future.

That move never happened, I remained in the newsroom for 14 years... fourteen years  of loving my job! I loved coming into work each day not knowing what to expect. I loved working furiously to meet a deadline - which really was a DEADline. If you missed it, your work was all for not and the show moved on to the next story. I loved the adrenaline rush of an action-packed show, a breaking news story or an election. I was able to participate in and have a unique perspective on some major events during my time in the newsroom - including 911 and the Bandidos massacre.

The people in that newsroom became my family. I spent far more time with them than I did my actual family or my friends. It was a unique atmosphere, heavily relying on a team dynamic while working wonky hours. We encountered situations which might seem absurd to an outsider. I recall one day in particular, we had to move the entire crew to a different studio and control room during a 3 minute commercial break because the audio board caught on fire!

I have such fond memories of my life in TV. Unfortunately, media started to evolve and change and "cutback" and "layoff" became common language. I could see into the future and I would not be one of the ones retiring after 45 years of service. It was time to make a change and the time was now. I enrolled at Fanshawe College and soon after closed the TV chapter of my life.

Leaving the people (my TV family) was the most difficult for me. Sure I missed the excitement of a major news story and having creative control when it came to the graphics of the show, but most of all I missed the camaraderie of my people.

In December, the media landscape changed once again with major cutbacks across Canada. CTV London was no exception and many of my friends and former colleagues lost their jobs. These are talented people that excel at what they do. Unfortunately, what they do is extremely specialized and in a shrinking industry, those skills are becoming redundant. What a shame.

To all of my TV friends, I wish them well. Life does go on outside the walls of the station and they will land on their feet and even excel in their new-found path.