This one was a long time in the works, folks. More than a year and a half, in fact. The first half of the interview was conducted in December of 2011. The second half took place in February of 2013. The reason for the extreme delay will become clear in due course.
The second part of this interview will be published on Thursday the 18th.
December 29, 2011
Julia Kirkey and I met for dinner after our work on December 29, 2011. We decided to meet at the Old Triangle since it’s close to her work, and not close to mine. Ha ha.
We had crossed paths a few times over the years, but this was our first time in a face-to-face meeting. We ordered our beverages and our food, and began to talk.
1. How did you get your start in radio?
Julia Kirkey: It was 10 years ago. When I was 17, I had to do co-op in high school. I decided, randomly, that I wanted to do my co-op at AVR/Magic.
I went, "Oh, money! Who needs money?" Being 17, living at home with my parents, it’s irrelevant.
So, I went off to Ottawa. Went to school. Took Broadcasting. And, then, started working in radio.
Bevboy: You’re from the Valley, right?
JK: Yes, and no. My parents were both Military. My parents have lived in Greenwood for 12 years now.
BB: I’m wondering why you didn’t go to the Valley [school of Broadcasting at NSCC]?
JK: I didn’t want to take Television. You had to go to Kings Tec and take your screen test. I was very intimidated by the whole television portion of everything. My dad was posted to Ottawa at the time, so we started checking out schools there, and Algonquin College out in Ottawa offers Radio-only, Television-only [programs]. So, I took the Radio Broadcasting course. It’s very different from NSCC. You don’t specialize. You take everything. So, you don’t have that second year, just Broadcast Journalism, just Radio, kind of thing. You just take everything.
BB: Was it one year or two years?
JK: Two years.
BB: And, you probably got everything. News gathering. Reporting. How to be a jock.
JK: You trained as a jock. You have to have a certain amount of hours of shows. I had a specialty show; I had a Classical show that I did Mondays at noon. Then, you had news writing, commercial writing, Production, pretty much everything you could possibly imagine. Everyone took all the same things.
BB: So, you graduated in... 2003?
BB: What was your first professional radio job?
JK: The first time I got paid was during school. It was during my first year. I started working for CHUM in Ottawa. They have 4 stations there.
BB: Which one?
JK: All of them. I was what you’d call a glorified button pusher, or an Operator. We were still running off cd’s at that point. Automation had just started. We were automated as far as commercials went, but everything else was cd’s. Even voice tracking was done off mini disc.
I worked for CFRA, Team 1200, Magic 100, and at the time it was KOOL FM. Then, we flipped to BOB FM, just shortly before I left.
BB: Is that where they fired all the jocks and they just had wall-to-wall music?
JK: Pretty much. They also cut back on all of their part-time staff.
BB: You were out of a job at that point.
BB: What did you do at that point?
JK: I tried to get another radio job in Ottawa, but it’s a very, very competitive market. There are a lot of stations; but there are also a lot of broadcasters. Even if you look at job postings for places like Ottawa now, for overnight jobs, they want someone with 5 years experience. It’s tough to get experience when you can’t get a job, because you don’t have enough experience.
So, I ended up saying that maybe this radio thing isn’t meant to be. I moved home and did the working-wherever-I-could thing for a while. I kept up with my radio. I would go back to Ottawa and get to a studio to make sure I was keeping up on my skills, doing new demos, things like that, until K-Rock came along.
BB: So, you had about 3 years to kill between the time you left CHUM and when K-Rock went on the air?
JK: Yes. The job posting for K-Rock came out in July of... what, 2007?
JK: I applied then. I didn’t hear anything. I applied again when they re-posted the jobs in the Fall. Originally, I had applied for Neil’s job [Neil Spence], the part-time announcer job.
When I applied the second time, I thought, "Well, it’s not going to hurt to broaden my horizons. I’ll just apply for whatever I think I can probably get." It ended up being Dave Chaulk that called me, that resulted in my K-Rock job.
JK: It was five days a week. I was full-time. A lot of people, even people inside the building, thought that I was part-time, because they only saw me 3 days a week.
BB: You were the roving reporter.
JK: Yes. So, sometimes people wouldn’t see me at all because I was at evening Council meetings and things like that. A lot of people thought I was part-time, but I was full-time.
BB: We’ll talk about the roving reporter stuff in a minute, but you remained at K-Rock until six or seven months ago.
JK: Until July of this year .
BB: You’re working for MBS part-time. It’s probably to make some extra money while you’re at school.
JK: It is. It’s the only thing I’m qualified to do.
BB: How did this opportunity at MBS come up?
JK: They just posted the job. I actually had zero intention of getting a radio job after telling everyone how great it was going to be not getting up at 3:30 in the morning on the weekends any more. I was going to work in a bar, work in retail or something. Most people would find radio interesting, but I wanted to be a waitress. Then, all of a sudden, MBS posted this job. I thought, "Well, it really is the only thing I’m qualified to do. I might as well apply."
BB: And, you’re making more money than you would if you were a waitress, right?
JK: Yes, I am. I thought, "Well, I’ll see how it goes in the interview." But, when I walked into the interview, Deborah Rent offered me the job on the spot. They don’t often get people with multiple years of experience applying for part-time jobs.
BB: Well, your case is a little unusual, isn’t it?
JK: It is a little unusual, yes.
BB: And, you’re on this week because you’re filling in for people on vacation.
JK: Yes. Deborah is on vacation. Someone is filling in for her. I’m filling in for them.
BB: You’ll go back to working weekends only starting when school starts in January.
JK: Yes. School starts again on the 4th. I’ll go back to just doing my Sundays and holidays at that point.
2. At first, you were a roving radio reporter for 3 days and did the local news on K-Rock on weekends. How did you make the transition to hosting a music-intensive radio show and do the news? I can only imagine how busy you were.
JK: I don’t think anyone could have really grasped how busy I really was. But, I like being busy.
BB: A six hour shift.
JK: Yes. Longer than any other announcer shift, and I was doing more. But, I enjoy multitasking. I’m good at it. I didn’t feel as challenged as I probably could have been, just doing the one cast an hour on the weekends. Weekends are really slow unless something happens, like a fire or an accident or something. Then, it would get busy for maybe 15, 20 minutes and go back to just bobbing along, doing the same kind of thing.
Neil leaving was a blessing in disguise. As much as I hated to lose him as my co-host, as soon as he left, I said to Gary Tredwell, "I think I can do this. I would like to have the experience of being an announcer."
BB: I’m sure it was a way to save money, too.
JK: They saw it as that. They did save a fair amount of money by just having the one person instead of paying someone hourly and paying someone’s salary at the same time.
So, Neil left. I think it was the first week of ratings, actually, that September of 2010, that I did my first shift on my own. The first couple of weeks were nuts. I was thinking, "Why did I do this? I’m so busy right now!" But, once I got into the swing of things, then I was able to do show prep and write news casts and everything at the same time.
BB: Well, let’s talk about that a little bit. You go to work in the morning, and you’re presented with your playlist, right?
BB: I know that much.
JK: It’s all there for you.
BB: You do your show prep the night before or the day before or something.
JK: Depending. I’d keep my eye on things. My weekend was Thursday and Friday. I’d be on Twitter and that, so I’d keep my eye out for things that seemed interesting, but generally, I would do a lot of my show prep on the day of. That way, I would know what songs and artists I could play off of, other than just general entertainment stories.
BB: You’d be on the air at 6. You’d be at the station by, what, 4:30?
JK: Yes. Which beats MBS now, because our shifts during the week start at 3 o’clock in the morning.
BB: You physically have to be there at 3 o’clock?
JK: Well, you’re doing a lot of different markets. They do the entire chain here, right? You start at 3 o’clock in the morning. You start recording casts (because you’re writing 6 casts at a time); they start airing at 5:30. You have to have them out to the stations by 4:30.
BB: They’re an hour old at that point, anyway?
BB: Well, were you pre-taping your newscasts at K-Rock?
JK: No. Everything was live. The occasional newscast was pre-taped if, say, there was a fire and I had to run out to something. I would record a newscast, but it was usually only 15-20 minutes ahead of time. That’s when I was just doing news.
BB: I was wondering about that as well, because if you had to a newscast at the top of every hour, and there’s something happening, and you’re physically out covering it, how would you do that?
JK: Well, it got to a situation where I couldn’t leave the station. If there was something I could do on the phone, like calling a Fire Chief or something, then I would just voice track a couple of breaks or just throw in an ID. Gary and then Curtis didn’t mind there just being some music if I got busy in the newsroom. Kate became a valuable resource at that point. If I needed somebody to go out and actually cover something, she was always available to do that. And, Darrin, too. I actually sent Darrin to a fire once. He left the gym and got in his car and went out to a fire to go cover it for me.
3. At K-Rock, how did you decide what stories you would go out and cover in person and which ones you could cover by phoning someone? I know you used to cover Kentville Town Council.
JK: All of the councils, actually. 8 councils.
BB: You’d physically go and sit there for hours?
JK: Well, it would depend on the schedule. Some of them are scheduled at the same time. You’d have to choose which one would be better to go to. But, the short answer to that question is Dave Chaulk. He was really the decision maker that decided whether or not I went to something or just called about it. He did my schedule for the most part. So, I’d say it was 90% of the time that Dave that said, "Well, here’s this pile. Follow up these on the phone. You need to be here, here and here at these times."
BB: All right. What hours were you officially working Monday through Wednesday?
JK: It would depend on council meetings. The day that I had a council meeting, I would either come in at 1 or 2 and then work until 5. I’d then take an extended lunch until such time that council meeting started, whether I’d have to drive to Windsor or Annapolis Royal or wherever.
Then, sometimes I was there until midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning.
BB: I ask this question with respect. To what purpose? Because, if you’re covering a town council meeting to the wee small hours of the morning, 10 seconds of that will make it to a news story the next day. Was it a waste of your time?
JK: Sometimes they were. Sometimes I didn’t get a single story out of a meeting that I was there until 11 o’clock. The latest meeting was generally 11 o’clock, but the councilors didn’t realize that when the meeting finished, they all went home. But, I went back to the station and had to go through all the audio and go through the interviews I’d done afterwards, go through my notes, and start writing stories for Kate the next morning.
BB: At what time would you leave the station?
JK: I think the latest I was ever there was 1:30.
BB: And, the next morning, Kate would or would not decide to use the story?
JK: Yes. There were many times where I would go to a council meeting on a Monday night. I’d be there until Tuesday morning. And, then, 3 hours later, when Kate came in, she would decide not to use that story.
BB: You never took it personally, I hope.
JK: No. Dave would usually use it later in the day. At that point, you usually need something local, just something, anything; so something would always get used. It just wouldn’t necessarily be the next morning.
BB: Did you ever cover Port Williams council?
JK: No. I didn’t do village commissions. I did County and Town councils. I would do Kings County Council; and West Hants Council, Annapolis County Council and Kings County Committee of the Whole were on at the exact same time. I would have to decide which one [to cover]. That was a 9am-3pm one. I would decide which one of those would take priority.
I went to Kentville Town Council, Wolfville Town Council, Windsor Town Council. I know I’m forgetting one. I would cover by phone Bridgetown, Middleton, Annapolis Royal, Hantsport, Berwick, and occasionally Greenwood/Kingston Village Commission.
BB: And, you and Jennifer Hoegg or Sara Keddy would be the only reporters there.
JK: Or Kirk Sterrart, yes. There was always myself, and someone from the newspaper. Depending on the level of controversy that was happening that night, you’d occasionally get Gordon Delaney from the Chronicle Herald. Then, if the story was big enough, then you’d start to get the television and the people from AVR and things like that.
BB: So, the Save the Farms story?
JK: Yes. There were always CBC, and The Chronicle Herald, and AVR that would come in. That’s the only time we’d see them.
BB: AVR has a reporter?
JK: They have a News Director who occasionally acts as a reporter. It’s Robb Lepper. When something’s big enough, he’ll cover something in the evening. But, he only works 7-3. [Robb left AVR in spring 2012]
BB: I can just imagine some of the material that you would have to sift through. You’d have a digital voice recorder like mine, only probably better quality.
JK: Yes. It was a big one. It picked up everything.
BB: I can just imagine how eye-crossingly dull some of that stuff would be.
JK: The worst time for me personally was always budget because when they did the financial audits of the previous year, it’s irrelevant as a news story because it’s from the previous year, unless they found something really huge. But, 99% of the time, they were just telling them that their audits went great. You’d have to sit through 45 minutes of an accountant going through their budgets line by line showing them that they were correct.
BB: Even if Dave Chaulk used the story, it would only be 20 seconds of it, and you would have been there for hours.
BB: I’ll go on the record and say that it wasn’t always a good use of a reporter’s time. Is it?
JK: No. Not always. I know that a lot of councils, even Kings County at one point, had been talking about making their councils on the web so that people could watch online. That would have been amazing. I would have been able to do other things at the same time.
I also covered School Board. Nancy Kelly would often be writing another story from earlier in the day, but she had to write during our School Board meeting because she had wanted to optimize her time. I never had that advantage because, being in broadcasting, I can’t be sitting there cutting audio when I don’t have a computer. Newspaper people can do a couple of things at a time.
BB: Other than Council, would you have been allowed the initiative to go to a fire on your own?
JK: Yes. I could have. And Dave was the one sitting next to the scanner. He was usually the one who would say, "Oh, this is happening. Go cover this."
We didn’t do a lot of coverage of fires and things like that because the Valley is so spread out. A lot of times, by the time I got there, we’d find out it was nothing. So, we’d usually hold out as long as we could, listening to the scanner, saying, "Is this something that’s actually going to be going on 15 minutes from now?". So, there were a few bigger fires that I went out to.
BB: How about robberies or something? There is the odd one down there. Would you go cover that?
JK: Not really. Unless it gave itself to really good audio, then I generally wouldn’t go. I covered court. If there were any court cases that were happening, I would go because you always have an opportunity to interview a lawyer, or interview [the accused] as they walk out of the courtroom. But, in a lot of cases, especially with fires, you get down there and all there is, is background noise of trucks idling, and sirens, and people talking.
BB: You can get that off youtube.
JK: Yes. So, half the time I’d do an interview and I couldn’t actually hear it for the sound of the firetruck idling behind us. It didn’t always lend itself to good audio.
If there was a big lottery jackpot, I would go down to the mall and talk to people who were buying lottery tickets. You get the noise of people in the background checking their lotto tickets. In those kinds of situations, it’s great to be there, because you get good audio for it. But, to go down to an armed robbery, you get probably something I could get over the phone while I’m doing 2 other stories.
BB: How busy were you at times when you were the reporter?
JK: When I was busy, I was really busy. When I wasn’t busy, I was really not busy. There were times where I was just sitting there, twiddling my thumbs, praying for anything to happen. It was usually the same for people working at the paper and things like that. We’d see the same ebbs and flows.
But then, when it did get busy, it was constantly, "Go, go, go!" I worked a couple of 16 hour days just because there were so many things going on. Something in the morning and something in the afternoon. Then there was a meeting in the evening. There were just so many things happening in one day that I had to cover them all. And, then there were other days when I was just staring at Dave thinking, "Is there anything you can think of, because nothing is happening. There’s literally nothing happening in the world!"
BB: Back in the day, many years ago, radio stations would have several reporters; they would have to go out and beat the street to find a story.
JK: We would have lots of time when it would be like, "OK. Let’s try to think of something. It’s May. Maybe an Apple Blossom story." But, a lot of times you’d call someone and leave a message and just have to hope that they’d call you back. A lot of my job was spent leaving people messages and hoping they’d call me back. I left a lot of messages through the years I worked at K-Rock.
It’s different with newspaper: They have a daily deadline. It’s a bit different now with the web. But, for radio, we have a deadline every hour. People don’t understand that, when I call you, I really need to speak to you.
BB: Who did the "Because You Asked?" feature?
BB: Was that discontinued because you left?
JK: I think so. I don’t really know. I thought it would be continuing after I left. I had set Chris [Meaney] to take it over. But, the next thing I knew, it had just fallen by the wayside.
We didn’t get as many questions as we had hoped. We really wanted it to be interactive, where people were asking questions.
BB: "Why is it called Gallow’s Hill, anyway?"
JK: Yes. Exactly. We thought, "People have all kinds of questions, so when they think of them , they can send them in." But, they really weren’t. The first couple of weeks, we got a couple of people we expected to get lots of questions from, who sent in a few. Then, it really died out. Basically, for the last couple of weeks, it was all the questions I had been wondering about.
BB: That’s too bad. How would you research those stories?
JK: I had an invaluable resource in Maynard Stevens, who volunteers for the King’s Historical Society. He’s also a New Minas Village Commissioner. If there was anything Kings County related, or really anything at all, I would email him or call him, and say, "I’m trying to find out about this." He would find someone who knew about it, find out the information. If it was something that was West Hants, he would get me in contact with people I needed to talk to in West Hants or Annapolis. He really, really made a lot of that possible.
BB: Good. I didn’t hear that feature as much as I wanted to. At one point, you could download them; but I don’t think they’re even on the website any more.
JK: No. Probably not, because they have my voice on them.
BB: Did you keep them?
JK: I think I have them, yes.
BB: Can you help a brother out?
JK: I have a folder on my computer. They’re probably in there.
BB: I would really appreciate that.
JK: For sure. I’ll check for them.
4. The Megan Edwards question. You lose your iPod. I find it. What songs on it would surprise me the most?
JK: You almost said "impress". I was thinking, "Oh, that changes my answer." I think what would not surprise you, anybody who listened to K-Rock in 3 years would know I'm a huge Beatles fan.
You are on my Facebook. I think what would surprise you is that I'm a huge Backstreet Boys fan.
JK: I went on the cruise. I am a Backstreet Boys super fan. I have been since I was 13 years old. No one expects it. People always say, "I wouldn't have thought that of you!" Oh, yeah. And, I own it. I'm not ashamed.
BB: What was the reality of seeing and hearing the Backstreet Boys as guys in their 30's, when they were 10 feet away from you?
JK: I did not cry, nor did I squeal like a 12 year old girl. I've seen them many, many times and met them many times. If you act like a normal human being, they'll treat you like a normal human being in return. If you want to talk to them, you can't act like you're 12 years old and scream in their faces. So, I've never done that.
BB: Has it reached the point where they go, "Oh, it's that girl from Nova Scotia. What's her name again?"
JK: They remember your face more than they remember your names. They remember things about you. I'm to the point now where they remember things about me. Some people think that's embarrassing. I think it's amazing.
BB: It is fun to be remembered for something positive, right?
JK: Yes. So, that, I think, would surprise most people, on my iPod. I'm a huge fan of Top 40 music. I just like Pop music.
BB: Do you listen to those stations in town that play that music?
JK: I do. Yes.
BB: So, The Bounce? Z?
JK: I do flip around a fair amount. I listen to Live when Neil's on because I usually just want to know what he's talking about. I flip around between The Bounce and Z103 and sometimes C100. They're my preferred stations. They're my 1, 2, 3.
BB: Very good. Any other musical artists you want to surprise me with?
JK: I love Coldplay. I'm super pumped if they come to Moncton this Summer. I haven't seen them in years and years. I really am a big Classic Rock fan. I did really enjoy working at K-Rock. I got to listen to a lot of music that I liked. Apart from The Beatles, I love David Bowie. I love Joni Mitchell. I've been on a huge Joni Mitchell kick lately. I have Darrin out looking for vinyl for me as we speak. I love Simon and Garfunkel. I loved The Beach Boys when I was a kid. I really like music from all kinds of genres. I like rap. I like Rock. I like classic hits. I like everything.
BB: With the classic rock stuff, are there songs that you wish that K-Rock and Q104 and Hal would play? My criticism of Classic Rock and Classic Hit stations is that it's a narrow play list. They play the same 4 Fleetwood Mac songs, the same 4 Stones songs.
JK: I think they all need to step away from assuming that everybody only wants to listen to hits. At the same time, I would really like to hear more '90's. I think that '90's is really being neglected right now. There's a huge block of music that no one plays. You get the occasional Tragically Hip because you need to make your CanCon. K-Rock plays a lot of '90's, early 2000's Tragically Hip, but, really, nothing else. My biggest complaint about Classic Rock stations is that I don't hear nearly enough '90's. If you think about it, people that are in their mid 30's, the start of their demographic, that's their music. That's what they want to hear. They want to hear their Counting Crows and their Nirvanas. I think that's Classic Rock that needs to start being incorporated into stations' [playlists]. It's not just '60's any more.
BB: If you were a Program Director, would you push toward that?
JK: Yes. Absolutely. It's not necessarily about adding new music, but newer music.
5. Please say something about the following people.
A. Darrin Harvey
JK: Well, there’s so many things that I could say about Darrin. I think I mentioned before that I had done my co-op in high school at AVR/Magic. My first time meeting Darrin Harvey was when I was 17 years old, and he was the morning show host on Magic. He really wanted to make me feel accepted and have fun. I sat in on his shows; he let me go on the air. He was the first person to ever put me on the radio.
JK: He doesn’t, really. He had a head injury. He remembers meeting me, but he doesn’t remember a lot of the smaller details. I guess it was more influential for me. I remember all of the little details.
I remember he brought me in the cruiser. We drove out to West-Hants to a small little community radio station that was running down there. He had me listen to the very first Alicia Keyes record, before she was anyone.
Darrin was just an enormous influence in my life. He continues to be, him and Sue (his partner) both. He calls me his "work wife" because I would always make sure that he ate his sandwich for lunch, because he forgets to eat. I like to make sure that he takes care of himself. Darrin’s just really important to me.
BB: He’s a good guy. He’s always been nice to me. He calls me "brother".
JK: That’s his thing.
BB: Is there something about Darrin, that you would like to tell my readers, that would perhaps be a surprise?
JK: Darrin is an open book. He’ll pretty much tell you everything about himself. But, I will tell you, Darrin is the only person in my circle of friends or from my roommate, that will let me talk ad nauseum about The Backstreet Boys. He would watch my videos. He would look at my pictures when I came back from concerts. He loves music. He has respect for people who make music. He wasn’t necessarily going to go out and buy an album; but he was always impressed by the stories that I told, and particularly after I saw the New Kids/Backstreet Boys Mashup Tour in the Summer. He wanted to hear every story that had anything to do with Tom Selleck. There was a Tom Selleck story, and he wanted to know it.
He’s a really good listener. He’ll let you talk about anything, really.
BB: But, he won’t admit to being a Backstreet Boys fan?
JK: No. He would never, ever admit to that. And, I don’t think he is. But, he has respect for musicians.
B. Gary Tredwell
JK: While Darrin may be a personal influence, Gary is definitely a professional influence on me. I never would have even thought about taking Neil’s job if it weren’t for Gary. Those first couple of weeks, I was sure I was terrible. But, Gary was so patient, so willing to sit down with me and do as many air checks as I wanted to help me get the hang of not being a newsperson and being an announcer, because they are very different things. The way you speak is different. The things you talk about are different. So, he gave me a lot of really professional advice that I [found very useful]. I really feel that I got better because of things that Gary had me work on.
BB: Give me an example of a piece of advice that he gave you.
JK: I was going to use this later on, but he always talked about keeping it simple. He talked about thing like the weather, about how important the weather is to people, and how you don’t realize just how many people are listening because they want to hear the weather. So, making it a priority in the way you speak, to get your weather right up in the front.
And, just little things that people don’t really think about. The order, the way that you say things, of keeping things really short and brief. Someone’s attention span is only so long. Talking about ways to talk about music. I had lists of things that Gary had said. "Say the time this way. Say the weather this way." There are things that I learned in school that I had maybe forgotten or that maybe I was a bit rusty on, because it had been a long time since school.
BB: People know Gary for his alter ego. Would you describe Gary Tredwell as underrated as a Program Director?
JK: Absolutely. I actually had no idea who Greasy Gary was, until I met Gary, obviously. I think that Gary was a terrific Program Director. I think he was underappreciated. He really understood not the way that radio works, but the way listeners work, what people want to hear, rather than what you think they want to hear. I think he just had a different way of understanding radio that a lot of people who sit in the Program Director’s chair and look at it and say, "Oh, people will love this!". Well, radio people will love it; but people listening to the radio might not.
BB: He told me one thing that surprised me; and that is that he’s not in favour of request shows.
BB: He thinks that he has a pretty good idea of what people want to hear, like you just said; but he doesn’t think that people are that interested in request shows. You want to hear your song; but the people over there, may not.
JK: Well, he always told us, "This isn’t your iPod. If you want to hear a song on your iPod, listen to your iPod. You might want to hear that song; but the other 40 000 people who are potentially listening don’t want to hear it.
BB: In theory.
JK: In theory. So, it’s hit or miss. We did request shows on New Year’s Eve. Neil did a request show. He’s doing one actually on Live 105 this year.
BB: Oh, is he? [Bevboy note: Armed with this knowledge, Bevboy called Live 105 on New Year’s Eve 2011 and got his request played!]
JK: So, we did have them. But, he was never a big fan of the request lunches, and things, because people don’t realize that those request lunches are still programmed.
BB: How so?
JK: They’re still programmed with music because you aren’t necessarily going to get a request that you can play. It might not fit into something that you can play. If you get a request for BTO, and you just played BTO 2 songs ago, you can’t play it. You’re not going to play 3 Bryan Adams songs back-to-back. You still have to program those request shows, and then hope to get something that fits in. Maybe you’ll luck out. There were lots of times people called with requests. They’d say, "Oh, I want to hear David Bowie’s ‘Fame’". I’d have a different David Bowie song coming up and could just swap it for the song that they wanted, and call it a request. But, I was still supposed to play David Bowie.
BB: Were you allowed to do that?
JK: Yes. To a degree. You couldn’t mess with the playlist too much.
C. Mel Sampson
JK: I love Mel Sampson. I truly do. I have a friend for life in Mel. We have so much in common, so many similar interests. We hit it off right away. Even though we come from two very different kind of worlds, me growing up in a city, and her growing up in rural Labrador. We're very different; but at the same time, we get along so well.
She is such an amazing announcer. I really think that if anybody's underrated, it's Mel Sampson. I think that she is going to go places. We're going to hear her on the air in major markets like Toronto and Ottawa and other big places because I think she has the talent to do it. She's incredibly talented. I don't think people realize just how talented she really is. I think she's going places. Maybe I'll tag along.
BB: If she wants to. She and Goose seem pretty happy.
JK: Yes. They're very happy. They have their house. They have their dog. But, it's the nature of radio to always want to move up. It's always looking for the opportune moment to say, "All right. Maybe I'll take that." I don't know if she's even considering that right now. But, I think someday Mel Sampson's going to move up. It's my prediction.
BB: Well, with the magic of the internet, I can listen to her wherever she is. I mentioned to her before that I have never heard anybody sound so joyous on the air.
JK: Her laugh is infectious. Whenever she and I got the opportunity to be on the air at the same time, when I was filling in for Dave, it was always her ultimate dream to have us have a show, together. To have me be her co-host. So, when I would fill in for Dave, I would sit in the studio with her and do my news in there. I could contribute to the things she was talking about. Eventually, they pulled back and said, "OK. She just needs to do the news. You just need to do your show." But, we so wished that we could have had our co-hosted afternoon show.
BB: That would have been fun.
JK: I think so.
BB: Is there anything else you want to say about Mel?
JK: She's just wonderful and talented. And, I miss her.
BB: You saw her just last week, didn't you?
JK: I did. But, I still miss her.
D. Dave Chaulk
JK: He really talks like that. That’s the thing everyone asks me. Every single person who says, "Do you work for Dave Chaulk? Does he really talk like that?" Yes, he does!
I shared an office with Dave for 3 years. I can honestly say that he’s an absolute riot. No one would expect that Dave was as funny as he is. There were so many times when the two of us would just be sitting in the newsroom in absolute stitches over something that we’d read. He loves stupid criminal stories. Any time a stupid criminal story would come on the wire, he would read it out loud. We would just laugh about it.
I learned a lot from Dave about news. A lot of people might not have realized, but before I worked at K-Rock, I had absolutely no experience in news, apart from school. I worked at a News/Talk station, but I had never been a reporter at any point.
BB: No disrespect, but why did they hire you as a reporter?
JK: I don’t know. I think it’s because, when I went for my interview, he asked to see examples of my writing. I re-wrote a bunch of stories out of the newspaper. I basically passed the test. He gave me a verbal quiz, in essence. He gave me a situation and then asked me, as a reporter, "What would you do?" I guess I answered the questions correctly.
I’d done a lot of news in school, but mostly just news reading. I didn’t really get a lot of opportunity to be a reporter. So, I had the experience of putting together a newscast, and reading it on the air. Reading out loud is not an issue for me. But, I really was very inexperienced as a reporter and probably could not have made it through those 3 years if I couldn’t have had that resource to say, "OK. I’m going to this, but I have no idea what to do when I get there. Whom do I talk to? What do I say?" There were no stupid questions with Dave; he was always willing to answer questions and understood that I had to learn somehow. I really jumped in feet first!
BB: He’s a good guy, is he?
JK: He’s amazing, yes.
BB: I met him one time, just in passing. The stories that man could tell. The first time I ever heard the name "Colleen Jones" was on CJCH AM, 30 years ago. On the weekends, he was the host of a sports show.
JK: He was the Sports Director.
BB: He did a story on Colleen Jones. He went from there to AVR in ‘84 or ‘85.
JK: Really, the K-Rock News department would have been a completely different situation than it was if they hadn’t hired him. He brought along so many contacts, an immeasurable amount of information and knowledge of the Valley. If they had hired somebody from outside, they probably would not have been as successful in local news as they were. He’s really important to that station.
BB: How successful is that station in terms of news reportage?
JK: Quite. Obviously, I haven’t seen this year’s ratings, but in ratings past, news was very, very well listened to, especially during the morning and middle of the day, and on the weekends.
BB: That’s why, here in Halifax, the news hits are maybe a minute long, max. It’s crazy. It’s stupid. But at K-Rock, they made the effort of making them 3 or 4 minutes long.
JK: Yes. We had a 4 minute news cast. When I started working here at MBS, they said, "Our newscasts are 2:30 max." I said, "Wow. I just came from a place where I was doing a 4 minute newscast." Immediately, the News Director, Deb Rent, said, "If only we could do a 4 minute newscast! Imagine how amazing that would be." And, it really was. You had an opportunity to do local, provincial, and international news, all in one newscast, and still have room for your sports and weather. It was amazing to be able to get my experience in doing such a full cast, and not having to rush it.
BB: I don’t know why they even bother with newscasts any more. They’re so brief and perfunctory.
JK: It’s true. It’s headlines.
BB: They might as well just cancel it. He said, cynically.
E. Neil Spence
JK: Neil is my brother from another mother. He and I became known at K-Rock for the fact that we fought constantly. Most of the time, we weren’t really serious in our hate for each other; but we had all out shouting matches with each other about anything and everything. Everyone commented on the fact that we acting like we were brother and sister. It didn’t matter what it was; we found a way to fight about it.
To this day, we still play fight about everything. We’re always jokingly yelling at each other for whatever reason.
BB: You two spend quite a bit of time together?
JK: Yes. We do. We’re very good friends. He’s always coming over to my place. We have dinner. Whenever we can get together, we do. He’s a couple years younger than me. When Neil and I first met, I was in my mid-twenties; he was in his early twenties. We were in very different stages of life. He was just getting out of school, living at home. I was living on my own. We were very different people. I never would have imagined, when I first met Neil, that we would get as close as we are now. He really is one of my best friends.
Even after he had moved to Sydney, every time he came back, he would bring me Tim Horton’s to work in the morning. Or, we’d meet up and go out for lunch.
BB: He would sit in studio with you, the one he had just vacated? And, you couldn’t say, "I’m here with my friend Neil Spence!" You couldn’t even allude to that, could you?
JK: No. He worked for a different station. It was a Newcap station. It probably wouldn’t have mattered too much; but once he was in Halifax, then it would have mattered. He would just pop in and say hi. We’d chat for a while. We had this problem in that our 5 minute chats often turn into 3 hour chats. The two of us like to talk. We are really good at talking to each other.
BB: People start dating as a result of that.
JK: No. Neil and I are completely incompatible. Our fights would probably turn violent.
F. Kate Peardon
JK: Kate is another person that gave me a lot of valuable advice. It was important to Kate that I become a really good broadcaster. I would record things for the morning. She would always give me feedback, saying, "Well, maybe next time you could do it this way." She wasn’t the News Director. She and Dave were 2 very different broadcasters. They had 2 very different styles, which was apparent just in the difference between the morning show and the rest of the day. I really appreciated getting those 2 different perspectives on things.
There were a lot of times when I would have Kate listen to my airchecks and get her feedback. Her advice, I’ll take with me everywhere. I took notes and printed it out. I do take her advice with me everywhere. She introduced me to people at stations in Saskatchewan where she came from that have led to job offers that I didn’t necessarily feel at that point I was ready to take. But, still, she has given me fantastic references and is just a wonderful person. I really get along with her well as a person. I love what she does on air. I’m sad to not hear her any more, on Q on the weekends.
BB: Do you think she’ll be back on the air sometime?
JK: I think she’ll eventually end up back on the air. It’s hard to get away from it. As soon as you’re off the air, it’s all you can think about. I can attest to that personally in that I’ve left radio twice and both times ended up back in it.
BB: Do you think you will end up back on the air permanently, again? You’re studying PR. It’s a different thing.
JK: It’s different, but the same. There’s a lot of parallels, especially to journalism. There’s a lot of journalism involved in PR. I think that taking PR has, if anything, made me a better journalist. A lot of the things that Kate had suggested to me were things that I’m learning now in school. Obviously, they weren’t wrong. At this point, I’m not sure; but sometimes I have days when I think, "That’s it. I’m going back. I’m going to work in radio." Other days I think, "OK. Well, this is fun, too." It depends on what comes along.
G. Vicki Gesner
JK: Vicki covers Amherst, Summerside, and Moncton. She does those 3 markets, Monday to Friday. I know she misses covering the Valley. She’s one of the busiest people that I know. If you ever thought I was busy, Vicki is a busy person. She owns her own business. It’s a motorcycle side car tourism business. She’s always traveling around on her bike all over the province, taking people on tours in side cars. She and her husband do it. And, she’s also getting her Master’s in Education. So, she’s an incredibly busy person. I don’t know how she can get up at 2 o’clock in the morning every day and go through the motions.
BB: Is she full time at MBS?
BB: She must have her classes in the afternoon...
JK: She’s part-time in school. She’s been trying to get her Master’s for a while now. She’s been working away it, because she does it part-time.
BB: You guys make me feel so lazy!
JK: We’re just tired.
[Patricia calls on Bevboy’s BlackBerry. He passes it to Julia. Patricia and Julia have a moment]
BB: Is there anything else you want to say about Vicki?
JK: She’s busier than anyone. I, of course, knew who she was long before I started working at MBS. She didn’t remember meeting me, but I remembered meeting her back in my first couple of days volunteering at AVR when I was in high school. She’s a Valley celebrity.
BB: She would have covered the Valley for many years, back when that station had more than one newsperson.
JK: Her and Dave. She and I get to talk about Dave a fair amount. We both have contact with him still.
H. You supply the name of someone you want to talk about.
JK: I thought about this. I thought I would pick somebody who doesn’t work in Halifax, so you could be exposed to someone new. I thought I would talk about my friend, Jay Scotland.
I think Jay’s a perfect example to anybody who’s thinking about getting into radio, of the fact that experience in broadcasting can get you so many places. A lot of people come into it, and they’re narrow focused. They just want to be an announcer. That’s all they want to think about.
I went to school with Jay. He was the same thing. He wanted to be an announcer. He was in the Reserves to pay his way through school. He got an Announcer job. I think he worked in Kingston, Ontario.
Then, the next thing I knew, he got offered a job at a television station. He hadn’t taken Television, but he took it any way. Then, he got promoted to start reading the weather on CHEX in Peterborough. He was always really good at science. He started going through the motions and taking Environment Canada courses, taking Meteorology in university. Now, he is the weather man for CBC national. When you watch the CBC News Channel, he’s the weather guy.
I strive to be like Jay Scotland, to be as successful as him, because he blows me away at what a hard worker he is.
BB: And he’s your age or so?
JK: He’s a couple years older than me. He’s around 30. He’s filled in on The National and got to read the weather for Peter Mansbridge. To see people I went to school with being that successful really impresses me. I’m so impressed that I know these people.
BB: Do you see him very much?
JK: I talk to him on Facebook from time to time. He actually helped me out with one of the "Because You Asked". I think it was about the Bay of Fundy tides or something. He had done a piece on just that for a feature story in Ontario. It’s about using your resources! But, it’s a lesson in how you can get into something and end up in something completely different.
BB: Do you hope to be in television one day?
JK: I don’t know. I often wondered that, but I don’t know if I could be in television.
BB: What kind of guy is Jay? Nice fella?
JK: He’s amazing. In school his nickname was "Booboo" because he’s a small guy and he kind of reminded us of Yogi’s friend Booboo.
6. What is the best piece of professional advice or criticism you have ever received, and who provided it?
JK: Gary's best piece of advice, and a lot of Program Directors use this, is the KISS theory: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Gary was really big on that. You don't realize how true it is until you start thinking about the ways that you can condense things and make them shorter. It's really easy to talk and talk and talk. But, it's really challenging to say what you want to say in a short amount of time.
BB: To speak with an economy of prose.
JK: Yes. Word economy. A lot of Gary's advice was in that regard. It was really valuable, because I do like to talk. With news, everything is written out in front of you. You know you can take out that sentence. I can take out that word. But, when you're ad libbing, it's easy to let it get away from you and snowball and end up talking and talking and talking. So, Gary really helped me learn how to keep it simple.
BB: OK. You mentioned Kate Peardon. What was a specific piece of advice from her?
JK: Kate really made me realize that news doesn't have to be formal. A lot of newscasters especially on News/Talk stations or on television, it's a very, very formal way of presenting the news. She presented me with a lot of different ways that you could, in more music-centric radio, be very casual and more personable. She really impressed on me that you really had to be personable, that you felt like that person was sitting in the car with you, just telling you a story about something that happened, rather than somebody who was "presenting" you with the news.
So, I tried to take what Kate does and what other people do, which might be more formal, and mix the two and find my own voice, and my way of saying things that are my level of casual. I'm not nearly as casual as Kate, and I don't know how to be as casual as Kate. I haven't learned that, yet. But, it helped me find my own place in being just more mellow.
BB: Has Deborah Rent or Vicki Gesner offered you any advice? Or are they happy with your performance?
JK: They seem to be pretty happy with my performance so far. I haven't heard anything negative. Vicki doesn't really get the opportunity to, because she's similar to me. Everyone's really positive, though. If you put a voicer in the system for the next day, I know Daryl Goode has said to me before, "Oh, thank you so much for those voicers! They were really fantastic." Everyone is so positive and will always give you a pat on the back if they feel you deserve it.
7. Tell me about a couple of on air mistakes you have made. I can imagine, working double-duty at K-Rock last year, that things might have happened.
JK: Actually, I think I made less mistakes when I was doing double-duty than I did before. I own my mistakes like you wouldn't believe. I will tell anyone and everyone the mistakes I have made, and so will Neil.
If we're talking about verbal mistakes, I once, during the span of a day, could not pronounce anything. I said the words "increasing crowd" and "playground ecripment". Neil determined that I was speaking as though I were speaking as Kim Jong Ill [from the film Team America: World Police]. Now, every time I see him, he adds "r's" to everything. He says, "Herro! I noticed the increasing crowd today!" Those, I will never live down.
With Darrin, he one day, when the two of us worked on the weekend, (he did Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; I did Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), let a stray cat into the station. He loves cats.
BB: Me, too.
JK: This cat was outside. It was cold. So, he brought the cat in. He was petting the cat in the studio. It was time for the news. He brings the news on. The cat jumps from the chair that it was on (sleeping) on to the desk. The cat then walks across the board, hits the pot on my mic all the way up.
Darrin's trying to deal with that. The cat walks all the way across to where I' m standing and is inches away from my face, while I'm reading the news.
BB: And you have to be professional.
JK: I'm trying to be professional. I start to laugh. I'm in the middle of talking about some story about some poor farmer whose cantalopes rotted in his field because Sobeys wouldn't buy them. I'm giggling uncontrollably. Then, I just had to say, "I'm sorry. There's a cat!" The number of people who came up to me later and said they almost drove off the road because I was just randomly laughing; and then just said in the middle of my newcast, "I'm sorry. There's a cat!" He was right in my face.
BB: What happened to the cat?
JK: We put it back outside.
JK: I know! We still left food out for it, and then got in trouble because someone kept leaving food out for a stray cat.
BB: Anything else? Ever say "poop" on the air?
JK: No. I think I'm pretty good in that regard. I'd say my worst actual mistake was when I worked for CHUM. The cd's were in carts. You put the cd's in the cart machines, and then you'd cue up the tracks. It was all on a paper log. I worked over nights. I would work a shift that started at 10 o'clock at night. and finish at noon. I did double shifts. I'd work a 10-6 shift and a 6-noon.
I remember one night. It was around 3 o'clock in the morning. I put all 3 of my cd's in. I didn't cue any of them up. I didn't even think of it. I was just on auto pilot. I hit the cd and realized, "This isn't the song I'm supposed to be playing." I faded it down and hit the next cd. That wasn't the song that was supposed to be playing. Faded that down and hit the third song that was supposed to be playing. That wasn't the right song either.
Who happened to be driving to the airport at 3 o'clock in the morning, was the station manager. I got a call. "What just happened?" You very quickly learn in radio that mistakes happen and you just have to say, "I screwed up." I think it was the first time that I had to be like, "I have no idea what I just did. But it was not correct." From then on, I was always super diligent about cueing up my tracks on my cd's.
BB: Getting back to the cat, when it potted up your mic, what did that accomplish? What did that do?
JK: It would have made me way too loud. I don't have a very soft speaking voice to start with. I would have sounded really, really loud and distorted in people's radios. So, Darrin had to deal with that. He had to bring that back down.
8. You lived in the Annapolis Valley for several years, and now spend your time in Halifax. Tell me 4 things you miss about the Valley, and 4 things you love about Halifax.
JK: I’d say the 4 things I miss about the Valley are easier. I miss my dog.
I miss Greenwood in general, because I know so many people there. Every where I go in Greenwood, I see people I know. I miss that community feel; of being able to go somewhere and see somebody I know, of never making it through the grocery store without being stopped to chat.
I miss the gym in Middleton. It’s my favourite gym ever because it’s so quiet.
BB: But, you lived in Port Williams, right? You’d drive to Middleton to go to the gym?
JK: Yes. I went home every weekend. I went to my parents’ house in Greenwood every Thursday or Friday, whether it was to do laundry or go to the gym or whatever. I love going to the gym. It’s my favourite activity. The gym in Middleton is my favourite place because it’s so quiet. It’s just perfect. The gym in Greenwood is noisy and busy.
The fourth thing, I think, would be [long pause]... I just miss how quiet everything is. Just being able to go for a drive and be the only person on the road in some places. I would just go for drives down the North Mountain and take pictures of horses. You can’t do that here. You can take pictures of the waterfront all you want, but there’s people there. There’s people everywhere.
BB: OK. Things you like about Halifax.
JK: How many more restaurants there are. There’s always somewhere different to go eat. There’s no way I think I could try all of them. I love that there’s so much variety in that aspect of Halifax.
The second thing about Halifax is my roommate. We met in Ottawa when she took Radio, but eventually switched to horticulture. When I moved to Halifax, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to live here on my own and go to school, so she moved from Ottawa to live with me. If I didn’t move to Halifax, I probably wouldn’t have her here.
BB: What does she do for a living?
JK: She works for the VON right now. She does intake. When people schedule appointments for the VON, she’s the person they talk to for home visits. She was just working in Ottawa; she wasn’t doing anything that she was really passionate about. She wanted a change of scenery. She’s definitely one of the things I’m happy for.
Further to that, the third thing is that I have lots of friends here. A lot of people I went to high school with, live here. So, it was an easy transition to move from the Valley to living here. I didn’t have that, "I don’t know anybody; I have to make friends." [thing]. As soon as I moved here, people were like, "Oh, we have to get together!"
The fourth thing I’m going to say is how easy it is to get from here to other places outside of this province. When you live in the Valley, it’s so daunting to have to make that loop around: Drive all the way to Halifax and then drive all the way up to Amherst or wherever. To have that 2 hours shaved off your time is fantastic. Moncton is less further away. Charlottetown is less far away. It’s awesome.
BB: And so is the airport.
JK: And, so is the airport!
9. Why did you agree to this interview?
JK: I didn't really see a reason not to. You had asked me a while ago. At the time, I was like, "Well, I'm getting out of radio. Why would you want to talk to me?" Then, of course, I didn't. That plan went well. I figured, "Why not?" Someone might find me interesting, out there, somewhere. Neil will find me interesting. I know he'll read it.
10. You ask me a question.
JK: I tried really hard to think of a question that you haven’t been asked by somebody else before. I can’t imagine what that would be. So, I think that my question is: You’ve interviewed so many people who are in radio. Is there anything that we all have in common?
BB: A passion for radio.
JK: I would hope so.
BB: A passion for communication. I said this to Jeff Cogswell. I haven’t met any assholes yet. I’m sure there are some. But, I’ve been lucky in that I have always met nice people. They’ve always been very generous with their time. Nicolle Bellefontaine had me in studio with her when I interviewed her. I interviewed Neil Spence last year in studio after he’d finished a shift. You guys have been very generous with your time, and with me. Almost to a person, you’re all very surprised that there’s a person who wants to talk to you. That’s what I don’t understand. You guys are in the media. You meet extremely interesting people that I would kill to meet. People who do radio shows get to meet The Rolling Stones, the Black-Eyed Peas, everyone. I’ll never get a chance to meet these people. I get to talk to people who meet these people, which is a pretty big thrill to me. I’m not sure if you get cynical about meeting other celebrities or not; but to me, that’s a pretty big draw in talking to you. You get a unique insight into meeting people that I’ll never have a chance to meet. And, you always have funny and interesting stories to tell.
JK: About cats!
BB: About anything. So, that’s what I found: You’re all pretty much the same kind of people. And, if there are jerks, I haven’t met them yet. There are some, right?
JK: Oh, yes. They’re out there.
11. A special bonus question courtesy of... Neil Spence!
I have 2 questions if that's cool. One's a joke, one's serious. Open with the joke but ask it with a straight face.
A. What is your most annoying memory of working with Neil Spence?
JK: He knows what I’m going to say here. There’s a rule at K-Rock, thanks to Neil. It’s called, "No Finger Puppets During the News." One day, there were these 2 finger puppets that were tacked to the wall. One was a little panda; the other was a bear.
I’m reading the news. All of a sudden, behind my monitor, come 2 finger puppets. They started dancing behind the screen. I lost it, in the middle of the news. I had to turn off my mic and laugh hysterically. I composed myself during the time that I had a clip playing. I continued, while he was literally rolling on the floor with laughter, because he made me crack.
So, after that, I had to institute the "No finger puppets during the news" rule. That is by far the most annoying thing that Neil has ever done to me.
BB: Typically, you’re pretty composed and professional, right?
JK: I like to think so. He would always try to make me laugh and was never successful. I was always successful in making them laugh. I’d throw in some really silly story. I threw in a story once about a guy who was trying to get a name change in Arizona. His name was "Slap Happy Fish Soup MacGilligan." I said it with a straight face. Darrin lost it. I was always getting them like that. But, they had never got me until the finger puppets.
BB: I’m trying to remember. Originally, Neil worked the afternoons on weekends. You were on in the morning and into the afternoon. Right?
JK: Yes. Originally, my shift started at 6; my first cast was at 7. I went until 2. Then, we changed it until earlier, so my shift started at 5. My first cast was at 6. And, I finished at noon. There was a recorded 2 o’clock cast. Then, they cut the 2 o’clock cast completely once I started doing Neil’s job.
B. If you were on the air while something big like the death of John Lennon happened, how would you approach announcing it?
JK: I’ve dealt with big things in the past, maybe not as big as John Lennon dying. But, I think the way I handle things is just to be straight up. Even if I’m particularly emotionally attached to something, it’s just to say, "Here’s what happened." I would rather be able to say something with some sort of information to go along with it. But, in that case, I think it would just be, "Stop everything. Something huge has happened. Here it is."
BB: If a plant is closing in the Valley, and friends of yours work there. It becomes a little bit personal.
JK: There have been situations like that when things have been a little bit personal. But, I think I’m good at keeping things at arm’s length. A lot of people will comment on the fact that journalists in general are very jaded. We aren’t really emotionally affected by stories, by tragedy. Even if I knew that I was going to be making people upset, they still want to know. I have an obligation to just tell people what it is, whether or not it’s going to upset them.
BB: Is that a product of your training, or your education?
JK: I think it’s a combination of both. I think it’s instinct, too. You do have to have a certain amount of instinct to know whether or not something is worthy of laying it all out there, and whether or not it’s better to keep it for now or get more information and see if it’s worth telling people about.
I know Dave was always good at saying, "These are things that people need to know, that people want to know." If it’s something that affects anyone, they want to know. You just need to be honest with people.
So, if while I was working, John Lennon died, I’d probably just stop everything and say, "Here’s what happened."
BB: When you were at K-Rock, did you ever have to interrupt a morning show or an afternoon show with breaking news? That doesn’t really happen very much anymore, does it?
JK: I can’t remember any time when we actually interrupted something with breaking news. We would probably give teasers to the news coming up at the top of the hour if there was anything. I know there were a couple of times when I would go on the air with one of the announcers to say, "Oh, this and this happened. I’ll be talking more about it at one o’clock or whatever." But I can’t remember any time, with the exception of an election, when anything was interrupted for news.
BB: Were you guys covering the elections at night?
JK: Yes. We had someone live at night. First it was Neil, then Chris. Dave and I would be covering elections. I’d be out sitting in returning offices. The last election, I had to go to Saulnierville and sit in the returning office and call back the results every time they came in.
BB: Why Saulnierville?
JK: That’s where the returning office for West Nova is.
BB: I hope you didn’t pay for all that gas.
JK: No. I drove the Cruiser. But, I had to drive back from Saulnierville after they announced that Greg Kerr had won. It’s about two and a half hours [from the radio station]. It’s far; it’s only one lane.
BB: I like talking about the news because I don’t get to talk to you guys about how news is gathered or how it’s presented. It’s almost like a mystery to a lot of people.
JK: I think it really is. A lot of people make a lot of assumptions about the way that we get news, and the way that news comes to us. I’m happy to say that it’s a lot easier than that, or a lot more complicated than that.
BB: If The Chronicle Herald stopped publishing tomorrow, would that be a major, crippling blow to how radio stations get their news?
JK: Absolutely. They have so many reporters. A lot of our leads for radio come from newspaper. The thing is, too, people will always default to picking up the phone and calling the newspaper, or picking up the phone and calling CBC before they ever think to call their local radio station. It’s frustrating, but it’s reality.
BB: Is that why, at K-Rock, they always say, "We want your news tips?" That was serious?
JK: Yes. We really wanted people to call. There were so many times where you’d see a story in the paper or on CBC and think, "Why wouldn’t that person call us? We can cover it better." If something is happening in Waterville, don’t let your story die because it didn’t make it into The Chronicle Herald. Call the people who are actually going to deliver your message to your community. A lot of people don’t realize that local radio is still there wanting your stories.
Even here at MBS, we still want local news, for all of our markets. This afternoon, I was trying to source local news for Miramichi, Campbellton and Sussex, New Brunswick. It’s really challenging when nobody’s giving you anything. I can’t be out there on the street, so I need somebody to say, "Hey, this is happening.", so that I can call someone and find out.
When I was at K-Rock, a lot of people assumed that I was a psychic, that I knew everything that was happening everywhere. "Well, why didn’t you cover this?"
"Well, why didn’t you call me?" I couldn’t have known this was happening unless somebody told me. I’m only privy to so much information!
BB: Is there an example of a story that you covered at K-Rock or MBS that the Herald didn’t bother with, but was still newsworthy?
JK: Oh, absolutely. There are so many stories, actually. The majority of what comes out of Council is things that a provincial news source doesn’t care about. But, someone local really does. At the same time, we’ve had people who said, "I called CTV, and they weren’t interested in my story. So, I didn’t think it was a good story." But, that’s not the case at all because CTV doesn’t necessarily have time to fit in your story that only affects 200 people in amongst their stories that affect 200 000 people. And, we do. Even if it is only 30 seconds, you still get your story read. Local stories are so valuable to radio. I don’t think a lot of people realize that.
BB: That’s good to hear, from a young person. I really appreciate that.
BB: Julia Kirkey, thank you very much for the last almost 2 hours of your life. It’s been a delight seeing you again. Thank you very much for coming out and talking to me tonight.
JK: Thank you for wanting to talk to me.
BB: All my very best to you. I hope that you remain in radio.
JK: Well, if I get a job, maybe I will. I’ll start using your blog as my resume. "See? Aren’t I interesting?"
Come back here on Thursday the 18th of July for part two of the Julia Kirkey interview!