The baggage handler clicked the microphone in Churchill Airport.
“Transair Flight 106 for Thompson, The Pas and Winnipeg is now ready for boarding at Gate 1.”
When he finished the announcement, the baggage handler could see a man walking across the room towards him.
“You have a really good voice,” said the man. “Have you ever thought of being on the radio?”
As many Canadians already know, the bag handler was Peter Mansbridge and the rest is history – his and ours.
Have you always wanted to have a coffee or a beer with the longstanding presenter of CBC-TV’s? The national? reading Off the record is the next best thing.
Mansbridge’s third book is a breeze, with bite-sized chapters written in conversational style.
The 73 year old Mansbridge who is now called a daily podcast. moderated The bridge and the occasional documentary, with no high school diploma or college degree, but got to the top of his profession through hard work, good luck and what he calls an indefinable “it” – the quality of trust that comes from how well, a TV -Journalist arrives at the audience.
He was a witness to history: he was standing next to the Berlin Wall when it was torn apart (and was holding a piece); about the funeral of Princess Diana from the same spot in front of Buckingham Palace from which it had covered her wedding.
Mansbridge shares his favorite on-air slip-ups, including this gem when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister and out of the country when the Supreme Court made a major constitutional decision.
“The Prime Minister is on the other side of the world in Seoul, South Korea, which is thirteen hours ahead of us. Trudeau is in bed right now, but our David Halton is with him. David?”
Some stories are really moving.
A young girl in Sri Lanka tells him “Ca-na-da” is good because three Canadian nurses flew there immediately after a tsunami to vaccinate victims against water-borne diseases.
Mesley spoke to many community groups, including Red River College journalism students.
Although Mansbridge spends his longest chapter reflecting on the current state of journalism, he does not write a word about the controversy that ended the careers of his longtime colleague and his ex-wife.
Journalists who have open story meetings about what to air and what not to air are fundamental to the integrity of television journalism, Mansbridge writes early on, and gives many specific examples in the book.
How can he ignore the important questions raised by the Mesley case? Was her use of an offensive word in two story meetings a valid reason for the CBC to fire her?
If Mansbridge made a deal with Mesley to keep their marriage and controversy out of the book, or the process was still going on at press, he should at least have given readers credit.
If not, he owes it to her – and us – to tell us what he really thinks. Donald Benham is a freelance writer, former journalism teacher, and summer reporter for CJOB, 1972.