A glimpse of the character of former mayor Tom Gosnell



It’s not the big things a person does in life that truly tell his or her character, it’s all the little things that add up to a life of positive impact.

As we remember former London mayor Tom Gosnell, who died Monday, I want to share a behind-the-scenes story at city hall.

One evening three J-school students trotted up to the municipal centre of politics, camera gear in tow.

It had probably been a long enough day for Mayor Gosnell, but he agreed to be interviewed by 3 kids learning the craft.

And as we were learning, we made a costly mistake. It’s a mistake I think every broadcast journalist has made. No sound on the interview.

And it had been a long interview, close to an hour as I recall. He didn’t just give us a few minutes, he allowed us all the time we needed to set up in his office (we were slow and I’d like to say meticulous, but apparently not) and then ask every question we wanted.

The interview went well. It was only after we returned to school and played it back, that we realized we had a lip-synced version only.

We gave Tom a call and packed everything up and back we went. He didn’t flinch when we asked if we could do the interview again. Didn’t say he had something else to do, which I’m sure he did. Just told us to come on back.

I don’t recall if the second interview was as good as the first, but it didn’t matter. This busy politician had given us more time that day then he probably spent with his own family.

He knew that talking to journalism students mattered as much as talking to CFPL-TV (not sure what re-incarnation or name our station was at that particular point in time). Well it mattered to us, anyway, and it’s something I’ve never forgotten.

Thanks Tom and RIP.

Remembering Farley Mowat through his landscapes


The great Canadian writer Farley Mowat, who served in World War II,  has passed away at 92.

The last Mowat book I read was Two Against the North. It won a Governor General’s Award.

I was in Turin, covering the 2006 Olympics.

Late at night after covering events all day and into the early morning hours, I would unwind with Mowat’s book.

It was written for a young audience and it was easy to read.

It captured the Canadian North in its essence. Of course Mowat was long familiar with the harshness of the Far North.

While in Italy, I covered some events in the Alps. The wind and the snow often whipped through the mountains and in an instant you couldn’t see.

It was interesting to compare the Canadian wilderness with that of the Alps.

Mowat brought a sense of home to me in that time and place.

I have always been fascinated by books that deal with the haunting wilderness, where survival is never guaranteed.

What is your favourite book by Mowat?


Cynicism never took hold of Steve Coad


imgresTomorrow my friend Steve Coad will be laid to rest.

Gone too soon at 64, despite his stellar fitness level and good diet.

I worked with Coadie for 17  years, half of that time in the sports department at The London Free Press.

I came in as a bright-eyed, idealist and found kinship with Coadie, always excited and enthusiastic to be reporting, despite the fact he had been in a newsroom for more than a decade.

Coadie never became a cynic.  His love of sports, journalism and affection for the athletes he covered never waned. I don’t know how he did it.

In a business that is full of distrust – and it has to be to an extent – Coadie never became mired in cynicism. He kept the faith somehow.

His youthful attitude was mirrored in his appearance. He easily looked 20 years younger. Always did.

Everything about him was buoyant.

That’s not to say he didn’t get upset about the state of journalism, working conditions or the stress of an industry mired in dropping ad revenue and subscriptions, as well as the ever-changing technology we use that isn’t always easily adapted.

But he always rebounded: Ready for the next laugh, the next story, the next run.

I will miss you Steve Coad.  Thanks for the many ways you made life better.

Thanks for all the talks we had and the fun times we shared at sporting events. Thanks for going with me to Cleveland to cover a story and then sharing a box of Crispy Cremes. Thanks for your presents and your presence.

But above all, thanks for your belief  in the good things of this world. Hope you’re enjoying the next world.