George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

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George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby radiofan » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:00 pm

Q & A with George Garrett, an intrepid reporter
by John Ackermann
Posted Mar 3, 2019 11:23 am PST Last Updated Mar 3, 2019 at 11:27 am PST


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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – He’s been called “the Walter Cronkite of B.C. Radio” and “the best there was, is, and ever will be” by his peers. He is George Garrett, Vancouver’s most celebrated radio reporter, and he’s out with George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter, a book detailing his nearly four-and-a-half decades breaking some of the biggest stories in the province’s history.

NEWS 1130’s John Ackermann reached Garrett by phone earlier this week. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.

George, what goes through your mind when people call you things like the Walter Cronkite of B.C. radio?

“Well, I’m a little bit embarrassed. I’m humiliated because to put me in the same category as Walter Cronkite, it’s just not right. I think that quote came from a good friend of mine at the Pace Group, Norman Stowe, who told a lot of people during my early retirement years that I was the most trusted man in British Columbia in terms of reporting and he compared me to the Walter Cronkite of British Columbia. But it’s a bit much!”

So many people have looked up you, continue to look up to you, even two decades after your retirement. Who have you admired? Who do you admire?

“[CKNW News Director] Warren Barker would be number one. He was my boss. He did a lot for me. He put me out as an investigative reporter, which meant that I didn’t have to be on any particular assignment and it just made the world of difference so that I had the time to go and look at different things and spend quite a bit of time on one project. Some of my projects I spent a lot of time on fizzled out, just didn’t amount to anything, but he never questioned what I was doing, never asked me ‘How come you haven’t had a story?’ He gave me a complete trust, which was really wonderful.”

Let’s go back to the beginning a bit. Where do you think your curiosity comes from?

“From just being a kid I think, on the farm. I always wanted to know everything about just about everything I looked at, and one incident was the old farmer fixing his farm equipment in the backyard. His housekeeper was my aunt that I was staying [with] for a few days, and I asked so many questions he called his housekeeper and he said, ‘Lucille, get this kid out of here! He asks too many questions!’ That same aunt of mine did say that I talked a lot. She said, ‘I think you’re going to be a preacher because you talk so much!'”

You started with ‘NW back in its early days as a mom-and-pop type operation, back when it was in New Westminster. Your history spans from then all the way to Corus and the move to the Black Tower. It’s an achievement that will never be replicated but I have to ask anyway. How do you manage to spend the bulk of your career, 40-plus years, at the same radio station?

“I was very lucky because they were very competitive, as we all were. CKWX was very competitive, along with CFUN and CJOR. We had competitive talk shows, we had competitive newscasts, so it was a great time to be part of radio. I happened to be with CKNW, I liked the people I worked for, and I think we had a pretty good operation going for a long time.”

In the book, you mention CKMO and CKWX in those early days. Overall, what station do you think gave you the most run for your money?

“I think at times it was ‘WX, especially when you went into the all news format. We were a bit concerned about that and, at times, the competition in news didn’t come so much from other stations, as the competition came from talk show people like Pat Burns on CJOR. That gave ‘NW a real scare and [Jack] Webster later on CJOR. I guess the things we were watching for was talk shows. Even Brian Forst, our great morning man, has said that CKNW’s strength was its newsroom. He said that’s why people tuned in. I think there’s some truth in that. We had a really good operation headed by Warren Barker and John McKitrick and a lot of very fine people who have since gone on to other stations and some, like Terry Schintz, who are still there.”

You may well remember this. In 1957, ‘WX and ‘NW swapped frequencies. Do you remember what was behind this move?

“I remember that when we were 1320 on the dial, we were trying very hard to get what they call a clear channel. We wanted to be lower down on the dial and we wound up at 980. All I remember is there was quite a battle with ‘WX over who got what frequency. But, you know, 1130 is pretty good too, really.”

As someone on the other side of the fence, what were your impressions when ‘WX went from country to all news in 1996?

“I thought it was good for news, even though it was competition for us. I thought it was a service to the public and I must say that, over the 20 years, I’ve listened quite a bit. I’m amazed at how you do it. I know you have a lot of people working in the newsroom but I don’t hear too many goofs. We used to have them at ‘NW. I guess every station has them. But your machine runs so well and you go from one feature to another seamlessly, most of the time. So, I think it’s an important thing for the market to have that and to have it, I think it’s 20 years now, isn’t it?”

23 as of February 8th.

“Wow, that’s quite a record!”

Read the rest of John Ackermann's interview with George Garrett at: https://www.citynews1130.com/2019/03/03 ... -reporter/
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby radiofan » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:09 pm

George will be doing in-store book signings on March 9th and 16th.

March 9th @ Black Bond Books in South Surrey/White Rock at the Simiahmoo Mall 1:30PM and

March 16th @ Black Bond Books in the Haney Place Mall in Maple Ridge (I still call it Haney) .... 1:30PM

Stop by and say hi to George and grab a book!
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby Richard Skelly » Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:57 am

Well worth clicking the link to read the transcript of the entire John Ackermann interview with George.
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby don'tpanic » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:25 pm

I remember the big frequency swap. CKWX had been on 980 for a long time, while CKNW started at the 1230 graveyard frequency but then moved to 1320. I believe WX moved to 1130 - a clear channel allocated to Canada - because it also aimed at going to 50 kw. NW took over 980 and, as I recall, soon also went to 50 kw with a transmitter on Anacis Island.
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby radiofan » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:46 pm

don'tpanic wrote:I remember the big frequency swap. CKWX had been on 980 for a long time, while CKNW started at the 1230 graveyard frequency but then moved to 1320. I believe WX moved to 1130 - a clear channel allocated to Canada - because it also aimed at going to 50 kw. NW took over 980 and, as I recall, soon also went to 50 kw with a transmitter on Anacis Island.


CBU (CBR before the move) was on 1130 and made the move to 690 which was a Canadian and Mexican clear channel. Biggest mistake they ever made. 1130 was the much better frequency.

When CKNW moved to 980 they were 10kw with towers on Annacis Island. In 1965/66, they made the move to Cloverdale with 50kw and Annacis (Queensboro) became the backup site.
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby radiofan » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:14 pm

In case you have missed George's first few book signings at Black Bond and Book Warehouse, you can grab a book and have him sign it this Wednesday night (April 3) from 7-9PM at the Coquitlam Chapter's store at Lougheed and Pinetree (across Pinetree from Coquitlam Centre).
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby cart_machine » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:53 am

radiofan wrote:CBU (CBR before the move) was on 1130 and made the move to 690 which was a Canadian and Mexican clear channel. Biggest mistake they ever made. 1130 was the much better frequency.


Not only that, there were howls from Vancouver radio listeners that CBU drowned out all the CBS shows on KIRO. Dick Diespecker's column in the Province back then had a bunch of complaints.

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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby jon » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:01 am

cart_machine wrote:
radiofan wrote:CBU (CBR before the move) was on 1130 and made the move to 690 which was a Canadian and Mexican clear channel. Biggest mistake they ever made. 1130 was the much better frequency.


Not only that, there were howls from Vancouver radio listeners that CBU drowned out all the CBS shows on KIRO. Dick Diespecker's column in the Province back then had a bunch of complaints.

cArtie.

Over at The Sun, they wrote several Editorials on the subject. One of which mentioned a second Vancouver favourite before the move: KNBC (as it was then known) in San Francisco. They were hit even harder than KIRO, with a weaker signal and only 10 KHz away on 680.

Thanks to directional patterns that include Vancouver in their additional effective power, and a grounding system that includes salt water from the Pacific Ocean, 50,000 watt KGO-810 and KNBR-680 (KNBC at that time) have always had the strongest San Francisco signals into Vancouver.

In those days, of course, it was the U.S. network affiliates that got the ears of Vancouver listeners. KIRO was CBS, KOMO was ABC and KNBC was, of course, NBC. I'm not sure what Seattle station had the NBC affiliation at the time, and whether it was not already impaired by a nearby Vancouver station.
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby jon » Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:28 am

I finally looked up the U.S. network affiliations listed for radio stations in the Vancouver Sun at the beginning of 1952. And it goes like this:
CBS - KIRO-710 Seattle and KNX-1070 Los Angeles
ABC - KJR-950 Seattle, KGO-810 San Francisco and KVOS-790 Bellingham
NBC - KOMO-1000 Seattle and KNBC-680 San Francisco

The order is as shown in the Sun.

So, why would anyone be listening to KNBC-680 from San Francisco when they could get KOMO-1000 from Seattle with the same NBC programming?

Because KOMO faced the same problem that listeners were complaining about with KIRO: a Vancouver station only 20 KHz away. CKWX was on 980 at that time.

In the early '60s, before CKNW-980 went to 50,000 watts, all the radios in our house in East Burnaby got CKNW slop on 950 (KJR), let alone 1000 (KOMO), only 20 KHz away.
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Re: George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter

Postby cart_machine » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:15 am

jon wrote: KOMO faced the same problem that listeners were complaining about with KIRO: a Vancouver station only 20 KHz away. CKWX was on 980 at that time.


At the time, KOMO was 50,000 watts. CKWX was 5,000. KOMO wasn't getting drowned out.

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