Nearly sixteen years ago, our little family of three moved from Hawaii to Ontario.
We expected to be in Ottawa for about 5 years – long enough to enjoy exploring new things. We never imagined making it permanent.
So what happened? Well, we liked it. A lot! Even after my husband’s employer at the time, Nortel Networks, imploded. We liked it enough to become dual nationals. We liked it so much that my comment on what might lie ahead was “I’m not done with Canada yet!”
Along the way, I picked up a rewarding relationship with NCPR that lasted just shy of a decade. As a part-time stringer I was free to cover pretty much whatever I liked – from Canadian politics, to urban Ottawa and its rural surroundings.
And how did that happen? Well, in the fall of 2005 my husband Craig and I took a station tour in Canton. Both of us had worked for Hawaii Public Radio in Honolulu, so it was fun to go see NCPR. Craig snuck Ellen Rocco aside and asked if she could “do something” with me. Sort of like the old Henny Youngman joke: “Take my wife! Please!”
I was mortified. My husband the stage mother. Ambush accomplished, the queer request was dropped into Martha Foley’s lap.
Martha asked what I might have in mind. Still reeling, I babbled off a string of (not even!) half-baked ideas.
She finally said, “Well, go out and bring me something.” And so it began.
I’d been a number of things at Hawaii Public Radio: studio operator, production assistant, news anchor and program host. But, apart from a few features done as a lark, I hadn’t done much “real reporting”. I’m shy you see. And I hate to offend anyone, as tough reporting is apt to do. Still, it can be healthy to stretch out, now and then.
I’d also never worked with an editor before. That proved to be a much-needed learning experience!
As you should already know, Martha is an outstanding news director, a gifted editor, and a super nice person. Smart, funny and committed. Her main problem is shoehorning anything more into her busy schedule.
NCPR turned out to be an excellent place to hone different skills. Although I ended up covering many topics, my favorite projects combined audio with slide shows.
Lately I’ve mostly been blogging. Because that’s a much faster way to start and finish something – it’s possible to go from concept to publication in under an hour.
Slide shows and blogging bring me to web guru Dale Hobson. As far as I’m concerned, he’s “the man”. If it needs doing, Dale gets it done. And anything he touches gets improved.
Sadly, I have yet to master Martha’s main lesson: “focus!” (She probably has a different mantra for those who already grasp brevity.)
I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom Dale would impart. But, reading his posts, I know I am at the feet of a master. Watch and learn, grasshopper.
It would take too long to sing the praises of all the fine folks at NCPR. But special mention must be made of Ellen Rocco. She’s a wellspring of vision, smarts and heart. Ellen gets the mission and works tirelessly to make it happen. If you think NCPR is a great station – and I certainly do – it all comes down to good people doing their best for a supportive community.
True, it’s not exactly lucrative work. But it is rewarding. It’s a license to explore and ask… pretty much where ever curiosity may lead. It’s a chance to share and serve. To help make things better.
There’s no end of fascinating people and activities in this region. Fortunately, NCPR wants to include Canadian content too. It’s a good home base for putting stories from the Great White North on the NCPR/NPR map. And I really hope someone else – with more ambition than I had – will pick that up and take it further.
Much as I love it here, it’s time to leave. Fine young son is grown and gone. I have elder care on the horizon. We have decided it’ll be better to tackle that from the west coast. Craig and I will be moving to Vancouver Island pretty much as soon as we sell our house.
Leaving is sad. It’s exciting too, as Vancouver Island is a lovely part of the world.
I thought we’d be doing this a few years hence. But I am already gone. For the past two weeks I’ve been in California, helping an Aunt who had the bad fortune to break a hip and have a stroke all in the same week.
Listeners, readers, colleagues and everyone I’ve interviewed … thank you! Thank you for stories that ranged from important to fun. I guess I owe my husband a hearty thanks too!
And here’s to more adventures ahead. I am ever so grateful for our experiences here.
Aloha and mahalo nui loa!