One of the hardest things I have ever done…
Wow. Just sitting down to write this now, I’m already getting all teary. Which, for those of you who know me, know that I don’t like admitting to. Like every good story, of which, I hope this is one, let’s start at the beginning.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Brittney Le Blanc started at 630CHED in April of 2006 (we call it May, but I started in April). It all started when my instructor, Dave Albright, told me to apply and that I better damn-well get the job. I had no real interest in sports or talk radio, but had been reading a murder-mystery that took place at a talk radio station and I loved news, so I figured… why not?
Hired while still in school at NAIT, I was responsible for running the board during hockey games, shows, and the like. It wasn’t the toughest of jobs, although running a hockey game is one of the toughest things you will ever have to do as a board operator. To make matters worse (or better?) I was trained by Dan Tencer, who to this day was one of the grumpiest people to work with. (I say this with love, because he is also so very good at what he does.) It was through this that I got to work with people like Simon Ostler, who taught me how to always keep an ear to the scanner and how to improve my writing. I still remember the feeling of Simon reading one of my stories on the air for the first time. It was absolutely great.
I got the opportunity to accompany the station to Red Friday, producing a piece afterwards that Chris Hayden said made him tear up. I was able to try my hands at promotions, run (and not super well, if I do admit) Minor Hockey Roadshows for a season, I got to debate on the air with Lesley Primeau, whom shared so many amazing moments with me. Whether it’s learning that T-Rex had sharp teeth to better eat coconuts, or watching her handle herself with the angriest of callers, or knowing that she would never ask anything of you that she herself wasn’t willing to do. Heck, she even got me involved in a very embarrassing series on dating which saw me attend a speed-dating night and get critiqued by a matchmaker. She put a lot of trust in me right at the beginning, calling me Wonderkid, and it stuck. Our friendship has had some ups and downs in the six years that I’ve known her - but my life would be so much less if we had never met.
Primeau also taught me to drive… we stole the Cool880 cruiser one day… a fact our Promotions Director Tanya learnt that afternoon on the air… she wasn’t happy.
When our GM Doug Rutherford announced iNews880, I knew that I wanted to be there. I immediately went and spent far too long in Syd Smith’s office. The finest program director a girl could work for, Syd always let me come in and vent, discuss plans, throw ideas at him, or talk about terrible TV such as Campus PD or Ice Road Truckers. He trusted me when I told him about this crazy thing called Twitter, sent me to Slave Lake when I told him I wanted him to send me as a radio photographer, and unknowingly let me take over his office briefly last summer.
I started at iNews880 shortly after it launched. I wrote, I edited, I webbed, I blogged… I took photos. I got to cut my teeth as a reporter for the first time by heading down to Police Headquarters and scrumming Detective Bill Clark, who was announcing the arrest of Mark Twitchell. He released the photo of the mask and talked about charging a man for first degree murder despite not knowing where the body was. It was an introduction to reporting like no other.
Over the past few years I’ve covered everything from Dominoes Tournaments to homicides to driving around in the dark describing destruction from a storm. I’ve spoken to families and friends who have just lost loved ones, and I was able to travel up to Slave Lake to document the tragedy through photos.
I’ve been anchoring early mornings, working with some of the most passionate people I could ask for. Arguing with Brenton Driedger, teasing Kim Smith, getting fired up with Landon Kelly… it’s been a blast. I’ve learnt so much from people like Morley Scott, who always knew exactly what I needed to hear. And Daryl Hooke, who always listened, even when I was a complete mess. I’ve worked with fantastic people, and said goodbye to so many.
And now it’s my turn to say goodbye.
After the May long weekend, I’m going to be starting a job with the Edmonton Journal. (Right now, known only as the Edmonton Experiment.)
I’ll be working on a project alongside Karen Unland. (She made a similar announcement on Friday.) She’s a woman that I look up to greatly, have such immense respect for, and know that I will be probably butting heads with in short order. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s still in the beginning stages, but I think it has great potential. It’s a big challenge, one with a lot of potential for failure… but that’s okay. I’m used to failure, to trying with all your heart and not making it work despite your best intentions… and I know to learn from that and keep going. But I think we have the ability to do great things, and it is time for me to test myself. It’s time to leave the comfortable, (mostly) loving environment/home that I’ve made for myself over the past six years.
I am going to miss them. Miss discussing stories with Bob, chatting with Rosemarie at the front desk, hugging Felicia, bothering Vicki from the top of the stairs, playing with the dogs in the building, sneaking a horse into the GM’s office. The building is filled with great memories, but now it’s time to make new ones.
Saying goodbye is one of the toughest things for me. (Ask anyone who has tried to get me to leave an event) I hate doing it… but it’s the right time, and I look forward to keeping in touch with my friends from the station as I move on to the next challenge.