Edmonton Experiment Visits Toronto

Karen and I

I started my first week with the Edmonton Experiment by flying out to Toronto alongside Karen Unland. The Edmonton Experiment team then spent a week working out of the National Post building with the Toronto team (which they’re now calling the National Post Labs). Our two experimental pairs shared ideas, brainstormed, and generally fired on all cylinders.  We also occasionally saw a bit of Toronto, which was lovely, since it was my first time visiting. 

The Experiment Teams

Duncan, Chris, Karen, and Noah all crowd around Karen’s computer as she shows them something. Also pictured: an amazing stock photo of our team.

Toronto: Not just a place from Scott Pilgrim

A little bit of Toronto.

Hall of Newspapers

The hall of newspapers had a digital display of the daily papers inside that newspapers paper box. It was interactive and very cool.

The National Post building was amazing, the newsroom is huge and everyone we met was helpful and friendly (so very unlike Toronto stereotypes). We spent most of our time in the boardroom, working on both projects. In Edmonton, we’ll be focusing on entrepreneurial culture, while our Toronto counterparts are looking into food culture. (As an aside, always tour a city with people focused on food – your taste buds will definitely thank you!)

As for the project, there is a lot of work ahead of us. We have lots of meetings in the upcoming weeks, trying to connect with creative entrepreneurs of all stripes. We want to find out everything we can about them – what makes them tick, what challenges them, and how we can help. I’ll be honest with you, this past week has already been really tough. Flying into Toronto, I thought I knew what the vision for the Edmonton Experiment would be. However, as it is a constantly evolving beast, we’re now heading in a different direction. We pivoted, and it might take me a while to get into the new headspace.

The analogy I am using is this: my mind is a living room. For years now, I’ve enjoyed the wallpaper that adorned the walls, but now, I need to paint them. In order to do that, it’s going to take time as I peel off all the wallpaper before getting the paint up. It will take us a bit of time to get the Experiment going. After all, that wallpaper has been stuck on since I moved in, and it’s going to need a lot of work. (And no, I don’t know what colour I’m painting it.) I think Karen has already got most of the paper off the walls, and lucky for me she offered to help me with mine.

So the update is simply: We’re back from Toronto with new ideas and ready to take Edmonton on. We are moving into our offices on the first floor of the Edmonton Journal building, slowly but surely. Right now, I have one shelf set up, a coat rack, and I just brought in a cup to hold my pens this morning. We’ll continue on, I have a two full pages of tasks ahead of me to accomplish this week, and with this post done, I can check another one of them off. 

You could help me with another task by sending me lists of names of entrepreneurs with expertise to share or things you want to know about business in Edmonton. [(britlradio)@gmail.com without the brackets.] 

Fond of Venn Diagrams, Karen and I discussed our ideas, and realized that there are so many people in our city we don’t know yet – so your help will be definitely appreciated. 

Failing that, I still need post-its.

Shelf so far

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.

Election Pizza #abvote

@TriciaKindleman digs in.

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14 hours and counting… Time for another red bull. #yegmedia #Bobapproves (Taken with instagram)

14 hours and counting… Time for another red bull. #yegmedia #Bobapproves (Taken with instagram)

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April 22, 2010… @Matt_Bisson and I BEE-come friends by bonding at Earth Day. BEE-st friends? #missyouMatt

April 22, 2010… @Matt_Bisson and I BEE-come friends by bonding at Earth Day. BEE-st friends? #missyouMatt

Recorded a promo with Greg, who is one half of Kemo Treats! They have a video release party tonight at Bohemia! #yeg #yegmusic

Recorded a promo with Greg, who is one half of Kemo Treats! They have a video release party tonight at Bohemia! #yeg #yegmusic

Production has much cooler on air signs than we do. #yegmedia (Taken with instagram)

Production has much cooler on air signs than we do. #yegmedia (Taken with instagram)

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In which Brittney announces a Page Six Column…

Exciting news everyone!

Today is the beginning of something new… with my first ever column running in The Edmonton Sun! I don’t have a link to it online just yet (but when I do, I will add that at the bottom, and probably here) Oh hey, check it out online now! It’s very exciting and in page six of your paper.

I’m joining the likes of Graham Hicks, Danny Hooper, and Marty Forbes. I don’t know which one of us has the best hair - probably Marty. (Sorry Danny)

My column is going to be a weekly posting of social media in Edmonton, looking at how we do it, who does it well, and other things going on in town. It’s a big opportunity to get out there and introduce the rest of our city to what we’re up to.

Of course, I can’t do this alone - so please make sure to send me your suggestions, ideas, comments, concerns, and criticisms. See something awesome I should know about? You know how to get in contact with me - Tweet, email me (britlradio(AT@)gmail.com), or heck - even contact me through my about.me/britl page.

I’m eager for this new opportunity and hope that you are just as pumped as I am for the column.

Oh hey! Want to read it online? What are you waiting for?