Hudson Mack remembers his entry into the world of journalism — and it’s likely Doug Collins does, too.
Mack, at the time 20 years old and recently graduated from SAIT Polytechnic, he was handling news duties at the Broadcast Centre one night when a report came in a body had been found in the Thompson rivers.
“It was a memorable night,” Mack said. “I went on and announced police had fished a floater out of the river. It’s 10 p.m.
“At 10:05 p.m., the phone rang and it was Doug Collins.”
Needless to say, Collins advised his young employee somewhat more sober language was expected.
Then there was the time the young Mack accompanied then-anchor and reporter Stu Blakely to an accident, lugging camera equipment because the regular cameraman wasn’t answering his page.
Mack, recently graduated from the SAIT broadcast-journalism program, knew how to work the equipment.
A transport truck carrying cyanide pellets had crashed in front of Royal Inland Hospital.
It started to rain, but the pair continued to cover it, despite the rain triggering the release of cyanide gas.
They were OK, as were others at the scene, but as Mack wrote in his autobiography Hudson Mack: Unsinkable Anchor, “I learned something that night about Stu and myself.”
Mack lasted a couple of years at the Broadcast Centre before moving on in a career that eventually took him to Vancouver Island, to CHEK and, later, The New VI (now CTV), where his career came to an end in February, 2014, when he was let go after being one of the faces of the station for a decade.
Mack hasn’t been in the Broadcast Centre since those early years, but he’s returning this week as he comes to Kamloops twice on a tour promoting his book. He said he’s looking forward to the visit.
“It was a great first experience,” he said of his time at CFJC.
“Good people, great people. A great learning experience” that also worked for him because his mother and sister still lived in Salmon Arm. At that young age and driving a red truck he bought at Dearborn Ford, there were plenty of adventures to chase down.
Mack starts his story with the end of his career and the email he received, telling him to meet management off-site.
He writes how it didn’t come as a big surprise because the same management had been showing sudden interest in overnight ratings, staff wanted to improve the newscasts and viewership and “most of all, a salary that I knew put a target on my back ever second Friday,” Mack wrote.
He said although he’s teaching journalism now — he did a 13-week course at Royal Roads University earlier this year and will repeat it next year — “I may not be done with the industry yet.
“Life is short and to be 54 and end of your career in broadcasting, that’s kind of young to be packing it in.””
It was difficult being on the sidelines during the recent federal-election campaign, Mack said, even as he acknowledged the industry he began in more than three decades ago has changed dramatically from the time when, as a student, he would learn to splice audio tape.
“Now, if you can’t write a 500-word story by deadline and then turn it into 140 characters and shoot the video and FTP it and do real-time tweeting before you go for lunch, well . . . the future is about freelancers and multi-taskers.”
Although the lure remains, Mack said he’s learned something about himself in the past 20 months.
“I was always single-minded in my career path and I’ve found I had blinders on and didn’t notice all the cool stuff going by.”
Writing and promoting the book helped.
A recent book signing in Victoria saw 20 copies sold in just a couple of hours, something the store manager said was a good response.
People still stop Mack on the street and tell him they were shocked when he was no longer on the air.And, it still bothers him how the station dealt with his departure.
He watched the news that night to see how it would be addressed.
“And I thought it was disrespectful to the viewers, there was no reference to me at all. I thought there might just be ‘buddy’s gone, we wish him well,’ and then cut to commercial.”
WHAT: Hudson Mack meet and greet
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 7, noon to 2 p.m.
WHERE: Chapters bookstore, 1395 Hillside Dr.