Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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My funny Peter Mansbridge story

CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge

I have only one encounter with the great man worth noting.

I was attending a journalism event at Ryerson University in the spring of 2003. Mansbridge was there to give a speech — on what, I can’t remember.
As I was listening to the speech, an anecdote came to mind, one I’d read in Frank magazine. The National was once having a story meeting and thought that Alzheimer’s disease would be a good topic for the show. Someone asked, “What’s the first sign of dementia?” and Mansbridge reportedly said, “Moving the news to nine (o’clock).”
If your memory/life stretches back far enough, the National was moved to 9 p.m. for a short while on the premise that people were going to bed earlier. This ill-conceived move resulted in drooping viewership for the public broadcaster’s flagship newscast. It didn’t last long.
Personally, I thought Mansbridge’s crack was hilarious.
As the speech was breaking up, I asked Mansbridge a question about whether he really said the “moving the news to nine” line and mentioned that I’d seen it in Frank, a scurrilous gossip rag (but one whose Globe and Mail stuff always checked out when I worked there).
I thought he would shrug, chuckle and own it. Far from it.
Looking flustered and unhappy, Mansbridge said, “I don’t read that particular publication and so I can’t comment.”
I took that as a non-denial denial.
The denouement: Some time after the encounter, I was working as a casual at CBC when I almost bumped into Mansbridge while coming out of an elevator. He looked me in the face, and his eyes narrowed into an “I know you from somewhere” look. I stepped lively and got out of there.
I heard afterwards from some ex-CBCers that Mansbridge had a long memory for a short slight, but it seems I dodged a bullet in this case.
One more item on Mansbridge. I was attending a CAJ convention sometime in the 1990s and went to a panel discussion with Mansbridge and Lloyd Robertson, then-anchor of CTV News. Mansbridge said, “I never thought I’d see the day there’d be advertisments on the National.” He gave the impression this was akin to losing one’s virginity in a dirty whorehouse.
“We’ll take them!” piped up Robertson, to big laughs from everyone, including Peter.

Fri, June 30 2017 » Main Page, Media