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GOING DIGITAL

WEBSTER! By Ember Lundgren, Preservation Manager

I

n 1987 iconic BC journalist and broadcaster Jack Webster and Vancouver-based BCTV jointly donated 1,150 episodes of the current affairs program Webster! to the BC Archives. With more than 2,000 video cassette tapes and 1,725 hours of mostly live interviews, little did Jack Webster know after a career that covered print, radio and television, he would have to move to yet another medium: digital.

Jack Webster started his newspaper career as a copyboy in Glasgow at age 14. After serving in WWII, he moved his young family to BC where he began reporting for The Vancouver Sun in September, 1947. After a dispute about over-time pay, Jack left The Vancouver Sun and was fortunate that local radio station CJOR offered him a job doing a 10minute daily current affairs show. Webster admittedly didn’t know the first thing about radio, and on his first day in 1953 a veteran broadcaster

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What’s inSight

Winter 2014

told him if he was going to make it in radio he would need a catch phrase. “How about ‘precisely’? Listen to Jack Webster at 6:10 pm Precisely! What do you think?”

television than it may have on radio. Viewers could now see that a tough question was asked, “with a little bit of a sparkle in my eye, or a little bit of a smile.”

Webster did indeed make it in radio, and is considered one of the pioneers of the call-in and talk radio format. After 25 years in radio, covering current events throughout the lower mainland, and BC, “Mr. Precisely” moved, along with that famous catchphrase, to yet another journalistic medium, television; on October 2, 1978 the very first episode of Webster! aired on BCTV at 9 am precisely!

For almost a decade Webster interviewed provincial, federal and international politicians, entertainers, union leaders, First Nations leaders and environmentalists. His phone lines were always open for the general public to voice their concerns, get answers and debate the issues. Webster considered himself a, “pioneer of information” and to do that he reviewed, “… every piece of new legislation, translated it into language people could understand.” Broadcast live every day, Webster! provided guests the ability to communicate their message, knowing they wouldn’t be edited. Guests still had to answer Webster’s tough – but fair – questions, not to mention those of the general public who were waiting patiently on the phone lines.

The move to television was just as daunting for Webster as his foray into radio 25 years earlier. He was so anxious he made sure the contract permitted either side to walk away after six months if the situation didn’t work out. In truth, Webster found that his gruff, hard-nosed interview style came across better on

What's inSight Winter 2014  
What's inSight Winter 2014