Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The farewells and tributes begin for Anne Budgell

I remarked recently on her enthralling, at times shocking edition of Crosstalk with David Bagby (April 2). That was followed by a Crosstalk about literacy (April 4), in which caller after caller exposed a number of gaps, shall we say, in federal funding support for literacy.

I am talking about Anne Budgell (above, CBC photo), host and producer of Radio Noon on CBC Radio. Budgell always does a strong show and is an exceptional interviewer, but lately she’s really been on a roll.

Unfortunately, it’s all going to end pretty soon. Anne Budgell is retiring from the CBC later this month. Her last day will be April 27.

It will conclude a distinguished 34-year career in which Anne has performed in almost every on-air job there is. According to her CBC bio, Budgell has been “a news reporter, the first female host/reporter on the legendary radio program ‘The Fisheries Broadcast’, co-anchor of the supper hour TV show ‘Here and Now’ and host of the weekly television show ‘On Camera.’ She was executive producer of radio news and current affairs for a while and pleaded to be allowed to go back on the air.”

As the host of the call-in program Crosstalk, Budgell figures that “by now she's probably spoken to you on the air and if not you, then someone in your family.”

Although she is well known for her aggressive interview style (when it is called for), Budgell also has a soft side which is apparent whenever she deals with sensitive or light-hearted subjects. The recent Crosstalk about ‘What Makes You Happy’ (March 26) was pretty off-the-wall and had the potential to fall on its face, but Anne pulled it off in style, delivering one of her most entertaining programs ever.

The good news is, you can listen to the Crosstalks noted above whenever you like, and all other Radio Noon programs going all the way back to May of 2005, by visiting the Radio Noon archive .

In the meantime, try to tune in to Radio Noon as much as you can over the next 17 days and listen live to Anne Budgell, a host who is leaving at the top of her game. It’s hard to imagine CBC Radio without her.


Liam O'Brien said...

It was certainly a long run. Far from an unbiased run. Not sure how distinguished it was, but sometimes interesting.

David Cochrane said...

Nice comment, Liam. Sheesh. You bloggers amaze me sometimes.

I owe my career to Anne. She hired me as a summer student right out of MUN when my only journalistic experience and training had been at the Muse. I had zero experience in broadcasting and little outside of the world of student politics and student life. But she took a chance and I've been around ever since. I will always be grateful for that.

Anne will be sorely missed. She has brought a news edge to Radio Noon that is absent on most noon shows across the country. That has been through sheer force of will and strength of personality. She is a worker without peer when it comes to effort and journalistic output. I guarantee that she will work as hard on her last day as she did on her first day, which is no mean feat in any field or career.

Anne will leave with a reputation as a tough interviewer who called it like she saw it. People may not have liked it, but they should have respected it. She was also a trailblazer. At a time when many reporters were docile and compliant Anne was willing to push hard and ask tough questions. She was fearless and dogged. Those are qualities I will always admire.

I'm going to miss Anne's retirement party as I'm going to be out of the country on vacation. Otherwise, I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Good luck Anne. Lunch time won't be the same without you.

David Cochrane

MacArthur said...

My favourite Anne Budgell comment actually comes from outside CBC.

She was featured in the Telegram's 20 Questions a few years ago. When asked what her goal in life was, she responded, "To outlast the assholes."

I trust she meant that to include the bureaucracy within her workplace. Oherwise, from Liam's comment above; Anne may have to work a little longer.

Good luck to a truly good media person.

Live strong and have a nice day, - "Nil carborundum illegitimi"!

Over 1600 Links at Http://MacArthur.Funknstyle.Com
Pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/macarthur

Tina Chaulk said...

That really saddens me. I will miss her a lot. I listen to her every day and learn something new from her all the time. I end up blogging a lot about things I hear on her show. She does have a great news edge and the way she handles callers to Crosstalk is great. She is unflappable. I figure that no one else can do it quite the way she can. I hope she enjoys retirement but I probably won't enjoy CBC quite the same without her.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Anne is a fine example of a journalist who does her background work and who pulls no punches.

She has never suffered fools gladly but, when the story called for it, she has consistently shown depth and compassion as required.

Has Anne always been unbiased? Nope. And no one should be naive enough to suggest that any of us are without our biases.

Was Anne always fair? In my experience absolutely yes. Both Geoff's comments and David's remarks are spot on.

mikek@nl.rogers.com said...

Anne is/was good. Really good.

Liam O'Brien said...

It really is fun to be indirectly called an "asshole" by a fellow Liam, Liam O'Flaherty. Some classic Budgellesque wit there. Reminds me of some of those painful radio shows I made the mistake of following over the years.

I'm sorry, David, for takin' a slightly more critical look at your hero. I know I'm not the only one who takes this view. Don't worry though, I'm but a lowly blogger. You've got the audience to send her off as you see fit. Besides, Anne's tough. She can take it.

Ed is of course right that none of us are without our biases. I think the good journalists learn how to confront them and admit them. Very few ever do, unfortunately.

While I think there have been times when I found Anne to be entertaining, I've never much felt that she asked the right questions often enough. I never much felt that she sufficiently confronted her bias. Finally, I try not to be one who confuses rudeness and brashness for "edge."

The former can (and often did) emerge right alongside some silly softballs. It was a titillating bit of fun for the sort of folks who rather like certain parts of the old status quo political situation around here. I guess I'm thinking about the less than incisive questions in past provincial election leaders debates and the like . . .

Still, there's no point in being all negative. I will share a positive experience I had with Anne Budgell. I once called in when her radio guest was an anti-all-pesticides fanatic who was prone to being just a little overdramatic.

I was trying to make a point about the need for more specific definitions and the like. Each time I tried to make it, the fanatic started shouting and cutting me off just 1-2 words in, squeeling on about "dead bodies in the street" and the like . . .Anne's loudness and roughness certainly did come in handy in getting the fanatic to shut for for a few nanoseconds to allow me to speak.

While as many people felt that roughness for no good reason, I think it was at least one possible way to get people who won't allow others to offer their opinion to shut up for a minute or two. . .lol

David Cochrane said...

Liam -- Anne isn't my hero. But she is a respected colleague. My point about your earlier post is that it amounted to a type-by smear. If you want to criticize a reporter/journalist that's fine. But at least offer some substance to the criticism. Or for any praise for that matter. But a pithy little dismissal of a 34-year career doesn't cut it.

My frustration with bloggers is these snide one-off comments they often make about journalists not asking the right questions, or not doing the tough stories. The fact is most bloggers have no real clear understanding of what we do each and every day. Most of them don't read or watch every newscast, but have no reservations about openly dismissing the press. The so-called "MSM" has its stars and its villains. But as the self-appointed watchdogs of the media, bloggers rarely make distinction between the two and quite often engage in sweeping dismissals of the profession. For a group that claims to be so enlightened and self-informed it only serves to undermine the points you are trying to make.

If you want to criticize Anne, fine. If you want to criticize me, fine. But at least back it up with some facts, examples or clear illustrations of where we've fallen short. And if you really want to call-out a reporter for not doing a good enough job, why don't you contact them to get their side of the story. I'm sure you learned that in journalism school. In short, I'd like to see bloggers practice what they preach.

Peter Morris said...

I've had professional interactions with Ann Budgell for much of my professional career - and even before that going back to my stuident days at MUN Radio.

I can say without reservation -- and have said it to many over the years -- that if you have a difficult issue that requires communication and the CBC comes calling, hope that the reporter at the end of the line is Ann Budgell.

Bumpy in her early TV career (her Peckford interview was a bizarre contretempt on the part of both participants), Ann imporved with time. But, don't we all!

I saw less and less bias as time progressed and found that she at least provided a fair opportunity to present a case without overt or subtle editorializing.

Where she was strongest is seeing through the bull. As an interviewer she seemed to understand that all public organizations will have difficulties from time to time and they all need an opporunity to explain themselves. When they did that staight up, they benefitted from the forum she provided and the questions she asked.

Radio Noon, the CBC and public discourse in the province are all the better for her contributions. I hope the CBC does something special for her leaving.

P.S. Love the blog, Geoff.

Brian said...

Sorry to hear Ann Budgell is leaving, CBC will miss her. Having said that, like all us mortals Ann had her defects.

Over the later years I noticed a harshness in Ann’s presentation and attitude to some interviewees and ‘phone in’ callers. So much so that at times that I would have to take small sabbaticals from her show, only a few days duration. Actually I have to take little breaks from all three CBC radio shows, but we can’t do without CBC in my neck of the woods, as bad as it is at times its way better than the rest of the NL MSM.

Not suffering fools is one thing, being rude and brash to people [for what seemed to me no reason] is another, and not justified.
Perhaps some of the arse holeness at CBC HQ was inadvertently rubbing off on Ann, more than realized or warranted.

I do have to wonder who is going to take over the ‘Labrador is part of the Province too’ mantel at CBC regional with Ann’s departure.

All in all I am sad Ann is going.

Liam O'Brien said...

David, the mere fact that somebody's been at this for 34 years doesn't mean they've done anything terribly praiseworthy or remarkable.

There's an old NL saying my father uses, "what I think of some people, I could write on the back of a stamp."

I could catalogue mediocrity, sausicness, and biased behaviour, but what would be the point here? Of all the times when it would lack utility, it would have the elast utility of all at the point of her retirement. I've voiced my opinion on these matters in greater detail to the CBC in the past.

It's funny to watch you turn around an generalize about "bloggers" as you complain about what you percieve as me generalizing about reporters.

I watch the newscasts. Heck, I've even been in the newsrooms and behind the scenes at times and I have seen how some folks make editorial and production and journalistic decisions.

When Brian Tobin was premier of this province, the only CBC reporter who showed much more than an ounce of backbone was a guy named Jim Brown.

I'd consider Jim, Lee Pitts and even yourself light years ahead of our apparently much-loved Anne.

If you'd like more than just "one-off" in the comments section of a blog, very well, I suppose we could get into it more. But don't for a minute assume that just because a crown corporation has seen fit to hire you to report on the crown and you know how to softball and hob nob with whoever is in power at a particular time that this somehow makes you somehow more perceptive or all that justified in assuming the worst of anyone who dares provide their opinion online or challenge the status quo in this province.

St. John's is a smaller place than many realize. sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes, it's just ridiculous to watch all hands drool and gush over one another.

WJM said...

Everywhere I go in Canada I tune into local CBC.

And almost everywhere, it bores me to tears. (Network programming excluded.)

But CBC NL is always engaging and incisive. Other local CBC regions could learn a lot from how CBC NL does things.

Happy retirement! And don't go getting TOO retired, now!

WJM said...

I think the good journalists learn how to confront them and admit them. Very few ever do, unfortunately.

Which perhaps explains the torque in your career path? ;)

Liam O'Brien said...

LOL. .. you got it Wally, I confronted mine and I decided to get out before it won.