When brassy Citytv sports reporter Kathryn Humphreys announced in May she was leaving the station after a stellar 18 year run, Toronto viewers were saddened to be losing one of the last of the old guard.
CityNews was once known as CityPulse, and in the words of visionary head honcho Moses Znaimer told "the daily soap opera of Toronto", with its own cast of offbeat and fascinating characters downloading a day in the life of the city onto people who enjoyed their news real and raw. Everywhere!
CityPulse revolutionized the way news was collected, reported and disseminated: everything from the reporter's names and faces reflecting their community to innovative hand held solo coverage in the field, to wide open space studios wrapped in slick branding. The way news is packaged today still owes a huge debt to a champion formula perfected back in the day at 99 Queen Street East.
But it was always the reporters who mattered most. In Znaimer's view, the reporter was just as important to the story as the story itself. CityPulse/CityNews has seen an amazing army of personalities come and go over the years - some more memorable than others - but all showcasing incredible talent who left indelible memories even years after their departures.
Here are my picks for the 10 most entertaining former Citytv news personalities.
Like Humphreys' did later, the manic Gallagher was always able to make sports coverage fun and intense without going to "inside baseball" for more casual viewers. His breathless reporting, gruff exterior and legendary lifestyle (he partied with Roberto Alomar quite a bit) always made for essential segments, as did his brief turn as an apprentice to Mark Dailey as Citytv's movie announcer. He also did a mean "Everywhere!"
Co-anchored CityPulse at 6 with Gord Martineau for most of the 1980s and 90s with steely confidence and a flair for explosive stories, always tempered by her command of quality journalism, sense of humour and a friendly smile.
Ground-breaking sports reporter who constantly pushed the envelope, whether he was doing bits as his alter ego Inspector Dolumbo or going mildly Howard Beale-y while covering wide ranging issues such as traffic congestion in Toronto or homophobia in the sports world.
CityPulse's tough-as-nails crime reporter joined CityPulse in 1978, and was the station's first black reporter. At the time, local news was almost 100% white and male, and Jojo wasted no time in proving Znaimer's edict that in order to properly serve a community you have to reflect it.
In "Silverman Helps", crusading man-of-the-people Peter Silverman was never afraid to go after companies or individuals who were committing dodgy acts or screwing over the little guy, even famously putting his own safety on the line to do so. "Watch it buddy," indeed.
Harold Hosein always managed to make reporting the weather a soulful, pleasant experience, no matter what the forecast warned of. His asides about packing lunches and visits to the Zoo became the stuff of oft quoted legend, and his rapport with viewers was second-to-none.
Another weather specialist, but also a space and technology boffin who infused his reportage with a wide-eyed wonder for science and the endless possibilities it provided for a better future. His segments often contained valuable lessons leaving viewers with a feeling they had actually learned something in addition to Toronto's air quality index.
The guvnor of CityPulse's late night newscasts, Cameron exuded a mastery of wit and wisdom. He was an old-school reporter with a sly sense of humour and ability to get to the heart of any given issue, while effortlessly fitting into the bold Moses Znaimer vision of what news should look like in the 20th century. Sadly, Cameron passed away in 2005.
Already famous for her exploits as the pilot of a pink helicopter which did traffic reports for CKEY over the city, Dini Petty joined Gord Martineau in the early days of CityPulse, earning much praise for her fearless style and subject matter - such as allowing CityPulse to follow her pregnancy and film her giving birth.
The Voice of Toronto, always and forever, Dailey wore many hats at Citytv. While it's his depth charge delivery of "Everywhere!" and comedic observations on the quality (or lack thereof) of the feature films screened on Citytv's "Great Movies" that most people remember, it was Dailey's commitment to high quality journalism which set him apart from the rest.
Whether covering the crime beat with his trademark fedora and raincoat (earning him the moniker "The Inspector" amongst Toronto's finest), hosting the 10PM nightcast, or showing up to deliver updates on unfolding stories, Dailey's manner was deadly serious, and gave CityPulse a gritty and hard-hitting reputation which lasted at least up until his untimely passing in 2010. RIP, Mark.
I would be remiss by not mentioning the legend that is Gord Martineau. His exclusion from this list is simply due to the fact he is *still* reporting on CityNews, every night, with the same passion and determination as when he first started in 1977. A true titan of local news, if Martineau ever does become a "former" Citytv personality you can take it to the bank that he will rank near the top of this list.
Who did I miss? Please add your suggestions for the best former Citytv News Personalities in the comments section.
Ed Conroy's Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing stories and discoveries at www.retrontario.com.
by Ed Conroy via blogTO
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