Webster speaks with Nelson Leeson and James Gosnell from the Nisga’a Tribal Council about their concerns regarding the proposed tailings dumping into Alice Arm. Original Airdate: September 24, 1980.
Jack Webster was born in Scotland and started his newspaper career as a copyboy in Glasgow. After serving in WWII, he moved his young family to British Columbia where he began reporting for The Vancouver Sun in September of 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 ten minute daily current affairs show. Webster admittedly didn’t know the first thing about radio, and on his first day in 1953 a veteran broadcaster 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 P.M. Precisely! What do you think?” – 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, BC and Canada, “Mr. Precisely” moved, along with his famous catchphrase, to yet another journalistic medium, television; on October 2, 1978 the very first episode of Webster! aired on BCTV at 9:00 A.M. precisely!
The move to television was just as daunting for Webster as was his foray into radio 25 years earlier. He was so anxious about his ability to move from live talk radio to live talk television that he made sure the contract was written in such a way that after 6 months if either side didn’t suite the situation they could walk away. In truth, Webster found that his gruff, hard-nosed interview style came across better on television than it may have on radio, where viewers could see that a tough question was asked “with a little bit of a sparkle in my eye, or a little bit of a smile”. For almost a decade Webster interviewed provincial and federal politicians, entertainers, union leaders, First Nations leaders, environmentalists, and international policy makers. 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” who provided straightforward information, and to do that he reviewed “…every piece of new legislation, translated it into language people could understand…”. Webster! was broadcast live every day; this provided guests the ability to communicate their message, knowing they wouldn’t be edited. They 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 to have their say.
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