Talk radio is a Good thing

Cathie Roy/Associate Publisher / Staff writer
November 20, 2009 01:00 AM

Bill Good and wife Georgy at home on the Sunshine Coast enjoy a visit with granddaughters, Emily, 3 and Natalie, seven months.

Bill Good, Jr. has another award to add to his impressive list of recognitions. He is this year's recipient of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award.

Good, who alternates between residences in downtown Van-couver and on the Sunshine Coast, is thrilled with this latest acquisition.

The award was presented at the annual Jack Webster awards dinner in late October a fact that means a lot to the veteran broadcaster.

"I adored him [Webster]. He was a great friend of my dad's [Bill Good, Sr.]," Good said in a recent interview. "[Webster] was larger than life. He was a unique talent reporter, entertainer and broadcaster. And he was a good mentor and supporter of me."

Good, much like his late inspiration, is also a one-of-a-kind personality. Equally at home behind the radio mike at CKNW and the anchor's desk at CTV, Good has been informing and entertaining audiences in B.C. since 1965.

He began his career that year, fresh out of high school in Prince Rupert. In those days, Good said journalism schools didn't have the credentials they do now. For young people to make it in the business required hard work in a small town.

"So I started at CHTK, covering everything from city hall to sports," he explained.

His reason for wanting to break into the business was simple.

"My dad was a sports broadcaster. He enjoyed his life so much that it didn't even seem like work, and that's what I wanted," Good said.

Soon came a stint at CFAX in Victoria and then, in 1967, prior contacts Good had made as a young man delivering mail paid off, and he was offered a job at CBC.

While at the public broadcaster, Good wore many different hats. For a time he followed in his father's footsteps with a gig on Hockey Night in Canada. One of the highlights of his sports career was covering the 1972 Canada/Russia series.

"I roomed with Howie Meeker for 10 days in Mos-cow," Good remembered.

In 2004 he went back to Moscow with wife Georgy and his daughter.

"When I first went [in 1972] it was drab and grey and repressive. Now it's colourful like the Wild West. There are Jags, BMWs and Land Rovers everywhere. Between the rich and the poor, the contrast is stunning," he said.

In all, Good ended up at CBC for 21 years, 10 of them in sports and 11 in news.

In 1988 he went to CKNW as a talk show host.

The big question at the time, he said, was whether a voice of reason could succeed in talk radio.

"A lot of the people I deal with know they'll be dealt with fairly. I don't crusade. There are many sides to every story. I like to give the public a chance for their input. I'm not out to convince the audience," Good said.

Two people stand out in his mind as exceptional interviewees Pierre Trudeau and Peter Ustinov.

Trudeau was the first prime minister Good interviewed in his tenure at CBC, and the Liberal leader intimidated the young newscaster.

One of the interviews Good had with Trudeau was the day after the then prime minister had repatriated the constitution. The day Trudeau died the CBC replayed that interview. Good was apprehensive when he heard the tape would be played.

"I thought, 'He's intimidating me even after he's dead,'" Good commented wryly.

Ustinov impressed Good because of the actor's innate goodness.

"He was so charming and interesting and real. He was such a nice man. At the time I interviewed him, he was the children's spokesperson for UNICEF. He was just so down to earth and easy to talk to," Good related.

Recently, Good said, Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Great Britain, impressed him in a similar manner.

"I met [Blair] at the economic summit in Surrey. There were 700 people there and it seemed he spoke to each of them individually."

Good is a voracious reader. It's not unusual for him to have four books and as many newspapers on the go at once.

It's part of the homework he does for the talk show. He looks for issues that leap out at him and gravitates to letters to the editor in every newspaper he reads (including Coast Reporter).

Ask him which job he likes best radio personality or TV anchor and you get an ambivalent answer.

"I have been blessed with two great jobs, but you'll look better for longer on radio," he joked.

He considers his age (almost 64) a bonus. It helps to have been around for 30 or 40 years to gain a perspective on people and life, he said.

He's just signed a five-year contract with CKNW so the job he loves is in no danger of going away.

Good considers his curiosity his greatest asset, that and a willingness to work hard. He's constantly watching the news on his own and other channels, he regularly listens to newscasts and other radio programs, and for every hour on air, he probably spends another hour preparing.

"I don't pretend to be an expert in any subject. I talk to the experts," Good said.

Everyone, he said, has a story from hookers to politicians and everyone in between. His job, he said, is to listen, not to judge.


© Coast Reporter

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