June 2, it marked my 25th anniversary in Television. Back in 1981 when I still had hair and that youthful confidence that most 19 year olds have today. This story begins though several weeks earlier in Sackville, NB where I was attending University. University and I didn't really get along very well. Most attend, most graduate, all learn. I learned I'd rather be working then going to school.
I had always wanted to be a News Cameraman, but how to get into the business? Taking arts at Mount A was not going to get me there or would it?
As the summer approached and finals drew near, many students regularly checked the employment office that was on campus for potential summer jobs, trying to get a job in their chosen field or at the very least a job that would pay enough to get them back for another year in the fall. I have to admit that I was the latter as I believed I would return in the fall and try to figure out what the hell I was doing.
This particular afternoon I was heading over to the employment center to interview with someone from the Columbia Ice Fields for a job at the park. The interview didn't go terribly well, but that fateful appointment bore other fruit. As I exited the interview I decided to check the job board, especially because I felt the folks from the Ice Fields likely through my file in the waste basket. One add caught my eye. "Wanted: Junior News Reporter" What's this I thought? A position at a TV Station and in my home town,,,,
I began to write down the contact information. At the end of the notice it gave a deadline date, it was tomorrow. Shit I gotta work fast. I ran to my dorm and called the phone number. I asked for the contact person. When she answered, she told me that the process would close at 9 am the next day. I begged her to make an appointment for me with the man doing the hiring. His name was Dave White and he was the news director at CHSJ. With the appointment made my next problem was getting to Saint John. I looked at the clock and I had 20 minutes to get myself to the Via station to catch the last train to Saint John. I grabbed a resume and my wallet. Shit, I need some clothes for the interview. I grabbed my roommate's sport jacket and his tie one of his clean shirts and since I had grabbed that much, I grabbed his clean pants as well. I took my own socks. I left him a quick note and then hauled ass to the train station. I barely made it.
Nobody was more surprised to see me arrive home that my mom and dad. I usually warn them when I was coming home. "I have a job interview at 8:45 in the morning"
Needless to say, I didn't get that job, but it did open the door. Mr. White was very good to me and had been impressed with my story of how I came to be in his office. "You must want this job bad to come all this way" Yes sir, I want to begin a career in broadcasting. I want to be a news camera man.
He suggested that I go back to university and finish my exams and then come back to see him when I was through. I did. He still didn't hire me.
"Murray my boy, I am going to pass along your resume to our Operations Department. I need a reporter, not a techie." He said.
I called every week hoping that they would have something for a young upstart. Several weeks went by. Nothing. I was beginning to think that I would be forced to find another job flipping burgers like in high school.
Then one evening I got a call. Mr. Merzetti at CHSJ wanted me to come in for an interview. I did my best to convince him that I was the right guy for the job. At the time I didn't even know who the competition was for the station and in my youthful eagerness, told him I wanted to learn as much as I could and eventually work for CTV someday. OPPS, did I just say that suddenly realizing that CHSJ was a CBC affiliate. God I'm dead. But Dave seemed to see something in me and gave me the job despite my ignorance. My foot was now in the door. I would begin this journey in a Master Control Room that very afternoon, June 2, 1981.
The job was only supposed to be for the summer. By August Mr. Merzetti called me into the office, this time to offer me a full time position. I took it and at 19 I was the youngest staffer and one of only two in the building that had began in the operations department. A couple of years later Dave White brought me into the news room as a News Cameraman.
The rest is history, but I have to thank both Dave's for taking a chance on a kid with zero experience, but lots of enthusiam. They helped launch my career. Neither is in the business anymore. Dave White runs a small mobile saw milling operation on the Kingston Peninsula or he did when I left the maritimes. Dave Merzetti, worked briefly in private production and passed away quite suddenly a few years ago.