Rick Webber reminisces as he prepares to retire from Global Okanagan - InfoNews

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Rick Webber reminisces as he prepares to retire from Global Okanagan

Rick Webber has announced he's retiring from Global Okanagan. His last day will be July 31, 2019.
Image Credit: Global Okanagan
May 07, 2019 - 4:15 PM

KELOWNA - The world of broadcast journalism has changed dramatically in the 42 years since Rick Webber started his career at a Powell River radio station, but in one way, some things are the same – he can still be pretty much alone in the building when he does a newscast.

Webber announced his retirement as a Global Okanagan news anchor in Kelowna today, May 7.

“Think of what things were like in 1976,” Webber told iNFOnews.ca. “There were no computers. There was no internet. The only source of information coming into a town like Powell River every day, where I first started full-time, was the Canadian Press Broadcast News teletype machine. It was this big metal box that sort of chugged away spewing paper onto the floor. That was what the 1970s version of the internet was.

“And, when you think of it, they hired this 20-year-old guy at CHQB and he was the only guy running the only internet channel coming into town all day and sharing that information with the public. That would be a crisis situation now, but that was normal routine back then.”

So how is that the same as being the anchor to a news team covering the Okanagan and being part of a national broadcaster?

“When I started here (Global Okanagan) there were 80 odd people here at the station,” he said. “Now there’s something like 30. And, it’s a lot of automation.

“When I go on the set now, it’s an empty green room with two robot cameras and those cameras are run from Vancouver. I have an ear piece and the director and producer talk to me from Vancouver and tell me when to talk. I run the teleprompter with a foot pedal. I could be alone in the building and anchor the newscast now.”

Of course, despite the smaller staff, there are still as many reporters feeding stories into the station, it’s just that they now shoot their own video, edit and produce.

Webber has been the Global News anchor in Kelowna for almost 30 years and will wrap up that part of his life on July 31.

He’s never had more than three weeks off at any one time in the past 40 years so plans to do some travelling in August to Saskatchewan and Victoria but has no firm plans for the future.

Webber is thinking of working part-time or on contract for Global, maybe getting involved in community groups that he’s emceed events for over the years or even run for city council in 2022. He really hasn’t decided.

One thing he will miss is the people he’s shared time with in the community.

“It’s a little sad,” he said. “On Sunday, when we were doing the Alzheimer’s Walk, a lot of people come up and talk to you, especially the older folks, and they’re ‘oh, we watch you every night.’ And they have their pictures taken. There’s a sadness there, to be letting go of that connection.”

While he has no firm plans, he doesn’t expect to be retired for long, except from the pressing 5 p.m. daily news deadline.


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