ENTERTAINMENT

The true-life fairy tale of Helen Hagnes’ violin

ANNE GARRETT June 30 1962
ENTERTAINMENT

The true-life fairy tale of Helen Hagnes’ violin

ANNE GARRETT June 30 1962

«ROF.JLE: How to win enemies and make good in broadcasting

Five days a week? at 12.10 p m. and again at 10 p.m.. as many as 42 per cent of radios in British Columbia’

mainland are tuned to Jack Wet a burly, 45-vear-old Scottish-bor ewscaster with a face like a roun atmeal cake and a snarling burr throas been described as “the worst rad' oicc in Canada.” Webster s .refu ►roach to newscasting has. ra‘s^ ß ncome from $45 a week in 1 >20,000 a year today and earned ibout as many enemies as fans^ Webster doesn’t just report the c of the day; he attacks them. He h attacked graft in the provincia gement, “bumbling” by civic admirations the musicians’ union, c encyclopedia salesmen and other«™ racketeers, accommodations fc^ prisoners in local jails and m ccntly, lawyers who dip th£ir,‘At into trust funds. In passing, he «8™ to goad the Vancouver pressT announcing: “This « rrS ry”y^«ch read in your newspaper . . . ..

of Webster’s success is due to the fact that he operates as if he were still working for a newspaper.

Webster started as a cub reporter in Glasgow at the age of 14. He claims

to have covered so many gang fights that the razor-wielding hoodlums began to think of him as their public relations man. He went on to become news editor of the Daily Graphic in London and, during the war, a major in the Sudanese Defense Force. His Sudanese troops nicknamed him “Abu Alam Kitir”

which means “father of much talking.”

After the war, he worked briefly in Fleet Street and then came to the Vancouver Sun where he was eventually made city editor. He switched to radio after a row with his managing editor and during a Vancouver police probe in 1955 and 1956, he made his name. The public was eager for sensational details —a chief of police eventually removed himself to the U. S.—but Webster was unable to take a microphone into the royal commission hearings. So he took everything down in shorthand and read hour-long verbatim reports on the air. By the time the hearings were over. Webster had spieled some two million words and won an aw ard for newscasting from Ohio State University. Since then he has specialized in exposés. Some of his more notable scoops:

^ When the Vancouver police budget would have had the city paying two chiefs of police at the same time—one working, one retired — Webster denounced blunderers at city hall. The

mayor, stung by his attacks, read to a luncheon club meeting a poem about Webster. The poem was called Ode to a Louse. On his program that night, the delighted Webster replied with his own poem to the mayor. It was called Ode to a Mouse.

^ In a broadcast debate with provincial highways minister Philip Gaglardi, Webster complained that government contractors had been used to do some work on the Pentecostal church in Kamloops where Gaglardi preaches. At the end of the interview, which became a shouting match, Webster roared: “If I’m wrong, you can sue me for every nickel I’ve got, and what’s more, you can sue my station for every nickel it’s got.” Gaglardi didn't sue.

Webster considers that his greatest compliment so far came from Jimmy Hoffa, international head of the Teamsters’ union. After a 30-minute grilling by Webster. Holfa exploded: “You

must have come out of the blank blank woodwork.” HIMIE KOSHEVOY