CORNER BROOK — After more than three decades spent delivering the news to viewers on the west coast, CBC personality Doug Greer is retiring.
The longtime video journalist with CBC’s supper-hour program Here and Now will step away from the camera at the end of the month.
Greer, 65, said while the time is right to retire, he has mixed feelings as he puts the finishing touches on a rewarding career.
“A phrase occurred to me recently that for 35 years the CBC has been living my life for me and now we’re going to live it ourselves,” Greer said with a chuckle. “I’m not rich or anything like that, but I found something I’m very happy at. I’ve been enormously fortunate.”
A native of Ottawa, Ont. and a former communications teacher at Algonquin College, Greer’s rise to one of the most recognized faces in local news began with a trip to the province in the mid-1970s.
It was then he met his wife Shirley, and intended to try farming for a time before settling in Pasadena and beginning his career with the CBC. The couple have been married since 1975 and have three adult children and three grandchildren.
He sums up the serendipitous path his life has taken in typically succinct fashion.
“I came to Newfoundland as a tourist in 1975 and fell in love with a place ... fell in love with a woman and here we still are, all of us,” he said.
After a stint doing commentaries with the CBC, Greer became full-time in May 1978 and spent 10 years as a writer-broadcaster before moving on to the staff position he’s held ever since.
Covering a west coast beat which spans from Burgeo to St. Anthony, Roddickton-Bide Arm to Baie Verte, Greer’s career has included a number of changes and challenges.
From the days when Corner Brook had it’s own hour-long show based out of the former studio on Premier Drive, cutbacks have resulted in a staff of 60 being whittled to the current seven-person crew which operates out of a location at the Valley Mall.
Early on, Greer said he had to rush around the region, sometimes with a cameraman, sometimes not, shooting stories using a bulky camera before editing them in the city and feeding the footage to St. John’s. Now, Greer is able to edit in the field using a laptop computer, something he said has given him the time and freedom to cover more stories.
Through it all, Greer has continued to evolve and deliver reliable, timely news to his audience.
He said the most difficult part of the job is the digging and chasing required to get his stories on the air, something he admits even his late mother, Lucy, had initial difficultly realizing.
“I could see her struggling with it saying ‘So your story is two minutes. That’s two minutes work?’” he said with a laugh. “Unless you’ve been there and watched it happen, it’s possible people don’t realize how much work goes into it.”
While being on the scene of a news story is half the battle, Greer has learned to make his own luck. He lists his coverage of the 2007 landslide in Daniel’s Harbour as a story which ranks among his most memorable in terms of sheer visual impact.
“I was there when that house tumbled down into the pit below it,” he said. “Nobody in their right mind would wish misfortune on anybody, but if the earth is moving away and houses are tumbling over, by golly, if somebody is going to be there, I want it to be me.”
Looking back on his career, he said he’s fortunate to have gone to work every day doing something which fulfilled him and allowed him to forge friendships throughout the region.
“There’s no other job that would be better for me,” he said, referring to those he’s encountered along the way as “salt of the earth”. “There’s no other job anywhere where I could have met and had as much enjoyment meeting people as I have.”
Greer said he and his wife have no plans yet for retirement, but may consider leaving the province in order to be closer to his children and grandchildren.
While he is unsure of his permanent replacement, the position is expected to be filled by the CBC soon.