By: Noelle Beauregard, Marilyn.ca
It was 1951 when Lloyd Robertson’s voice first hit the air waves. He is now the longest serving anchorman in Canadian history. From the moon walk landing to the Quebec referendum to the 911 attack to covering nine Olympic Games, Robertson has entertained and delivered breaking new to the homes of Canadians for over 60 years.
“You really do have to have the passion to do it,” explains Robertson, “this is not the business to be in if you think ‘oh well, you know, I can do this for a while, or I can get a shift that is 9-5,’ it doesn’t happen that way. You start working Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, every weekend and it has an impact on family life. You have to want to do it.”
When he recalls his childhood, Robertson evokes memories of when he was 12 years old and fascinated with the radio, “I could tell the announcers of the radio station by their voices, I knew exactly who they were. Other kids where interested in Superman or movie stars of the time, for me it was those voices from the local radio station.”
His career in radio started as an after school gig at CJCF in Stratford, where he was born and raised. A year later, in 1952, he obtained a full-time job working 13 hour days. Five years later, he entered the world of television as the host of Winnipeg’s western music show, ‘The Saddle Song,’ where he wrote or adlibbed his whole script. At the time, television was fairly new technology, “you learnt by doing. There were no schools you could attend. You had to cope with the very heavy makeup and the high, heavy light and of course you just had to make your mistakes and move along. You and your friends were doing the same thing,” describes Robertson.
“I actually sang once,” he recalls as the host of ‘The Saddle Song.’ “I knew my future was not in country singing,” jokes Robertson. For Robertson delivering the news was his passion and future. “I’ve always been interested in the news, when I got my second job in the business, I got it because I told them I wanted to work in the news, so they made me associate news director in Guelph and I was hewing the news all the way along."
When he was offered a job at CBC as the host of election broadcast he was a natural, the only problem was he was under many restrains, “I couldn’t write, I couldn’t be a part of putting the news together” and he found this “very frustrating.” However, when CTV came along he was given an opportunity he couldn’t resist. He could report the news without the restrictions that prevented him from covering the news in the way he wanted to at CBC. He entered CTV’s newsroom in 1976 and spent 35 years reporting news at their news desk.
“That’s the great part of this job. You really are part of history being made. I have to pinch myself sometime saying here’s this little kid from Stratford with no real post-secondary education, having this wonderful life. I couldn’t have dreamed anything would have ever happened like this.”
Currently, Robertson is working on W5, Canada’s most-watched current affairs and documentary program, where he hosts five to six stories a year. But what kept him busy this past year was writing his memoir, ‘The Kind of Life It’s Been.’
“For years and years I had been watching the parade, never in the parade. When you’re doing a book you have to put yourself in the parade, stand back and look at it, and do it as you would any other story. When I looked at it that way, and began to view it that way, it began to flow and I was able to tell the story.”
From a difficult childhood to a young man doing what he always dreamed of to the uncharted territory of television, Robertson tells his story in his memoir with a fresh understanding of where he has came from and where he has been.