I met Lloyd Robertson at the Atlantic Journalism Awards in 2002, a decade ago now. The memories are a bit frayed around the edges but I’ll try to take you back in time.
I was a journalism student fresh from Holland College. My learning managers (what Holland College called its instructors, as they apparently manage learning) submitted a body of my work for a student award at the Atlantic Journalism Awards.
Imagine my astonishment when I was selected, along with one of my classmates, for an award!
Recipients scored a free meal at the gala, held at the casino on the Halifax waterfront. My parents bought tickets so they could watch me receive my award. It wasn’t a cheap affair: tickets were $70 or $75 each. This included an open bar. I don’t drink.
Once my father discovered Lloyd Robertson was the keynote speaker, he made me promise to get a picture with Lloyd.
Lloyd’s calm baritone always filled our living room at 11, regardless of the tragic events of the day. The world could be in upheaval, but Lloyd was always there at the anchor desk, reading the news with his quiet reserve, commenting where appropriate. When the World Trade Centre buildings fell a year before, he offered his grandfatherly concern and solemn face. Yet when something was funny, he wore a knowing smile.
Needless to say, I was excited to go to the gala.
At some point in the evening, I was stalking Lloyd, and found him at the bar in conversation with Steve Murphy. When my father realized Steve was there too, he asked if I would get BOTH of them in the photo.
So here I am, a shy little journalism student, out of place in a crowd of hardened veterans and lipsticked TV reporters schmoozing and chatting like old friends. I’m asking the national news anchor I’ve watched since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and my local news anchor, for a picture. I think I burbled some tripe about being a journalism student, winning an award, wanting a photograph with the two of them.
To this day, I still have the picture of me between Lloyd and Steve. I’m surprised they aren’t much taller than me. They look taller on TV.
When I finally went up on stage for my reward (praying to God that I didn’t trip in front of the whole industry), I heard someone issuing a whistle and saying, “Here, here.” I think it was Lloyd. I’ll never know for sure. I tell myself it was him. It makes the story more interesting.
When my learning manager from Holland College discovered I had a picture with Lloyd Robertson, he expressed disappointment he didn’t have one. (Remember this is the era before Facebook and Flickr.)
So here I am, a shy little journalism student, stalking Lloyd Robertson the second time.
“You again,” he said when I finally found him. At this point, he was probably regretting our new relationship.
My learning manager got me to pose with Lloyd (I was a little embarrassed this second time around) and even thrust my award at me. I’m holding it between us in the picture. Lloyd was gracious and gentlemanly.
The gala made me giddy. I never had a waiter pour my salad dressing for me before. I’d never had food come in such small quantities, as true fancy food must.
The salad was a piece of artwork I didn’t want to undo. The rolls were chewy and seedy. Maybe fashionable people like seeds.
I was relieved when desert came, because desert was less intimidating than all the forks flanking my plate.
In the end, I haven’t worked in the industry formally, though I like to blog up a storm. It’s a pity, since I’m pretty certain the national CTV anchor whistled at me. I’m not sure where my career will end, but it is safe to say, I have a voice for newspapers and a face for radio.
And so, on Lloyd Robertson’s retirement, I’m reminded of the time I went to the AJs and had my brush with celebrity.
And had my first taste of a $75 a plate meal. Let’s just say it was no KD.