Ever been in one of those conversations about media folks in Edmonton? Someone can argue — and, quite frankly, they would be victorious — listing names of people who have written and told us the news of the day are now in bigger markets.
Specifically in sports. People like TSN’s Chris Cutberth, Gord Miller and Darren Dreger had an early career start in Edmonton. The same with retired columnist Cam Cole, who moved the Toronto and then Vancouver where he retired.
And there are countless more.
But, there are those who have been Edmonton their home throughout their careers.
And, when they are saluted not only for the talent they have but for being the people they are, and how, with their and own taste and craftsmanship, they have helped shape Edmonton.
When my dad brought The Edmonton Journal to the supper table — it was an afternoon paper in the 1970s — he’d hand me the sports section. Dad took me to Edmonton Eskimos games and Alberta Oilers games.
I kept noticing this name, in black bold ink, above hockey, football and car racing stories. That name? Terry Jones.
Terry soon became the sports columnist for The Journal. I read him word for word. I noticed how one paragraph magically morphs into the other. Terry inspired me to, maybe, one day, be a columnist.
In 1979 I joined The Journal as a freelance sports writer. My mother suggested she host a Christmas gathering for the Journal sports department. I was still shy and didn’t know how many people would come.
Almost everyone did. And one of the first guests to ring the doorbell was Terry and his wife Linda.
We’ve been friends ever since. When the book Jim Taylor co-authored with me on my life story was published, I was thrilled to have Terry write an endorsement for the book’s front page.
I called Terry Monday evening to congratulate him being inducted to the Edmonton Hall of Fame, the first sportswriter to receive that honour.
I made another phone call earlier in the morning because I didn’t want to miss him.
In my teenage years on a warm June afternoon at 4:20 p.m., my school bus was travelling down 152 St. and the radio was on 630 CHED. A new voice was reading the news, and after he read the weather forecast I head those three words for the first time — those three words tens of thousands of people hear every morning on the radio, and on the television in the evening.
“I’m Bob Layton.”
Bob delivers news on the radio in his own unique way. He’s been there to share some rough stories, such as John Lennon’s death, the 1987 tornado and the New York attacks of 2001. And while they may have shaken us to our core, there was something his voice — something he didn’t come out and directly say — but something that we were, somehow, going to be OK.
Terry did the same, following a crushing loss by one of our beloved sports teams.
Bob was inducted into Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame last Thursday and, like Terry, is still working.
We’ve been spoiled in Edmonton by having two of the very best.
My wish for them is simple: when Terry writes his last column and Bob turns the microphone off for the last time it will be, absolutely, their decisions.
They have more than worked for that honour