Bill reminisces about his early days with BMN

In 1989, I had just finished my BA in English from the University of Toronto, and was looking for a way to use my newfound powers for good in the world, when my wife Jan, already a distributor of Beach Metro News on our street, noticed a job posting at the paper. She suggested – as she did with many job postings she saw during that period – that I should apply.

I had already submitted a couple of short stories for its Writer’s Corner feature, and had considered going to Carleton for Journalism fresh out of high school, so I read the posting. I remember the ad said something about being familiar with computers, and having an ability to type. I thought…well…I’ll give it a shot. Lo and behold, Sheila Blinoff and I discovered we had the same professor at U of T, that she had graduated the same day as Jan, and we had a mutual interest in Canadian literature. I started in early 1990.

Working part-time allowed me to continue my volunteer involvement with the newly-formed Voiceprint, a broadcast-reading service for the blind. I was in their studio at 5 a.m. three or four days a week recording articles from the Globe & Mail for broadcast at 7. By 3 or 4 p.m., I often found myself hunched over the tiny little MacPro at Beach Metro News, typing in real estate copy, my sleepy head nodding ever so close to the keyboard.

A rearrangement of office furniture found me up in the front window, near the service counter. There was plenty there to keep me awake. My job now was meeting the public coming in to place ads. I can remember thinking I should put on a good face for the paper, and was dutifully listening to an elderly woman recount her life story, when the office phone rang…another of my duties. I ever-so-politely excused myself and answered it. It was the editor on the other end telling me to get rid of the old biddy, and get back to work!

Later, when Joan and Brenda retired, I was offered a full-time position replacing Dianne, who had moved up to become Advertising Manager. I stuck my brave neck out and said I would take it IF I could also do some writing for the paper as well as my ad duties. Thus began my career as Arts and Entertainment reporter at Beach Metro News.

Over the last twenty-some years I have enjoyed being a part of this great little paper. I have had the pleasure of meeting – and working with – so many talented, creative people that to name them all would require much more space than is available. When people ask me what it is I do here, I can proudly say, “Just about everything!”

I tell them I write stories, sell and set ads, do pre-press layout and production, take the papers off the truck, bundle them up, and deliver them!

Thanks to Stephen Harper I may never be able to retire. But that’s alright with me. I’m having a good time.

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