“After turning off the microphone, I sat back in my chair and looked at Debra, who had tears rolling down her cheeks. So, that was it. The end.” – Rick Howe
Howe has Seen it All
In his memoir Behind the Mic, Rick Howe shares his stories, memories, opinions and occasional gripes about working in the news industry in the maritimes for just shy of fifty years. Fifty years. His longevity in such a precarious industry is a testament to his perseverance, talent, and obvious love of the work. It is also a testament to how much readers and listeners like him. I suspect Rick Howe wrote Behind the Mic to say a longer goodbye to his listeners than he had time to – before he retired earlier than he’d planned (due to health reasons, which he talks about in the book). But these stories are also for anyone interested in his singular perspective. From working in a newsroom that clicked with typewriters and teletype in the 1970s, to hosting a radio show via the virtual silence of digital communication in 2021 (and much in between) – Rick Howe has seen it all.
Howe has seen the rise and fall of newsrooms and radio stations and bosses and colleagues and shows. He is the kind of reporter who was once required to be on call 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, to chase a breaking news story. He’s stood up to management when called for, and has fought for his job (and other people’s jobs) when he’s had to. He remembers the old days of introducing a story and settling back in to listen with a cigarette and a coffee. He’s the kind of newsman who misses the days of pranking co-workers and bosses with surprises like hand cream all over a telephone receiver. Behind the Mic has Rick Howe looking back and sharing the stories that stood out most at the end of a long and renowned career.
Due to his ongoing health issues, there is a tinge of sadness in the tone of Behind the Mic – but it’s just a tinge. The tone that dominates the book is one of gratitude. From early days at CFBC in Saint John, NB (“among the most fun I’ve had”), to working as a beat reporter for CJCH/C100 out of Halifax (covering such tragedies as the Westray Mine disaster), to learning to wear a tie and working as news director, to writing an opinion column for the Daily News, to being the talk show host of News 95.7’s The Hotline for the last ten years(and lots in between) – Howe shares many memories and stories in a fun and informal voice. You can picture him literally behind the mic, speaking in his radio show voice as you read.
Beyond the Mic is an enjoyable and interesting read. It’s full of details, name-drops and behind the scenes tidbits you may or may not want to know. At times I found his style a bit gossipy (“I didn’t like him much. He was a blowhard as far as I was concerned.”), but I suspect this is classic Rick Howe stuff. I laughed at one story along these lines, and was surprised to find my Aunt Patsy referred to (she isn’t named in the book, but it’s her). Howe writes that:
“I arranged for a police friend to pull a little stunt. Pat Bonner, who went on to become the Saint John police department’s media spokesman, was, at the time, a young rookie cop with a great lust for one of the radio station’s secretaries.”
It was fun to remember stopping by to see my aunt back in the day when she worked at CFBC, and to learn a bit about the behind-the-scenes antics that went on. It was also fun to remember Pat Bonner, who succeeded in wooing my aunt (and was my favourite of her boyfriends, until she married my Uncle David).
Behind the Mic will spark memories for anyone who’s lived in the maritimes over the last few decades, and I think it will be of interest to journalism students, political junkies, and anyone who follows the news. Howe has interviewed many prominent politicians and famous people. He’s been on the scene of our worst tragedies, he’s spoken to people smack in the midst of crises like the perfect storm, and he’s covered the trials of hideous crimes (trigger warning: maybe skip the story about the trial about the abused child), he’s been a tireless champion of public opinion and free speech, and he’s been front row as our witness the whole time. Reporting the news is not for the faint of heart, and Rick Howe has been in the trenches a long time.
Here’s to you, Rick. Behind the Mic is a proper farewell.
“It was a great ride. Nova Scotia, thank you!
And if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” – Rick Howe
About the Author
Rick Howe is a long-time radio news broadcaster and reporter and has covered events for nearly five decades in Atlantic Canada. He has been a reporter, a news anchor, a news director and for over 20 years hosted the region’s most listened to radio talk show. Howe retired in September 2021 and lives with the love of his life, former television journalist Yvonne Colbert, on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.
- Publisher : Pottersfield Press (July 28 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 260 pages
- ISBN-10 : 198972597X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1989725979