Volume 94, Issue 36
Thursday, November 2, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
A conversation with Valerie Pringle
By Matt Pearson
Gazette File Photo
"THIS IS MY SERIOUS FACE I LEFT THE PERKY ONE AT HOME." Canada AM host Valerie Pringle shares her insight into the world of news in an enlightening conversation.
As for the ingredients that make Canada AM the success that it is, the show's energy tops Pringle's list. She also remarks how fascinating it is for her to be directly involved in news events as they happen. "It's a privilege to be part of peoples' lives," she says, adding the range of colourful guests she meets keeps her on her toes.
"I am so lucky to talk to some of these people they're so interesting," she enthuses. Some of her recent guests have included J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series and Oscar de la Hoya, the boxer-turned-crooner. While this sounds too easy, make no mistake Pringle has had her share of challenging guests.
For example, she recently interviewed a pedophile who had been run out of a Toronto suburb and was looking for another area to call home. "His lawyer decided the best thing to do was get him into the public and de-fang him because there was so much controversy. That was very challenging, but it was interesting," Pringle explains. "I felt quite anxious, but this guy's a human being I couldn't just bite his head off."
For Pringle, conducting an interview requires a considerable amount of effort and research, regardless whether the subject of the interview is a world leader, or the 17-year-old captain of Canada's national junior hockey team.
"I do have a method. Some [interviews] require more thought than others. Information is always your major tool, so more research gives you a flavour and a sense of the person. The more you read, the more ammunition you have."
Of all her interviews, Pringle notes a conversation with actor Robin Williams was her favourite. "It floated that perfect line between him being hysterically funny and being very human and real," she explains. As for her most challenging interview, Pringle wastes no time thinking, earnestly admitting it was former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
"That was the last time I remember being nervous. I'd seen her give Barbara Frum and other reporters a hard time and you knew she'd just correct you and harangue you. She didn't suffer fools or anybody, really," Pringle recalls.
On air, Pringle's relationship with her co-anchor of six years, Dan Matheson seems jovial and quite relaxed. Pringle admits their relationship is crucially important. "Dan's lovely. He is so solid and professional and consistent. He's terrific to work with," she enthuses.
Still, like all co-workers, Matheson has one or two annoying habits. "He talks a little bit too much about golf," Pringle begins. "There are some mornings when I can't listen to one more description of one more stupid hole and I even like golf," she jokes.
Having been directly involved in the news for almost two decades, Pringle has witnessed a number of landmark events, of which two of her most memorable involve Canada directly.
The first, the 1995 Quebec Referendum, left Pringle and a wide array of Canadians feeling tense. "The Referendum was difficult to cover. The tension of coming that close was excruciating," Pringle recalls.
The second event was the recent funeral of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. "I was hugely moved by the funeral. After we went off the air, I tried to find a place in the crowd to watch the screen and see the basilica. Even if you hated the guy's politics, he was a giant of a man and he had a huge impact on the country. The changing of the guard and the changing of the times was very moving," she says, thoughtfully.
Despite this momentary gaze into the past, Pringle remains positive about what's to come. Yet her advice for those who feel drawn to the vocation of journalism is quite straightforward:
"If you've got a passion for it, if you love it, if you feel you've got stories to tell or ways to tell them or you're just prepared to do the work, then there has to be a place for you because places have to be made. This business is tough and it consumes people, but if you're driven to it or by it, then it will happen."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000