For decades, multi-award winning broadcaster and former CTV News Vancouver Island host, Hudson Mack was a familiar face on our living room screens. But to much shock from viewers, he disappeared in 2014 with little explanation.
He sat down at a coffee shop with the Peninsula News Review downtown Victoria to talk about his new book, the reason for his big departure, his time in broadcast and his father’s role in his life.
Growing up in a broadcasting family in Calgary, Mack’s father, Clarence was one of the top media personalities, a legend in Calgary radio, and had a big influence on young Mack’s life and still does to this day.
Mack told the PNR that his father was his biggest idol when it came to broadcast, having a big influence in his early life.
Last year marked 40 years since his death. His life makes up the second chapter in his book.
“It’s funny how those experiences that you have at an early age and during your formative years are so strong and stay with you for so long. If I have any regrets it’s that my dad wasn’t alive to see me in the business as well and that I couldn’t learn from him directly,” he told the PNR.
Mack’s career began in Kamloops and then Prince George before he arrived in Victoria in 1985 when he worked at CHEK News.
Working there for 19 years, he later ‘crossed the street’ to competitor, the New VI (now CTV), leading it to success.
His jump over to the other station was bold and left some shocked, but said it allowed him to be the news director while staying on the air.
“I had always wanted to lead the news department as the news director and the opportunity at CHEK was never presented to me,” he said about his reason for jumping ship. “We never were consistently number one on the market but we certainly made it a competitive market.”
CHEK was still a place of greatness for Mack, however, as it’s where he first began on the Island and where he fell in love with his wife Patty — another chapter in his book. She was a production assistant at the time and went on to become a producer and director at CHEK. The two worked together on the Late Show when Mack first started there.
“It really was love at first sight when we met at the station, it was very cool.”
As the face of CTV for many years, he made a name for himself on the Island and the community knew him and he was liked, but when he disappeared from the television screen, he left many in shock.
In his newest book, Unsinkable Anchor released over the weekend, Mack’s first chapter titled ‘The End,’ goes into the details of his leave from the broadcasting world in February of 2014.
“Don’t bury the lead, let’s lead with the lead and the lead was when I left …”
He said he felt during his departure that many people misconstrued the statement that he made at the time as a retirement, but the fact was that it was a termination, a reorganization within the station.
“What happened to me is certainly not unique,” he said. “It was a reorganization. They were ready to make a change and a lot of it was driven by the financial implications.”
The part that was shocking to Mack was that there was no announcement of his leave to his viewers, even after leaving on amicable terms and having been the face on the screen for so long.
“I think it was disrespectful to viewers,” he said.
When the news broke of his ‘leave,’ he had said in a statement that ‘the timing was right for change,’ leaving many surprised and wanting to know more.
The timing of his leave also came right before his 54th birthday — an important marker for Mack as it’s the age his father was when he died.
Unsinkable Anchor touches on many aspects of Mack’s life, from his successful career and his big departure, to his family and the challenges in his life, such as the loss of loved ones and curveballs he has been thrown on his journey — all which have helped in shaping who he is today.
“You know, life is good.”
The name of his book comes from his enjoyment of puns and word play, but it’s also about his struggles in losing his father, his brother, his sister and his career in broadcast.
“I think it’s because I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences in my life and I’ve been very fortunate to have done a lot of cool things thanks to my involvement with broadcasting.
“I wanted to share my own personal experience. I’m very proud of my dad’s and my brother’s accomplishments and what they’ve done and then to write about that … I never really had a vehicle to do that in a daily newscast.”
Mack told the PNR, “it has been an excellent run. I have nothing to complain about and no reason to feel bitter.
“As remarkable a career as many people aspire to in this business, there are things I haven’t done that others have done but I’ve gotten to live where I wanted to live and have made a good living at it.
“I’ve had a chance to be active in the community and to try to help bring about positive change and to expose bad guys where necessary, it’s been great.”
In the past year, Mack has kept busy. He taught the spring term at Royal Roads’ Writing for Media class in the Bachelor of Professional Communications Program and will be returning again in January. He has also managed to do some travelling along with, of course, writing his book. As for a return to television, he isn’t opposed.
“I’d had a job continuously through my entire life. I’m not ready to pack it in just yet, I’m 55 now and there’s lots left to do.”
His book came out over the weekend and is available at Tanner’s Books and Munroe’s.
The Unsinkable Anchor himself said in his ‘Beginning’ chapter at the end of his book that taking a leap of faith isn’t so bad and that through the hard times come some good as well.