Coffee with ... Bill Nation

Coffee with … Bill Nation

Valley's most familiar voice

Terry Farrell

Record staff

Bill Nation may not be a familiar face, but he has one of the most recognizable voices in the Comox Valley.

The longtime news director and morning news man for 97.3 The Eagle admits being camera shy, but most people who have lived in either Alberta or B.C. have heard him at one time or another.

After all, he’s been on the radio for nearly 35 years.

Bill’s radio career landed him in a plethora of small centres – a story to which most media people can relate.

“I started off in Grand Forks, then went up to Fort St. John, then Fort Nelson, then Fort McMurray – I did all the Forts and ports that you’re not supposed to do,” he said, laughing.

“I did my times in small towns, like a lot of us do, then ended up in Edmonton and did a lot of things that you kind of dream about in radio.”

His days as a legislative reporter and bureau chief in Edmonton led to some interesting times, including the day that Premier Don Getty supplied him with a most memorable Freudian slip.

“I started as the legislative reporter in the last six months of Getty’s reign. We are covering a news conference one time, where we expect he is about to call the election. But at the new conference, his son, Dale, had just been charged with drug possession, and Getty… wanted to run the campaign on family values. Part of the campaign was that he was going to introduce seatbelt legislation. So one of the reporters asked the premier whether he wears his seatbelt, and Getty responds with ‘I may abuse my wife but I never abuse my seatbelt.’ Running a campaign on family values and he says that. I will never forget that.”

Bill said the one interview that stands above all others for him was when he went to the maximum security penitentiary in Fort Saskatchewan to sit down with former Saskatchewan MLA Colin Thatcher, who was convicted of murdering his estranged wife, JoAnn Wilson, in one of the most famous trials in Canadian history.

“When I was with Standard Broadcast News, and because we were part of a network across the country, my editor gets a call from one of the people in Regina, because Colin Thatcher is up for parole review. So… I went in and interviewed Colin Thatcher, and as far as I am aware, or at least at that point, I was the only reporter ever to interview him, in prison.”

Bill said throughout the entire interview, Thatcher maintained his innocence, but Nation wasn’t buying it.

“There’s something about that man’s eyes, there was just something about his eyes… something wasn’t right. It’s just a gut feeling you get, but something wasn’t right.”

Bill lives in the Comox Valley with his wife, Yolanda, and their two basset hounds, Dexter (“the fridge-raiding basset hound”) and Tucker.

 

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