Warren Barker (1928-)
Pioneer - Member of CAB Hall of Fame
Barker, Warren (1928- )
In 1952, Radio Station CKNW founder, Bill Rae, found Warren Barker who went on to helm NW's news operation for over three decades. Warren joined NW as back-up man for the boss on his program "Ranger's Cabin". A year later, he moved into the newsroom, and in 1959, took over the job of News Director.
Warren had obtained a grounding in radio when he was hired by CJCA Edmonton in 1947, and, enroute to the New Westminster station, had garnished the experience at CKRD Red Deer and CKDA Victoria.
For the 32 years, Warren was the leader of an innovative and hard working news team that was dedicated to defining what aggressive, accurate and balanced radio news was all about.
Warren's work-day traditionally began at 8:00 pm. From midnight, he took over the "desk" until 8 am, and it was usually not until two hours later that he called it a day and headed home. Warren's work ethic, his ability as a flawless reader, and his policy of leading-by-example, inspired his staff and earned their respect.
A full-fledged front-runner in radio news operations, in 1955 Warren set-up Mark Raines as the first full-time radio reporter in Greater Vancouver, and went on to assign others for "investigative reporting". Well before the arrival of computers, Warren initiated a unique filing system, which was once described thusly by former NW reporter and BCTV News Director, Cameron Bell:
"In an era before computers, in a newsroom the size of a sedan, Barker would carefully construct ongoing files for ongoing stories. They'd be put away in a filing system that owed more to squirrels than Dewey, but were available for instant recall. Barker could often retrieve information faster than the most computerized databases today."
As NW's News Director, Warren had a natural knack for developing talent by first spotting them and then putting people in a newsroom with a system that allowed them to develop. He was also a strong supporter of broadcast education - specifically the B.C. Institute of Technology's Broadcast Journalism program. Many of his best reporters started as municipal council stringers while attending BCIT. A number of his senior staffers were regular guest lecturers, and several did stints there as full-time instructors. Two of his news anchors, Peter Munoz and Mauri Hesketh, were instrumental in setting-up the original Broadcast Journalism program.
Over the years, Warren's newsroom won a number of awards from such organizations as the Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), the B.C. Association of Broadcasters, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and the Jack Webster Foundation - the highest journalism honour in British Columbia.
Warren retired as News Director in 1991, but continued writing and reading a daily business comment and a daily editorial.
In 1998, Warren Barker, was inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.
Written by J. Lyman Potts - October, 1998