Louise Martin had gone home for dinner after finishing up her work in Red Deer, Alberta at 5:30 for the 6 p.m. news when she got a call from the weatherman she worked with.
“You need to come back to the station, there’s been a tornado.”
“Is this like an April Fool’s joke,” thought Louise.
“The scanners are going crazy,” he said.
She walked into the office to scanners blaring and phones ringing off the hook.
The weatherman left to report with a news crew of young interns as the tornado touched down in a vacation trailer park.
Martin went on air immediately and cut the usual programming short to deliver an announcement which included a 1-800 number for people to call.
She phoned the owners of the campground for an on-air phone interview so people would know what was happening.
“We stayed on air just being there for people.”
Their team was the first to be on the scene. They videotaped the impact the tornado had on the small town.
They filmed a father carrying his deceased child from the aftermath.
Eleven people were killed.
Martin and her team continued to feed the public as much information as they could.
“It’s not always what you know in the moment, but being the voice of reason for viewers at home. They just need to know that everything is going to be okay.”
She was a young reporter then. She didn’t want to move there in the first place. Now, the Pine Lake tornado is an event that will stick with Martin for the rest of her life.
Her husband, Ken Linton, also began in journalism when he graduated from Mount Royal University in Calgary.
Journalism is a hard business to get into, so you should take any job opportunity you can to open a few doors, said
“Take the job that gets you in.”
Linton works in entertainment now, he’s created an entertainment show, worked with HBO for a long time and has had some small acting roles, with the movie Molly’s Game as his most recent.
“Once you start working and they see how good you are, and how hard you work, you’ll get opportunities.”
The two met in Red Deer working in the same studio for different companies.
When Linton had to move to Toronto to accept a job offer, Louise had to find a new job. She started over with the first writing job she had in years.
She went from news anchor to writer for six months, but she was able to move back up to a producing job before making it on air again.
Brett Poirier also began in journalism. He was part of the Holland College journalism program, but he is now a year and a half into working with the Island Storm basketball team, first in marketing, now as the VP of the team.
When he started in the program, he wanted to be a sports reporter. During his first year in the program he interned with the team and he has been there since.
“This program gave me the ability to decide what I wanted to do.”
Journalism is a fantastic opportunity that can lead you into so many things. Opportunities will open in whatever job you do, he said.
“There are a lot of jobs out there if you go looking for them, but this one is fun.”
Martin has known she wanted to be in this line of work since she was a kid, recording herself on a ghetto blaster as a r
She went to her guidance counsellor in Grade 11, who tried to turn her down a different path.
“This is what I want to do,” said Martin.
“Don’t bother. It’s to competitive, too hard to get a job. Don’t waste your time.”
She told her to get an English degree at the University of Calgary.
“I don’t want to sit in a classroom being lectured at, I want to get out there and do stuff. I want to learn. I want to meet people and talk about things,” Martin said.
She has been in the industry for over 20 years.
“Her saying no made me want it even more and I wanted to prove to this guidance counsellor that I could do this.”