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Barbara Frum looks back at her 'I am a man' interview

Broadcaster Barbara Frum pioneered a tough interview style on CBC Radio's As it Happens and later on CBC Television's The Journal. Whether she was talking to Nelson Mandela, Harold Ballard or the grower of the world's biggest cabbage, Frum's unrelenting curiosity, her fearless search for the truth, and her empathy and humour made her one of Canada's most important broadcasters.

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It is one of the most confrontational interviews in CBC Radio's history. In September 1975, Charles Manson follower and eco-terrorist Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme is arrested after a failed assassination attempt on then U.S. President Gerald Ford. Following Fromme's arrest, As it Happens' Barbara Frum gets on the phone with her roommate Sandra Good. In the famous exchange, Good demands to know whether Frum is a man or a woman after calling her a "very, very bad reporter."

Frum calmly replies: "I am a man." Good then abruptly ends the interview by hanging up on her. As part of the 20th anniversary show, then As It Happens host Michael Enright asks Frum how she had managed to maintain her composure. She confesses that she was in fact upset and shaken by the interview, despite the calm people perceived in her voice.
• In 1995 Michael Enright left the show to co-host CBC Radio's This Morning for three years. He's currently (2003) the host of CBC Radio The Sunday Edition.
Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Nov. 18, 1988
Guest(s): Barbara Frum
Host: Michael Enright, Alan Maitland
Duration: 3:13

Last updated: March 20, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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