Ken Meeker, a CBC journalist who crusaded against car wrecks and smoking during a television career that spanned several decades, died Thursday after a short battle with cancer.

He was 83.

Meeker was a fixture for many years on Here & Now, where he specialized in segments like Collect A Wreck, which cast a bright light on the environmental degradation of the then-common habit in some communities of dumping old car wrecks in ditches, woods and streams.

"Ken had this great ability to connect with the viewer on camera," said Here & Now co-host Jonathan Crowe, who added he learned a great deal about storytelling and television reporting from Meeker.

His success, Crowe said, was due to the fact that Meeker was always genuine.

"What you saw on camera was who he was around the office," he said.

Geoff Meeker, one of Ken Meeker's four children and a former journalist himself, said his father did much to raise environmental awareness and was "damn good at what he did" on the air.

"When you see him in action on those old clips, you will see what I mean," he said.

"It's a timeless skill and many journalists today could watch and learn from his technique — or, rather, lack of technique. He was himself, all the time, on TV or off, and I think people picked up on that."

Meeker, who moved to Newfoundland in 1961 for a job at CJON, later worked at the Newfoundland Herald before joining the CBC.

In the 1980s, he turned his own decision to quit smoking into an on-air mission, encouraging others to do so, too.

In his final years at Here & Now, in the 1990s, he fronted an archival segment called Remember When.

After his retirement, he served on Mount Pearl city council.