Arthur Black remembered for his talent, wit, and kindness

For 19 years, Arthur Black was a central part of Saturday mornings on CBC Radio. Black died this week at the age of 74, and two Prince Edward Islanders who worked with him look back fondly on their time with him.

'An incredibly talented but incredibly kind person'

Arthur Black hosted Basic Black for 19 years. (CBC Archives)

For 19 years, Arthur Black was a central part of Saturday mornings on CBC Radio. Black died this week at the age of 74, and two Prince Edward Islanders who worked with him are looking back fondly on their time with him.

From 1983 to 2002 Basic Black focused on the strange and eccentric in the news, reaching out to people around the world to describe the odd situations they had found themselves in, or to explain the bizarre eccentricities they practised.

David Malahoff was originally a production assistant on the show, but rose to become its executive producer. Malahoff said the show worked because of the way Black approached these interviews.

"The great thing about Arthur was that he treated everyone the same, whether you were a movie star, a politician, or just a quiet eccentric in a lonely room with a collection of potato mashers. It was always the same," said Malahoff.

"He gave everybody their dignity. Because he took that approach, it allowed the show to go in incredible directions. You could get really interesting, insightful conversations you might not normally get."

Allowing guests to shine

Malahoff now lives on P.E.I. with his partner Ann Thurlow, who worked as a freelancer on the show. Black once told the two of them that bringing them together was the greatest thing Basic Black ever did, which Thurlow said was just another measure of his kindness.

As a freelancer, dependent on Black to help her tell her stories, Thurlow had first-hand experience of how Black's interviewing technique allowed guests to shine.

"If people are really good at that, then people who are listening don't hear it. They just hear the guest," she said.

For Ann Thurlow and David Malahoff one of the lasting legacies of Basic Black was their meeting. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

When reminiscing this week, Malahoff and Thurlow noted that many of their memories of the show were not about Black at all, but about the guests he interviewed.

"He was just an incredibly talented but incredibly kind person," said Thurlow.

"That's a good thing in this day and age, in these troubled times, to remember somebody whose primary asset was their kindness."

With files from Matt Rainnie