CBC's Jim Curran signs off from traffic reporting
Jim Curran is on the exit ramp of a long career that has made him many friends, including countless listeners who are still coming to terms with the fact that he won’t be guiding them through the pitfalls of Toronto traffic any longer.
The show went all-out to celebrate Curran's final day, with host Matt Galloway and other members of the staff — past and current — sharing their fondest memories.
Jill Dempsey remembered the time Curran misspoke himself on air, calling the Don Valley Parkway the Don Valley Porkway. "He did it again a year later, 'Traffic is backed up on the Porkway.'"
Galloway remembered the times Curran would be in fits of laughter just seconds before going on air, but was always able to recover and deliver his traffic reports with aplomb.
Hundreds of audience members crowded into the Glenn Gould studio in the Broadcast Centre to enjoy the show and wish Curran a fond farewell.
"I'll always remember my last day, this day. And I'll always remember my first day - 1972 walking into the radio building and being greeted by Bruce Smith," Curran said as the show closed.
"May I end with the words of Bruce Smith, it's been a pleasure."
While Curran will miss the many friends he’s made at work and over the phone, he’s ready for the change.
"I’ve turned the corner from looking back to looking forward," he said in an interview on Thursday afternoon.
When Curran got his start at CBC, it was a very different type of job.
For starters, there were no cellphones, which meant he had to use a CB radio to talk to drivers out on the roads.
There used to be what Curran describes as "a very, very big antenna" on a building he used to work in at Parliament and Carlton streets, which allowed him to talk to drivers stuck in traffic on the Don Valley Parkway.
Curran said that some of those sources have continued to call him to the very end of his time at CBC, even keeping up with the colourful nicknames they have been calling in with for years.
"The Blue Goose" is one of his long-time sources, as well as one caller who labels himself as from Port Credit even though he doesn't live there anymore.
"I get new people all the time, too," said Curran.
Curran will avoid rush hour
Asked if he will be phoning in his own traffic tips after finishing up on Friday, Curran said that he likely won’t, because he doesn’t plan to be driving in rush hour if he can avoid it.
He’s been around for many major news events, including the 1979 Mississauga train derailment, the August 2003 blackout, and the time that then-mayor Mel Lastman called in the army to help shovel snow.
There was also the time that an armoured truck lost some of its cargo on the Gardiner Expressway, with reports coming in that money was blowing across the road.
It was never clear how many bags of money fell off the truck and how much got scooped up by the drivers who stopped to scavenge. Curran said that "perhaps only one person" knows the truth.
Watching traffic so closely for so many years, Curran said the main thing that drivers should do is to "always have a Plan B and a Plan C," so they can make adjustments as necessary.
Leaving yourself "a good cushion of time" to get to work is also key, he said.
Looking ahead to his last shift, Curran said he’s been told by his brother that your last day on a job is one that you remember.
Curran said what he'll miss most about his daily routine at the CBC are the people he's become close to.
"I work with the finest journalists and broadcasters in the country," he said when appearing for the final time on CBC Radio’s Here and Now on Thursday afternoon.
"I don’t say I’m retiring," said Curran, noting that he prefers "to think about it as changing direction."