Calgary Homestretch host Doug Dirks steps away from the microphone after 30 years
Excited, and slightly terrified.
That's how I'm feeling as I get ready to sign off as the Host of the Homestretch on CBC Radio One for the last time at 6 pm on Friday, February 25th.
But then again, why should the end of my career at the CBC feel any different than the way I've felt at previous times during the past three decades?
I was excited and really terrified when I got my first TV job at CBC Saskatoon in the spring of 1990. Six months into my first gig as a sports anchor/reporter, the CBC pulled the plug on pretty much all of the local TV stations that weren't located in provincial capitals.
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Following a brief stint in Regina, I was hired in a similar role at CBC Calgary in the spring of 1993. Given the shaky financial state of the Corporation in those days, I really didn't think that job would last very long either. But, here I am 29 years later ready to call it a career.
And oh what a career it's been.
WATCH | Doug Dirks' favourite Stampede memory (circa 1997):
A decade into my career as a sports anchor/reporter at CBC Calgary, I had a sense that local sports jobs were going to be eliminated, so when the TV news anchor position opened up, I jumped at the chance to apply for it in 2004.
Four years later, it was back to the world of sports for another three year stint before I moved into the most rewarding job of my career at the CBC in the fall of 2011, taking over as host of the Homestretch on radio.
Homestretch most rewarding job
During the past decade on the Homestretch, I've learned something new every day, and had the chance to interview some of the most fascinating people in the world of news, entertainment, sports, and every other field in between.
I've had compelling conversations on-air with the likes of Commander Chris Hadfield, every provincial premier from the last decade, former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, Canadian entertainment icons like Rick Mercer, William Shatner and Jay Baruchel, sports stars like golfer Mike Weir, Hayley Wickenheiser and other Olympians, singer-songwriters like Jann Arden and Jim Cuddy, award winning authors like Esi Edugyan and Louise Penney, international stars like Steve Martin and Henry Winkler, and most recently, far too many infectious disease specialists.
Olympic games coverage
I've also been fortunate to work as a play-by-play commentator on TV for four Olympic Games, travelling to fascinating cities like Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016.
I've also covered Grey Cup Games in every Canadian city that has hosted one, and crisscrossed North America with the Calgary Flames during their exciting Stanley Cup run in 2004.
WATCH | Doug Dirks at the Grey Cup over the years:
I've also been fortunate to help CBC Calgary raise millions of dollars over the years for the Calgary Food Bank, and emceed well over a hundred fund-raisers and events for local charities like Woods Homes, Canadian Humanitarian, and the Immigrants of Distinction Awards.
It's helped me stay grounded, and appreciate how lucky I am to live in a city like Calgary.
I couldn't have done any of it without the unwavering support of my family.
They've been with me every step of the way, and rarely complained when I had to work until midnight on TV for several years, or was away for weeks at a time covering the Olympics and other national, and international stories.
I also couldn't have done any of it without the support of my talented and hard working colleagues on the Homestretch. Especially my work wife Jenny Howe, who has put up with my dad jokes for more than ten years.
I've worked with talented and dedicated journalists for three decades and I'm confident that they'll continue to produce quality news and information, while mentoring the next generation of CBC journalists.
Why leave now?
So why am I leaving all of that behind now, when I'm still (relatively) young(ish) you ask? Like a lot of people, I've spent the past two years of the pandemic thinking long and hard about where I am in my life, and what I'd like to do with the rest of my life.
My (much) younger colleagues have reminded me recently about all of the threats I've made about writing book(s), screenplays, and hosting podcasts. It's time to make good on at least one of those threats.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of hosting the question and answer portion of an entertaining presentation at the Jack Singer Concert Hall featuring John Cleese of Monty Python fame.
I was curating questions from the audience, and made the mistake of asking John the next question before he was finished answering the previous one.
Without missing a beat, John barked "Oh Shut Up Doug, I'm not finished." I'd like to think I'm not done either.