CBC Yukon reporter Dave Croft retires after 30 years
Tenacious reporter 'could always be relied on to not suffer fools,' says former colleague
He's covered political scandals, murder trials, mining developments, sports and plenty of animal stories too.
In fact, Dave Croft has covered stories of all sorts over the course of his 30-year career at CBC Yukon. This week, he called it a day and retired.
"I'm happy, that's for sure," he said on Friday, his last day on the job.
"We'll just see how [retirement] goes. I mean, I think I'll enjoy the relaxing, that's for sure. Not that I was, you know, worked off my feet every day," he laughed.
Croft is originally from B.C. and went to school at the University of Victoria and Langara College before heading north to Whitehorse to start a career in journalism. His first job was at the Yukon News and three years later, in 1990, he was hired at CBC Yukon.
"It's a pretty common story. I was just going to come up here for a job and then eventually go back to B.C. But no — certainly the Yukon gets you, you know, and then after a while I never even thought about leaving," he said.
"It's just such a great place to live."
Becky Striegler, a former reporter and producer at CBC Yukon who worked with Croft, remembers his "healthy scepticism," and how he "could always be relied on to not suffer fools."
She recalls seeing him as a young reporter at a news conference years ago, when he was still working for the Yukon News just before he joined CBC Yukon. Striegler remembers the person holding the news conference was "being kind of vague and wishy-washy."
Croft took the person to task with some tough questions, Striegler recalled.
"It was almost a little bit tense at the news conference. But the rest of us were kind of watching, and I think in the end, all of us ended up using the clips that [Croft] got them to say in response to [his] questions. We ended up all using all that material in our news stories. So it was quite impressive," she said.
"And I remember thinking, 'wow, he's going to come work with us. I'd better up my game, for sure.'"
Croft jokes that maybe he was seen as "kind of a jerk."
"But I just sort of lose patience sometimes in some situations when people won't tell you things that they should just tell you," he said.
Reporting from the field at 50 below
Some of Croft's best memories are of covering the annual Yukon Quest sled dog race, something he did many times over the years. It was always an adventure and a challenge, he said.
"Nowhere near as tough as it was for the dogs and mushers, but yeah, it was a big deal because you'd have these long periods of no sleep, and cold, really extreme weather. It was pretty cool," he said.
He recalled one early morning on the Quest trail, years before cell phones or email or online race trackers, when filing an up-to-date report from the field could be a serious challenge.
"It was like, 6:30 in the morning and I was at a payphone outside at the store there in Pelly Crossing, in about 50-below windchill I think, filing my story over the payphone with a tape deck — and just playing clips off the tape deck into the phone," he said.
He's seen the tools of his trade change quite a bit over the course of his career. There were no computers with digital sound-editing software when he started — it was reel-to-reel machines and razor blades to cut and splice tape.
"Maybe there wasn't even faxes, or they were just really new, they were like this marvel," he laughed.
Working from home through the pandemic this past year has also been a big change, he says. Most of the interviews he's done have been over the phone and he misses seeing and talking to people.
"Sometimes I'll be interviewing somebody I don't even really know, and I just start rambling on about things to them, and then I feel embarrassed later. It just kind of happens, you want to talk to somebody so bad," he said.
Croft says he's ready to enjoy a life without newsroom deadlines.
"It's definitely time for me to go. I can just tell. You just kind of lose the, I don't know, 'mojo' or something — or I have, anyway," he says.
"I've definitely been noticing it in the last few years, it's certainly getting harder and harder to get interested in some things."
He has no plans to tune out the news though, in his retirement. He's looking forward to being just another reader, viewer and listener.
"The nice thing is, I won't know what's going to be on the radio every day and I'll get to just sit and enjoy it and listen to it!"