By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley
Jim Anderson, Station Manager at Rogers tv, has just wrapped up his 38-year-long career in broadcasting.
Several years ago, he created a show called ‘That’s My Story.’ Now, the time has come for him to share his own story.
It all began in Richmond Hill, where a young Jim would gaze at the TV tower from his bedroom window daily, declaring with determination, “One day, I will climb that!” Little did he know that his entire career would be dedicated to climbing the world of local community television.
Still a student at Seneca College, Jim got his first TV job at Classicomm Cable 10, the fastest-growing cable system of its day, serving most of York Region.
At 19 years old, Jim faced a momentous decision. His boss presented him with an exciting challenge – to be responsible for his very own show, ‘Access 10.’
The young graduate mustered up the courage and took a daring leap of faith, accepting the job. It would mean juggling a whole bunch of roles– director, producer, editor, cameraman, playback operator, and host.
He handled all the roles like a pro. But being a host was a challenge – Jim owned only one dress shirt, tie, and pair of decent shoes. He would sneak into his dad’s closet to borrow a snazzy tie to spice things up on air.
Another challenge was his shyness, as he preferred working behind the scenes. He knew that his mom, Sue Anderson, watched every episode with unwavering devotion. Still, while visiting the seniors’ centre, he was amazed when he was greeted like a TV star.
“Well, life in the spotlight wasn’t my cup of tea. After six months, my boss gave me a chance to step away from being on camera and focus solely on working backstage,” he remembers.
A new challenge for Jim and his team was to develop a local newscast. The small crew covered all of the York Region. This experience would come in handy when Jim relocated to Georgina in 1994.
Still based at the Richmond Hill studio, he made it his mission to keep Georgina on the radar, ensuring his community’s stories were always included.
The stars aligned at Christmas 2011 when Rogers decided to open a studio in Georgina. It was a no-brainer that Jim would be the perfect fit as the Station Manager. He had been with the company for 26 years, had taken manager training and was a resident of Georgina.
“It was destiny, almost too good to be true,” recalls Jim. “Without hesitation, I accepted.”
They gave him a camera and a vehicle but he had only six weeks before going on air.
“In a panic, I called my friend, Kathy Bruce, and asked her to do a show on gardening. Of course, it was January, so that was a challenge,” he recalls with a chuckle.
Jim recorded a few episodes in a greenhouse on Highway 48, and to this day, Bruce’s show ‘Georgina Blooms’ continues to thrive.
Next, Jim asked his wife, Jennifer, who also had a career in broadcasting, to host the show ‘That’s My Story.’ This show is also still going strong! “The title came from a song we both loved,” Jim explains.
With episodes of ‘Georgina Blooms’ and ‘That’s My Story’ ready, they were all set for the grand debut in the first week of February 2012.
Finding suitable spaces to record the shows proved to be the biggest challenge. However, Jim had a stroke of luck: Heather Fullerton, the Executive Director of the Georgina Art Gallery, invited the crew to use the gallery as a recording space for Jim’s new show ‘Georgina Life.’
She also took on the role of one of the first hosts on the channel. In September of 2012, ‘Georgina Life’ with Jennifer Anderson and Joe Connors hit the air.
“Although the space was perfect, with beautiful works of art in the background, there was a little problem,” remembers Jim. “Our equipment had a habit of blowing a fuse because we had so many things plugged in.”
The real breakthrough came when Jim finally secured a dedicated studio space, allowing him to design it just as he envisioned. With the new space, two new staff members, and a team of volunteers, the studio doors swung open in March 2013.
‘The Rogers guy’ (as he is known in Georgina) took on tasks beyond his job description, including running to the store to fetch water and coffee cream for the staff, and regularly posting on social media long after working hours. No task was too big or too small.
In mid-July of this year, shocking news arrived: due to the Rogers and Shaw merger, Jim was offered an opportunity to retire early, with only a few days to decide whether to accept it.
He faced a challenging dilemma with numerous projects in progress and many plans on the horizon. However, with unwavering support from his wife, Jennifer, and family and friends, he summoned all his strength to make the tough decision.
“On July 21, after 38 years in broadcasting, I packed my belongings and left the studio I started. I am still trying to wrap my head around what happened, but with my wife’s help, I am gradually overcoming the unease of this major change. It’s time to reflect on my career achievements and look ahead. It’s also time to become a better cook,” he laughs.
Jim always emphasizes the importance of teamwork, but undoubtedly, his personality and professional skills contributed to his remarkable success as a community broadcaster and manager.
He helped build the Georgina Rogers tv station from scratch, supported by countless volunteers (ranging from age 15 to 95!) and generous sponsors whose support he garnered.
He also developed several popular shows, including ‘The Parenting Show’, that reach audiences all over Ontario, plus New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
“Currently, it’s the sole Rogers TV station in the York Region, so we are very fortunate to have it and use it as a platform to celebrate our people and businesses. I hope it continues to flourish,” he says.
“My greatest source of pride is knowing that a significant number of the youths I mentored now have successful careers in TV. Even after 30+ years, some still reach out to me, which means a lot,” he adds.
Speaking about youth, Jim dedicated 26 years to coaching for the Georgina Minor Baseball Association, earning awards for his dedication and team success. However, this career also ended, as his youngest son is about to leave for college. “I loved coaching both of my sons, but my career coaching the Georgina Bulldogs is coming to an end.”
While Jim is stepping away from this manager role, he still plans to volunteer at the station.
“I’ll volunteer as a director for ‘The Parenting Show,’ hosted by Jennifer and Alyson Schafer. And, of course, I will stay involved with the ‘Georgina Cares Live TV Auction’ that Rob Grossi kickstarted long before we even had the Georgina studio. Those on-air Georgina Cares auctions used to give me a good dose of nerves. Everything had to be precise; no room for glitches. But luck was on our side, and it always turned out fantastic,” he says.
But he admits it will take some time to adjust to his retirement.
“Talk about a bunch of major things coming to an end all at once. How do I fill the void that’s left behind?” Reflecting on it, he admits, “Now, I have to uninstall all the Rogers tv social media apps, as I still find myself posting out of habit.”
In a sense, Jim’s career did climb that TV tower he had seen from his bedroom window as a boy, taking him from a student with a dream to a rewarding career in broadcasting.
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