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Voice of Annapolis Valley news Dave Chaulk announces retirement after almost half a century working in media

K-ROCK 89.3 FM’s news director Dave Chaulk will be delivering his final newscast on Nov. 15.
K-ROCK 89.3 FM’s news director Dave Chaulk will be delivering his final newscast on Nov. 15. - Kirk Starratt

NEW MINAS, NS - “That’s my opinion…I’m Dave Chaulk.”

A voice well known to generations of Annapolis Valley radio listeners will soon no longer be heard reading the news and delivering commentaries. After 47 years working in the media – 36 of them on the radio in the Valley – Dave Chaulk announced his retirement on Nov. 5. His final shift on the air for K-ROCK 89.3 FM will be Nov. 15.

“There are things that I’m looking forward to and things that I’ll miss,” he said.

Chaulk, who is now 64, said that you meet a lot of people working in radio. Many individuals who he hasn’t heard from in years have been reaching out to congratulate him on his retirement and he said it’s been nice hearing from them.

Chaulk has been thinking about retiring for a long time and it just seemed like the time was right. He discussed it with his family and his financial advisor and weighed the pros and cons before making the decision. Several factors came into play.

For example, Chaulk has always liked radio but he doesn’t like having to get up at 4:30 a.m. anymore. He finds that he’s tired much of the time from having to get to work so early and there was no prospect of changing to a different shift.

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Chaulk said Newcap Radio, K-ROCK’s former owner, was recently acquired by Stingray Digital, another factor that played into his decision. He said Newcap has been great to work for and although he has heard good things about Stingray, there is an element of uncertainty to any transition of ownership, so it seemed that the time was right to retire.

As much as Chaulk is looking forward to the freedom retirement brings, he said he’ll miss several aspects of the job, including interacting with the listeners. Although not all interactions have been positive, most have been, and he has always viewed the occasional criticism as an opportunity to learn.

“Most people seem to appreciate what you do and what you say,” Chaulk said. “I’ll miss giving my commentary every day, spouting off, but I can still do that at home.”

He appreciates that the end of his career represents a huge adjustment, just as it is for anyone who retires. However, he plans to occupy his time with things he enjoys. Chaulk will continue in his role as the chairman of the New Minas Village Commission and he’s building a wood working shop at home.

He plans to spend more time with his family and he looks forward to being able to stay up late to watch sports on TV, something he hasn’t been able to do with work starting so early in the morning. He also plans to spend more time at the cottage and to concentrate more on his kayaking and photography hobbies.

Chaulk said he has always been involved with his community, such as volunteering with groups that his children were involved in when they were younger. Now that he has more time, he said he might find something else in the community to get involved with.

Chaulk said that Darrin Harvey has been great to work with on the morning show and he will miss that. He said they have a good relationship and a good on-air rapport.

The feeling is mutual. Harvey said he and Chaulk have worked together on and off for the past 27 years and have worked together on K-ROCK’s morning show for the past three. Harvey said that if he can make Chaulk laugh, he knows everyone is laughing.

“I’ll miss his dry sense of humour more than anything,” Harvey said. “His keen sense of news is unparalleled. Sadly, that cannot be replaced.”

Worst disc jockey ever?

Chaulk began his career in radio as a disc jockey, “perhaps the worst disc jockey ever”, and said  “thankfully, there are no known tapes of me in existence.” He said he knew nothing about radio at the time and it was just a summer job.

Chaulk said he never had any desire or inkling of getting involved in radio but he had a voice. He applied for the job and was on the air the next night. He said he quickly realized that being a disc jockey wasn’t for him and he moved on to news.

He worked in radio news for a few years in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, before a TV station in Saint John’s, CJON, established a satellite station in Corner Brook. Chaulk then went to work as a videographer, shooting and editing his own tape, and did a 10-minute newscast every evening.

After about six months, he moved to Halifax, where he worked in radio for five years: at CHNS and CJCH - C-100. Chaulk met his future wife, who was from Bridgetown. They decided eventually that when they had kids, they wanted to raise them in the Valley.

“She kind of introduced me to the Valley and I fell in love with it, and I love it to this day, which is why we stayed,” Chaulk said.

He went to work in the AVR newsroom and, after its launch, Magic 97 (now Magic 94.9). Chaulk said he got to work for the late Neil McMullen, “one of the great bosses.” McMullen loved radio, loved the community and was good to his staff.

After more than 25 years directing the news there, Chaulk moved on and became K-ROCK’s first news director when that station launched in 2008. He said he got to interact with quite a cast of characters at both AVR-Magic and at K-ROCK.

“That’s the one good thing about radio, you really get to work with some interesting and some talented people,” Chaulk said. “I’ve seen a lot of talent come and go over the years.”

Many of his colleagues moved on to larger markets across North America but Chaulk said he never aspired for that because of his love for the Valley.

He credits the cell phone as the greatest single improvement in how radio news people do their jobs over the course of almost half a century in the industry.

A friendly word of advice

When asked what advice he has for aspiring radio journalists, Chaulk, as always, gave his honest opinion: look at another career.

Chaulk said it troubles him to have to say that and he hates doing so but, because of a lack of job opportunities in radio news, he would be doing young people a disservice to say otherwise. He said he’s not being pessimistic, he’s being realistic.

“It is a wonderful field to work in but there just aren’t jobs anymore,” Chaulk said. “I’m a dinosaur doing radio news at a private radio station that’s not an all-news station.”

Chaulk said the aspect of his career that he finds the most troubling is having seen so many talented people working in radio lose their jobs because of cutbacks over the years. Traditional media has struggled with the advent of the internet.

“I understand why it’s happened but that doesn’t mean that I have to like that it’s happened,” he said.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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