“Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.” –Georgia O’Keefe, famed American artist
Hudson Mack may not agree entirely with the New Mexico painter. Accomplishments are important but the way they are done, the colour of them, is also important. Indeed what Hudson has done with where he has been is significant, colourful and, yes, even inspiring.
Hudson left his job as news director and senior anchor with CTV, Vancouver Island in February 2014, ending a 35-year career as a broadcaster. He was only 54 years old, a senior defined by retiring to a pension, but too young to collect government benefits. After the initial shock, Hudson needed to take stock and retool.
Hardly described as the retiring type, Hudson wasn’t ready to don the mantel of being retired either. Once he had reorganized cupboards at home and packed the dishwasher his way (by his own admission, he’s sometimes a control freak), he took on two projects dedicated to “giving back.” That attitude is worthy of anyone who has finished with a life-long career and faces the daunting task of re-defining oneself.
Reflection time is always healthy. As Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Hudson took that aphorism to heart when he decided to write his biography, *Unsinkable Anchor*. It would take a full year of disciplined work, but it provided a routine and a combination of looking backwards whilst living forward. His first chapter title, “The End,” revealed his process. “This is the end. But really, it is only the beginning.”
In a manner of speaking, Hudson re-searched his life. First of all, it forced him to consider the legacy from the work years that underpinned him. He recognized that, for years, viewers welcomed him into their homes via the evening news and that his job gave him opportunities to meet and greet celebrities, as well as be a minor one himself.
Hudson considers meeting the Queen and Prince Philip and receiving the Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, as well as attending a White House meeting with President George W. Bush and hosting a speaking engagement for Bill Clinton as apogees of being near the famous. But equally cherishing was meeting favourite television stars like the ones from *Coronation Street*; or news icons like Dan Rather and Lloyd Robertson; or helping Jeneece Erdoff, the fundraising wunderkind whose penny drives she began as a seven-year-old for Variety: The Children’s Charity and raised millions of dollars.
Two other meaningful accolades during that work career that spoke to Hudson’s dedication to community work were the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) “Gold Ribbon Award for Outstanding Community Service” in 2002 and the Royal Roads Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award in 2009. They spoke to his giving back to the public he served. He was a recognizable figure and popular, which went some way to his book making it onto the BC Best Sellers list for a period of time in November and December 2015.
Brian Wood who was the agent for Hudson and another West Coast newscaster, Tony Parsons, said, “Hudson has a no-stress, no-ego approach and, in this business, that’s greatly refreshing. You can learn a lot by reading his memoir.” Part of Hudson’s motivation for writing was to inform his viewership about his career and decisions to leave, plus to tell about the important people in his life that he could never really thank while on the air.
Admittedly, deadline-driven from years in the newsroom, Hudson worked up to the last minute on the manuscript. Like many first-time authors, he found that some days the stories would come easily; on others the blank screen would stare back at him for hours. After polishing up a final draft, he worked with an editor, who helped condense some stories and eliminate others that may have been too “inside.” If he has any regrets about the book, Hudson says it’s who and what got left out.
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