May 12, 1940-April 27, 2007. Keith was one of the architects of what is unquestionably the greatest success story in Canadian television news history. His career in television began in 1972 at BCTV and marked the beginning of a remarkable evolution of the News Hour. His determination to build a strong local news voice in British Columbia resulted in a program that set the standard for all news organizations across the country. When he retired from his role as vice president, News, and news director in 1998 he left an organization that was unmatched in its vigor and its success anywhere in North America.
He revolutionized television news in Canada with a simple formula: tell relevant and compelling stories, do it consistently and do it well. He broke the TV news mold of predictable 30-minute news stories, pioneering the idea that the length of a news story should be dictated by the importance of the story, the pictures and the people themselves. Among his many innovations was the launch of Canada Tonight, the precursor to Global National.
He was known for his logical and analytical mind and in his role, first as reporter and then news editor and vice president of News, he was never afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom of the day. He was never willing to accept second-best, always questioning whether a story could be more thoroughly or engagingly told, and ensuring the news department was an advocate for the viewer.
Keith’s list of awards and honours over the course of his news career goes back to 1962 when, as editor-in-chief of The Ubyssey, he and his fellow students won the Southam Trophy for best university newspaper in Canada. That same year, he won the Bracken Trophy for best editorials. Years later, under Keith’s leadership, the BCTV news department was also honoured many times, winning trophy cases full of Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada awards, both regionally and nationally. Other recognition came from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the BC Association of Broadcasters, Can-Pro, and the Jack Webster Foundation. In 1999 the Jack Webster Foundation honoured Keith and former colleague Cameron Bell with the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004 Keith received a lifetime achievement award from the Radio Television News Director Association of Canada. In 2007 the Webster Foundation further honoured him by dedicating the Best Television Reporting of the Year award annually to his memory.
Keith was born a prairie boy in Moose Jaw, SK, and had an unusual education, dropping out of high school to flip burgers at King’s Drive-In on Broadway and then landing a job as copyboy at The Vancouver Sun where he quickly rose to general assignment reporter and then assistant city editor. With the urging of legendary Vancouver Sun managing editor Erwin Swangard he enrolled at UBC where he earned a BA and LLB.
He loved being a husband and a father to his two children. His friends and family, which now includes five grandchildren, continue to miss him.