Career Magazine

An Intern’s-eye-view of CBC Headquarters

Posted on the 12 June 2011 by Fcarletti
An intern’s-eye-view of CBC headquarters

2011 Joan Donaldson scholarship recipients

From left to right:  Adam Avrashi, Najat AbdalhadiGiselle DookhieSol IsraelAlana BergstromLily BoissonFabiola CarlettiSachin Seth

Okay, we’re not technically interns. We’re Joan Donaldson scholarship recipients on contract for the summer – but who has time to say all that?

But, since I’m no longer a student — hot dang, it still feels so weird  to say that — my fingers are tightly crossed for future employment. This is to say that I have a lot riding on this summer stint, as I’m hoping to find a nook for myself within this media powerhouse.

I don’t use that word lightly – the CBC’s Toronto headquarters is a 10 story, 160,000 square metre behemoth.

So, if you’re curious about what it’s actually like in the belly of the beast, I’ll start you off with a fun list of observations in no particular order.

(Disclaimer: I’m not saying these are the most important things about the inner-workings of the Ceeb, but they are the things that the rookies write home about)

1) You have to get used to the crazy elevator colour scheme

Staff orient themselves by referring to elevator colours. (Ex: “Visual Resources is now on 8th floor, blue elevators.”) Seems simple enough, right?

Well, sometimes they’re talking about the colour of the elevator doors and sometimes the walls by the elevator. Some elevators don’t go to certain floors, and they’re not all primary colours. God help you if you confuse the red and burgundy elevators. There’s also a set of gigantic lifts affectionately refered to as “the big green monster.” The largest elevators can hold entire movie sets and enormous animals. (I’m going somewhere with this one …)

2) When you share a building with entertainment media, things can get a little wild. 

Our internship coordinator told us some pretty unbelievable stories while showing us around. He pointed out the heavy-duty red elevators and explained that have held, among other things, a lion on its way to the 10th floor studios for a nature show.

Unfortunately, the elevator opened prematurely on the 4th floor ( which is where the news team works) and the lion escaped from its handler. Apparently, the beast jumped on top of an unlucky reporter’s desk and decided to urinate all over everything. I’m guessing that would piss off even the most mild-mannered of reporters.

3) You may bump into a mail delivery robot 

Okay, the robot doesn’t have a face or endearing personality, but it does make its way through the labyrinthine corridors of the building – which is more than I can do. It makes a soft beeping sound and apparently knows where to go because of an invisible path on the carpets. I heard it stops if you get in its way, but I won’t risk my neck testing that theory.

Here’s a youtube video by someone who gets as easily excited as I do:

4) The jokers have made  their mark  

Pay close attention and you’ll see evidence of staff’s sense of humour. Sure, there are the goofy  blog posts, funny signs (“No Coffee, No Workee”) and random stickers (the Smoke’s Poutine guy is everywhere!) but there are also some craftier jesters among the masses.

On the fourth floor blue elevators, you may notice the shot of Peter Mansbridge looking out into the crowd (See picture below, left side).

Upon closer inspection, you’ll see my favourite guy ever.

An intern’s-eye-view of CBC headquarters

Left: wideshot of the Mansbridge elevator. Right: not just another face in the crowd

Whoever inserted this into the crowd took the time to figure out the proportions and go black and white to blend in. I don’t even know how I noticed it!

Some other interns and I were guessing who this guy might be. A former employee who vowed to keep an eye on the news team? Peter’s estranged son? A CTV reporter who snuck into the building?

We joked about adding Mansbridge himself into the audience. How meta would that be?

5) Radio people seldom look like they sound, and television personalities are shorter than they seem. 

That’s a generalization I can get behind. Take “the voice” that introduces The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti. He’s an extremely tall Gothic guy with long hair. (I thought he was a stubby man in suspenders!)

“The talent” (on-air radio and television personalities) are everywhere, and they’re easier to spot thanks to the ubiquitous personality marketing. You know you’ve made it at the CBC when they’ve blown you up and put you on the walls, pillars, and — of course — the elevators.

It’s always slightly bewildering to see larger-than-life figures in, well, real life. So far I’ve seen David Suzuki walk by me in a huff; I almost collided with Jian Ghomeshi as he powered by on his cell phone; and I’ve directly experienced Strombo’s “your boyfriend George” smile.

I’ve also been in the bathroom with Nora Young and in the coffee lineup behind Matt Galloway. It may be lame, but I always get a little giddy about these encounters.

One intern described seeing Peter Mansbridge’s image on an elevator split to reveal the actual Peter Mansbridge!

Just another day at the CBC.



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