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25 years of telling Toronto’s stories

For some Beachers, the stories they tell are not their own, but the stories of others. One of those, Austin Delaney, recently hit a milestone of a quarter century sharing Toronto’s stories on CTV News.

Delaney moved here about seven years ago, and has a simple answer as to why: “I fell in love.”

Not only with the place, of course, but with his wife, with whom he lives just off Queen Street.

Austin Delaney, a CTV reporter, stands in the middle of the action on Queen Street East. Delaney spoke with Beach Metro News during what he hopes is the last big snowstorm of the year. He had no idea where he would be sent on assignment when he started work an hour later – which is one of the reasons he still loves his job, 25 years after he first began on-air reporting. PHOTO: Jon Muldoon

Austin Delaney, a CTV reporter, stands in the middle of the action on Queen Street East. Delaney spoke with Beach Metro News during what he hopes is the last big snowstorm of the year. He had no idea where he would be sent on assignment when he started work an hour later – which is one of the reasons he still loves his job, 25 years after he first began on-air reporting.
PHOTO: Jon Muldoon

Of course, growing up in Thornhill and exploring Toronto, Delaney was no stranger to the beaches and the Beach neighbourhood.

As a kid he would come down on weekends, and says the same things that attracted him then – the excitement of the crowds on the weekends, mixed with the small town feel – are the same things he still enjoys about the area.

“It’s a little resort town,” he said.

Delaney got his start in radio, having worked at CFTR (“We took on CHUM and won”), CKEY and finally CFNY, long before it became The Edge. All three had great news departments, and gave him the experience he needed to make the jump to television.

“It’s a logical step for most people. You learn your craft and jump into it – it’s the big leagues,” he said.

One of Delaney’s first big stories with CTV would turn out to be one of the bigger stories of the decade: the Karla Homolka trial.

He recalls being in the courtroom as an agreed statement of facts was read out. Everyone in the room already knew about the horrific rape and murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, but Delaney said it was a shock for even the more experienced journalists in the room when the news broke that Homolka and Paul Bernardo had done the same to Homolka’s sister Tammy.

“Everyone just gasped,” he said.

Delaney left the courtroom to tape his report from a satellite truck, and had to do several takes, one of the few times he’s found it difficult to do his job.

“I could hardly read my script, I was so taken aback,” he said.

One of the other hazards of the job in Canada is needing to be prepared for anything. While Delaney and other television reporters always have to dress the part for television, he said there’s a secret to surviving Canadian winters wearing a suit for TV news: long johns.

Preparation is the key, since he never knows where he’s going to be heading on any given day, and the day can change without any notice. In late February, Delaney was at Queen’s Park when he got a call to drive to Barrie, where a 96-car pile-up had just occurred on the 400.

He was glad to be prepared for the cold at the time, but Delaney is just about ready for the warm season, where he’ll likely be working closer to home a bit more often.

“I’m tired of wearing long johns,” he said. “We do a lot of weather stories, and when it turns warm everyone heads to the Beach.”

After 25 years in the TV news business, Delaney enjoys his job as much as ever.

“I love it, I just love it. I like telling stories. I liken my work to a mini-movie – it has a beginning, a middle and an end,” he said.

The rush of the job, the frantic pace of daily news and the constant surprises keep Delaney on his toes, but he says one of the most frequent questions he’s asked actually has nothing to do with his own work, and he’s also more than happy to provide the answer.

“What’s Ken Shaw really like? He’s actually really nice, he’s a real gentleman,” Delaney said.

And though one might expect a bit of cynicism after a quarter century of covering the daily news in the largest city in the country, Delaney has some purely positive advice for those thinking about a career in television: “Do it. It’s a great career. I’ve had a great time. I’ve met people, done things and gone places I never would have otherwise. It’s history in the making.”

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