By Holly Budd
Pamela Wallin graduated in 1973 from the University of Regina, with her BA Honours in Psychology. She would eventually put that knowledge to use in a wildly different venue then she had imagined.
A chance invitation to appear on a phone-in radio show to discuss the new area of "women’s issues" marked the changing of the tides for Wallin. It was, "an accidental event that still reverberates for me," she writes. Since beginning her career in local Regina radio, Wallin worked, among other things, as a national producer of As It Happens, a political reporter for the Toronto Star, hosted Canada a.m., been the Ottawa Bureau Chief for CTV, anchored CBC’s Prime Time News and now is the host and producer of her own interview program Pamela Wallin.
Wallin has interviewed prime ministers Trudeau, Clark, Turner, Mulroney, Campbell, and Chretien. Her book is a haven for Canadiana aficionados, as notable and newsworthy people of national prominence crop up throughout Wallin’s story as co-workers, bosses, friends or interview subjects.
Since You Asked is an honest and open look at the life of a woman who has become one of Canada’s foremost media personalities. She begins with tales of her childhood spent in Waldena, Saskatchewan, at that time a town of about 1,500 people. Her upbringing left an indelible mark on her. She writes, "Even though I live in Toronto… I will always see the world through the prairie lens."
Since You Asked is an informative and candid memoir. Much of Wallin’s early life involvements are surprising. She writes of using marijuana in her teens, of continuing a romance with a boyfriend while he served a year in prison and starting a women’s centre on the U of R campus. None of this seeks to be sensational, rather it seems motivated by the desire to lay down the truth and contextualize it–assist the reader in understanding what prompted every action and decision. Having said that, recognizing that Pamela Wallin has a life beyond her hour on TV was much like realizing your parents had an entire existence before they undertook the title and duties of mom and dad.
Since You Asked is a very humanizing story, as Wallin reveals her mis-steps, the risks she took, her triumphs, her failures and moments of disillusion. Wallin is revealed as a woman of fierce intelligence, bravado, perseverance, strong work ethic and humour.
Here, she writes her side of events, most notably her high-profile dismissal from CBC’s Prime Time News. Even when recounting this painful and public professional upheaval of being ousted at the CBC, she wryly notes, "the last program I did at the CBC was a special entitled ‘Job Security in the ’90s.’"
The lesson to be gleaned from Pamela Wallin’s Since You Asked is to pursue your strengths, work hard, be tenacious, be bold, and maybe in 20 odd years, your memoir will be worth reading too.