A Message from Kevin Dale McKeown, Editor & Publisher
I use the title of Editor & Publisher to imply, by tradition, that I am in charge here. If only it were that simple.
I started in this line of work as a gossip columnist, and I haven't really changed my style much since. At 15, in 1965, I began to discover the power of the press as the “Teen Talk” contributor to Port Hardy’s now defunct Topline Special. At 19, back in the Big Smoke, I talked my way into a weekly column in the Georgia Straight, the underground / alternate hippie newspaper, tattling on my fellow habitués of the gay netherworld, reporting on that community’s doings through the 70s. From there it was a short leap to conning editors into thinking that I could write about such diverse topics as classical ballet, ethnic cuisines, and main stage theatre. Arts, entertainment, and restaurant columns, reviews and features ensued.
I began with a gossipy, friendly, and (I hope) amusing style that I have applied to just about everything since. Talking about you, your friends, your frenemies, and your life.
Highlights included contributing to that subversive weekly through the early 70s, editing Vancouver Week and The Williams Lake Tribune in the late 70s., the West Ender in the early 80s, and Montreal Magazine in the later half of that decade.
This went on for twenty years. Then in 1989, impresario David Y. H. Lui called and told me I was going to be the publicist for the first Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival. “What’s a dragon boat?” was my first question. Actually that worked out pretty well, and by the mid-90s I was churning out argle-bargle (newsroom slang for promotional fluff) for the Dragon Boat, Writers, Children’s, and Folk Music festivals, with moments to spare for Theatre Under The Stars, DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Royal City Musical Theatre, and numerous escapades that Mr. Lui also dragged me into, including Discover Dance BC, Ballet Jazz de Montreal, and First Night 2000, which was our last dance together.
The late Brian Brenn, radio broadcaster and news director, at one Dragon Boat Festival meeting dubbed me “Captain Argle-Bargle. It has stuck in some circles.
Somehow that burned up another 20 years of my three-score-and-ten.
It was fun, but I think it was the year I handled eight of the aforementioned files as communications or marketing manager (or both), that I began to think about an exit strategy, so I was happy, in 2009, to sign up for what turned out to be a seven-year run at the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture as their communications & community engagement director. In that interesting crossroads of culture and politics I produced the expected, and by now fine-tuned, argle-bargle, and plunged into producing or co-producing several years of Arts Summit and Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Awards events.
The highlight of those years was co-creating and co-presenting a series of 19 Community Cultural Roundtable conversations around the province. Haida Gwai, Prince George, Kelowna, Victoria, Duncan, Fort St. John, and Kamloops were among the BC communities we visited. It was a wonderful reminder of the breadth and beauty of our province and the artists and arts administrators we met taught me that while we think of these communities as being “isolated” from our really big show down her in the Vancouver, we are just as isolated from the cultural delights of Nelson, Nanaimo, or Tumbler Ridge.
My co-producer through all this was Amanda Peters, who is helping out here by taking on an IT / design / production role here at The West End Journal.
Seven years with the Alliance broke my trend for twenty-year gigs, but to stay the course would have taken me to age 79. I decided to adjust my expectations of the last third of my kicking sand in this playground of life, and here I am back in the gossip business. As if I ever left.
I’m told that I once lectured a weekly newspaper staff that I had just assumed editorial tyranny over that “A community newspaper should be the parish newsletter. Everyone should be able to pick it up and reasonably expect to find themselves or someone they know in its pages.”
So here I am, back with the parish newsletter. This parish is rich in writers and photographers and visual artists, and many are expressing interest in helping raise the tone of The West End Journal by balancing my gossip column style with something with more depth. Already we have Dianne Macguire exploring the “Hidden Treasures” of our neighbourhood, and as “Developing Stories” comes together there will be some straight-forward information on the demolitions and barn-raisings taking place at a fair clip.
Thank you for having a look at The West End Journal. I hope you find the village news and gossip interesting enough, without our having to come up with click-bait headlines to lure you in. You can make sure to stay in touch by subscribing right this minute to our monthly email “This Month In Your West End” — and maybe win some prizes for doing so.