Hello friends, Landin Chambers here. You may recognize me from my former role over at the radio station here in Stettler, Real Country 93.3 FM. I’ve been living in the community for a good part of the last four and a half years. A little about me: I was born in Wetaskiwin, and moved with my family to Camrose in the late nineties. After high school, I moved to Calgary where I would go on to attend SAIT and graduate two years later with a Broadcast News Diploma.
From there I worked for a time as a television reporter in Prince George BC, before coming to East Central Alberta. In 2013, I started at was then Q93.3FM, and then moved to Red Deer to work at their sister stations the following August. Unfortunately like many during the economic downturn, I was among those who saw their position eliminated at the end of 2015. Luckily, the company was able to retain my old position here in town, and I returned to the radio station until December of 2017.
To say the least, it’s been an interesting career path. Despite the changes we’ve all seen in our livelihoods, we try to make the best of the hand we’re dealt. I first came to Stettler looking for a small community to hone my radio broadcasting skills, and was able to do that before moving on to Red Deer. For only being an hour away, that city can seem like a different world at times. Covering the news in Alberta’s third largest city was a task in-itself, that did not lend much time to explore stories in the outlying areas. Like many urban cities, issues in Red Deer can become the focus for Central Alberta, which can drive a disconnect between rural and urban citizens.
That’s been the lesson in coming back to Stettler. Many outside of our area have not witnessed that “Heart of Alberta” hospitality. As I said when I left the radio station, “Regrets can set in if you don’t take risks.” That’s why I jumped at the chance to learn new skills in print and photography, which are vital tools to help tell this town’s stories.
If I were to pick a single event that led me to become a reporter I would have to say it was a camping trip at Pine Lake in the summer of 2000. Little did I know that I would soon witness the fourth deadliest tornado in Canadian history. At nine years old, the power of vital information and communication became crystal clear. It’s hard to believe nowadays, but we had little to no warning. All we knew was there was a chance of a thunderstorm, but thought nothing of it.
After the tornado, we truly learned what it’s like to be cutoff from the world. People were scrambling everywhere, strangers were pulling folks out of the wreckage, and there was nothing but the radio to keep us in touch. This didn’t help much, as the scope of the damage couldn’t be measured until daylight the following day. But I will never forget that feeling that the world was looking out for us, to tell our story at a time we were in danger.
Since getting into the news business, I’ve had the opportunity to see that spirit a number of times. Be it the Slave Lake fires of 2011, the Calgary floods of 2013 or most notably, the Fort McMurray fires of 2016. When we think we’ve lost everything, we go out of our way to take care of our neighbours, look out for one another, and build an even greater sense of community from the tragedy we’ve endured. It still chokes me up to think of the kindness shown by Stettlerites to those who evacuated south from Fort Mac. You opened your homes, businesses, campgrounds and the Rec. Centre to them. For that, I’d say our hospitality payed off, hearing of the families who decided to resettle here. That’s the Stettler spirit, that rural “can do” attitude, when everything including the elements is against us. We’d rather find a solution, than complain about our lot in life.
Lastly, I was asked to list some of my personal interests. I’m fascinated by politics, and how the decisions made affect our society. The characters and personalities who are thrust onto the stage when they connect with the electorate. Then waiting to see if they’ll actually follow through with what they say they’ll do. Finally there’s the legacy aspect, where we assess whether they accomplished their task, and if their legislative achievements will stand the test of time.
Aside from that, I like to spend time with my family, and wind down from a day of news by catching up with friends on social media. I also have a three year old black cat named Claw-dia who keeps me entertained.
In conclusion, while many say that newspapers and the media are on their last legs, I disagree. There will always be a need to inform people of the events of the day. While it’s easy to find out what’s going on across the province, country or world, there are only a few places to find out what’s happening locally. That’s where we come in.
As we start 2018, we need our local news to preserve the history that came before us, transcribe the events of the present day, and adapt to whatever the future has in store for us. It’s a tall order, and I hope we can do that.
If you’d like to get ahold of us with a story idea, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.