FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with David Parker
July 30, 2013
He’s been at it a long time. Most Calgarians know David Parker as a thrice weekly freelance columnist whose columns appear in the Calgary Herald, in Business in Calgary and he writes for various BOMA publications. He admits to writing ‘good news gossip’ on Calgary business. He describes himself, as so many would like to: “I love what I do”.
He is 76 today. Happy Birthday David!
Lets start earlier. Northamptonshire, 80 miles north of London. He could ride his bicycle to Oxford, Cambridge and Stratford. Born in shoe manufacturing country, son of a shoe factory worker, David attended grammar school (vs. trade school) until 2 yrs of military service and the lure of newspapers took him down new paths. He hung around a newspaper office helping out, hanging out, learning about hot-metal, about printing and soon his fascination with ink and newsprint landed him an apprenticeship though his talent for headline editing got him a few scoldings. A series of newspaper jobs sent him into the world of advertising sales (“I thought I could write better stuff myself”), marketing, writing a children’s column ‘Cousin Claude’ – those connections led to meeting customers like Canadian and Ontario governments offices in London where he learned about Canada, influencers told him Toronto and Calgary were the places to be for the best opportunities. Good thing he opted for Calgary! Of 800 immigrants on their ship in 1963, the Parkers were the only ones coming here.
You know how some Brits do the waxed mustache thing? In David’s case it is eyebrows to rival a great horned owl – but he says it isn’t a fashion statement but rather leaving them untrimmed is, in words of his hairstylist, ‘Chinese say this is very lucky’. And he waxes eloquent about how lucky he has been since arriving in Calgary. He promptly landed a job at the Albertan working for Frank McCool. Subsequent stints in advertising (FWJ), government (Calgary Economic Development Authority) where he was Director of Communications, then Film Commissioner (he loved the junkets!) until 1986. He moved to Where Magazine, got recruited to the Calgary Sun by Ken King and later recruited away by the Calgary Herald 17 years ago.
I asked David what qualities distinguish preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers.
… honesty, nice people I’d enjoy being friends with, relationships.
I asked what distinguishes him, why his publishers choose him over competitors.
. . . my contacts, I’m reliable, I don’t miss deadlines.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
. . . I don’t get stressed. I get annoyed when I can’t reach people I need, and when they don’t get back to me when I have a deadline. I’m worried, about senior friends, about the high cost of being old.
I asked David how he sees Calgary newspaper business going forward?
… Calgary is a free open society, aggressive, exciting. Newspapers are changing, struggling – trying to get the online thing right, but there will always be newspapers.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… my wife Gwyneth has been very supportive. I’m very involved with my church (Anglican), that is important to me. Coming to Canada – coming to Calgary – is the best thing I’ve ever done.
His secret for staying young?
… three deadlines a week.
Work life balance?
… I collect books (illustrated books, fine press/letter press), love to travel, enjoy sipping a glass of wine while watching people and pigeons in Europe, Saturday mornings helping out my friend at The Antiquarian Book Store – I make the coffee, enjoy meeting the diversity of shoppers, book collectors.
What are you reading?
… non-fiction, currently fixated on food, reading a series of books on Olives by Carol Drinkwater.
… I’m on my 4th(or 5th?) Ford Focus, gets me around town and into small parking spaces.
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