Peter Mansbridge, host of CBC's national news, generously remembers my mother, Barbara Frum.
She was unmistakably the best interviewer in Canada. No one was even in second place. She dealt with prime ministers, presidents, princes, paupers, saints, scoundrels, anyone and everyone with a story to tell.
She loved her work, and took it very seriously. She prepared for interviews with steely determination to know everything there was to know about the subject at hand. I can remember seeing her night after night a couple of hours before air time. We'd be in the make-up room. I'd be getting some powder. She'd be sitting in her chair with what always seemed like a hundred pages of paper in her lap; research for whatever interview she was about to do. A producer was usually sitting beside her. It was amazing to watch as she went through all the material, grilled the producer, asked me my opinion, on and on. And then into the studio she'd go. By then she'd have a pretty good idea what she was going to ask. But she knew the secret to a great interview was listening.
"I listen for something that sounds so authentically right and dead on, and so fresh, and so unpatterned and unlikely, that it's got a ring of truth," she once said. "That's what I look for because there is so much fudge in this world today. Everybody is so polite, everybody says things that kind of throw you off the course."