By Sophie Lui
Walking into the BCTV newsroom as a cub reporter is not an easy thing. At least, it wasn’t when I did it back in the early 2000s. It was a room full of history and giants of broadcast journalism. Giants, in a figurative sense. Because one of the biggest “giants” in that room was Deb Hope, who I’m quite sure was no taller than me (5’2”), but had mountains of experience and talent that I was nowhere near attaining.
At the time, Deb was anchoring the Noon News Hour and the Early News. But she’d had years as a reporter, in television and in print, and she was a true journalist—full stop. She didn’t just read the words; she wrote the words, asked the questions, crafted the stories.
Deb masterfully navigated an industry that hasn’t always been kind to women (to put it mildly). With her calm, kind demeanor, she rose above the sometimes cutthroat nature of our competitive field, and found success at the highest level. She led without bravado or bullying and was, at the end of day, simply and solidly effective.
With all of that going for her, it wouldn’t have shocked me if she had been standoffish, or even dismissive of me, a new no-name reporter who wouldn’t necessarily even make it through probation. But that just wasn’t Deb. Not even a tiny bit. She wanted all of us to succeed. For me, and many young women in our newsroom, Deb's support was not just a confidence booster, but a firm reminder that you could do the job and do it well.
She was curious and full of questions, as befits any good journalist. But I think it was also a curiosity borne out of compassion.
She wanted to know the people she worked with because she cared about them. You could see it in her eyes when she asked about your life—even if you didn’t want to bare your soul, she was always searching for the truth. And in the end, she would always get it from you.
We’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing in the newsroom since Deb died. Remembering how she used to come in each day with a big “Helllloooooooo!” She was a stalwart of the station, from the time it was BCTV right through our transition to Global BC. The names and logos changed, but Deb was always there.
Tuesdays were the highlight of the week. That’s the day Eileen Drever from the SPCA would come in for the Adopt-a-Pet segment. Ignoring the old show business adage to never work with children or animals, the two just let the pets be pets, and you never knew what might happen. Like the time a stray kitten peed on Deb on live television. Or the time a different stray kitten projectile vomited in Deb’s hands. That one made it onto Oprah.
After the segment, Deb and Eileen, along with makeup artist Pam Mason and staff scheduler Peni Puschmann, would have a long lunch in the cafeteria. Their laughter echoed through the hallways and the rest of us couldn’t help but giggle along with them, even if we had no idea what the joke was.
When I say our newsroom was like family—for Deb, it really was. She met and married the love of her life at BCTV, cameraman Roger Hope. The way they looked at each other, you could plainly see they were meant to be. And their two daughters, Katherine and Roxanne, were her world. The four of them radiated love.
I was lucky to have worked with Deb for more than 10 years before she retired in 2014. And when I started anchoring Global’s 5pm newscast a few years ago, I felt hugely responsible for maintaining the high standards she had set. She had already been retired a few years by that point, but even to this day, it still doesn’t feel like “my” show. It’s Deb’s show… and I think it always will be.
“Darlin’.” That’s what she called me. And probably lots of others, but I will always remember how she said it to me. In the makeup room, in the cafeteria, in the newsroom, when she would call to ask me about my story: “Hi darlin’... how’s it going?”
Well Deb... Darlin’ Deb. I’ll tell you how it’s going. We’re all so very heartbroken to have lost you. Heartbroken that the last years of your life were not what you and Roger and your girls had imagined. This newsroom, which you helped to shape, is missing a piece of its heart.
But oh, what a gift it was to know you. What a treat it was to have laughed with you—to hear your beautiful, infectious, hilarious laugh. What an absolute privilege it was to call you a friend. Thank you, Deb, for everything.More