Trina McQueen, O.C.
Trina McQueen, O.C., a broadcast media trailblazer and Schulich’s first Visiting CTV Professor in Broadcast Management, delivered a speech to convocation after receiving an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree recently.
McQueen helped shape Canada’s media landscape in journalism and programming, starting as the first female host of CTV’s W5 and rising to become the first woman in North America to head a national news service, at CBC.
She launched the country’s first all-news channel, now CBC News Network. Later, McQueen moved to the private sector, where she launched Canada’s Discovery Channel, which was the first Canadian network to develop its own website. After that, as President and Chief Operating Officer of CTV, she participated in a major expansion of that network and in its sale to BCE.
She opened her speech by sharing that while she has accomplished a lot in her career, her success can be traced back to one thing: “I said yes,” she said.
Out of college, McQueen was hired by an Ottawa newspaper covering City Hall. She received an unexpected call from a producer at CTV, which was about to launch a weekly investigative journalism program called W5. They asked if she would be interested in talking, and she said yes.
“I knew it was a really bad idea,” she said. “I would have to give up Ottawa City Hall. I would have to move away from my friends. It was a brand new program. Most of all, I knew absolutely nothing about television. It was a huge risk.
After some time on W5 and covering courts for CTV local news, McQueen was offered a job with CBC – but it was a temporary job, and a fragile opportunity. Still, she said yes.
“I stayed at CBC for more than 25 years … and no matter what they asked me, I said yes,” she said, recounting being immersed in all kinds of storytelling – drama, documentaries, music and children’s programming. Eventually she went on to launch the CBC news channel.
After leaving CBC, McQueen said yes to an offer to become a Visiting Professor in the Arts, Media & Entertainment Management (ARTM) program at the Schulich School of Business. Though she had never taught a course, and had no academic qualifications, she, once again, said yes. McQueen is the Bell Media Professor in Media Management and the Co-Director of the ARTM Program.
McQueen closed her speech congratulating graduates of the Kellogg-Schulich EMBA program, and posed that this generation could be the longest-lived generation in human history. “What will you do with all that time?,” she asked. “You will have so many opportunities to learn, to create, to play. You’ll be able to say yes even more than I did.”