For thirty years, if there was a sports event worth covering in British Columbia, Bernie Pascall had it covered. For the man who was a regular staple of supper hour for many British Columbians, it was just that simple. If you wanted your sports, you went to Bernie and he delivered. Every night.
Over the years, he became one of the province’s most recognizable media figures covering sports for CTV nationally and as a mainstay on the BCTV 6pm NewsHour.
In the days prior to instant streaming video available online seconds after it happens or national sports networks on digital HD satellite, most British Columbians turned to the NewsHour and depended on Pascall to tell the tales of the tape.
Lucky to have a few scraps of out-of-town footage most nights and hopefully some locally shot clips from the previous night, television sports anchors didn’t have it so easy then. There were no pre-packaged sets of game highlights zapped in from all corners of the continent and beyond in need only of some witty dialogue. Technology moved at a slower pace and the human element still factored in greatly. Pascall, with that friendly twinkle and familiar strong voice to go along with the ability to make yet another slipshod Canucks effort sound intriguing thrived in this environment.
He got his start in the media as a green seventeen-year-old barely out of highschool working in radio in Flin Flon, Manitoba doing daily sportscasts for CFAR and play-by-play of Flin Flon Junior Bombers hockey. The polished, professional sportscaster that BC would come to know so well in the 1970s and beyond, spent the 1960s honing his skills in a variety of radio and TV capacities in Medicine Hat, Winnipeg, and Toronto.
In 1969, BCTV was looking for a sports anchor-slash-sports director to build their newly created sports department around. Pascall came west, got the job, and would stay for three decades hosting and producing sportscasts, in which time few sports would fail to cross his path.
If nothing else, BCTV kept him busy. Besides nightly sportscasts, from 1976 to 1982, he called the play-by-play for Canucks BCTV telecasts. For ten years, he did the same with the Memorial Cup; for three seasons, he broadcast Vancouver Whitecaps matches, including the 1979 Soccerbowl championship and one memorable game in Tulsa that had to be abandoned due to severe thunder and lightning.
He covered an amazing 24 BC Winter and Summer Games from all over the province, which included working alongside Rick Hansen, fresh off his Man in Motion World Tour—an inspiring highlight in a storied career.
Also an innovator, in 1988, Pascall arranged and hosted the first live remote BCTV sportscast from the Pacific Coliseum.
For CTV, he traveled the world covering six Winter and Summer Olympic Games, including the play-by-play of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” American gold medal victory in men’s hockey and the perfect ‘10’ performance of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. His play-by-play talents graced eleven World Hockey Championships and two Canada Cups, as well as hosting CFL football telecasts for a decade and numerous world and national figure skating championships.
Following his departure from BCTV in 1999, he was chosen by the provincial government to complete a report on violence in hockey. The Pascall Report remains one of only two government-commissioned reports on the game.
Pascall’s contribution to the profession hasn’t gone unrecognized. In 2004, he was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and, in 2006, into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame. Six times he was selected as the ACTRA Sportscaster of the Year in western Canada.
After a long career covering the best in BC sport, it seems fitting that Bernie Pascall now finds himself with a place in this company also.
Thanks Bernie, back to you.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.