Clint Nickerson, a veteran journalist and broadcaster who helped launch what is now CTV News Vancouver Island, had two passions in life: news and golf. He pursued both to the fullest until his death on Saturday, following a brief battle with lung cancer.
He was 65.
Nickerson, a Victoria native, spent his professional career in the news departments of radio and television stations across the country, primarily in Ontario.
His proudest achievement was bringing the CHUM network of Toronto to Vancouver Island in 2001, shepherding to air Victoria’s first new television station since 1956, The New VI.
His legacy lives on in the same Broad Street building that houses what is today CTV News Vancouver Island.
Nickerson, as news director, hired many of the station’s first employees, including Heather Kim, who began her career under Nickerson as a news copy writer and is now the station’s news director.
“We might not be here if it wasn’t for Clint,” Kim said. “Being from Victoria, he lobbied to CHUM to open the station here … and he lobbied hard. That was his dream — to come back and open a station in his hometown. If Clint hadn’t done that, who knows what this building would be right now. I really do believe that.”
Nickerson shifted gears in 2004, following his departure from the station, and entered semi-retirement. He became more deeply involved with the Victoria Golf Club, where he served as a board member for several terms and club president until eight weeks ago.
“He’s been on every committee and donated more time than any other member that I can think of over the last 30 years,” said Scott Kolb, general manager of the Victoria Golf Club.
Nickerson was due to receive a lifetime membership from the club during an event in August, a gesture he was profoundly moved by before his death, Kolb said.
“That’s not just something we hand out. There’s only four current members that have the same membership, because it’s only given when somebody has done something truly exceptional at the golf club. It’s a 125-year-old club, so that’s saying a lot.”
It was especially meaningful for Nickerson, given that his roots with the club date to the 1960s. “He didn’t come from an affluent family by any means, but he was a caddie here for a few years as a teenager,” Kolb said. “At the end of the summer one year, the member he caddied for dropped off an envelope and in it was a junior membership. That changed his heart. The second he came back [in 2001] to start up the station, he joined again right away.”
He became heavily involved with the Evans Caddie Scholarship, a fund that sends youth caddies on four-year scholarships to U.S. schools. “Because of his background, he was very passionate about that,” Kolb said. “He was still doing it right up until the end.”
He was a heavy smoker, but that rarely kept Nickerson from the links; Kolb said he made an effort to play three times a week. The two friends last played together in March, and Kolb said Nickerson was his usual self. “It wasn’t the greatest weather, but we were going out there regardless,” Kolb said, with a laugh. “He was a grinder, so he was always fun to play with.”
Nickerson and his wife, Alisa Kerr, who worked with him at The New VI, did not have children of their own. “The people at Victoria Golf Club were his family, in a lot of ways,” Kim said.
But he was a champion of many, often taking novice journalists and broadcasters under his wing. When he retired from television in 2004, following his departure from The New VI, Nickerson went back to one of his first loves: radio.
He worked parttime in the news department and as a board operator at Ocean 98.5 and KiSS 103.1, the Rogers-owned radio stations once home to CJVI radio, where Nickerson worked in the late 1960s.
Doing radio for the fun of it renewed his mentoring abilities, said KiSS program director Crash Davis.
“He didn’t need the money. He just liked to be around media and keep his nose in news. But he was such a great guy, and so good with young broadcasters. I had a lot of respect for him.”
Nickerson would often check in with Kim, just to see how she was keeping. Some of Kim’s favourite memories of Nickerson are from those conversations. “He was always happy. He was gracious in his departure, and he kept in touch with us. He cared about all of us, and was proud when we accomplished things after he left. He wanted us to be successful.”