NTV’s anchor Glen Carter has it all; marriage, family, loving – if mysterious – pets, and a job he loves. But there’s some surprising, never before told secrets the award-winning journalist agreed to open up about in this exclusive one-on-one.
While Glen Carter always seems quite comfortable behind the anchor desk in the NTV studio, visiting him at his actual home – a hop, skip and a jump away from the office – provides something rarely seen. While those lucky enough to know Carter when the cameras are off, already know he’s quick-witted and perhaps even a little goofy at times, it’s when he’s at ease; pup at the hip as he catches up on emails, that you really see him relax.
GILBERT & YUKI
Meet Yuki, the latest addition to the Carter household.
“I’ve always been an animal lover, particularity a dog lover, so MJ (Carter’s wife) and I decided to get Yuki about a year and a half ago and haven’t looked back,” he begins. The newsman in him perhaps forces him to continue. There’s always two sides to every story, right? “There’s challenges; dealing with the shedding and fitting in all the playtime he needs, but all-in-all I think a dog really adds to your life if you are willing to put in the work. A cat? Not so much,” he says.
A cat? Where did that off-handed remark come from? Enter Gilbert, perhaps the largest cat this writer has ever seen. Carter laughs as Gilbert and Yuki wrestle for his attention. Gilbert wins, though in perfect dog fashion, Yuki seems fine to wag his tail and watch the action. “I have had Gilbert for a long time, but I am not as much a cat lover as my wife MJ is. But hey, Gilbert adds to our life too.”
One of the things Gilbert adds is mystery and intrigue. “He disappears sometimes for two or three days at a time, so we believe he actually is living a double life. He probably has this amazing, secret life with another wonderful family who call him by some other, much cooler, name. They probably wonder where he is when he’s here snuggled down with us. Actually, I’m surprised Gilbert agreed to have his picture taken. He’s used to being on the lam and now people will be able to identify him and know who he really is.”
TURNING IT ON OR OFF
In the background, what else? The NTV noon hour newscast. Is having Toni Marie on in the kitchen part of his daily routine? Doesn’t he try to “escape” when he doesn’t have to be at the office? we ask.
“You can’t. News is very much a part of who I am. You got to be into the news to be in this business. I’m on social media every day and I watch TV. You have to have some idea of what’s going on in the world and what the day will look and feel like. That gets bred into you over the years. I’d feel naked if I went into work with no information,” he adds, giving Yuki a treat and a head scratch. Carter closes his laptop, caught up; for now. “I don’t like looking like I have a big question mark on my face. I like, when I hear that something just happened, I like to already know it happened. That’s important.”
Can he turn it off when he needs to? “Sure,” he says.
“When I’m on vacation I don’t worry about it as much. And even at home I know when to be on or off. Even though work is only feet away, I don’t have difficulty turning it off when needed.”
Tell us something interesting about growing up Glen Carter, we ask. Gilbert takes center stage as Carter cups his coffee. “Something interesting? Well, I’m one of eight. I have seven brothers and sisters, and I’m as much in the middle as you can be with eight. Growing up with eight kids was interesting and I consider myself very lucky because I consider us our own little party. Anytime we get together there’s a dynamic there that’s special. We are all so comfortable with one another, which makes being together great.”
Carter says he can’t imagine any other family dynamic, though he does ponder one thing about having so many siblings. “The thing I can’t understand is how my mother did it or how my father did it. Think about it for a minute. Parents can be overwhelmed these days with one kid or two kids and here my mother had eight, and a good many of us she had while the others were still in diapers. At one point I think there were three of us in diapers at once. Imagine the strength and the courage that took. And that points to the character of the people who did that and do that and the strength they have. I think that comes with a high value. We talk often about heroes. Parents from that generation, like my own, were true heroes.”
What about his own family dynamic these days? Carter explains he’s married to Mary Jane (MJ), a girl from Ship Harbour. They’ve been together for ten years. “She’s a whiz at finishing furniture, so our house can look like an antique shop. She has three kids and three grandchildren. So, that makes me step-dad and step-granddad,” he says with a smile. The oldest grandchild calls him poppy, which he never thought he’d ever hear, he shares candidly, admitting hearing it can sometimes still seem endearingly strange. What does he like to do? Besides ponder the whereabouts of Gilbert, the cat with the secret life? “We’re homebodies, mostly. We stay close to family and friends. My favourite night is a barbecue and fire on the deck. Beverages don’t hurt, nor the occasional cigar.” Carter’s eyes glow, a look I have seen before when he’s about to say something clever and/or charming. “I credit my beautiful wife for most things wonderful about my life and I take the blame for those things that aren’t. Just saying.”
THE BONUS OF THE JOB
Obviously, the Carter clan can’t stay in all the time. What happens when he ventures out? Is he ignored or warmly greeting by fans of the show? Both happen, he says. “When you go out in public, like it or not, someone who is on television every day will get recognized by people. That’s a good thing. I like when people pass me in a supermarket and just say, ‘Hi Glen’ and then smile. That’s the payback for building an audience. When people simply think they know you that well that they can walk by you, look you in the face and say ‘hi.’ It’s one of the bonuses of being on television every night and I like that.”
Something else he enjoys is the work he gets to do for NTV, particularly his Carter File specials.
“I’ve always had a love of storytelling and I have always loved stories that touch not so much the head, but the heart. Those are the stories that stick with people, they are the ones that stay with people and I’ve always been drawn to them.”
It’s all about having a story mean something, he adds.
“I always liked telling about the human experience, especially when the stories are something that commands compassion and understanding. A story has to be compelling and most importantly, it has to make people want to get involved.”
Like the Carter File special, Leaving to Mourn, the story of Bruce and Sandra Harvey. Their niece, Chrissy Predham Newman, was murdered.
“It was so difficult for them to tell that story, not so much the story of her murder, but the story of their decade; the abyss they fell into. Bruce Harvey turned to alcohol, and much worse, to try to deal with his own private demons. He blamed himself for that murder in some ways, in some nonsensical way he felt guilt. I found that remarkable and I questioned him about it and asked why and he said he was brought up to be the protector and the caregiver and he always had a special relationship with Chrissy. When she was murdered he felt he wasn’t there for her.”
Those are the kinds of things he likes to uncover, he continues.
“What touches the heart as opposed to the head? What has a real impact? Those are the kinds of stories, and the facts of stories, that make them really compelling to people. Theirs was a really difficult story for Bruce and Sandra Harvey to tell. It took me months to get this. The interview was actually taped months ago and they were not comfortable, so we waited. Then it went to air.”
Speaking about on-air, what about his co-workers; co-anchor Lynn Burry and weatherman Eddie Sheerr? They always seem to get along so well. Anything he’d like to divulge? They have fun, he begins. But they also get the job done. “You have got to have a bit of fun. You have three people, three different personalities, three different backgrounds and experiences, and we get the job done, yes, but there’s nothing that says that you can’t have a bit of fun. Lynn enjoys it, Eddie enjoys it, and we hope the audience enjoys it. We all do our part to make the show a success and we hope the audience sees that we are real people. At the end of the day, I think that’s what people expect; they want to feel comfortable with you, they want to know that you are a real person and they want you to be able to show yourself while also doing your job.”
Carter has other things on the go as well. He’s working on his third book, for one thing. How does he fit it all in? “I have a schedule. I get up in the morning and have a coffee and then I write for two or three hours. I can knock off about 1,000 words if I’m lucky in a day. That’s the commitment you have to make; one word at a time, one page at a time. Eventually, you end up with a book. It’s as simple as that. When you print it off you look at it and say, wow! I wrote a book.”
So, anchor, author, husband and poppy. Is there anything else viewers would love to know? Carter smiles and then totally opens up; this is a warts and all interview, right? he says. He has a message for viewers.
“I worry about my health a lot. I’m a hypochondriac. Whenever I see a bruise or something like a bump or a scratch I go right to the Internet and check with Dr. Google. Or if I get an ache or a pain? I’m a vicious hypochondriac so that probably means I’m dying.” It’s something he gets gently teased about at the office, he says. “Lynn makes mention of it to me in humour. We have a running joke about my ways. She’ll joke I’ll be off to emergency right after the cameras are off because something just isn’t right,” he laughs.
The other thing that people might not know about him is equally as interesting, though a whole lot more surprising perhaps. “Although I speak to tens of thousands of people every night, I’m deathly afraid of speaking in public. Deathly afraid. I tremble like a leaf. And it’s been that way my whole life and I don’t really know why. Maybe the camera gives you a separation from real, breathing people? You don’t get that luxury when you are in front of real people, you don’t get the benefit of being protected or blocked by the camera and you experience their expectations to the point you shake. Or I do. The reaction is immediate when you are in front of real, breathing people. And that terrifies me,” he shares bravely.
Perhaps Yuki feels it’s time for a distraction, or he’s simply ready for another romp. Gilbert, meowing at the door, appears posed to go on the lam again. Carter busies himself getting ready to tend to both, before heading into the office.
Any parting words? He smiles as he buttons up his coat and opens the door. “Life. It’s always interesting, isn’t it? Particularly when the cat leads a more intriguing life than you do.”
Carter’s books ‘The Last Witness’ and ‘Angels of Maradona’ are available online at Breakwaterbooks.com