A special spotlight interview with the unseen spokes in the wheels for NTV, The Herald catches up with technical director Donnie Decker and cameraman Tony Barrington
Productions are similar to icebergs, and the people you see in front of the camera are just the tip of a hardworking, and dedicated crew who, together, make it all happen. The Newfoundland Herald caught up with two gentlemen who make up part of the talented group of men and women behind the scenes at NTV.
Donnie Decker and Tony Barrington are two of the spokes in the wheel at NTV. Donnie Decker, originally from Gander but grew up in St. John’s, has been working for Stirling Communications at NTV since high school. Tony Barrington, born and raised in St. John’s, also started out at a young age.
Up Close & Personal
“When I started out, I was working in the summertime over at Cabot College and there was a guy over there whose brother-in-law worked at NTV, Jeff Blackwood. They were looking for summer relief driving the van for four weeks,” Barrington shared.
“There was a guy leaving in the television part of it, in master control, so I applied for that job. Started out in master control, telecine back then, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Since then, Barrington has worked his way up through the ranks, working in camera, directing, producing, and now back as a cameraman pre-retirement. He’s behind the lens for shows including On the Mark, Made Right Here, Places To Go, and has also travelled abroad to cover stories outside of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Decker has also worked a very versatile career at NTV. Currently the technical director, directing and producing the award-winning NTV Evening Newshour; and special features like the annual Downtown Christmas Parade and the Janeway Children’s Miracle Network Telethon.
“When I was young, I started doing audio volunteering at my church as an audio technician. Lindsey Andrews, our general manager, was the one that got me into that side of things,” Decker explained.
“From there, I knew Lindsey worked at NTV and I got a work term through high school, the high school co-op program, and really enjoyed the video side of it. I was seventeen at the time, and a summer part-time job came up for master control summer relief. I applied for it, and got it. I was still in high school while I was working here, so that’s pretty cool.”
Although everyone has their designated titles to their jobs, the show wouldn’t go on without versatility and teamwork.
“We’re not just news directors, or producers. We’re camera people, we’re audio people, we’re lighting people, we’re editors,” Barrington explained. “We do pretty much everything right from scratch to the finished product. Not all of us, but a lot of us. Donnie has more of a high pressure job than most, probably one of the highest.”
Decker adds, “You kinda got to do everything within the business. We’re a small company, so you have to be flexible, you have to be able to multi-task and do different things. It’s great that way, because you get to learn so much. Most places you go to, I mean even in this industry, you know, if you’re a cameraman, you’re a cameraman. Here you have to do everything. If you wanna learn something, fill your boots and learn what you can.”
One Big Family
Within the team’s versatility, everyone works closely together. So, what type of relationship do the stars behind the camera have with the stars in front of the camera?
“We row with Eddie Sheerr, he’s one of our teammates on our rowing crew. You go down to the lake and you can see people walk by and everyone’s like oh, there’s Eddie! People come down and walk around the lake just hoping they’ll see him. He’s very popular in the community, very personable,” Decker shared.
“Glenn Carter always says to me, you have the Tom Cruise lens on today, right? The Brad Pitt lens? I say, ‘nothing but the best Mr. Carter.’”
“Lynn Burry is kind of the leader of our group,” Barrington adds.
“She’s probably the most professional person that I’ve ever worked with. She takes it serious, she wants everything, just like Donnie and myself, to go right and smoothly. She’s got the expertise, like when we get someone new like Kelly-Anne, you know, Lynn doesn’t mind giving her a hand or advice. We’ve got a good mixture. They all give great advice, we’re all there to help. One big family.”
One big family, they are for sure. NTV has been entertaining and informing the people of our province, and abroad, for six decades, and they wouldn’t be able to do it without their commitment to excellence and teamwork.