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CBC Radio traffic and community reporter Angela Knight.

One of Calgary’s most popular morning personalities, traffic and community reporter Angela Knight, shares how she keeps Calgarians on the move, with a little help from The City’s Mobility Operations Centre.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: I have worked for the CBC Radio’s morning show The Calgary Eyeopener for 17 years. I'm the cohost, so weather and traffic are a big part of it. I also love doing interviews that pump up the community and inspire people and maybe give them that smile or that laugh in the day. What do listeners need to know? How can I help them start their day in the best way possible? And sometimes it’s as simple as traffic and the weather.

Q:  What are some of the changes you have seen over the years?

A: Before social media became such a big thing we just relied on phones. People would call me, so out of the folks on our show, I probably talked to the audience the most. I always felt that really close connection with people and felt that sense of accountability toward them and what they needed.

When I first started I was out on the road, so I would do the traffic reports from the vehicle. It became too busy on the roads and just not practical. I couldn't actually get a good overview as the city has become so big. There was just no way to really give people the broadest sense possible of what was happening, so I eventually moved into the studio where I could take advantage of all the technology that was really starting to become so critical to everything that we do now.

Q: Where do you find your reliable information?

A: There really are a variety of ways I find out information. First and foremost, people calling me is number one. I love that connection with people, and we play a lot of those calls on the air. I do need to double check what's happening because we all know when we're driving or even if you’ve got a passenger, you sometimes might not give the right direction or the cross street.

Double checking that information before it goes to air is very important, so that's where the Mobility Operations Centre (MOC) comes in where I look for a bigger picture of the city very quickly. I can see everything. On the MOC site, the map is there and what I love about it is all of the layers. I can see the cameras. I can see the construction. I can see very quickly what the traffic flow is like on that map and be able to sort of zoom in and out and get what I need.

People want to know! It's one thing to know you're stuck, but you want to know why you’re stuck. They love any information that we can give them. Is it a crew filming a movie? Is the lane closed because they're doing pothole repair or manhole inspection? Is it road work? Is it construction? Is there a new building being built? I love to use the MOC for that purpose.

All of these tools are available to me as I try to give information in real time as concisely and quickly as I can. Sometimes while I'm on the air, I am looking at that online map and looking at those cameras so I can see things happening and give listeners time to make a decision.

I've been looking at those maps and the traffic flow volumes for so long I can pretty much tell at a certain time of day that there's something happening, that there's more volume than there should be. Calgary is quite predictable for timing and roads. As the city has grown, I try to take a couple days now and again where I just drive new areas because it's one thing to look at something on a map but an entirely different thing to drive it.

Q: I imagine you are an early riser. How do you stay so positive to help listeners get ready for their day?

A: Yes, I get up just before 4 a.m. One of the great things about technology is a lot of the work I had to come in really early to do in studio, I can now do from home while I'm having my breakfast. In the morning I spend a little bit of time going through emails, checking all the websites that I normally check to see if there's anything going on. Seeing what’s happening at the MOC, if there's any tweets or texts that have come in. At times, I have to look out the window and give myself a little pep talk because I'm not always 100 per cent keen to be up at that time. I often sing in the car on the way to work to warm up my voice because I haven't talked to anybody until I actually get in.

Loren, my cohost has the coffee on, which is fabulous. So that's when I have my first cup, we'll chat, we'll see what's going on. We might do some high kicks. Mac our technician will just pick a song. And that's what gets us pumped up right before we start.

Q: Is there a memorable traffic event that stands out for you?

A: There are many, but the morning of the flood. We were displaced from our building that was on Memorial Drive but thankfully we didn't get flooded. They evacuated us and we had to scramble overnight to set up temporary studios at SAIT. We didn't have all of our usual stuff so I had to work just from my phone. I was able to pull up the information that I needed. We relied heavily on the information from the Mobility Operations Centre, and people were calling in. That was an amazing morning – the flood affected people in the south so deeply but in the north, they didn’t know what was happening. It was so intense but I was able to provide that information through technology, even though we were displaced.

Q: What does the future look like for your reports?

A: On the weekends, I pretty much park my car and I walk everywhere. I've had people ask me why don't you give the bike and the pathway report? We don't have quite as much minute-to-minute information on that, but I would love to be able to include it. The great part of technology now is that people can take you with them wherever they're going. We just need to always try harder to incorporate all of that information to give that bigger picture all the time. And that's the challenge for us. I would love to share those things because I try to appeal to all of the different ways that people get around.

See behind-the-scenes of The City's Mobility Operations Centre.

You can hear Angela Knight weekdays starting at 6 a.m. on CBC Radio One, 1010 AM and 99.1 FM.

Categories: Community, Mobility, Roads, Transportation