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Red Deer Man to Lecture Max Planck PhDs


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Todayville is pleased to announce that our own Agriculture TV producer, Nick Saik, has been invited to speak to many of Europe’s leading PhDs at the famous Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam-Golm Germany.

As a featured speaker at the Plants and People Conference 2019 in September, Nick has been invited to discuss effective science and agricultural communication –something he has proven very successful at despite him doing so during an era of divisiveness. And to think that it all started with an argument with his father.

Nick was a hippy filmmaker working in Vancouver on fairly shallow, big budget Hollywood fare when his former farmboy father suggested that he come home to tell the story of modern agriculture. There was only one problem. Nick didn’t believe in the approaches of modern agriculture.

Sharing a healthy respect for science, that lead the TEDTalk agricultural expert that advises everyone from Bill Gates to African Presidents to challenge his son: prove me wrong.

That challenge led to a lot of learning and several highly involved trips around the world. Nick met with the scientists and farmers who were directly engaged in the innovations necessary to feed the world’s growing population. The father’s strategy was wise.

“I had no business even having an opinion about something I knew so little about back then,” says the younger Saik when referring to his previous self. “Today my main advantage is my ignorant humility. It’s a healthy place to work from.”

A handcam provided for Nick Saik’s early start in the field of communications.

That is what the young Albertan has to offer Europe’s leading scientists: He can not only show lay people how to do meaningful research, even more importantly he can actually model the behaviour of someone who will change their mind if the evidence is good.

Today’s brain science is quite clear: that is not a natural inclination for human beings. We are impacted by confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance and are very often little more than creatures of habit.

“The best way to change someone’s mind is to let them change it themselves,” says Saik. In a world where most seek only to reinforce their existing opinions, Nick’s willingness to be naive and open is at the heart of why he has become so popular as a science and agriculture educator and public speaker.

His unique position as neither a scientist, nor farmer, nor activist allows him to genuinely represent the average person’s perspective because, like him, most people are none of those things.

“There’s an awareness in science that it accidentally became a closed shop. It wasn’t very friendly when it came to dumb questions. But I ask a lot of dumb questions myself, so instead of dismissing people’s concerns I actually share them, so I look into them and then share what I learn. And it turns out people like that.”

Nick is good at modelling respect, and at helping people understand each other. His Facebook page may have the most respectful and informative comment section on that entire platform.

In a world of binary, either-or thinking, Nick uses everything from LEGO to musical styles to help explain and/or analogize the essence behind what could otherwise be complex ideas. He’s even funny, having had single videos that, in their various forms and on their various channels, have been seen over 50 million times.

Supported by a large cast of farmers and scientists that are perpetually adding to his knowledge, Nick continues to learn every week. That was ultimately why he came to call his company KNOW IDEAS MEDIA. (Even the logo shows two distinct circles of thought being tied together by communication. He’s as earnest as they come.)  Click on the Know Ideas Media banner below to see Nick’s work on Todayville Agriculture.



The company’s principles of optimism, reason, science, respect and maybe most importantly, compassion may be just what agriculture needs. In a world divided by many people shouting many points of opposition, voices of clarity, unity and cooperation are like a breath of fresh air. It that context it makes sense that a voice of reason in Red Deer was heard as far away as the most hallowed halls of Europe.

Respectful and informative exchange. If it seems too simple, we only need to remember that it was that very approach that lead Nick Saik all the way from the shallows of Hollywood fare to the meaningful depths of discussing food security at one of the leading educational institutions on Earth.

If he keeps this up, Nick’s ignorant humility might just lead him to follow in his father’s footsteps. He too may one day be advising billionaires and world leaders, and that’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s claim to fame is that he is ‘just one of us.’

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Red Deer Man to Lecture Max Planck PhDs


Premier Danielle Smith deflects shot from Liberal government, levels a blow for Alberta

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Standing up for Alberta: Statement from Premier Smith

Premier Danielle Smith issued the following statement on further attacks by the federal government on Alberta’s energy sector: 

“Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault has once again shown his utter contempt for Alberta, our economy and our energy workers.

“While advising the Chinese Communist Party about its environmental policies, Minister Guilbeault stated that, due to an Alberta oil and gas company’s decision to focus on oil and gas production, he has increased his resolve to introduce an emissions cap that will effectively force energy companies to cap their oil and gas production.

“Minister Guilbeault’s comments are a continuation of his provocative verbal attacks on Alberta’s energy sector, the most environmentally responsible and ethical energy-producing jurisdiction in the world. His involvement in the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development has him turning a blind eye to China’s environmental record while they add the equivalent of two new coal emissions plants each week. Conversely, Albertans have cut emissions more than any other province this past decade, spending billions of dollars transitioning almost all electricity generation from coal to natural gas.

“Albertans are proud of our environmental leadership and do not deserve the irresponsible, destabilizing, investment-repelling and ill-informed comments of a federal cabinet minister intent on destroying one of Alberta’s and Canada’s most critical economic sectors. Phasing out Alberta’s oil and gas sector will devastate the Canadian and Alberta economies, significantly reduce budgets for health care and other social programs, put tens of thousands of people out of work and make little to no impact on reducing global emissions. Furthermore, Minister Guilbeault’s unrealistic 2035 net-zero power grid plan will make electricity unreliable and unaffordable for millions of Albertans.

“Under no scenario will the Government of Alberta permit the implementation of the proposed federal electricity regulations or contemplated oil and gas emissions cap. Ottawa has no constitutional authority to regulate in these areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. We would strongly suggest the federal government refrain from testing our government’s or Albertans’ resolve in this regard.

“As stated repeatedly, we stand ready to commence the federal-provincial working group in good faith to align Ottawa’s and Alberta’s efforts towards achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. However, this must be done in a collaborative and respectful fashion without Minister Guilbeault’s continued threats to the economic well-being of Albertans and Canadians.”

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Down But Not Out: The Unsinkable Bob McCown

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 “I guess I should let you know that I have had two strokes over the last couple of weeks and have been in hospital since. Can’t walk or talk but am getting better very slowly! Hope to get home and back on the podcast as quick as possible!— Bob McCown

Tough news for The BobCat. The 71-year-old has had a major medical setback, and those who know him wish him the best. Here’s what I wrote about this unique broadcast maverick in December of 2020 after he’d written a controversial (shock!) column about his past, present and future.

“The first time I met Bob McCown was on his Global Sportsline show in the fall of 1982. I was the sports editor thingy at TV Guide, and every Friday I’d go on his show to pick NFL games. He was on his first marriage at the time, and I believe one of his kids was around when we pre-taped.

To say I was excited understates my mood. Bob was wearing a Mickey Mouse sweater, he was smoking furiously and the energy in the studio was incandescent as he spoke to producer Mark Askin in the control room. He carried me through the segment, demanding I be interesting, taking contrarian positions to boost the atmosphere. I try not to look at the result which is still on tape in my basement somewhere.

Off-set, he told me what his real bets were for the weekend and about a plan he had to go to Vegas to use his blackjack system to break the bank. (He did eventually author the Vegas move when he was on CJCL radio, doing his show from his place in Vegas. The blackjack system didn’t work, and he returned to Toronto and other glories.)

Later, after I’d made my bones at CBC, he periodically had me on his Friday Round Table on The FAN 1430/ 590. The only rule with Bob was Don’t Be Boring. That meant don’t talk about the Leafs power play or how will the Blue Jays do this weekend in Milwaukee. Or else you wouldn’t be back.

He wanted a take, the big picture, business talk and a healthy dose of American references.The atmosphere was all snark, all the time. And his audience loved it (the panelists did, too, unless Bob got mad at you and banned you). The people who ran sports listened. I used to say that when McCown, who rarely watched much of what he talked about, turned against someone it was over. Toronto sports was run for years by McCown, especially after Harold Ballard snuffed it.

Later, when I was sports media columnist at the Mop & Pail and McCown was battling the suits at Rogers, I’d save Bob for a slow day. I knew if I called he’d fill my ear with industry gossip and some tasty ad hominems for his current enemies. He rarely disappointed.

In short, I’ve known him for a while— less so since moving to Calgary in 1998. And so my take on his volcanic feature in the G&M this week is probably more measured than some others I’m hearing. It’s clear from Simon Houpt’s lengthy description of him that McCown is in some peril of his own making. (No surprise as he’s done “King Midas in reverse” for decades) He’s selling his mansion, scrambling to cover losses from the Mike Weir Winery, losing weight to start dating again.

In the piece he takes shots at Rogers as “idiots” for canning him, describes his latest business tumult, the failure of his last marriage and sarcastically rips his current broadcast partner John Shannon (also canned by Rogers in the purges following their disastrous NHL $5.2 billion brainwave). It’s searingly honest and self-critical. It’s also rambling and sad.

Most of all it’s Bob— or The Bobcat in deference to his Ohio roots. He’s always been the product. He read the room and saw the need for celebrity. So he made himself one in the fashion of the big American flannel mouths like Mike Francesa, Chris Russo, Larry King etc. His tantrums and moods and sullen periods were all part of the act.

Along the way he invented sports radio in Canada, taking it away from earnest hockey pucks talking trades to Marvin Miller discussing labour law during another MLB strike/ lockout. What’s the phrase? Often imitated, never duplicated? His catch phrases became part of the vernacular. One of them, “I don’t give a fadoo” gave birth to Fadoo as his company handle.

On my own radio shows I shamelessly copied his strategy of never having current marble-mouthed athletes on the show (unless the station paid for a spot). He wanted people with edge who’d appeal to the “$500 million a year Bay Street guys” he frequently cites in the G&M. Movers. Shakers. Guys who stood up at the Raptors games in their open-necked shirts and rope jewelry to shout at their developer pals two sections away.

They were his guys, and they insulated him from the suits at Rogers who wanted him gone. When his mentors (Nelson Millman, Keith Pelley, Scott Moore) left the suits finally had their chance. Sure, he made Rogers money. But the insubordination and the mailing-it-in days got to be too much drama for the phone salesmen.

There are friends out there who still believe Rogers will recant and restore him to his afternoon perch. (Indeed, Toronto sports-talk radio is largely a disaster these days, a slop of dullards and hockey pucks driving the ratings needle down to zero. They could use him.) They contend there’s a niche out there for him. Bob’s been fired before and come back stronger.

The problem is, as Bob would say, tempus fugit. In the piece McCown hinges this next comeback on marshalling the Bay Street guys, the sharps and the squares, for another run at glory and prosperity. But the Toronto McCown conquered does not exist anymore. The aging Bay Street guys are fleeing the Covid-infested city for Caledon or Florida.

The arbiters of speech and behaviour have made his white-guy insouciance a tough act with younger people brought up to be nice little sheeple and to toe the line. The vast community of people who moved from outside Canada to the GTA are immune to his gruff charm. If they even know him.

His notion of a super sports zone at Downsview airport to put “Toronto on the map”— Bob’s idea, someone else’s finances— was not predicated on a population scared stiff of sitting next to someone coughing at a ballpark. Or government coffers mortgaged to the hilt to keep the basic economy functioning. I wish him well. But like Donald Trump it’s probably time for a new gig.”

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Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via


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