'Fearsome and fearless journalist' Jim Nunn dead at 72

'Fearsome and fearless journalist' Jim Nunn dead at 72

Jim Nunn, the former host of CBC News Nova Scotia at Six, Land and Sea and Marketplace, has died after a battle with cancer.

Nunn died in hospital in Antigonish, N.S., on Sunday night. He was 72. No date has been set for a funeral, but his family said there will be a celebration of life planned for some time in the spring.

"Jim was quite the character. He was known to many in Nova Scotia as this great journalist but ultimately people who knew him really well, he was a great man," Nunn's brother, Bruce, told CBC News.

Bruce said his brother's broadcast career started on the knee of their father "at the microphone of CJFX radio in Antigonish ... so Jim got into the business very early."

Bruce said he's read condolence messages online from people talking about how his brother had an impact on their career.

His career at CBC spanned three decades. Nunn was known for his local elections coverage and reporting from major Nova Scotia events like the Westray mining disaster.

'He really represented the working man'

"He was there, like live on TV for days on end. It was trying and it was difficult but he got so many compliments for the work that he did there. He really represented the working man, this very dangerous occupation that's rooted in Nova Scotia culture and history," Bruce said.

Geoff D'Eon, Nunn's executive producer from 1988-93 when he was anchor of First Edition, said Nunn was a "fearsome and fearless journalist."

"He had a really terrific journalist brain ... he'd always ask really probing and sometimes impertinent questions and I personally felt he was a terrific broadcaster and CBC and Nova Scotians were lucky to have him as host of the show," D'Eon said.

D'Eon said some viewers found Nunn's interviewing style to be rude and occasionally offensive. D'Eon recalled getting letters about it.

WATCH | Jim Nunn's farewell from CBC Nova Scotia

"I always found his interviewing style to be very candid and he pulled no punches and he always wanted to get to the heart of the matter ... this was especially true with his interviews with politicians," D'Eon said, adding some politicians didn't want to be interviewed by Nunn because they were intimidated by him.

D'Eon said one of his most memorable interviews was with rock star Alice Cooper, who grabbed him by the throat and threatened to tear his eyeballs out and throw them across the studio. That snippet is posted in a video that lives on YouTube.


"If I had to bring it down to one thing, I would say that if you were interested in public policy or politics in Nova Scotia and you wanted an ally in the journalistic community to find out what was going on and to hold people accountable, Jim Nunn would have been your best friend," D'Eon said.

In 2008, Nunn conducted an infamous interview with actor John Dunsworth about Trailer Park Boys coming to an end.

During that interview, Nunn said to Dunsworth, "Isn't it a wonderful thing that this awful television show full of foul mouthed, dope smoking, hard-drinking people who, you know, give a very bad impression of the poor who live in trailer parks ... isn't it great that it's gone?"

Dunsworth, who played Jim Lahey on the show, replied, "You'll have to forgive Mr. Nunn, I think he's giving a Pat Robertson impersonation."

Dunsworth also clarified in a 2015 tweet that Nunn was "acting" during that interview.

Later, Nunn would appear in the movie, Trailer Park Boys: Don't Legalize It.

WATCH | Jim Nunn's interview with John Dunsworth

Nunn retired from CBC in 2009. Bruce Nunn said his brother "liked to live in the present" and was an excellent gardener at his home in Antigonish. He said he would drive to the Canso Causeway once a day to buy the Globe and Mail.

"He was the kind of guy who just wanted to be, he was very good at just being himself," Bruce said.

Midday/CBC Archives
Midday/CBC Archives

One of his favourite memories of his brother was during a winter storm when the supper hour news show had planned to do a phone-in with people across Nova Scotia. But during the show, the technology failed.

"Jim was on live TV with no one to talk to, trying to fill dead air and he turned to the camera confidently and said, 'My mother told me there were going to be days like this.' So he had a sense of humour and he knew how to work television well, he knew how to use the moment, he was good at what he did," he said.