Trevor Barker, a veteran audio engineer who for decades helped ABC News cover some of the biggest stories across Africa and the world, has died. He was 59 years old.
From his base in Durban, South Africa, Barker was deployed by ABC to some of the most dangerous assignments on the African continent and beyond. From ethnic conflicts in Somalia and Rwanda to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Barker, along with photographer James Mitchell, was always among the first ABC journalists to be deployed.
“I remember long days in Somalia, Rwanda; me the green producer, Trevor, long an old Africa hand, well able to read every human situation or scene we found with innate accuracy and speed,” says Marcus Wilford, a former London-based producer for ABC News who would eventually become the network’s London bureau chief. Wilford was typically the first to ring Barker when news broke. “He was a lifesaver and when Trevor said it was time to leave it was time.”
Barker was part of ABC’s coverage of the election of a new pope in March and the Oscar Pistorius murder case in Pretoria in February. Yet he will be remembered most for being part of the network’s coverage of some of the biggest and most important news stories of the past two decades, including the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the Arab uprising and fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in 2010 , and the Israeli-Lebanese conflict that lead to war in 2006.
Barker also worked alongside Peter Jennings during the historic elections in South Africa in 1994 that marked the end of apartheid there. Born in Britain and raised in South Africa, Barker counted covering Nelson Mandela’s election as the country’s first black president – with millions queuing in lines over a three-day voting period – among his proudest journalistic moments, friends and colleagues say.
“He was a tremendous fellow with a terrific heart,” says James Mitchell, a South African based news photographer for ABC who traveled and worked with Barker for decades. “But Trevor was also a keen reporter in the strictest sense and understood what it took to make great journalism. ”
“I first met him in Jabul Saraj, Afghanistan, in 2001 when he joined me in the long wait for Kabul to fall,” says ABC News correspondent David Wright, who worked with Barker last March in Rome for the election of Pope Francis. “Even then, he was like Crocodile Dundee with a sound kit, a grizzled veteran who with good humor and steady nerves made tough experiences easier on novice war correspondents like me.”
Beyond his journalistic and technical acumen Barker was a family man, colleagues say, dedicated to his partner, Donna and 12-year-old daughter, Gabriella.
“I remember running into him in some airport shortly after his daughter was born,” remembers “Nightline” anchor Terry Moran. “In his grizzled, grumbling gruffness, a change had come. He shone with the wonder of fatherhood and as we paused for a few minutes along our hectic ways, he spoke frankly to me of the joy that Gabriella had given him.”
Moran adds, “Trevor had become a family man — in his inimitable way.”