It’s really a story only The Gazette can do. And therefore it’s a story The Gazette must do: The exodus of anglophones from Quebec.
So in a five-part feature series that ends today, the paper went all out, sending reporter David Johnston and photographer/videographer Phil Carpenter out to Calgary and Vancouver to interview ex-Montrealers.
Of particular interest to media watchers is probably Part 3, which interviews former CHOM morning man Terry DiMonte and his sidekick Peppermint Patti MacNeil (ex-Lorange). Although focused on language and culture, it also goes into a bit more detail about DiMonte’s decision to move to Calgary and work at Corus’s Q107 (it was business, not language politics, that was behind the change):
DiMonte’s more recent departure can be seen as an example of the “normalization” of anglo migration from Quebec. As political and linguistic uncertainty has subsided in Quebec, anglos now leaving Quebec are tending to leave for the same ordinary dull reason that people everywhere move – opportunity. In DiMonte’s case, there was also the added complication of a troubled relationship with a new boss; but there again, as he says himself, there’s nothing so unusual about that. Here he was, a big fish in a small English market in a large French city, breezing along in midlife at the top of his profession, when suddenly he was presented with a new contract that called for him to sign in and out of work every day.
Until that offer was put before him by Bob Harris, newly arrived operations manager at CHOM, DiMonte had worked for years under simple contract terms: a 2-per-cent annual salary increase, and a car. But now he was being asked to sign a 15-page contract with a lot of fine print. DiMonte says he went to see Astral Media vice-president Rob Braide about it all, and Braide warned him, “Don’t you dare try to bring in a lawyer.”
The day after the 15-page contract was put before him, Corus Entertainment, owners of Q107 in Calgary, called DiMonte. A five-year offer; big money. Patti MacNeil remembers being at home on the day she heard DiMonte was moving to Calgary, and thinking, “Cool, someone new in the market, someone I know and like and will listen to.” But then the incumbent morning-show team at Q107 was let go, and the next thing she knew, DiMonte phoned her up and asked what she would say if Corus were to approach her – about teaming up with him.”
Of course, some might call this whining.
If the name Bob Harris sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the guy in charge of CJFM, aka Virgin Radio 96 aka the crap they replaced Mix 96 with. Both are owned by Astral Media. (Q92, where DiMonte phones in a noon show, is owned by Corus.)
Aside from the big features are two video series from Carpenter (all compiled on this page): a documentary of interviews from those same ex-Montrealers (including DiMonte), and some interviews with young students here about their future.
Carpenter goes into some behind-the-scenes detail on his blog, saying it took him four months (on and off) to put the three-piece, half-hour documentary together.
There are also two Flash animations with graphical data (one points out that unlike most regional newspapers, The Gazette’s online traffic comes primarily from outside the province), and a blog from Johnston, in which he explains the story idea came from a conference he went to combined with a report from Statistics Canada showing anglos growing again for the first time in decades.