I was going to start this post off by saying “when it rains, it pours,” but CFCF news director Jed Kahane beat me to it in his announcement to staff Thursday afternoon. Shortly after the news of the impending retirement of Quebec City bureau chief John Grant, veteran reporter Herb Luft is also calling it quits and turning in his microphone for good.
Luft is among the most recognizable faces (and voices) at CFCF, and has been there so long even your grandparents probably recognize the name.
According to his bio, Luft moved to Montreal to work for CFOX radio in 1969, and in 1971 moved to CFCF radio, and by 1977 was working for the television side full-time. He’s worked as a general assignment reporter just about that entire time, though he’s probably better known among Montreal’s early risers as the anchor of the morning newscast from 2000 until it was cancelled in 2009. Sources tell me he took that pretty hard, though it didn’t show in the solid reporting he continued to do in the months afterward.
“Herb has been one of the great contributors to building this station into the respected landmark it is today,” Kahane told staff in his announcement. “Day after day he produces solid journalism that our viewers respect. And by my quick count, give or take a few thousand, he’s cranked out around 10,000 stories in his time at CF, and done it without losing his passion for telling a good story, and telling it right. He’s a fixture in the present, and an on-air link to a very storied past.”
Luft himself was brief and to the point about the news. “Let’s call it nervous excitement,” he wrote in an email, no doubt sifting through many from colleagues who only heard about the news today.
The retirement is official on Aug. 4, but by then he’ll be at his cottage on vacation. He’s filing his last report for CTV News on June 30. It goes without saying that this will be noted on air. Hopefully that will include video of him getting tased in a police demonstration in 2001, which unfortunately I can’t find online.
Luft’s daughter, Amy, works behind the scenes at the station as well as at The Gazette. She’s building a journalism career of her own, though not on the coattails of her locally famous dad.
Herb Luft, who grew up in southwestern Ontario, turned 62 in January. That’s about two thirds of his life spent at CFCF, of which I can only find this short clip from 1984 on YouTube. Let’s hope the archivists at CTV Montreal can find better ones.
UPDATE: The Gazette’s Basem Boshra writes about Luft’s retirement (and Grant’s), with quotes from both and Kahane.
UPDATE (June 30): CFCF has posted videos of Luft’s goodbye from both the noon and 6pm newscasts (yes, the taser video is in there), along with a short story.
More big shoes to fill. Well-deserved retirement. I wish Herb well.
Great reporter, greater person. Someone you felt you could always approach.
Have a great retirement, Herb!
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Always liked Herb.
Good luck to him. And John Grant too.
It’s a sad day. He’s the 3rd reason I watch CTV News after Mutsumi and Stephane Giroux.
What?? Herb Luft I can understand, but Mits and Stephane? My wife compares Mits to a zombie who hates what she’s doing, and Stéphane, well, I love the way his hair flies in the wind.
No, the reasoN *I* watch is for Todd van der Hayden. I only wish he would ad lib even more!!
Luft has a great-sounding, serious voice that’s prefect for TV news, yet it seems out of place when he’s reporting on a feel-good story. The powers-that-be should have had him covering the crime beat/Palais de Justice exclusively, instead of Stephane Giroux, who English hasn’t improved in 10 years…
He will be missed.
Without question my favourite reporter at CTV. Although Herb may well have decided to retire, I can’t help but think he may have been nudged. The announcement comes some months after it was decided the get rid of the morning broadcast which he anchored. Also, still fresh in my mind is the manner in which Ron Reush was nudged out the door.
The morning newscast was cancelled in March 2009, or 15 months ago. Though I understand Luft didn’t like that move very much, it’s a stretch to draw a direct line between that and his decision to leave.
As I watched you saying “good-bye” with your family in the background, I was brought back to ALL the great times Howie & I spent with you and Linda, which seems so long ago and yet so vivid. You must feel so proud of how well you are regarded in the industry and personally as well. Best wishes to you on your retirement!! You certainly deserve it. I remember playing rummoli on the floor of my apartment while we all watched you in your earliest broadcasts,just to feel that you were with us. Best regards to Linda. I would be thrilled if we could somehow reconnect to catch up on our present lives.