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.