Five months after the announcement that Terry DiMonte will be returning to CHOM-FM, not much has happened publicly. DiMonte is still in Calgary, co-hosting the morning show at Corus-owned Q107.
Corus is making DiMonte work all of the six-month obligation he triggered when he gave his notice in June. DiMonte has no trouble fulfilling his obligation as his contract stipulates, but it's clear from his comments on social media that he's eager to return to Montreal.
While those comments are pleasing his Montreal-based fans, they're also disappointing his Calgary-based ones, some Montreal expats who share with him a connection to this city they once lived in before economic factors brought them out west, but many just classic rock fans who have been loyal to the station and woken up with him every weekday morning since 2007.
DiMonte tells me his last day at Q107 will be Dec. 9. After that he returns to Montreal and prepares to go back on the air at CHOM. His first day back in his old chair is almost certainly going to be Jan. 9. Astral VP Martin Spalding, who courted DiMonte back to CHOM, says this was considered a better date than a week earlier, when many people are still on holiday.
Spalding's hands are tied in terms of marketing DiMonte. Not only is DiMonte still physically in Calgary, except for occasional trips here during his time off, but because DiMonte is still under contract with Corus, his brand still belongs to them. Astral can't market DiMonte until his contract expires, which will happen on Dec. 22, six months after DiMonte gave his notice.
Terry and ...
The biggest question for the past five months remains: Who will be DiMonte's partner on the CHOM morning show?
Spalding and DiMonte said they've met a lot of potential candidates - some in person, some by phone, with more still to talk to - but no decision has been made yet. (The decision will be a joint one between DiMonte and the station.) They don't even know if it's going to be one or two people. But they will have to make a call within the next few weeks.
"As you're probably aware, I am QUITE gunshy and very careful now after a certain time period in my old life...so I will be taking some time," DiMonte writes. Spalding echoes those thoughts, telling me that "this is a five-year play, so we want to make it right."
Spalding also said that there have been a lot of candidates, some they sought out, and some who offered to come on board. "It's amazing how many people have come out of the woodwork and want to work with Terry," Spalding said.
For those wondering, Ted Bird said he's not one of them. There have been no discussions between him and CHOM about a possible return, and he remains the big name at the K103 morning show in Kahnawake.
Two obvious candidates for the job are the ones currently holding it now: Rob Kemp and Chantal Desjardins.
Kemp might be headed back to an early afternoon shift if he's not on the morning show (currently Tootall does 10am to 3pm), though any reshuffling of shifts won't be decided until after the morning team is in place, Spalding said.
The outlook for Desjardins is less certain. Spalding said she's a "clear candidate" for the morning show co-host, but there's no lock on it. She might end up somewhere else at the station, perhaps at another Astral station in Montreal, either CJAD or CJFM.
Desjardins clearly wants to get the job with DiMonte, though.
"I really enjoy working for Astral and I hope to continue in the morning show co-host position when Terry arrives," she told me. "Seriously…who wouldn’t want to wake up at 4am every morning? ;)" (her emoticon, not mine).
TV viewers might have noticed that Desjardins has been doing sports stories for CTV Montreal. (UPDATE Nov. 23 - She even got a turn behind the anchor desk, as you can see from the video above.)
She said she's "thoroughly enjoying the experience" and likes the work environment at CTV.
"But I still love the energy and immediacy of morning radio so I guess we'll just have to wait and see how everything plays out!"
I feel bad for Desjardins. I know the saying that in radio it's not if you get fired but when. Not getting the morning show gig doesn't mean she'll be fired, but to have your employment future be so uncertain for so long can't be a fun thing to experience. I know, because it happens fairly often for me. (The main difference being thousands of people don't notice what happens to me unless I tell them.)
Desjardins would make a welcome addition to the CTV sports team. That department is tiny (though still bigger than its competitors combined), and right now it's 100% male. And she seems very comfortable in front of the camera.
But radio is what she wants to do, and it's where people know her from. And Desjardins's ability to match (or even surpass) wits with the boys is probably more valuable at the classic rock station than the TV station. Aside from Desjardins, Sharon Hyland is the only woman with a shift at 97.7FM, and she's on weekends now.
It's possible DiMonte and Spalding will come up with a name so fantastic it will have fans going "Chantal who?", but it would have to be pretty fantastic to make me forget that these kinds of decisions have effects on the lives of real people.