When Todd van der Heyden left CFCF for CTV News Channel, the speculation on who would replace him really came down to one choice: Either it’s Paul Karwatsky or it’s not Paul Karwatsky.
Karwatsky was the only other male anchor at the station, and while it wasn’t impossible that a woman would be picked to sit beside Mutsumi Takahashi, managers in TV news are still concerned enough about how things look that such a selection would seem unlikely.
Karwatsky was a great idea on paper. He’s a Montrealer, was already working at CFCF and had anchoring experience. The only strike against him was that he was young. And when your viewers have grown up with people like Bill Haugland and Brian Britt, going young presents a risk. (A risk that has already blown up in their face once.)
But when Karwatsky was selected to be “interim” co-anchor with Takahashi after van der Heyden left, it was just a matter of time before the position was made permanent. Barring some dramatic failure, he was clearly up to the job. And it would have taken a lot for them to decide to go with someone from the outside who CTV Montreal viewers are unfamiliar with.
As it turns out, it required only two weeks. CTV announced on Wednesday evening that Karwatsky has been made a permanent co-anchor with Takahashi. What was essentially a probation period or tryout has clearly been successful.
And being young isn’t the worst thing in the world. Andrew Chang at CBC is younger, and although his appointment as anchor of CBMT’s supper-hour newscast seemed similarly risky back in 2009, he’s fit into the role remarkably well.
The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein has the story, which has many of the same platitudes contained in the CTV story but also some colour about Karwatsky’s background.
What about weekends?
Now that Karwatsky’s position on the weekday desk has been made official, there’s the question of what to do with his former post. Before moving to weekdays, Karwatsky did weekend newscasts at 6pm with Tarah Schwartz and solo at 11:30pm. Schwartz has been doing both newscasts alone, which means her shift starts much later than it used to and the lineup editor has to do more of the work to setup the 6pm newscast.
CTV could choose to continue this way, or could hire someone else to take over Karwatsky’s old job. (UPDATE: News Director Jed Kahane confirms he will be hiring another anchor for the weekend desk.)
Either way, they could probably use another backup anchor. Caroline van Vlaardingen has been substituting on occasion as needed, and Cindy Sherwin has also done some anchoring, but other than that the cupboard is pretty bare.