Whether it was despite some important breaking news or because of it, CBC Montreal's first weekend newscast in eons went smoothly, leading with news that a tentative deal had been reached between the government and striking students. (Remember those days, how optimistic we were that this would all be over soon?)
Anchor Thomas Daigle and weather presenter Sabrina Marandola clearly showed the effects of rehearsals, and Daigle in particular was quite good for someone who comes into this with no anchoring experience.
Daigle credited weekday anchor Debra Arbec with helping him. "She gave me some good tips to improve my delivery and it has helped a lot. Debra has been a great coach," he said during our interview the week before he started.
In addition to Daigle, Marandola and the technical staff, the new weekend news means more weekend reporters. So far the plan, according to news director Mary-Jo Barr, is this:
- On Saturdays, three television reporters and one radio reporter.
- On Sundays, two television reporters, an additional national TV reporter filing to The National, and one radio reporter.
In addition, there's an expectation that radio reporters will file to TV and TV reporters to radio wherever possible, and extra staff during major events where warranted.
The local online desk also gets weekend staff for the first time in a decade. No more waiting until Monday to post local news stories.
The staffing is similar to what you'll find on the weekends at CFCF, where there's a one-hour evening newscast and 35-minute late newscast each day.
It was a bit surprising to me that the station isn't making use of its brand new set on either weekend newscast. The Saturday one was done from the newsroom studio, with the control room in the background. The Sunday one was done from exactly the same place, but with the green screen lowered behind and the same virtual set as the weeknight late newscasts.
While CFCF is doing all its newscasts from the same set, CBC is basically using three.
You can read more on CBC's weekend newscasts and its two new personalities in this story I wrote for The Gazette.
CBC Montreal's weekend newscasts air at 6pm on Saturdays and 10:55pm on Sundays, unless pre-empted or postponed because of NHL games.
More weekend radio
I should also mention that the addition to weekend news also applies to radio. Instead of pulling the plugs on local radio newscasts at noon, they continue until 4pm, and this since April 21. Katherine Canty, who assigns stories in the mornings, reads them in the afternoons, taking over from Loreen Pindera, who does 6:30am to noon.