Posted in Montreal, TV

Max Harrold to become CTV Quebec bureau chief

Max Harrold (Gazette photo)

Max Harrold, a news reporter for The Gazette since 2006, has been hired as the new Quebec City Bureau Chief for CTV News. The move was announced this morning with mixed feelings by Gazette city editor Michelle Richardson. He leaves the paper on Nov. 20.

Harrold, who tells me he’s 47 but has always seemed so much younger at heart, has been a general assignment reporter, specializing in breaking news. He’s also the guy behind the weekly Squeaky Wheels column, answering readers’ questions about issues involving transportation in Montreal. Before joining The Gazette he wrote for it as a freelancer, wrote for the Discovery Channel program How It’s Made, and worked in off-air roles at Global Television and CBC. He also worked for the short-lived Montreal Daily News, and was there when the paper shut down in 1989.

He’s a native Montrealer, but lived and worked in Los Angeles and New York for 13 years, and studied at Columbia Journalism School.

Harrold told me he had informal discussions with CTV Montreal News Director Jed Kahane before the latest round of buyouts at The Gazette, with the possibility of having to look for a new job at the back of his mind. In the end that would become unnecessary, since there were no layoffs of reporters, but discussions continued.

“I thought it would be for an off-camera job or a research job,” Harrold said when he called me from the office, where he’s getting congratulations from his colleagues. But Kahane needed someone with excellent reporting skills for the Quebec City job, and Harrold fit the bill.

“It’s an interesting time in Quebec City, and it’s a bureau where I want someone who overall has an understanding of quebec politics,” Kahane said. “Max is a veteran, he’s an experienced editorial guy (and) he was the kind of person I was looking for.”

Harrold doesn’t have any on-air experience in television, though he went through a screen test that was enough to convince Kahane the jump to television could work. Kahane points out that other print journalists have moved to television with great success. He mentioned people like David Akin at Sun Media. Nancy Wood, an anchor at CBC Montreal, is another former Gazette reporter and print specialist who made a very successful transition into broadcasting.

Kahane said that with strong editorial judgment, learning the technical part isn’t a big problem. The former is valued far more than the latter in a television reporter.

Nevertheless, Harrold admitted it will be a transition, and he’s already been practicing proper standups in front of a mirror.

Harrold begins at CTV in December, and will spend his first few weeks training, learning the ins and outs of TV reporting in general and CTV’s systems in particular. Kahane said he expects Harrold will do some on-air work in Montreal (he couldn’t say when we should expect to start seeing Harrold on air) and be ready to report from Quebec City by the time the National Assembly reconvenes for the new year in February.

CTV’s last Quebec City bureau chief, you might recall, had a fairly public resignation in July 2011. Kahane said he didn’t make any special requests of Harrold, though he did ask if Harrold had a television at home (Kai Nagata famously did not even though he was a TV reporter). Harrold said he has two. The embarrassment for CTV meant a lot of hesitation at choosing someone new for the position, particularly for going with someone young and inexperienced, so the position remained unfilled for more than a year.

Maya Johnson has been filling in, covering Quebec City and the National Assembly for the past few months. She’ll return to Montreal, where Kahane said she will continue her reporting, which he qualified as excellent, from here.

Harrold’s new job means moving to Quebec City (and finding a fluently bilingual anglophone willing to move to the provincial capital is also a big challenge in filling this position). Harrold will look for a place in Quebec City and expects to live there for a little while before his husband Greg joins him.

There’s no word yet on whether The Gazette will be looking to hire someone to replace Harrold, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Richardson is already getting unsolicited offers.

On a personal note, since Max is a friend, I’ll wish him well. But a warning: no mercy on the hilariously embarrassing gaffes that make live TV so much fun to watch.

UPDATE: Max’s first report aired on Dec. 12.

13 thoughts on “Max Harrold to become CTV Quebec bureau chief

  1. Dave Crouthers

    Sounds like a good decision, but it’s too little too late for me. The last straw for came watching CTV Montreal this week. The day after a major storm that kills 90 people, they put hockey player (PK Subban) on air to do the weather. What a serious lapse in judgement. People are dead, hundreds of thousands without power, but they choose to give us a shrieking Lori Graham and a joking jock. I’d already began switching to CBC more and more often because of the lack of HD feed on CTV. Almost every time I see the same story covered on CBC and CTV, the latter is worse.

    The worst part? Judging by the boob who runs their Facebook and twitter, it seems like they were PROUD of that newscast.

    They had the worst election night coverage too. It was a complete joke. Who’s running the show at CTV now? Is it Jed Kahane? Is it Barry Wilson? Is it a sales rep? Serious question, I’d love to know Steve!

    And honestly Steve, for someone who’s supposed to give a critical look at the Montreal media, it seems like no matter how bad the product at CTV is, you give them a pass.

    I might miss Mits, but Debra Arbeck and Andrew Chang are great. And they don’t treat serious issues like a joke.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The last straw for came watching CTV Montreal this week. The day after a major storm that kills 90 people, they put hockey player (PK Subban) on air to do the weather. What a serious lapse in judgement.

      I’m told that there was some apprehension about letting the Subban appearance go through after Hurricane Sandy. Ultimately it went ahead because it was heavily promoted. You can point to the number of people dead (which is fairly low compared to the size of the storm and the amount of monetary damage it caused), but I don’t think this was so outrageous that it should necessarily have been canned or postponed.

      You can criticize CTV for not treating weather with the seriousness it deserves, but I’m one of those people who thinks that there needs to be more fun in news, not less.

      The worst part? Judging by the boob who runs their Facebook and twitter, it seems like they were PROUD of that newscast.

      The staff enjoyed it, as did many viewers.

      They had the worst election night coverage too. It was a complete joke.

      Could you elaborate on that?

      Who’s running the show at CTV now? Is it Jed Kahane? Is it Barry Wilson? Is it a sales rep? Serious question, I’d love to know Steve!

      Louis Douville is the general manager of CTV Montreal, responsible for the station as a whole. Kahane is the news director, responsible for the news operation and its staff. Wilson is the executive producer, responsible for the editorial content of the shows.

      And honestly Steve, for someone who’s supposed to give a critical look at the Montreal media, it seems like no matter how bad the product at CTV is, you give them a pass.

      I don’t think anything I say is going to change your mind about that, so I won’t bother. But you’ll need to provide some examples or evidence to convince me that I’ve been too easy on CTV. I’m highly critical of the fact that they have no local programming beyond the newscasts, and that they have been slow to upgrade to high definition because they don’t feel their market dominance has been threatened. But if you think the quality of the work is significantly below that of CBC and Global, then clearly you’re seeing something that I’m not.

      Reply
    2. Michael D

      Well an interesting stance in that PK thing…Nobody talks about my Lori and all the Community Work she does..Shame on you….But as for PK, he put a little light on the name Sandy name..but never disrespected the unfortunate people in New York and Jersey who seemed to have caught the brunt..

      I am sure that CTV would have postponed his appearance til a later date if it was Montreal that suffered or going through a disaster like the Ice Storm..

      But this brings up another issue and the New York thing and recent comments by Steve Kowch who’s with the TTP group I believe who has applied for the 600 AM frequency which will give CJAD a badly needed run for their money. We were all over ‘AD for not being here for us Montrealers when we wanted some info for at least an hour on the recent earthquake. But what bothered me was on Monday night ( midnite– 1 AM) just before the Coast to Coast AM, and they went live with some live feed from CBS News..

      I can’t figure that one yet.. Nothing for Montreal, but wall to wall for New York..Excellent . Maybe someone can explain that one for me..

      Reply
    3. ATSC

      Can’t say I’m as upset about the CFCF-DT local news product as you. But, I do find that I end up switching more and more to CBMT-DT, and even CKMI-DT.

      Depending on my day, and when I can watch the news, I usually end up making my choices this way.

      Noon – CFCF
      5pm – CBMT
      6pm – CFCF, or CBMT (My choice really depends on if I managed to catch CBMT’s 5pm newscast)
      11pm – CKMI
      11:30 – stopped watching that newscast from CFCF.

      And in the week-ends, I find that I end up choosing more between CBMT, and CKMI.

      So, yes, I’m finding myself migrating to the other two stations more and more.

      Reply
    4. Kevin

      The PK Subban weather hit was the most-watched video online all week, possibly all month, on the CTV site, so I suspect many people disagree with Dave’s Point of View.

      Either way, the more people watch the competition, the better it forces all news broadcasts to be.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      What will happen to Squeaky Wheels? You and Riga will form a Dream Team, Steve?

      I don’t know. Harrold will keep doing them for the next few weeks, but then it’s unclear. I don’t have time to add it to my existing responsibilities, and I don’t think Andy Riga has a lot of free time to do it either, but we’ll see.

      Reply
  2. David Pinto

    Well, now that Max is leaving, I can finally release this e-mail for general consumption.
    Back in December, 2011, I sent Max a comment for his Squeaky Wheels column.
    Max chose not to run my comment — I could certainly understand that, the issue I raised was very minor —
    but I was quite amazed to read this in the course of his answer:
    I only get to ask the STM one question for Squeaky Wheels every two weeks.

    Reply
  3. Michael D

    The appointment of Max Harrold raises serious questions..and should make those toiling out of town in radio or TV as they were told to cut their chops in small or medium markets before hitting the big leagues.

    This should piss off greats like Terry DiMonte, who started in Churchill Manitoba,, CJAD’s Ric Peterson, I believe started in the glamorous town of Smith Falls, Canada’s most Trusted newscaster, Lloyd Robertson, starting off in Stratford, and I am sure the spirit of Montreal’s all-time morning man might wonder why he had to start in Dauphin, Manitoba..

    So Steve, maybe, you can explain to all of us how he got this gig, are the pickings that lean amongst available talent, he even had to do a screen test…So maybe you and I still have a chance..John Grant where are you ??

    Reply
    1. Michael D

      I meant to say up above to those toiling out of town should wonder why they are there and others drop right in to the hotbed of Canadian Provincial politics without never having been in front of a camera or adjusting a mike in a radio studio.

      Seeing that you’ve worked with him at the Gazette, I expect a vigorous defense in view of these comments.

      Reply
    2. Fagstein Post author

      The appointment of Max Harrold raises serious questions..and should make those toiling out of town in radio or TV as they were told to cut their chops in small or medium markets before hitting the big leagues.

      I suppose you could look at it that way, but this isn’t the usual kind of job. A Quebec bureau chief requires a lot of knowledge of Quebec politics and experience dealing with Quebec political issues, and you’re less likely to get that from someone working in Flin Flon.

      Personally, I’ve never believed that it’s absolutely necessary to work in small markets at the beginning of your career. I never did it. But what is important is to be flexible (and there are other ways to do so). There are jobs in small markets, ones that by necessity provide a lot of training in a lot of different skills. Being closed to the idea of moving to a small market is one of many ways to limit your job opportunities, and there aren’t many job opportunities out there.

      That said, there are still plenty of people hired in media these days from out of town. Andrea Collins, the afternoon drive host on Virgin Radio, worked in Winnipeg, then took a job in Victoria, then went back to Winnipeg before coming here. Heather Backman, the morning co-host on CHOM, left for a job in Cleveland and then came back. Even CTV hired Camille Ross from Saskatchewan.

      There are no absolutes in this business. Working in a small market could be good or bad for someone’s career. It really depends on the person, and the job.

      Reply
      1. LTD Inertia

        Max Harrold is BY FAR the worst reporter of life, the stigma of the CTV News Montreal team. What’s going on here? Nepotism? This guy’s a joke in a suit, only good for blooper reels. His reporting style compares to that of a rhesus monkey. Get him off the air already, the newscast would be quasi-flawless without him. (It’s very frustrating to see someone like Max Harrold make it big at CTV News Montreal despite several, egregious flubs. Come on, put someone professional and top-notch in there. I cringe every time I have to see him “report.”)

        Reply

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