Posted in Montreal, My articles, TV

Alexandre Despatie, Joanne Vrakas named hosts of City Montreal’s Breakfast Television

Alexandre Despatie and Joanne Vrakas (Photo: Rogers Media)

Alexandre Despatie and Joanne Vrakas (Photo: Rogers Media)

Hours ahead of their Upfront presentation to advertisers, City Montreal has named the two people who will host Breakfast Television when it launches in August: Alexandre Despatie, the former world champion diver who announced his retirement from competitive diving only two days ago, and Joanne Vrakas, the radio and TV personality whose previous job was a TV reporter for CBC Montreal.

You can read more about the announcement in this story in The Gazette, which includes excerpts of an interview with Despatie and Vrakas.

The announcement of Despatie in particular has been enough to capture the interest of French-language media in Quebec, who could normally not care less about local English-language television. Brief stories in HuffPost Quebec, 98.5fm, Hollywood PQ, Agence QMI, and an interview with Rogers-owned L’Actualité. Also in English, a story from Canadian Press that will get posted everywhere, and one from J-Source.

(UPDATE: More from the Journal de Montréal and TVA Sports, and an interview with Pénélope McQuade)

The two hosts have been doing the rounds at Breakfast Televisions across the country this morning, which is a bit odd because people who watch those shows won’t be watching BT Montreal. Here’s their interview with Winnipeg and Toronto, the latter of which is ridiculously labelled an “exclusive.”

Joining Vrakas and Despatie will be Wilder Weir, the co-host of Montreal Connected. Weir will be a roving “Live Eye” host.

Breakfast Television hosts Joanne Vrakas, Wilder Weir and Alexandre Despatie are shown off to advertisers on Thursday evening.

Breakfast Television hosts Joanne Vrakas, Wilder Weir and Alexandre Despatie are shown off to advertisers on Thursday evening.

Jeffrey Feldman, who has been a Montreal-based producer for eTalk and Fashion Television, had previously been announced as supervising producer for the morning show. Also previously announced is Elias Makos, formerly CTV Montreal’s tech columnist, who is now City’s New Media Producer. He will appear daily on Breakfast Television.

33 thoughts on “Alexandre Despatie, Joanne Vrakas named hosts of City Montreal’s Breakfast Television

  1. ted

    I can’t even get my wife to sit like that.
    Are these guys a couple?
    If not who is the genius who posed this shot?

    Reply
  2. Marc

    Just two days ago he announced his retirement from diving. He was speaking on CJAD about what he may want to do next and he hinted at communications. Obviously he kept quite the poker face about it. He had already decided. I’m sure he’ll do a great job with Joanne. They’re both quite telegenic.

    Reply
  3. Media Man

    This should piss off talented experienced broadcasters around town with non-experienced,non proven, co-host, even though he’s a great Olympic champion…but besides the wow factor, what’s the rationale besides Despatie getting this.. Elias Makos, though, was a good steal..which should peeve off CTV Montreal on that move.

    So Rogers is doing some selective raiding..I wonder how TTP will do their raiding and selecting when they get going…BTW, any word on the TTP thing..what’s going on there…?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      This should piss off talented experienced broadcasters around town with non-experienced, non proven, co-host, even though he’s a great Olympic champion

      Despatie has some broadcasting experience, though not as a morning show host. But yeah, it might not be fair. Nobody said broadcasting was fair.

      I wonder how TTP will do their raiding and selecting when they get going.

      You and everyone else. They promise an announcement with details in the next few weeks.

      Reply
  4. Pefder Magfrok

    Oh come on, we want to see Alex’s famous assets… we’re talking swimsuit shot, you know they made one.

    I wish them the best of luck, these two represent the best of Montreal in being bicutural bilingual babes. I hope they bring some bilingual to the broadcast, dare to speak two languages,… yes on canadian tv. (It isn’t illegal is it? freaking two solitudes crtc license bs?)

    Reply
  5. Carole

    This could possibly get a zero rating. I imagine no more than 10 people will watch on a regular basis. CRTC make do projects never work and this is exceptionally stupid

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      CRTC make do projects never work and this is exceptionally stupid

      It was Rogers’s idea to start a morning show here. Unless you consider the very concept of local television to be a “make do project”. Considering how highly rated Breakfast Television is in other markets Toronto, I wouldn’t dismiss it so quickly.

      (UPDATE June 15: It’s been pointed out that Breakfast Television isn’t that well rated outside of Toronto, with shares under 1%. I got caught up in some Rogers spin there and should have checked that better.)

      Reply
      1. Clarence

        And your point is? Global News is a powerhouse in BC. Did that spill over into the Montreal market in any manner?

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Global News is a powerhouse in BC. Did that spill over into the Montreal market in any manner?

          No, because Global clearly wasn’t willing to put in the kind of resources in Montreal that it has in B.C. I see no hesitation from Rogers to invest in Montreal.

          Reply
          1. Clarence

            You are drinking “the” Kool-Aid if you think Rogers gives a crap about the Montreal market beyond what they had to do to get the license to sim sub the last remaining major market for them in Canada. Getting the advertising revenue for Modern Family (et al) in Quebec is exactly what it was all about. Nothing less. Any “local” programming will be under funded and a disaster.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              You are drinking “the” Kool-Aid if you think Rogers gives a crap about the Montreal market beyond what they had to do to get the license to sim sub the last remaining major market for them in Canada.

              I won’t deny that this is a major factor. But it’s hardly the only one. City has some original Canadian programming, for example, and would like to give that a larger audience. And if Rogers cared so little about its local programs, Breakfast Television wouldn’t be so highly rated in other markets.

              Any “local” programming will be under funded and a disaster.

              What do you base this on other than prejudice?

              Reply
  6. Neil K.

    It actually is illegal.

    Broadcast outlets must stick to using the language of their license, with the exception of multilingual stations. It’s to protect their advertisers. We went through the wringer twice at CHOM when the ownership at the time decided to flaunt the law and use bilingual announcers. The CRTC put a stop to that very quickly (notwithstanding protests from the French stations.)

    Reply
  7. Dilbert

    I think it’s interesting to see that City will be producing effectively as much local programming as the all powerful, all singing, all dancing Bell does – and is on the up swing towards even more. It has to make you wonder why Bell wants less competition in Radio, right?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I think it’s interesting to see that City will be producing effectively as much local programming as the all powerful, all singing, all dancing Bell does

      That’s true, though one could argue that producing a daily newscast three times a day requires more people than a three-hour morning show once every weekday.

      It has to make you wonder why Bell wants less competition in Radio, right?

      Bell doesn’t want less competition, it just wants to own as much as it can.

      Reply
  8. Sarah Lambe

    This city doesn’t need more plastic-pretty people sitting around telling us that the Grand Prix is on. Montreal needs real reporters who actually report news and not simply repeat what they are told. Judging by the decades of corruption, both political and civil, that went completely and totally unreported by the anglo media, it is obvious this small town needs trained, professional reporters on staff. From what I can tell, we have none. As in, zero. No one to ask questions. No one to find the stories that matter. Just no one. Anglo media waits for the press releases and reads it to us. Great. The anglo media is shameful but hey, how about an in-depth look at the comedians coming to town next month?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Judging by the decades of corruption, both political and civil, that went completely and totally unreported by the anglo media, it is obvious this small town needs trained, professional reporters on staff.

      I’m pretty sure the “anglo media” has been reporting on corruption issues pretty extensively the past few years. (By “anglo media”, are you referring just to television, or do you include print media as well?)

      Reply
    2. Media Man

      I agree with Sarah and Montreal needing real reporters and not just pretty faces..and not online bloggers, but the real people in the street.

      Looking at Global, Jessica is the star there, but Richard And Camille when serious, are good news types, after that it’s thin..two things need to be fixed here, and you’ve mentioned a few of them.. An audio person here, and control room should be here.

      And the other matter is those bloggers, that’ s the cheap way of hiring full timers or part timers who maybe specialize in those areas and not having to worry about their blog sites..someone to specialize in local entertainment or the education fields,etc..there’s a lot of good journalists amongst the weeklies, or even some of the radio names looking to go to TV, etc

      as for BT, besides a couple of raids like Makos, Feldman, and Vrakos, the rest all seem to be either Olympic athletes, ore relative of a hockey player or friends of Mr.Babinski.etc….but with no solid credentials, although I give credit for bringing in new faces, but I would be curious to know who the other applicants were..

      If CTV Montreal were to run with a local breakfast show,Rogers and Global would get creamed..

      BTW, any word on who’s replacing Elias Makos..he was must listen for his gadgets…

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        as for BT, besides a couple of raids like Makos, Feldman, and Vrakos, the rest all seem to be either Olympic athletes, ore relative of a hockey player or friends of Mr.Babinski.etc. but with no solid credentials.

        So “all” here refers to a grand total of two people. Alexandre Despatie is new to English television, though he has done broadcasting work in the past. Wilder Weir has been in broadcasting for almost a decade now, including six as an on-air host. If that doesn’t qualify as “solid credentials”, what does?

        I would be curious to know who the other applicants were..

        I am too, but we won’t know who they are unless they decide to come forward. Babinski told me he looked at more than 20 people for the hosting jobs.

        If CTV Montreal were to run with a local breakfast show,Rogers and Global would get creamed..

        Maybe. The station certainly has a loyal audience. But the point is it isn’t.

        BTW, any word on who’s replacing Elias Makos..he was must listen for his gadgets.

        I haven’t heard of anyone. They could take their time on this if they wanted to. Or have a different segment in its place.

        Reply
  9. Neil K.

    Speaking of new faces, both CTV and Rogers have current job postings for journalistic on-air positions (CTV for the news, Rogers for the morning show). And The Beat is looking for a stand-up comedian type, no radio experience needed, to contribute to their morning show (along the lines of what Patrick Charles used to do, I imagine). Why not just hire him back? He’s available these days…

    I don’t agree Jessica is the star at Global. I find her annoying and very amateur, often not prepared. She laughs too much at her own jokes and mistakes. The other day the desk threw to her at the weather map, she wasn’t there, then you could hear a door open and close (a dressing room, maybe?) and she had to run across the screen to get into position. She has also had to crouch or crawl under the camera at times to make it to her position.

    Reply
    1. Media Man

      For the Rogers thing, Why? They probably already have someone in mind like they had for their sports and lifestyle shows. So someone applying should have false hopes…

      As for CTV, they tend to look at other people at other CTV stations, media as you know Neil is who you know..

      Reply
  10. Neil K.

    Those job ads cost money, so I don’t know why anyone would bother wasting the bucks and the time if they weren’t seriously considering hiring people. And CTV did bring in Max Harrold recently (with no previous CTV or other TV experience) so that tells me they are open to outsiders.

    Speaking from experience, it’s a tough draw finding an Anglo from outside Quebec willing to relocate here for a job, especially if that person has a family (kids can’t go to English schools, spouse might not speak French and would have a hard time getting work, highest taxes in the country, etc.) Not to mention anyone working in news is expected to have a working command of French or better, which is rare among broadcasters in, let’s say, Calgary or Vancouver. That’s why so many broadcasters in this city are from this city.

    Montreal is not the media draw it used to be. Hell, in my early days in radio Americans would flock up here for jobs.

    However I do agree that someone with connections would have the advantage, everything else being equal.

    It’s funny, when you look at the resumes of the TV newspeople in Plattsburgh or Burlington on the border stations, in most cases that’s already the fourth or fifth market they’ve worked in. In other words, they’ve spent years working UP to Plattsburgh or Burlington. I always assumed they were local people but in most cases they’ve already paid their dues in much smaller markets. That doesn’t seem to happen in Montreal due to the reasons I enumerated above.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Those job ads cost money

      They don’t cost much money. And they cost nothing if only posted internally (I’m not seeing these jobs on other media job sites).

      it’s a tough draw finding an Anglo from outside Quebec willing to relocate here for a job, especially if that person has a family (kids can’t go to English schools

      If you were educated in English in Canada, your kid can go to English school.

      Reply
    2. Media Man

      @ Neil. lots of good stuff here in your observations. Steve F corrected you on errors. and you’re right on most counts about Montreal not being the media magnet it once was.

      But as for Max Harrold, from a posted article here about his appointment last year, he’s a friend of the New Director.

      You’re right about Americans coming up here..can name you biggies in the 60′s like Ralph Lockwood from Pennsylvania, the great Bobby Baker from Boston, both of these started at CFOX, there was Joe Van from 10-2 at CFCF 600, probably one of the best ever mi-day hosts on AM, he often beat the ‘AD guy most times in the ratings those days…those are the first three that come to mind…

      THose days, one couldn’t walk in to a news director or Program director’s office and get hired without paying your dues in Timmins or Churchill Manitoba and clean their transmitter..you know muck it out in the hinterlands..

      there are still a fw today, but more the exceptiion..today, and like you mention, language laws, need for bilingualism especially in news, one can walk of Concordia Journalism and at least start interning right away to get exposed and be on air weekends at least within a year. I could name several at ‘AD that have never a small-town studio..etc

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        But as for Max Harrold, from a posted article here about his appointment last year, he’s a friend of the New Director.

        Who’s the New Director? And what does “friend” mean in this context?

        one can walk of Concordia Journalism and at least start interning right away

        Tell that to the dozens who walk out of Concordia Journalism every year without an internship.

        It’s true that fewer people seem to start their careers out in the boonies (but many still do – Camille Ross worked at a TV station in Yorkton, SK). But I might suggest that the struggles of an early career are not just geographical in nature. Many journalists work in jobs at smaller media outlets in and around the big cities, like community newspapers, low-paying content websites or just by freelancing.

        Reply
        1. Media Man

          Sorry, I forgot the letter ‘ s’ meant news director in this case. Max is another one thats never seen the boonies..and the impressions that I got come from your posting from last fall…so for your convenience..

          And for the record, I probably would rather do the local weeklies and low-paying online publications in my hometown than the boonies.

          [ 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. ]

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            Max is another one thats never seen the boonies.

            I guess not. But he’s hardly had it easy career-wise. He’s had plenty of unglamorous jobs in television in the past two decades.

            As for being friends with the news director, as far as I know the two knew little of each other until they began discussions about a job.

            Reply
  11. Neil K.

    Oh, I didn’t realize that. I thought anyone coming from “outside” was treated as an immigrant and forced into the French school system as part of an assimilation program. I figured the English exemption only applied if your parents were educated in English in Quebec. But then again I don’t have kids and have had no exposure to the school regulations. Good to know!

    Reply
    1. Marc

      I figured the English exemption only applied if your parents were educated in English in Quebec

      Originally it did. But it was declared unconstitutional shortly thereafter.

      Reply
  12. Scott

    Global-TV’s Morning Show is AWESOME. I don’t think the new City-TV Breakfast show will beat them. Richard Dagenais is sooooo funny.

    Reply
  13. helenk

    What a great show and what a great team. other shows should take pointers of how a show should be, in my humble opinion. kudos to BTV.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>