Tommy Schnurmacher marks 20 years on CJAD, and has no plans to retire


Tommy Schnurmacher came into the studio this morning a bit disappointed. Today marked 20 years since he started at CJAD 800, but it seemed nobody but him had noticed. Maybe, he thought, they just didn’t care.

In other words, the plan went perfectly.

Schnurmacher was surprised when, at the top of his show, it was suddenly hijacked by a montage of about a dozen of his coworkers’ recorded tributes to him, and a parade of well-wishers crowding into the studio with cake and wine (both kosher) and a martini.

Anne Lagacé Dowson, right, and Andrew Carter, bottom, were among those celebrating with Schnurmacher

Anne Lagacé Dowson (right, at the microphone) and Andrew Carter (bottom) were among those celebrating with Schnurmacher

“It’s nice to feel that they like you too. I felt like Sally Field,” he told me after his show ended at noon. “It was way above and beyond anything I would have dreamed of.”

It wasn’t that elaborate (the biggest effort was keeping him out of the loop, which included hiding me in a hallway until they were ready for the big reveal), but it was the thought that counts. During the montage, Schnurmacher was visibly moved, and his hand was shaking as he held his martini.

Producers Robyn Flynn and Matt Guité, as well as promotions director assistant program director Matthew Wood were the brains behind the operation.

A kosher cake

A kosher cake, finally one Schnurmacher can eat

The show followed with several people who played a part in his career calling in to wish him well.

Twenty years is a lot in radio these days, even in Montreal, but his career goes back much further than that, so much so that he has trouble remembering some details.

Schnurmacher started around 1976 doing entertainment at CHOM, after he was out drinking and talked with someone who had read something he wrote in New York magazine. He said he told his mother about getting a job in radio, and her response was: “When you work at a real radio station like CJAD, call me.”

Over the first 20 years of his career he worked at CHOM, CJFM (now Virgin Radio 96), CKGM (now TSN 690) and the defunct CIQC, where he started doing less entertainment stuff and more political commentary and talk.

In 1996, he got an offer to come back to CJAD, and he’s been there ever since — at first in the early afternoon, but after a couple of years he moved to late mornings, where he remains today.


Tommy Schnurmacher is moved as he listens to tributes from his colleagues.

Asked about highlights of his two decades, he points to some unsurprising events, like the 1998 ice storm and the many political campaigns. He noted that the discourse has changed among anglo Montrealers since he started. “In those years, nobody wanted to talk about anything but Quebec politics,” he said. This is unsurprising since it was the period of the second referendum on sovereignty. But even with big news like Pierre Karl Péladeau resigning from the Parti Québécois leadership, Quebec politics seems to take on less significance.

One thing that definitely hasn’t gone anywhere is Schnurmacher’s sense of outrage. Or maybe just annoyance. He told me the things-that-annoy-me stuff is definitely a part of his show, though he said another one is learning something new every day, hearing something that’s never been heard before.

And, of course, the audience, who he loves to hear from whether they agree with him or not. “When I worked at The Gazette (as an entertainment columnist in the 1980s), I saw their signature on my paycheque,” he said. “I feel a very strong obligation that if they’re going to give me their time they have to get something back.”

Like him or hate him, the fact that people keep tuning in suggests that there’s been something in it for them.

So Schnurmacher quickly dismisses any suggestion that he might be looking toward the end of his career. “No. I love doing this. I love the work, I don’t foresee retirement any time soon,” he said.


So sorry folks, you’re stuck with him for a while yet. Maybe even another 20 years.

17 thoughts on “Tommy Schnurmacher marks 20 years on CJAD, and has no plans to retire

  1. Steve Kowch

    Congrats Tommy on 20 years. I had a great two years working with you at CJAD. We did great radio together and even won a CAB Gold Ribbon Award for the bilingual broadcast with CKAC. Liz and I miss you. We should get together next time we are in Montreal.
    Steve Kowch

  2. Media Man

    You also forgot in his bio way back when the late Bert Cannings was CFCF Pulse News Director, Tommy had a segment called Dining Out, you guessed right if you said he was in a restaurant every week doing the reviews of what he ate, etc
    Was pretty entertaining actually.
    I’m sure we all send him kudos for 20 years, but I wonder if he’d still be around if there was competition from another radio station like a supposed AM600, and if they ever launch, it would be interesting who TTP Media puts in the two morning slots as Andrew Carter could use a shakedown as well..

    Both of their schticks, I submit are tired out..

  3. SuzanneSylvere

    Mazel tov! You have always been a trail blazer- never holding back….but bringing a sense of humanity to Montreal. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you, but I hear you daily.BH. May you continue to be an inspiration to those who seem to have lost their way. I wish you continued good health,long success, and I see great happiness continuing. Much Love,
    “The Empath”

  4. Eramelinda Boquer

    I first met Tommy back in the day, when he was working at CHOM. I have always loved his ability to dissect and comment on whatever is in the news with great insight ….and a fabulous rapier wit . One of my favorite TS memories – was when (a big group at the time) “Frankie goes to Hollywood” came to town and were holding a press conference. They were very rude and arrogant with the press and behaved like Prima Donna’s and Tommy quickly and brilliantly made short work of them. On the other side, Tommy has a big heart and is one of the nicest, most generous people I have ever worked with. I love the fact that I get to see him every day, when he comes in to the studio at 8:45 for “Tommy’s Take” with Andrew – the repartee is fast and furious and mucho fun. Tommy is a broadcast gem.

  5. Hei

    Congrats Tommy, ,
    Love your show, your openness, fairness,direct approach
    Just amazing.
    Many more years Mazel Tov.

  6. Dilbert

    “Tommy Schnurmacher marks 20 years on CJAD, and has no plans to retire

    Congradulations on the first part, too bad on the second part. It’s time to park the Anglo angst and call it a day. 20 years is a good run.

    1. Mario D.

      Thank you for saying it first . Did not feel like breaking the mood which seems to be very warm and sincere from his working buddies and family members… I think he his the main reason why there is such a group known as angryphones. Used to like him on tv way back when but on radio hatred has it`s limits and he is lucky that he has no competition at all in his niche …Anyway congrats are in order i guess…

      1. Dilbert

        Well, I don’t want to dump on Tommy because he has a accomplished a lot. But I also tend to think of him as often a way to divisive voice, one that fuels the fires of discontent rather than looking for common ground and improvement. There was a market for it at one point, but honestly Parizeau pretty much put a stake through the heart of the issue and since then it’s been about finding a new normal to work with. At that point, perhaps he is a bit past his stale date.

        Not that he should be done, but perhaps it’s time to change chairs and try something else, get out of his comfort zone.

        1. Mario D.

          Ask any youngster these days and you will notice that there is no political anger as there was with their parents .Some say that they are just not interrested or not taught correctly about the battles of the past, i say we are in 2016. I just do not feel the same evolution in Tommy s tought process nor do i with a small group who thinks that there is a conspiracy.

  7. Tim

    I have to say, I don’t always agree with Him. Too much of the Angryphone rant sometimes. But I still listen and I respect his opinion. Way to go Sir. Here’s to another 20!

  8. Guglielmo Marconi

    I remember “round the corner, ’round the block, Tommy Schnurmacher, sidewalk talk.” It was on 980 Hits.

  9. Olga Gazdovic

    As my mother the Baba would say- Happy University Tommy! At that point she would hold up a glass of vodka and say- ” To the next 20″

  10. Ileana Gehrenbeck

    I listen to his show now and then, but sometimes he´s too hard to digest…sounds too angry, sounds as though he´s against anything, whatever it is he´s against it…that´s when I turn to CBC One or internet radio. I am not quite sure he´ll last 20 more years, the media market and the audience will decide when it´s time for him to go. The AM radio is on its last leg, anyway, so we´ll see

  11. Media Man

    As I read these comments recently, it is rather funny how the comments are have the current and former co-workers making the rounds of congrats and kudos, because they have to either because they still or might work with him again.

    And you have the listeners, the regular joes, who know better that his time of anglo angst and anglo conspiracy theories have run its course.. Frankly, it would be interesting to hear, in private if those current and ex co-workers would agree, not taking anything away from the 20-years..


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