Last updated July 2 with videos of Tieman and Wilde from Impact game.
Staff at CTV Montreal were informed this morning that there will be no more locally-produced sportscasts at the station, and that long-time anchor Randy Tieman, reporter Brian Wilde and weekend anchor Sean Coleman have been laid off, effective immediately.
“We can confirm we’ve made an editorial decision to transition sports coverage from sportscasters to news anchors in response to evolving viewer behaviour. As a result, three positions have been impacted at CTV Montreal. Our viewers can continue to rely on CTV News to keep them informed about local and professional sports,” reads the statement from Bell Media.
According to Stéphane Giroux, who heads the station’s union local, the staff were informed of the cut at 11am Tuesday, an hour after Coleman and Tieman were informed of the decision in a brief, matter-of-fact meeting with HR. (Wilde was on the road and was informed by telephone.) There was no sports at noon on Tuesday, and there wasn’t one at 6pm either. Paul Karwatsky broke the news to viewers during the 6pm newscast (the 30-minute mark of the video, or 40 minutes into the newscast on TV):
Welcome back. Now a note to share with you tonight about our newscast and how we’ll be covering sports from now on. We’ll still be reporting on the sports beat with stories from Montreal and beyond. But we’ll now be doing it as part of our overall news coverage, in other words we’ll no longer have a separate sportscast. This was announced today and this also means very, very unfortunately that Randy Tieman, Brian Wilde and Sean Coleman are no longer with CTV. We want to thank them of course for their dedication and their excellent contribution to this station and this community that will of course be very sorely missed.
Karwatsky and Lori Graham also paid tribute to their departed colleagues at the end of the newscast:
Karwatsky: I guess we should address it, it hasn’t been an amazing day here at CTV Montreal. In fact all across the network sportscasts have been cancelled and that means unfortunately, very unfortunately we’re losing Randy, Brian and Sean. And we just wanted to take some time to tell you guys how much you’ll be missed.
Graham: That’s right. We’d like to definitely honour our colleagues, Randy Tieman, Brian Wilde and Sean Coleman. Not only were they great to work with, but they are really great guys, and we’re definitely going to miss your talent, we’re going to miss your wit and your humour and we wish you all the best.
Karwatsky: In the meantime we’ll carry on and we hope you continue tuning in.
Karwatsky gave a slightly shorter version of the announcement during the late-night newscast around 11:55pm (18-minute mark in the video).
Similar cuts to local sports have happened at other CTV stations (Barrie, Kitchener, London, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Victoria and Windsor have all been reported) to the point where the national Unifor union blew the whistle on the cuts to local news.
So Giroux said the union saw this one coming, but they were still surprised that such a popular newscast would cut such popular on-air personalities, describing Tieman and Wilde as “living legends” and Coleman as “such a promising sportscaster”.
“It made us realize nothing is untouchable in this business,” he said.
CTV Montreal news director Jed Kahane declined to comment, referring me to Bell Media.
Tieman: “I’m basically a retired guy”
“I didn’t think they’d close the whole department, I thought I would get (cut),” Tieman told me on the phone today. At 63 years old, and with a severance package he described as generous, he has the luxury of not needing to find another job off the bat, and could simply end his career there. “I’m basically a retired guy unless somebody makes me an offer I can’t refuse,” he said.
Though he took the news of his own layoff with calm acceptance, his thoughts were with his younger coworkers who have bigger worries.
Tieman has been with CFCF for 34 years, and “I have nothing but great things to say about the whole run,” he said.
And while he doesn’t have regrets, he did find it sad that he didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, alongside Mutsumi Takahashi, Paul Karwatsky and Lori Graham. “I would have loved to have done one more show,” he said.
Thanks for all the kind words. It's been a great 34 years. Just hope I made people smile. So many people to say thanks to.
— Randy Tieman (@SportsStache) June 20, 2017
But things don’t work like that in the broadcasting industry. Once the decision has been made, the employees are told to pack up their desks and leave the building. You don’t allow someone you’ve just fired to get in front of a live microphone or camera.
It’s unclear if CTV will address the layoffs during its 6pm newscast. I can say nobody who works there is happy about the news. The decision was made in Toronto.
The news comes just days after CTV Montreal held its annual upfront presentation to advertisers. Tieman, along with Graham, were the go-to presenters for these kinds of events. This year, they proudly announced they would be adding a new 5pm local newscast on weekdays, which would increase their output of local news and probably mean some additional hires (Giroux said the union still hasn’t been given any details about how this affects personnel).
It’s also two days before the Alouettes begin their season at home. Tieman was the station’s CFL reporter, and on-site during Alouettes home games. I asked him whether this means he’ll have to start buying tickets to them now since he won’t be representing an accredited media.
“Either that or I’ll have to make up a fake blog or something,” he quipped.
But it’s far too early to know what’s next for him. “I’m sitting next to my wife and she’s saying what are you gonna do now,” he said, “and I’m thinking ‘gee, I gotta cut the grass.'”
— Sean Coleman (@SColemanUFA) June 20, 2017
Coleman: Keeping the Champagne on ice
Coleman was the most recently hired of the three, and he’s no stranger to these kinds of cuts. He got his job doing weekend sports at CTV two years ago after City Montreal cut reporters from its local sports magazine show.
“I’m not even at my 26th birthday and I’ve been with two sports departments that have been entirely canned,” Coleman told me over the phone.
He combined his part-time work at CTV with part-time work at TSN 690 and CJAD. And he said it’s his understanding that he can continue with the radio work, even though it’s for the same parent company (and in offices across the street). But “I’m not really sure where it leaves me in terms of managing a full-time salary,” he said. Despite some wishful thinking on the part of fans, there isn’t exactly a limitless supply of jobs at TSN 690 (just ask Elliott Price or Ted Bird).
The news had pretty awful timing for Coleman. He and girlfriend Kelly Greig (who was just recently hired by CTV) moved into a new apartment on Tuesday. And now he has to worry about how to pay the rent. A bottle of wine, meant to celebrate the occasion, is staying unopened in the fridge, he said.
“I think today is just a day of licking the wounds,” he told me with an uncharacteristically sombre tone in his voice. Tomorrow he’ll worry about looking for another job and what to do with his career.
But though Coleman is talented and charismatic and will probably find work somewhere, it will be difficult to find something as rewarding and fun for him as this job was.
“This is the job I loved the most,” he said. “It’s a job that if I did the same thing for the next 40 years, I’d find something new to love every weekend. I knew that eventually local news and sports coverage would go their separate ways, but I didn’t think it would be this early.”
Frustratingly, his dismissal had nothing to do with his performance on the job. It was merely a decision by suits in Toronto that local sportscasts at CTV stations had to go.
“It’s entirely demoralizing,” Coleman said. “You show up every day and you give it your 100% and in two years forces beyond your control rip it from under your feet.”
The job also connected Coleman with viewers in a way he hadn’t experienced before. “I was always amazed when I talked to people how much they cared about local news,” he said. “It always meant a lot to me that people remembered (how you covered stories and what you said on the air) and it mattered to them.”
After getting the news, Coleman said Tieman took him out for coffee to commiserate about what had just happened. “I think it’s a shame that a legend like that goes out on these terms,” Coleman said.
I've been so proud to work at CTV. What an absolute honour it has been for me.
Show respect & humility always to everyone.
Thank you truly.
— Brian Wilde (@BWildeTBD) June 20, 2017
Wilde: Laying low
Wilde isn’t in the talking mood yet, but he posted a thank-you message on Twitter and told Pat Hickey that “It’s the nature of business. I’m sure I’ll land somewhere.” Wilde has become a star for the station in his own right with his Canadiens coverage, his 25,000 Twitter followers and his Call of the Wilde takes on the team. He’s made a name for himself as a voice of reason among the insane hordes of people who think they’d make a better general manager.
Wilde was part of the team doing play-by-play for Impact games on TSN 690 (the only sports team he allows himself to be an actual fan of). It’s unclear (even to him) whether he will still get to do so.
In the meantime, he’s changed his Twitter handle.
My heart has been exploding the last 30 hours. You have all made this all so bittersweet. Overwhelming. https://t.co/UxV0wVyKjY
— Brian Wilde (@BWildeTBD) June 22, 2017
Not many options
Speculation is already brewing on social media about where they could go. TSN 690? Wilde and Coleman were already very present on that station, but it’s owned by the same company and it doesn’t exactly have unlimited full-time jobs to give away. One possibility would be the new Rogers CityNews local newscasts to start next year. But that’s only if they decide they want to do local sports. It’s more likely they’ll use Sportsnet for sports segments, similar to what Breakfast Television does and what CTV plans to do. Global doesn’t do local sports in Montreal, and CBC already has Doug Gelevan and Andie Bennett.
Sportsnet or TSN could be looking to beef up their reporting staff in Montreal. Or maybe some other news or sports outlet might be looking to establish a Montreal presence. But people aren’t lining up the hire Montreal anglophone sports journalists, as anyone graduating from Concordia’s journalism department with an interest in sports will tell you. One or more of them could move to another city, but besides Toronto, the same problem is repeated across the country.
Not only is the station losing important local journalism, presumably to be replaced at some later point by content provided by TSN, but the newscast is losing big personalities, people with good humour, good news judgment and good heart who helped build the kind of strong relationship with viewers that has made CTV by far the most popular local newscast in anglo Montreal.
Those viewers are already expressing their outrage on social media, and though it will eventually die down, it won’t go away and it won’t be forgotten.
For those wondering where to vent their outrage, sending obscenities to the CTV Montreal Twitter account won’t do much good. Local staff are just as upset as the fans are. This decision was made in Toronto, and though no one at Bell Media has shown the courage to step up and take responsibility for the move, the executives directly linked would be Nikki Moffat, President of Local Radio and TV and Vice-President Finance, and Wendy Freeman, President of CTV News. Bell Media emails are firstname.lastname@example.org.
But even complaining to the top probably won’t do much good. These decisions are rarely reversed, especially when they happen on a national scale. Even decisions to boycott CTV and its local newscasts won’t see any results for months, and might do more harm than good, putting more local jobs at risk as revenues continue to drop. (Besides, there were boycotts called for when CJAD, TSN 690, CHOM, Virgin Radio, Q92/The Beat and Global made major cuts in the past, and those haven’t gone anywhere.)
But for Tieman, Wilde and Coleman, knowing how upset their viewers are to see them treated this way brings a little comfort.
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) June 20, 2017
Billy Patterson told me when I joined CJOH that Tieman is as good a guy as they come. He was bang on as usual. All the best pal.
— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) June 20, 2017
I lost a working partner today but the friendship will last forever https://t.co/X4LrWYFvMo
— Francois Gagnon (@GagnonFrancois) June 20, 2017
Voici une preuve de plus qui prouve ce que je dis depuis 10 ans, le marché des médias anglophones au QC est sur le point de disparaître.
— jeremy filosa (@JeremyFilosa) June 20, 2017
— CarolineVanV (@CarolineVanVCTV) June 20, 2017
The greatest tragedy of media layoffs like today's is that proven pros are shown the door by know-nothing corporate suckholes.
— Ted Bird (@manofbird) June 20, 2017
And now we lose @BWildeCTV coverage just when the Habs are going through a critical phase of remaking the team & chasing a top centreman.
— Jack Todd (@jacktodd46) June 20, 2017
1/2 When I started radio in Montreal there were (15) jobs for Anglo Radio Sports – CJAD (4) CFCF (4) CKGM (2) FM96 (2) CBC (2) and Ted Tevan
— Elliott Price (@ElliottFPrice) June 20, 2017
2/2 That was just radio and didn't include all the sports play by play and analyst jobs – CFCF TV and CBC local tv were also fully staffed
— Elliott Price (@ElliottFPrice) June 20, 2017
This was always a highlight at the evening lineup desk. https://t.co/i6SKHRDf0m
— Anastasia Risacher (@ARisacher) June 21, 2017
Press box at Molson Stadium wasn't full tonight. We were missing a couple of guys.
Everyone was. pic.twitter.com/ZzPHDaYb9H
— Graham Neysmith (@GNeysmith) June 23, 2017
- Pat Hickey in the Montreal Gazette, which also compiled some tweets of viewer reaction to the news. (There’s also lots of reaction on its Facebook page.)
- Jack Todd in the Montreal Gazette
- Mike Cohen at The Suburban
- Briefs by Presse Canadienne and Le Devoir
Meanwhile, Global News was crowing Tuesday about how their “multi-market content” system, whereby local newscasts in markets including Montreal are anchored out of Toronto, just won an innovation award by the RTDNA.
TIeman, Wilde honoured at Impact game
Here’s what that looked like when the Impact scored one of their goals:
— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) July 2, 2017
Wilde and Tieman also got a chant in their honour:
— Brian Wilde (@BWildeTBD) July 1, 2017
On June 30, Tieman was interviewed for 15 minutes on the Ted Bird morning show on Jewel 106.7: