CTV Montreal cancels local sportscasts, lays off Randy Tieman, Brian Wilde, Sean Coleman

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.

Lori Graham and Paul Karwatsky pay tribute to their former sports colleagues at the end of Tuesday’s newscast.

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.

Randy Tieman at the St. Patrick’s Parade this year.

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.

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.'”

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.

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.

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.

Viewers outraged

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@bellmedia.ca.

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.

Other coverage

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

Wilde and Tieman were invited to rink the 1642 MTL group’s bell at the Impact game on Saturday, July 1.

Here’s what that looked like when the Impact scored one of their goals:

Wilde and Tieman also got a chant in their honour:

On June 30, Tieman was interviewed for 15 minutes on the Ted Bird morning show on Jewel 106.7:

87 thoughts on “CTV Montreal cancels local sportscasts, lays off Randy Tieman, Brian Wilde, Sean Coleman

  1. Media Man

    Well, that Facebook Page that I follow, did it again, and whoa, he doesn’t pull any punches, I can’t believe the Open Letter or Email I guess that he sent to the National CTV office which he posted…And again, he okayed me to post the link..

    I’d like to see the faces of the execs whenever they read it….He’s more angry than I am.It makes for hard hitting reading….

    https://www.facebook.com/bobbydscelebrityworld/posts/1386392534778168

    Reply
  2. Adam

    I am 27 years old and have been watching the 6 pm CFCF newscasts since the late 1990s, back in the days of “Pulse News”. Randy and Brian’s departure hurts. They were familiar faces we had all grown so accustomed to. Class acts all the way!

    They will be greatly missed.

    Reply
  3. Apple IIGS

    June 21, Apple IIGS wrote…

    “there is a line between being profitable and just total disregard for your customers and local TV viewers.”

    June 22, Bobby D wrote…

    “there is a line between being profitable and and a complete disdain for your customers and local TV Viewers.”

    …And there is a line between being inspired by another person’s writings and plagiarism. ;) I doubt he had any ill intentions here, but he probably should have added the simple pretext, “as one commenter on Fagstein’s blog stated:”.

    Reply
  4. Van Delc

    Sad day for us Anglo local viewers. I also noticed they are bringing on board younger faces.Does this mean the old timers. Mutsumi, Stephan Giroux and Rob Lurie will be axed next? Bad decision Bell Media.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Mutsumi, Stephan Giroux and Rob Lurie will be axed next?

      CTV Montreal is a union shop, so veteran reporters are generally safe unless they decide to get rid of all of them, which they probably won’t do because the CRTC has new requirements for local news. As for Mutsumi, they could decide to end or not renew her contract, but it would depend on how much they save versus how much they would lose from viewer outrage. (It’s not absolutely impossible — they did let go of Carol Anne Meehan in Ottawa, after all.)

      Reply
    2. Apple IIGS

      There’s a couple of other old timers at Montreal CTV from the pre-Bell era: Cindy Sherwin, Caroline Van Vlaardingen (used to host “On-Line Montreal”, another local CFCF-12 show that was axed by the powers that be), Lori Graham, Mose Persico, and of course, Barry Wilson.

      As for these veteran’s futures, I wouldn’t put anything past Bell. Public outrage means very little to them, all that matters is how much they can get away with in order to increase profits. Good example, a basic no-frills bare bones Bell landline is now $43/month ($47 in Ontario!) and continuing to climb.

      Reply
  5. Tom Shelly

    What the HELL HAPPENED? Why the f****n h*** do you guys LAY OFF our Sportscasters at CTV? YOU’RE “STUPID,” that’s what. Plain, dumb, pure, STUPID.

    Reply

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