Tag Archives: CBC Montreal

Another wave of cuts at CBC will mean 9 jobs lost in English services in Quebec

The cuts just keep coming at the CBC. The latest wave, announced today, affects local services across the country in both English and French, with 144 and 100 jobs cut, respectively.

J-Source has a copy of the memo outlining the regional breakdown for English services, which says nine jobs will be cut in Quebec.

We don’t know which jobs those will be yet. “Affected people will be informed in the coming weeks,” says communications manager Debbie Hynes.

The cuts relate to changes in the way local programming is managed, including the reduction of evening TV newscasts from 90 to 30 minutes this fall. Local radio programming is not being cut.

On the French side, Louis Lalande give some details about the cuts, including shows on ICI Musique that will be cancelled.

CBC holding its first public consultation for English-language minority in Quebec

The CBC wants to hear from you, not just because it wants to, but because it’s required to by a condition of licence.

In fact, it’s the very first condition of licence for CBC’s English and French-language services in a new CRTC licence approved in May 2013: The public broadcaster has to consult with minority-language communities: Francophones in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Western Canada and the North, and anglophones in Quebec. It has to happen once every two years and it has to be reported to the CRTC.

As CBC Quebec Managing Director Shelagh Kinch explains in this story I wrote for the Montreal Gazette, this is merely a formalizing of regular consultations the CBC did with anglophone community groups in Quebec and collection of audience feedback.

The consultation takes place Tuesday (Feb. 24) from 6:30pm to 8pm at Salle Raymond David of the Maison Radio-Canada in Montreal. You can also tune in via live webcast and participate on Twitter using the hashtag #CBCconsults.

In addition to Kinch and a panel of local journalists (All in a Weekend/Our Montreal host Sonali Karnick, C’est la vie host and political columnist Bernard St-Laurent, Shari Okeke and Raffy Boudjikanian, plus travelling journalist Marika Wheeler), there will also be two bigwigs from CBC who can make a real difference: Jennifer McGuire, editor-in-chief of CBC News (who is also responsible for local radio across the country) and Sally Catto, general manager of programming for CBC Television. (Sadly, there isn’t anyone from national CBC radio, nor is CEO Hubert Lacroix on the panel.)

The CRTC imposed this condition of licence among several changes in the last licence renewal to ensure CBC is fulfilling its mandate toward minority language communities that aren’t large enough to have commercial broadcasters catering to them. And while Montreal is big enough that we have four English TV stations and several commercial radio stations, the rest of Quebec is pretty underserved. The only major broadcaster catering to them directly is the CBC Radio One station in Quebec City.

So if you have some beef with CBC’s programming, or feel as though it needs to better reflect your reality, whether you live on the Plateau or in Gaspé, this is your chance to make yourself heard.

And yeah, the just-shut-down-the-CBC suggestion has already been made.

The Facebook event for the discussion is here.

I can’t make it because of a meeting I have to be at, so I won’t get a chance to ask why our public broadcaster took a pass on the only English-language Canadian scripted drama series that’s actually set in Montreal.

CBC cutting local TV newscast from 90 to 30 minutes starting next fall

As the CBC continues finding ways to save money, the corporation announced today that it is making changes to local programming.

The biggest one is that evening TV newscasts are being cut from 90 minutes to 60 or 30, depending on the market. Montreal is one of the unlucky ones, being cut to 30 minutes, starting at 6pm. This happens to be CBC Montreal’s weakest half-hour, because it competes directly with CTV News at 6 and Global News.

Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Windsor and Fredericton are also getting cut to 30 minutes. Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John’s will stay at 60 minutes because there’s still a “business case” for longer newscasts there, and CBC North will have 30 minutes in English and 30 minutes in Inuktitut.

Evening and weekend news are unchanged, as are local programs on CBC Radio One.

On the French side, the weeknight local Téléjournal broadcasts will be cut to 30 minutes everywhere but Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa/Gatineau and the Acadian region.

There are also smaller changes. CBC Daybreak will be broadcast on television from 6-7am. Currently CBC Television airs a national CBC News broadcast at this time, surrounded by local news, weather and traffic graphics.

There’s also going to be new one-minute hourly news breaks throughout the afternoon and evening on CBC Television.

How this will affect jobs at CBC is unclear at this point. Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for CBC English Services says there are “no new cuts beyond those announced in June.” The CBC tells Canadian Press that it’s too early to talk about job cuts resulting from this, but not counting staff these changes will save $15 million a year.

Good news, too, kinda

If you want to ignore all that and pretend this is good news, as the CBC does in its press release, these “changes” are part of a transformation process that will focus more on digital. The corporation is vague on what changes are happening to the digital side, but apparently they will be improvements.

On the local side, the CBC will also be adding a videojournalist position in the Eastern Townships to expand coverage there. Right now there’s no private English-language TV or radio journalist permanently assigned to the townships. The CBC has a “researcher columnist” in the region covering it for radio, and occasionally supplements that with the travelling journalist who contributes to CBC Radio’s Quebec Community Network based out of Quebec City. This new position would be in addition to that, covering the townships for TV, radio and the web.

Fort McMurray, Alta., will also get a new news bureau.

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CBC Montreal ends sports reporter rotation; Doug Gelevan, Andie Bennett get stable gigs

Douglas Gelevan will work full-time as sports anchor on CBC Montreal's evening newscast and as sports columnist for Homerun

Douglas Gelevan will work full-time as sports anchor on CBC Montreal’s evening newscast and as sports columnist for Homerun

Three years after creating a two-person sports unit and rotating them regularly between morning and afternoon jobs, CBC Montreal has finally come to its senses and is giving them more stable schedules.

Douglas Gelevan announced on Friday that he’s moving to a full-time job as TV sports anchor and afternoon radio sports columnist as of Monday.

“We’re going to experiment with exactly how the daily work flow will work with me over the next month,” Gelevan tells me. “By fall the permanent structure should be in place. I know the plan is to create a workflow that will get sports more involved in the 6 to 6:30 part of the program in addition to a sportscast in the 5. A back and forth scenario between the TV and Homerun studio is likely, but I can’t say for sure.”

Since Homerun airs from 3 to 6pm and the TV newscast is from 5 to 6:30pm, there’s some overlap, meaning the schedule has to be figured out (especially because it takes a couple of minutes to run from one studio to the other). But the team had been doing radio hits at 5:50pm after anchoring a sportscast during the 5pm block, so it should be manageable.

I asked Gelevan if he’ll enjoy the fact that he won’t have to get up as early for Daybreak. For a sports reporter especially, those kinds of hours can be very difficult.

But “it’s never been a issue for me,” he said. “Working on Daybreak is feels like getting fired out of canon as soon as you wake up. I’ll miss that aspect of being on the show for sure. And working side by side Mike, Monique, Jeanette and Brendan… They’re awesome.”

Andie Bennett remains on Daybreak full-time

Andie Bennett remains on Daybreak full-time

It’s been three years since Andie Bennett left what was then Team 990 to join CBC, prompting the creation of the sports unit. The move meant going on TV regularly, which clearly took some time getting used to, though viewers have seen her get more comfortable in the role as time has passed.

“I’m a radio girl at heart and we were all in agreement that it is better to have consistency on the airwaves,” Bennett said. “The TV work has been a great experience and I will still be doing some TV from time to time, ideally doing maybe one item a month that will be a bit more in-depth, thought-out, creative type of story.”

Aside from giving these two broadcasters more stable schedules, the change solves some practical problems. Promotions for either Daybreak or the TV newscast would either have to include both of them or neither. Now, Gelevan can stand next to Debra Arbec and Frank Cavallaro on those TV posters and Bennett can be more prominent in the B-roll they shoot for those tomorrow-on-Daybreak TV commercials.

“With Andrew Chang’s departure, we wanted to create a consistent on-air team for CBC News at 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00,” said CBC Quebec content manager Meredith Dellandrea (who’s filling in for other managers on vacation). “Doug Gelevan is great in the TV sports role and we’re so happy he agreed to this change. We are also pleased that Andie Bennett — also great on TV and radio — has agreed to be the Daybreak sports reporter on a daily basis.”

Both Bennett and Gelevan describe this as a win-win.

“It’s good news for everyone I think,” Bennett said. “I wanted to return to radio full-time and Doug does great work in the scripted TV format.”

And they insist they’re still a team. Their “sports unit” stories, where they go out together and try out new sports for our amusement, will continue.

With all the common sense that went into this, it makes you wonder why it took three years to get here.

Former CBC journalist Ange-Aimee Woods dies suddenly

UPDATED July 9 with details of memorial service at the end, and July 28 with slideshow link.

Ange-Aimee Woods at a save-the-CBC union rally in 2009.

Ange-Aimee Woods at a save-the-CBC union rally in 2009.

Ange-Aimee Woods, who worked for CBC radio in Montreal for 10 years as a researcher, producer, journalist and occasional fill-in host before leaving for a “dream job” at Colorado Public Radio last year and then recently came back to the city, died suddenly on Wednesday of apparent heart failure. She was 41. (UPDATE July 2, 2015: A coroner’s report has declared an allergic reaction the probable cause of death.)

Obituaries have been published by CBC, The Gazette and CPR, and a more personal one from a friend. The CBC obit includes some clips from Woods, including her goodbye interview before leaving for CPR. The CBC radio show Homerun aired a tribute to her on Thursday afternoon.

CBC colleagues are shocked at the news. There was no indication that Woods had any health problems, and she was one of the nicest people you could ever meet.

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Shawn Apel named host of Radio Noon

Shawn Apel

Shawn Apel

Shawn Apel, the soft-spoken CBC Montreal radio veteran with the driest of wits, has been named the permanent host of Radio Noon, he weekly radio show broadcast throughout Quebec on CBC Radio One.

Apel replaces Bernard St-Laurent, who leaves that job to focus full-time on his role as chief political correspondent in Quebec. It’s a move that comes concurrently with various cuts to local staff, though not directly related to it.

Last day for three staffers

Speaking of those cuts, Friday is the last day on the job for three others at CBC Montreal. Andrew Chang does his last show as anchor before leaving on paternity leave and coming back to some other job at CBC outside of Montreal. You can watch his last show here, or just the career retrospective here.

Web editor Corinne Smith is leaving the corporation to lecture at Concordia University.

And Pierre Landry does his last episode of Homerun as its arts reporter. He’ll be a fill-in on All in a Weekend over the summer, but there’s no guarantee of any work after that.

Here’s 11 minutes of excerpts from Landry’s last hour at Homerun:

 

Andrew Chang leaving Montreal for new job at CBC

Andrew Chang

Andrew Chang

When CBC Montreal detailed the 10 jobs being affected as a result of the latest round of budget cuts, nine of those changes were well explained, but one remained mysterious, described only as a “reassignment”.

Now we know who it involves, though still not what the new assignment is. Andrew Chang announced on Wednesday’s newscast that he will be leaving Montreal for a new job at CBC. He said he couldn’t say where he’s going or what he’ll be doing when he gets there.

Chang has been at CBC Montreal for 10 years. (He started around the same time I worked there briefly. I remember because CBC user accounts for me and him were started at the same time, with the expectation that we’d both be around for a while. That wasn’t so in my case, though casual workers and interns for years would use my name to login to CBC’s systems, causing me to have some strange mythology there even in the years before this blog.)

After doing many different jobs at CBC, including being a reporter, he took over the anchor desk in 2009 with Jennifer Hall (now at CBC News Network) after Michel Godbout left. Though he was a young choice, Chang was instantly comfortable in the new position, able to mix gravitas of serious news and lightheartedness of news that wasn’t so serious. And though he was a hard worker, he never seemed to take himself too seriously.

Debra Arbec will continue to host the evening news on CBC Montreal solo. CBC tells me they’re not looking for a co-anchor for her.

Chang is expecting his first child in about a week (give or take the usual uncertainty with pregnancies). He’ll go on paternity leave, fill in as host of The Current for a week, and then go on to his new assignment.

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CBC cuts affect 10 jobs at CBC Montreal; five people let go

For three weeks after CBC President Hubert Lacroix announced cuts equivalent to 657 full-time positions at the public broadcaster, employees at the CBC Montreal office finally learned how those cuts would trickle down at the local level.

This week, I met with Shelagh Kinch, the Quebec regional director for English services, who laid it out for me: 10 positions are being “affected” by the cuts, and at this point it looks like five people will be leaving the CBC as a result.

I explain it all in this story, which appears in Saturday’s Gazette.

The changes break down as follows:

  • Management is being restructured, eliminating the job of news director. Mary-Jo Barr has been let go. Helen Evans will be in charge of both news and current affairs, while Meredith Dellandrea will be in charge of non-daily programs (like Cinq à six, À propos and Our Montreal) and have “a major role” in the CBC Montreal website. “Helen has an extensive background with us,” Kinch said. “She’s probably produced every one of those programs for us. She also has very strong leadership skills. I need somebody that people are behind and people want to work with.”
  • Two retirements won’t be replaced: journalist Ivan Slobod, who left in September after 30 years at the CBC, and Sally Caudwell, who produces Radio Noon.
  • The two part-time jobs producing Cinq à six and À propos are being replaced by one full-time producer. Tanya Birkbeck, who produced Cinq à six, will stay at the CBC as a news reporter. Sophie Laurent, who produced À propos, is out of a job. Frank Opolko will take over producing both jobs.
  • Web development is being centralized in Toronto, and a local developer is being made redundant. The person in that position will be able to apply to the Toronto job, Kinch said.
  • A communications officer position is being made redundant. Catherine Megelas is the unlucky one. She said in a Facebook post that it was “a super shitty day” the day she was told. Redundancy means that the union will try to find another job for her to fill, a process that could take up to 90 days.
  • A late-night camera operator is being reassigned.
  • One arts reporter position is being eliminated. Pierre Landry, the arts reporter for Homerun, is the only one who’s on contract, so his won’t be renewed past the end of June.
  • One position, described as a reassignment, that CBC said it couldn’t give any details on. (UPDATE: It’s anchor Andrew Chang, who’s taking up a new job at CBC outside of Montreal)

The departures will be staggered over the summer, as contracts end, notices are given and alternative jobs explored. But by September, the changes should have taken effect.

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CBC Montreal lays off news director Mary-Jo Barr, promotes reporter Catherine Cullen

Mary-Jo Barr when I met her in 2009.

Mary-Jo Barr when I met her in 2009.

The drastic job cuts at CBC now have at least one local face. Mary-Jo Barr, news director for English services in Montreal, was let go this week as her position has been eliminated.

“I am restructuring the management team here at CBC Montreal,” Shelagh Kinch, Managing Director for English services in Quebec, wrote to me via email. “The News Director and Current Affairs Program Manager positions have been removed and we have created one new position — Managing Editor. This new position is responsible for all News and Current Affairs content and programs.”

“Helen Evans has agreed to take on this role. With over 20 years in programming at CBC, she has done an excellent job as Current Affairs Program Manager leading daily and weekly current affairs programming on Radio (Daybreak, Radio Noon, Homerun, All in A Weekend, Quebec AM and Breakaway) and on TV with Our Montreal.”

“Meredith Dellandrea will also have an expanded role as Content Manager, Arts and Digital. She will continue to be responsible for Canada Writes, CBC Music, Cinq a Six and network programs (A Propos and Wiretap). Meredith will also have a larger role with cbc.ca/montreal for all non-news content.”

Barr’s legacy at CBC Montreal includes various revamps of their newscast, and the hiring of people like Frank Cavallaro and Debra Arbec. The fact that both of them came out of CTV is not a coincidence. Barr herself worked at CTV Montreal before moving to CBC.

Barr did not respond to a request for comment. I’ll update this if she does.

Catherine Cullen goes to Ottawa

Catherine Cullen looking at me suspiciously, because she knows better than to trust me when I have a camera.

Catherine Cullen looking at me suspiciously, because she knows better than to trust me when I have a camera.

In happier news, CBC Montreal is losing another employee, but for a more Facebookable reason: reporter Catherine Cullen is leaving the Maison Radio-Canada to join the network’s parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. Cullen made the announcement Thursday on social media.

Cullen, who I know because we were classmates at Concordia in 2005, started working for the CBC soon after that, first in radio, then quickly scoring a coveted permanent job at a company notorious for dragging along casual workers for years. She moved into TV because that’s what happens to people who are pretty and have a lot of charisma. She became a national reporter based in Montreal, where she regularly got to interact on national TV with her idol and secret crush Peter Mansbridge.

Like me, Cullen is originally from Pierrefonds, but she spent most of her youth in Ottawa. She studied media at what was then called the University of Western Ontario before doing the journalism diploma program with me at Concordia.

Cullen starts in Ottawa on Monday.

UPDATE: The headline for this post originally said that Barr had been “fired”. A couple of people at CBC asked me to change that because they felt it was inaccurate to say so. I disagree. I think it’s an accurate, if harsh, word to use to describe someone having their employment terminated involuntarily. In fact, that’s the very definition of the word.

But in the interest of not leaving people with the wrong impression, I’ll say she was laid off. But whether you say fired or laid off or let go or shuffled out of a job, the end result is the same: CBC has redone its management structure in Montreal, and Barr is no longer part of that plan, so she is no longer a CBC employee.

(While I’m at it, I don’t know if Cullen’s new job is technically a promotion either. But it’s definitely an upward career move for her, which is why I describe it that way.)

Weather/traffic shuffle at CBC Montreal

Sabrina Marandola, left, is leaving Thomas Daigle's weekend show to join Nancy Wood, right, on weeknights.

Sabrina Marandola, left, is leaving Thomas Daigle’s weekend show to join Nancy Wood, right, on weeknights.

The departure of Catherine Verdon-Diamond, who is now doing weather at Breakfast Television on City, has resulted in a shuffling of staff at CBC Montreal. Verdon-Diamond was the weather presenter on the 11pm newscast with Nancy Wood for only a few months before getting the City gig.

Taking her place, officially as of October, is Sabrina Marandola, who was doing the weekend weather with Thomas Daigle. Her job, in turn, is being taken by Jeremy Zafran, who was doing traffic for Homerun on CBC Radio One. He will continue doing that job Mondays to Wednesday’s.

On the other days, Homerun’s traffic desk will be run by Jennifer Allen. Allen has been doing traffic at CBC for a while, mainly on Daybreak.

Photos: CBC vs. City softball game

CBC vs. City

On Aug. 15, one of Montreal’s oldest broadcaster and one of its newest took to the field at Côte des Neiges’s Nelson Mandela Park to play a friendly game of softball. On Tuesday, the fun continues as CBC takes on Global Montreal on the same field.

To get you in the spirit, here’s what happened last month between CBC and City.

(Note: Some captions may be made up.)

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CBC vs. City in softball game Thursday

Steve Rukavina isn't afraid of City.

Steve Rukavina isn’t afraid of City.

Thursday evening will see an epic media battle for the ages.

Or not.

Staff of City Montreal have accepted a challenge to play a softball game against the CBC Montreal all-stars, who are still recovering from a 10-0 humiliation at the hands of the Jewish General memory clinic last month.

The game begins at 7pm at Nelson Mandela Park in Côte des Neiges, corner of Westbury and Barclay Aves., near the Plamondon metro station.

There’s no money on the line, just pride. They’ll be passing the hat to support the NDG Food Depot.

But the trash talking has already begun

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Photos: CBC softball charity game

On Tuesday night, staff from CBC Montreal played the Trailmakers of the Jewish General Hospital’s memory clinic in a charity softball game in front of at least five spectators at Hampstead Park.

The game was an embarrassment for the CBC Montreal team, which failed to score a single run and lost the game 10-0. But they had fun. And I got some pictures. So here they are:

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Living English: Un peu de respect, SVP

CBC Living English panel, from left: Debra Arbec, Kevin Tierney, Terry Mosher, Jean-François Lisée, Anne-France Goldwater, Tamy Emma Pepin, John Stokes, Mike Finnerty

CBC Living English panel, from left: Debra Arbec, Kevin Tierney, Terry Mosher, Jean-François Lisée, Anne-France Goldwater, Tamy Emma Pepin, John Stokes, Mike Finnerty

It started with a chuckle when Jean-François Lisée raised his hand after moderator Mike Finnerty asked who in the crowd thought the English language needed protection in Quebec. It could have been seen as a good-natured laugh at the idea that a Parti Québécois minister, a member of a cabinet that pushes for stronger language laws, believes the English language needs help.

It got worse about 16 minutes in when blogger Tamy Emma Pepin tried to explain language conflicts in a historical context, saying that while historically francophones have felt oppressed by anglophones who had economic power here, her generation has no recollection of the days before the Quiet Revolution and there’s less resentment on both sides of the language divide. (She didn’t explain it very well, using the word “superior”, but it wasn’t hard to figure out her point.)

The crowd got angry. One person sitting near me actually said out loud that she was lying about history.

As the night went on, the interjections from the crowd got worse, and the entire event even more awkward and infuriating for spectators like me who came to hear a polite discussion.

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