Global Montreal has finally filled the seat that was vacated by Richard Dagenais when he moved to mornings in January: Reporter Elysia Bryan-Baynes is being upgraded to the anchor desk, it was announced on Wednesday morning. Her first day on air is June 3.
Bryan-Baynes, an avid comic-book reader, has been with Global Montreal since 2003, but this is her first permanent job at the station, station manager Karen Macdonald tells me.
“Elysia has literally been a freelancer here since 2003,” she said. “We’ve had lots and lots of babies and we’ve had lots and lots of mat leaves” that she’s been able to fill. Macdonald attributes the lack of openings both to the station’s tiny size since it drastically cut staff in 2007, and to its bizarrely low turnover rate. “People just don’t leave here,” she said. “So since 2007 since we had the cuts we haven’t had that many departures.”
The new morning show, which brought a handful of new jobs including two anchors, created an opportunity.
— Richard Dagenais (@Dagenator) May 15, 2013
“Of all the candidates, her screen test was the best,” Macdonald said. “I think people will be intrigued and pleasantly surprised.”
Bryan-Baynes hasn’t done much anchoring, which Macdonald said was “because she’s had so much else to do” with reporting, including some filling in at the National Assembly. “She’s a really strong anchor, she has a lot of experience news-wise. It requires a lot of experience, because basically they’re by themselves a lot in the evening.”
For her part, Bryan-Baynes says she’s really excited about the new gig. “I’ve loved the work and the team since I arrived in 2003,” she tells me. “Global has always made me feel part of the family. Now its official. For now, I’m feeling excitement and great sense of responsibility. I’m sure many other emotions will hit me between now and when I start in June.”
Paola Samuel has been filling in on the late-night desk most nights since Dagenais’s move.
Global also announced to staff that Gloria Henriquez has officially been named associate producer of Morning News, a role she has been temporarily filling since the show began.
Karwatsky to take over late nights at CTV
Meanwhile at CTV, there’s also a change there to the late-night anchor desk. Catherine Sherriffs will be leaving on maternity leave this summer, and the station has decided to have Paul Karwatsky take over the late-night desk in addition to co-anchoring at 6 p.m., station manager Louis Douville told me. That means Mutsumi Takahashi will be doing the noon newscast solo.
When Todd van der Heyden left CFCF for CTV News Channel, the speculation on who would replace him really came down to one choice: Either it’s Paul Karwatsky or it’s not Paul Karwatsky.
Karwatsky was the only other male anchor at the station, and while it wasn’t impossible that a woman would be picked to sit beside Mutsumi Takahashi, managers in TV news are still concerned enough about how things look that such a selection would seem unlikely.
Karwatsky was a great idea on paper. He’s a Montrealer, was already working at CFCF and had anchoring experience. The only strike against him was that he was young. And when your viewers have grown up with people like Bill Haugland and Brian Britt, going young presents a risk. (A risk that has already blown up in their face once.)
But when Karwatsky was selected to be “interim” co-anchor with Takahashi after van der Heyden left, it was just a matter of time before the position was made permanent. Barring some dramatic failure, he was clearly up to the job. And it would have taken a lot for them to decide to go with someone from the outside who CTV Montreal viewers are unfamiliar with.
As it turns out, it required only two weeks. CTV announced on Wednesday evening that Karwatsky has been made a permanent co-anchor with Takahashi. What was essentially a probation period or tryout has clearly been successful.
And being young isn’t the worst thing in the world. Andrew Chang at CBC is younger, and although his appointment as anchor of CBMT’s supper-hour newscast seemed similarly risky back in 2009, he’s fit into the role remarkably well.
The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein has the story, which has many of the same platitudes contained in the CTV story but also some colour about Karwatsky’s background.
What about weekends?
Now that Karwatsky’s position on the weekday desk has been made official, there’s the question of what to do with his former post. Before moving to weekdays, Karwatsky did weekend newscasts at 6pm with Tarah Schwartz and solo at 11:30pm. Schwartz has been doing both newscasts alone, which means her shift starts much later than it used to and the lineup editor has to do more of the work to setup the 6pm newscast.
CTV could choose to continue this way, or could hire someone else to take over Karwatsky’s old job. (UPDATE: News Director Jed Kahane confirms he will be hiring another anchor for the weekend desk.)
Either way, they could probably use another backup anchor. Caroline van Vlaardingen has been substituting on occasion as needed, and Cindy Sherwin has also done some anchoring, but other than that the cupboard is pretty bare.