Finnerty’s gone – who will host Daybreak now?

Mike Finnerty giant ad outside Maison Radio-Canada

Mike Finnerty giant ad outside Maison Radio-Canada, slightly torn to reveal ... another giant Mike Finnerty behind him.

In case you missed it, Friday was Mike Finnerty’s last day as host of Daybreak on CBC Radio One. Finnerty announced last month that he was leaving the CBC to move to London and take a job with the Guardian.

The theme of the final show (all links in this paragraph are streaming RealAudio format, which astonishingly it still uses) was what people will miss about Montreal (including lots of suggestions from listeners), since Finnerty is leaving the city. Finnerty also took the time to interview two CBC bosses, the big boss Hubert Lacroix, on the future of the public broadcaster, and local boss Patricia Pleszczynska on who would replace him as Daybreak host. Finally, he invited all the other CBC Montreal radio hosts to talk about what they’d miss about the city.

Despite hinting otherwise, there was no announcement of a new host. Pleszczynska said to “wait until September” while they evaluate the various candidates, many of whom we would expect would test-host the show over the summer.

You can listen to Finnerty’s final podcast here (MP3), which includes some original “live… to download” host banter and repeats the morning interviews. Or you can listen to my selections from Finnerty’s last Daybreak (MP3) from the over-the-air version.

Now it’s time to decide who will replace Mike in the anchor’s chair. I suggested a few names last month, but in the past few months during Finnerty’s vacations to London we’ve had a few guest anchors who might be candidates for the job. Links below are to the podcast versions of their shows in MP3 format, which isn’t a perfect way to evaluate how they do live on-air, but gives you an idea of their interview abilities and ability to socialize with the staff.

Shawn Apel is the first temporary host to take over the Mike’s mic on Monday morning.

UPDATE (July 15): The Gazette’s Mike Boone suggests it should be a woman in the host chair. Wood, Campbell, Sonali Karnick and Anne Lagacé-Dowson are mentioned as possible candidates.

17 thoughts on “Finnerty’s gone – who will host Daybreak now?

  1. Scott in Montreal

    I won’t miss Finnerty. He was a tyrant as an interviewer, seemingly in love with his own voice as he rudely interrupted his subjects at every turn, often despite the interviewees doing their level best to just answer his question. Seemed like he was always treating everyone like they were twisted scavengers of human remains, whose nefarious plots he was hellbent on exposing for the pitchfork-wielding masses to finish them off. I have no problem with that – when it’s deserved – but ol’ Finnerty was on the same hard-nosed investigative mission with, say, Pauline Maroises as with an innocent witness to a car crash. No sense of scale IMHO. I guess he always wanted to be somewhere bigger. To Finnerty’s credit, he did learn to do a good job summing up Benoit’s confusing weather soliloquies so I could actually figure out how to dress for the day. The Guardian might be just the right fit for him. As for his replacement, I just want somebody who can conduct an interview intelligently without needing to be the star themselves.

  2. cbc montreal insider

    Just to update you: since your post on this the aforementioned Patricia Pleszczynska has announced to staff she is leaving English CBC in Quebec to take a job with the French network. In addition, Craig Dale, producer of the TV newscast CBC News: Montreal at Six, has announced he’s taking a posiiton with The National in Toronto. No word on who will replace either of these two.

  3. Jim J.

    I listen to the Daybreak podcast almost every day – I do have to say that I’m not upset that Finnerty has left. He tried to pull off the more adversarial-style interviewing that you see on, for example, the BBC, but he had neither the demeanor nor the voice to get it right – he just came across as whiny and argumentative.

    On top of that, he would be so absolutely fawning over some interviews – listen to his interview from early June, I think, with one of the squatters who took over that old factory down in Point St. Charles. It was the worst interview – dripping with breathless adoration.

    I’ve heard the five potential replacements – all would be fine; I think that Apel would be pretty good, if only because he seems to have the best feel for Montreal news & events.

  4. Singlestar

    The best thing about Finnerty was that we didn’t have to listen to Bronstetter any more during the week.
    Mike is bright and well-read but in recent months had the bad habit of latching onto some guests like a pitbull without listening to their answers.

    As to choice of successor from your list: none of the above.None are quick, witty and knnwledgeable about Montreal all att he same time.

  5. Maria Gatti

    Personally, I will very much miss Mike Finnerty; I suppose living across the pond I am rather used to the more adversarial British style. At the same time he came across as pleasant, articulate and cultivated. His English is beautiful, his French quite acceptable. Much better than Bronstetter in all ways. And better than René-Homier Roy on Radio-Canada (I switch between the two, as I have to keep up with current events and their lexicon in both official languages).

    Wouldn’t mind getting Anne Lagacé-Dowson, formerly of Radio Noon, back hosting Daybreak, but I guess she is in some kind of purgatory for standing for the NDP in the last Federal elections?

  6. CJ

    I can’t believe anyone would prefer Finnerty over Bronstetter. At least Bronstetter was amusing – Finnerty was a dead voice on air. He interviewed everyone like he was trying to uncover the Watergate scandal – it was embarrassing to listen to. I’ve listened to the cbc every morning for years. I stopped in March because I had enough of not only Finnerty but the ridiculous pontification by the team. I think they are great – but they are not philosophers – the cbc made a mistake at trying to make the morning show a round table debate.

    I want humour and wittiness in the morning – not couch potato philosophy and inquisition style interviews.

    I think Appel is a competent radio host – but I don’t find him very lively. The old sports guy back when Bronstetter was there – was quite good – I can’t recall his name (Kevin Sylvester maybe?) but I think he went to Toronto.

    Just my two-cents.


  7. Beeg

    Yeah Kevin Sylvester was kind of funny, right? I’m always surprised that the CBC sports (also, why no sports with traffic and weather after the news?) is so haphazard – like they will only tell you who won last night’s Habs’ game every 85 minutes. Not worse than the cram-down-your-throat approach of sports radio but curious. Appel would be a great choice for those of us who love to snooze when the alarm clock comes on. Of the rumoured names, I don’t know Campbell or Puddicombe, but of the other three only Nancy Wood has the chops to take over. She would be a pleasant upgrade over the two previous cranky hosts. CJ is bang-on about the pontification – it always leads to childish bickering.

    Of course it’s still better commercial radio, if only because you never have to hear the words Brault or Martineau.

  8. Fred Kuhr

    I listen to the Daybreak podcast from Toronto to keep in touch with Montreal, and I will definitely miss Mike Finnerty. He had the right mix of smarts and humour, with a really distinctive voice that made him stand out. He also seemed to have a great rapport with the rest of the Daybreak crew. Yeah, I’ll miss him.

  9. Stewart (Plateau)

    Finally – let’s get some YOUNG blood in there! This is an opportunity to have someone younger and with a fresher perspective. I remember one host having to explain to Mike last year what a ‘hipster’ was and he was dumbfounded. As far as culture goes – music, films etc., Mike is clueless unless it’s mainstream enough to be the Village People or Star Trek.

    Daybreak still sounds like it is geared towards 65+ years old demographic. Bring in a new, YOUNG, host please!

  10. jon

    The host this week, Craig Dale, seems young. Great voice, and seems to know what he’s talking about.

  11. Jim J.

    Mike Boone’s article in today’s Gazette:

    I’ve been listening to the Daybreak podcast, listening to Apel, Kelly and now Dale.

    I get the impression that Dale – okay, I’ve only listened to one day of him so far – is not comfortable in radio. Lots of starts & stops, a halting speech pattern, as if he doesn’t know where his sentence is going to go next.

    Kelly is enthusiastic, but he talks over people – not intentionally, I would imagine – but he oftentimes doesn’t let the other speaker finish a sentence, whether it is an interviewee, or one of his fellow presenters. Whereas Finnerty would do this as an interviewing technique, Kelly is almost like a sleddog straining at the harness.

    Apel has a smooth speaking style, but he is maybe a bit too low-key. He doesn’t get all agitated like Finnerty did, and he seems to be interested in what he is doing, but his cadence and style almost comes across as apathetic.

    Anyone have any similar (or different) impressions?

  12. CJ

    I wasn’t fond of Apel at first but he has grown on me and I would definitely tune in again if he was on. I do not know which of the other two was which but I wasn’t fond of either. One sounded like he was very uncomfortable on the radio and he fumbled over his words. The other I just found dull.

    I think the entire format for the morning show needs to change though for it to be more enjoyable.

    1. DVM

      I like Apel and (especially after hearing stilted Craig, whiney Kelly, and …. nice but vanilla Nancy) I LOVE Rucka-vee-nah (no idea how to spell it). Steve Rukavena gets my vote. He has the mix of ease, humour, confidence, interest and interviewing. Can we vote again and acutally be listened to?

      While we’re at it can we PLEASE get some young blood in on Saturday mornings. Bronstetter is …. the dorky father I never had, or wanted.

      Please CBC, listen to your listeners.

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  15. DVM

    Mike Finnerty set a new standard of awesome. He had an easy manner with the Daybreak team and a tenacity in interviews that is rarely seen in North America. Mike was also real. he admitted that it was hard to get up in the morning, which I could relate to.

    I am not sorry to hear that Nancy Wood is going. I find her fawning and the team lacks the same fluidity without a cohesive host. I am sorry and disappointed that the CBC seems to be (again) conducting itself in the abhorrent practice of poor management. There are ways to make change without hurt.

    1. CJ

      “He had an easy manner with the Daybreak team and a tenacity in interviews that is rarely seen in North America.”

      Are you serious?? LOL

      he approached every interview like he was going to uncover the watergate scandal – even the fluffy interviews in the morning. It was embarrassing to listen to – and I didn’t. I gave him two months and then I switched CBC off until he left.


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