Todd van der Heyden leaving for CTV News Channel

Todd van der Heyden, who has been anchoring CTV Montreal’s noon and 6pm newscasts with Mutsumi Takahashi since 2008, will be leaving the station and moving to Toronto to accept a job as an anchor on CTV News Channel, CTV announced on Friday.

CTV Montreal has a story on its website, CTV News Channel has a press release, and Van der Heyden confirmed the news on Twitter. He also announced it to viewers at the end of Friday’s noon newscast (see video above).

His last newscast for CFCF will be Friday, Dec. 30. He starts anchoring CTV News Channel’s Express from 1-4pm weekdays with Amanda Blitz, starting Jan. 16.

You can read the abridged version of all this in the story I wrote for The Gazette. Or, for you TV fanatics, lots of detail and baseless speculation below.

Captain Fill-in

While his move might be a surprise to some of his viewers, it’s not completely out of the blue. Van der Heyden has filled in as news anchor at Canada AM and on CTV News Channel, starting in 2007. He filled in for Seamus O’Regan as Canada AM’s cohost this summer, his most high-profile Toronto gig so far.

In fact, he worked a shift at CTV News Channel on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year, cancelling holiday plans with his family. That’s not something a big-city anchor does for the money.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that other opportunities might open up for him in Toronto, and that he would be interested in them if they did.

Really quickly

“This is something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while,” van der Heyden told me on the phone Friday, just after finishing the noon newscast. “I always kind of had my eye out on what was out there (but) I wasn’t going to go for anything. I wanted something that was going to be a challenge for me.”

“A couple of months ago there was word that they were going to be rejigging CTV News Channel. That kind of got me thinking. They approached me a couple of weeks ago and said ‘Is this something you’d be interested in?’ Everything really happened really quickly.”

CTV Montreal News Director Jed Kahane says the national people kept him in the loop about the offer. It was finalized this week with the agreement that van der Heyden would continue working in Montreal until Dec. 30 and he’d have a couple of weeks to get settled in Toronto before his first shift at News Channel. Though he starts Jan. 16, what if any preparatory work he has to do there is still up in the air.

He still hasn’t met his co-host yet, and wants the chance to take her out to dinner and get to know each other.

Van der Heyden said one of his first calls was to Takahashi, catching her just before she left on vacation to Japan. He said she was very encouraging.

Big fish vs. big pond

Though at first the idea of moving to Toronto and having a national audience might be considered a big leap forward career-wise, there’s a similar argument that it’s a move down – or at least in a lateral direction.

There’s the ratings, for one. CTV tells me the average afternoon audience (noon to 6pm weekdays) for News Channel is 43,000, and that’s up 35% from last year. CTV Montreal’s News at 6 has ratings in the area of 200,000 due to its market dominance.

No more billboards of Todd van der Heyden

There’s also the marketing. In Montreal, he’s the big fish in a small pond, second only to Mutsumi Takahashi in terms of prominence at the station (and hence in the market in general). At CTV News Channel, he’s a weekday afternoon co-host, well behind Lisa LaFlamme, Sandie Rinaldo, Dan Matheson and the rest.

The big thing that works in his favour in the move is that he can move up. In Montreal, you can’t really go higher than the evening news anchor. So you can either stay there, like Bill Haugland did, or you have to move to Ottawa or Toronto and build a national profile.

“Bottom line, I think it’s going to be a challenge for me, a kick in the ass,” van der Heyden said. “It’s an opportiunity for me to grow.”

“It’s a bit scary too, to be honest. I’ve been here for 12 years.”

A decade of Todd

Van der Heyden was first hired at CFCF in 2000 as a reporter. He notably covered the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks from New York for CFCF (back when it was called Pulse and had more control over its own operations and Todd apparently had a thing for flak jackets). In December 2001 he became a backup news anchor, then was the On Your Side consumer affairs reporter in October 2003, then weekend coanchor in 2005. He co-anchored the noon newscast starting in January 2007 and was given the top job with Takahashi in 2008 following the departure of Brian Britt. His full CTV bio is here.

When he was first hired, it was for two years, he said, but “they kept promoting me.”

Not surprising considering he looks and sounds like he came off some news anchor assembly line.

Todd van der Heyden will be saying hello to a new makeup chair in the new year

No friends

Van der Heyden also had personal reasons to make the move. His family moved out of the city after the 1995 referendum (most are now in Vancouver), and many of his friends moved away in the past decade, mostly to the greater Toronto area.

“Every five to six weeks I would head up there” to Toronto, he said, right after describing the city as undergoing changes for the cooler. “It’s less of a boring concrete jungle … there’s a bit of a cool vibe coming.”

Hard as it may be to believe, van der Heyden said he didn’t have many friends here until the past year or two who haven’t since moved out.

And one of the things he’s going to miss most is … his apartment.

He said he just moved into a place in Old Montreal in June, which he described as a great find at a good price. Now he’ll have to sublet that while he finds a place in Toronto, and I’m guessing it’s highly unlikely it’ll be that good a bargain.


I asked van der Heyden about leaving his legion of teenage fangirls (I imagine they exist).

“I don’t think I’m going to miss that,” he said, referring to seeing his face on billboards around the city. “It was never about that for me. I never got 100% comfortable with it.”

I don’t know how much I believe that. Not that I think he’s an attention hogger, just that it’s hard to see someone wanting to be successful in media and not have that be linked to some measure of fame.

But only van der Heyden knows for sure.

“A natural fit”

I got the chance to speak with CTV News President Wendy Freeman, who’s originally from Montreal (she mentioned that, as did the person who setup our interview).

“He is a natural fit for the network,” she said. “Todd really fits the bill.”

CTV News Channel is undergoing a renaissance, she explained. In an effort to gain some serious ground on CBC News Network, which leads the all-news networks by far in the ratings, they’re “investing in the channel,” hiring more staff and redoing graphics and sets (she hopes the new look will be in place early in the new year, by the time van der Heyden starts).

Because CTV likes to promote from within, van der Heyden was a prime candidate for a national anchor spot. Freeman said she doesn’t want him to change, and she wants to see the same well-respected anchor we’ve seen in Montreal in his new job in Toronto.

Freeman was adamant that she wasn’t stealing him away from Montreal.

“I would never say we’re stealing him. This is a win-win for everyone.”

As she and van der Heyden both point out, CTV News Channel is carried in Quebec. So anyone who wants to see him can just tune in from 1 to 4pm weekdays.

Like family

But it certainly won’t be the same for van der Heyden, who has to leave the family he’s developed on Papineau Ave., as well as the audience that tunes in every day at noon and every night at 6.

He said there have been “dozens of emails, plus Twitter and Facebook” messages just in the two and a half hours between the time the announcement was made and the time I talked to him. (Some, he said, were angry that they found out about it on Twitter.) He said when he was talking to me he was in the dark studio, alone, just to get away from all the craziness that developed at the office with the news he was leaving.

While he may not embrace celebrity, he values the relationship he’s built with his viewers, even though he only hears from them through social media or sees them at open houses.

“I’m kind of sad that way because people are very loyal and very discriminating viewers,” he said. “I’m going to miss these viewers.”

Who’s the new Todd?

Now, once again, Jed Kahane has a hiring decision ahead of him. (And he hasn’t even finished the last one, finding a Quebec City bureau chief.)

Kahane told me he’ll make a decision “in the coming weeks … I won’t say how many.” Though he seemed confident that a decision would be made, he said no decision has been made yet.

Of course, the speculation has already begun.

So fine, let’s speculate.

Paul Karwatsky is the most obvious candidate. He’s been co-anchor with Tarah Schwartz of the weekend newscasts since 2009. If we make only three common-sense assumptions, he becomes the only candidate, which almost turns this into a Paul-or-not-Paul scenario, as fair or unfair as that might be to him:

  1. They will hire a male co-anchor to sit with Takahashi (a move that can be described as both politically correct and sexist)
  2. They will hire internally, as it has tended to do in the past for major positions
  3. They will hire someone with significant anchoring experience

But Karwatsky is young. He’s only been at the station since 2005. Is that enough for them to take a pass for now?

If we eliminate our assumptions, we open up posibilities.

A female co-anchor. Why not? It’s unusual, but hardly impossible. Are we so stuck in the idea of the male-female anchor team that we can’t even consider this possibility?

Opening the job to women would bring up potential candidates like Tarah Schwartz, Debra Arbec (who left CTV for CBC in part because she didn’t see herself getting the 6pm anchor job anytime soon) or Jamie Orchard (who left CFCF for Global Quebec when it launched in 1997 and has been in various anchoring positions there ever since). There are also CTV Montreal reporters who serve as backup anchors: Caroline van Vlaardigen and Cindy Sherwin, both of whom would do well in the position.

A CTV Montreal reporter. I’ve heard the name Rob Lurie come up. But there aren’t too many male reporters at the station with anchoring experience who aren’t already anchors or haven’t, like Brian Britt or Herb Luft, already retired. Stéphane Giroux isn’t going to be the next anchor for obvious reasons. This group has plenty of good reporting skills, but no obviously good candidates for anchor, with the exception of van Vlaardigen and Sherwin as mentioned above.

They could take a chance and go young, like they did with late anchor Catherine Sherriffs and CBC did with Andrew Chang, but then why not just go for Karwatsky?

And as for Craig Silverman’s Draft Mosé Persico movement, well I don’t expect it’ll go anywhere. For one thing, it isn’t serious to begin with. Fortunately Persico is a good sport about his public persona, otherwise I’d feel bad about everyone making fun of him, even with his sometimes ridiculously fawning movie reviews.

Someone else. It’s possible there could be a candidate entirely out of left field. Andrew Peplowski, Richard Dagenais, Leslie Roberts or someone else who either hasn’t been at CFCF for years (Ben O’Hara-Byrne, former CFCF reporter and CTV’s bureau chief in Beijing, is another name mentioned) or has never been there at all.

I rate it highly unlikely that they would opt for anyone without a strong existing connection to Montreal, even in the unlikely scenario that they bring someone in from outside. Montreal viewers tend to be more picky about that kind of thing, and it shows on air when someone is unfamiliar with the quirks of anglophone life in Quebec.

But hey, I’ve been wrong before. What we do know is that unless there’s another surprise announcement coming before the end of the year, Van der Heyden’s replacement will be Takahashi’s fourth co-anchor at 6pm, after Haugland, Britt and van der Heyden.

CJAD show remains, for now

In addition to anchoring 10 one-hour newscasts a week, Van der Heyden hosts Viewpoints, a call-in show from noon to 1pm Saturdays on CJAD. Though it would get a bit complicated doing the show with him living in Toronto, he says he’d like to give it a try.

“I’d love to continue doing the show,” he told me.

CJAD Brand Manager Chris Bury also thinks it’s worth giving it a try. “Todd and I still have to work it out but we both want the show to continue,” he said.

There are various options available. He could host the show from the studios of CJAD’s sister station CFRB in Toronto. Van der Heyden also says he’d be willing to travel to Montreal on a regular basis, maybe once or twice a month, and do some shows live and prerecord others.

The logistics aren’t insurmountable. But will Todd van der Heyden still be a big name for CJAD in a few years when he’s not the big face on the billboards and in the CTV promo ads and hosting the newscast with its 200,000 viewers?

Other coverage

As one would expect, anglo media – at least the anglo media that doesn’t compete directly with CTV – gave coverage to van der Heyden’s move. In addition to the Gazette story, there’s one at CJAD and another at OpenFile.

In addition to messages from viewers, van der Heyden also got congratulations from competitors, Jamie Orchard at Global and his former coworker Debra Arbec, now at CBC.

UPDATE (Dec. 6): Van der Heyden has his first on-air chat with his new co-anchor Blitz on CTV News Channel on Monday.

UPDATE (Dec. 15): Karwatsky has been tapped as the interim co-anchor, starting in January, as the search for a permanent replacement begins. (Whether this means Karwatsky is a viable candidate I’ll leave to you to speculate.)

Takahashi, who was on vacation through the announcement, returns to respond as such: “Bill, Brian, Todd… All I can say, Steve, is that I’m obviously having trouble holding on to my men…”

38 thoughts on “Todd van der Heyden leaving for CTV News Channel

  1. Frank

    For the love of god..please not the insufferable Mosé “Use same adjectives over and over” Persico.
    Rob Lurie has the face for anchor…..

  2. Just Me

    I agree with Frank, I think Rob Lurie would make a good anchor, and not just because he has a nice face. I’ve always liked him. I think he’s a good reporter and I think he’d make a good anchor (of course just because he’s a good reporter doesn’t mean he’d be a good anchor…). And if Mr. Persico becomes anchor, I’ll start watching the 6:00 clock news on channel 6

  3. Fassero

    Don’t they breed native anchors in Toronto anymore? Anyway, those bar nights with John Moore (yeah, yeah – he’s radio) and Leslie Roberts should be a hoot.

    Please cease and desist all Persico rumors. My heart would still like to function …. [grin]

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Any chance that CTV would go with 2 female anchors? Tarah Schwartz maybe?

      There certainly isn’t a law against it. And it would open up other possibilities, like wooing back Debra Arbec or stealing away Jamie Orchard. But it would be a first at CFCF, and highly unusual in Canada.

  4. Josh

    Good look Todd, I don’t think Mits really liked him. I would suggest Mark Kelly or Andrew Chang from CBC, or how about former Mtler Ben O’Hara Byrne or make it a solo anchor for Mits, let’s see if she can carry the show alone. But please not Pirsico, he should not be allowed in front of the camera, very annoying.

  5. Manuel

    Stephane Giroux? Only if he co-anchors with Andrew Sachs, of Faulty Towers fame. :)

    Whoever replaces Todd van der Heyden, it will be sad to see him go. It’s another familiar piece of the local news disappearing. At least we still have Mutsumi (if she ever leaves, I’m switching to CBC news).

    Can’t say I blame Todd for leaving Montreal. He’s off to greener pastures no doubt…

  6. Francois Lacoix

    Two female anchors? No way…. CTV is too politically correct. They have specifically selected visible minorities for reporters. They want an equal presence of gender too.

    Nothing wrong with it mind but it would seem unbalanced. Too different.

  7. c

    I wish it could be Stephane Giroux, but after all these years, his French accent is just too strong. Kinda hoping Rob Lurie gets the job.

  8. Just Me

    I don’t think that the CJAD Viewpoints show will work with Van der Heyden living in Toronto. CJAD shouldn’t cancel the show, but get a new host. Maybe Dan Laxer?

  9. Montreal Critic

    So long Todd. Now don’t come back!

    I can’t believe any network executive with half a brain would want TvH. He speaks with such a smarmy, sarcastic tone that it’s impossible to take him seriously.

    Obviously, Fagstein was joking; Mosé Persico is not (and should not) be considered a real reporter. He’s much better suited for the control room (where we saw him do an admirable job in Fagstein’s behind-the-scenes video). Paul Karwatsky is the clear front-runner, with him currently co-anchoring the weekends.

    It seems like Todd and Mitz are on one-week hiatuses at least once a month, leaving the other with solo anchoring duties. Why can’t English network execs try to emulate their franco counterparts and have just one person anchor the news? THE JOB ISN’T THAT HARD!

    1. ATSC

      One anchor is a good idea. CKMI does it. Even the US major networks do it with their nightly national news. Get the other other person on the reporting beat.

      1 – News Anchor
      1 – Sports Anchor
      1 – Weather Clown

      How can that go wrong?

      1. Fagstein Post author

        One anchor is a good idea. CKMI does it. Even the US major networks do it with their nightly national news.

        They don’t have noon newscasts. Not that one anchor isn’t doable for the short or even medium term, but it’s a big job – and a long newscast – for someone to do solo.

  10. Todd van der Heyden

    First off: Steve…thanks for a great write-up, accurate and full of your famous dry wit. Truth is…much as you wrote that I seem to have come off a “news anchor assembly line” – I still find it bizarre that this is my actual job. I never ever expected to make a career in television. My original dream was to be a newspaper reporter. In fact, sometimes being an “anchor” is hard to take 100% seriously…and believe me, my feet are firmly planted on the ground. Simply put: I take the job very seriously, but never myself. How could I? I am a perennial geek with a weird and corny sense of humour and actually a bit of a social misfit. Reading over the comments, there was at least one negative comment about me having a “smarmy, sarcastic tone” – I’ll take the high road on that one…and bear it in mind moving forward…certainly not the impression I want to give anyone but television is a strange medium, very subjective. Fortunately 99% of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The past 72 hours have been a little crazy but I did manage to celebrate with friends last night at my place in the Old Port…looking around the room…it was very bittersweet. But I am convinced that it was the right choice. CTV Montreal has 50 years of history in this city and whoever they choose will very quickly bring their own stamp to the position. I have faith that the powers-that-be will take their time to make the right choice and canvas for the right candidate. Doing that job has been a real privilege and whoever is next in line needs to understand that. I’m confident there will be several good candidates to continue a tradition that Andrew Marquis, Gord Martineau, Bill Haugland, Brian Britt and I had the honour of being a part of. And yes…CTV News Channel is available in Quebec…so I’m still going to be on TV in the province. As for the ratings…I love a good challenge! And as for the billboards (or lack thereof) if it was really ever about that for me…I would be embarassed. Journalism is not about ego – and I am very conscious of that.



    1. Michael D

      Not a correction Todd but two additions to your illustrious list of anchors before you, but we wil forigve you on account of your age….but there two other anchors before Andrew Marquis, he started 60-minute Pulse in 1969…

      But the first two were Art Leonard and Dean Kaye..Kaye was the anchor during Expo ’67, and of course, Leonard opened the station…

  11. Michael D

    So it seems time for me to make some sense of all this speculation circus…The only sensible logical option would be Paul Karwatsky…he’s done the weekends like Todd did before..Time again to promote from the successor….

    People are making an argument for Rob Lurie..he could go to weekend anchor in this case and still do some reporting..which is where he really shines like those election roadshow reports he’s done so well…

    As for suggestions of poaching Andrew Peplowski, aka, Andy Harris at CKGM many many years ago when Aardon Rand was aka Larry Kane..bringing him in would upset the applecart in thenewsroom and posssibly cause dissension, don’t see the point to rock the Papineau boat, and besides, I hate to say this but Andrew P. has a certain non-sympathetic air about him or has the impression of being too smug…..So Paul Karwatsky it is…
    As for Viewpoints and if Todd leaves or “AD” please not Dan Delmar, there’s too many good and better people around..

    Any reason on why it’s taking so long to hire someonr forQuebec City..besides nobody from around here wants it because they all have families, and one needs to be bilingual, ehich eliminates a lot of people….And does Maya Johnson really report from QC…it seems she’s in front of a National Assembly backdrop, with the clips being filmed by the local cameraman, we haven’t really seen her actually holding a microphone in front of somebody’s face….can anybody comment on this..

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Any reason on why it’s taking so long to hire someonr forQuebec City..besides nobody from around here wants it because they all have families, and one needs to be bilingual, ehich eliminates a lot of people…

      I think you answered your own question there. A strong candidate hasn’t emerged yet.

      .And does Maya Johnson really report from QC…it seems she’s in front of a National Assembly backdrop, with the clips being filmed by the local cameraman

      Those reports you see with the backdrop are from CTV’s Quebec City bureau office. It is actually in Quebec City.

  12. AlexH

    I am sitting here trying not to laugh at the idea of hiring Kai Nagata to do it.

    Then again, everywhere he looks, he sees burning bridges, so I doubt it!

  13. Heather H.

    Giroux’s problem isn’t his accent, which is as Montreal as it gets. I think it has more to do with his legendary refusal to be politically correct or to be bossed around. He’s a very rebellious chap. I’ve known him for years.

    I like Paul Karwatsky. He’s got this cool, confident charm, never cocky, never arrogant. But replacing Todd is still a challenge. His smart and his wit came across loud and clear on TV. I will miss him.

  14. Marvin

    This is the perfect occasion to make some wholesale changes at CTV. Besides the anchor spot, it’s time to replace Stephane Giroux. He looks horrible. Get Fazioli at Global. And Rob Lurie, btw, will never be an anchor. Never. He can’t just jump in and anchor the 6pm cast.

    1. Michael D

      CTV wont’ make wholesale changes…it’s why they’ve been number since they went on in 1961,,,

      and like CJAD has been thru the years,you can count how many morning men they’ve had thru the years since early 60’s, simple, Bill Roberts, George B. , Terry D. Ric P. and now Andrew C. that’s about 5 in 50 years or so, but Andy C has to go though soon…

      So it’s gotta be Paul Karwatsky,,, but who goes to replace him on the weekends will be interesting….most of the ladies have done the anchor stuff, but the other male reporters haven’t done it, but then neither did Catherine Sheriffs,but don’t see anybody on the male who’s into anchoring, the male veterans are Robb Lurie, Stephane giroux, and Derek Conlon..the others are too green,, but aha, Richard Dagenais is underused at Global…Amen..

  15. Peter

    I like Domenic Fazioli, is he still at Global?? He interviewed someone at my company a few months ago and he was very professional and courteous. Very solid reporter. He should be scooped up soon.

  16. Laurie Miller

    I will miss Todd a lot on the 6pm news. He brings a certain class to the broadcast, and an element of lightnes to the otherwise sordid heavy depressing news that goes on in this world! He is a breath of fresh air in this poluted biased critical environment. Good Luck to you Todd…and I sure hope I can watch you from my Quebec comfy chair!!?

  17. Raj

    Todd has kind of grown on me over the past few years. But he honestly always struck me as a blip of sorts keeping the lead anchor chair warm for the next big thing. Guess i was right! Hope he does well in TO. Looking forward to finding out who they’ll pick

  18. Jean Duggan

    CTV Montreal could give ALL potential candidates, in the running to replace Todd, a one week trial on air. At the end of that trial period, they could then let the viewers VOTE for their choice. Too radical?? I think not, since it is the viewers to whom he has to broadcast our news.

    My personal choice, is Derek Conlon, who was News Director at CJAD Radio before signing on as a reporter at CTV Montreal.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      At the end of that trial period, they could then let the viewers VOTE for their choice.

      Wouldn’t this just turn it into a popularity contest? I can only imagine TV journalists going door-to-door asking people to vote for them as news anchor.

    2. Michael D

      Derek Conlon would certainly be an interesting choice….we know he’s run into a major newsoom. He has that certain authoritian voice needed for anchor and that sense of sympathy for bad or sad news piece..but I don’t think it would be wise to move him into the prestigious spot right away over others.

      He seems to like reporting and being in the field, but hey, he just might the weekend anchoring and still have 2 or 3 days reporting during the week. On enever knows.

  19. Michael D

    So Steve, with Paul Karwatsky being named interim, does this mean they’re not sure, or it’s his job to lose, valid points for sure, or will management read the blogs and guage public reaction??

    Not fair to Mr. Karwatsky don’t you think? Todd did not have to go through the same uncertainty, so why the mystery or is their someone else they are eyeing, but not available due to contractual reasons…..Let mystery continue !!

    1. Fagstein Post author

      with Paul Karwatsky being named interim, does this mean they’re not sure, or it’s his job to lose, valid points for sure, or will management read the blogs and guage public reaction?

      I’m speculating here, but it probably means that Karwatsky is being tested out in the position, and management wants to see how he’d work as a weekday 6pm anchor, as a noon anchor, and with Mutsumi Takahashi. If they find someone they’d rather have in the position later, they’ll announce it then, otherwise they’ll strip the “interim” from Karwatsky’s title.

      It’s not particularly fair to Karwatsky, especially since it’ll look bad for him if he doesn’t get the job in the end, even if it’s for no bigger reason than he needs more experience. But TV, like life, isn’t fair.

      1. Michael D

        Good Points, but he’ll do okay, which brings me to to another point, why didn’t they put Paul there when Todd would be off on vacation, and the same goes for Debra Arbec when Mutsumi would be off…Debra might still be there knowing that she would get 6 and noon..

        Come to think of it, Paul Karwatsky and Debra Arbec would be nice..!!

  20. Steve W

    Fagstein, are you aware what CTV Montreal will do with the late-night newscasts on weekends with Paul Karwatsky moving to M-F in January(he has been doing late-night newscasts on weekends)? Could it be Tarah Schwartz doing both the supper hour & late-night newscasts on weekends?

  21. Kain Smith

    One of the most recognized in this area would be
    Andrew Peplowski, he has a great delivery and very informed about the happenings in Montreal. My vote goes to Andrew. He’s a real down to earth West Island guy…..

  22. Pingback: Welcome to CFCF’s postvanderheyden era – Fagstein

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