Jeremy Zafran says his departure from CBC Montreal was a “staged elimination”

Jeremy Zafran

Since the announcement of the new afternoon show Let’s Go with Sabrina Marandola, some people have been asking what happened to Jeremy Zafran, who handled traffic updates for Homerun. With the new show and its “transportation columnist,” Akil Alleyne, who also does daily traffic, Zafran disappeared from the air.

It turns out Zafran has been dropped by the CBC. And he’s not happy about it.

“My staged elimination was set almost two months ago and much like the CBC Montreal staff, few people were aware of my contract non-renewal,” Zafran wrote to me. “The excuse was the job title change adding ‘the story of traffic’ responsibility to the existing job. That was smoke and mirrors. I was told that I was not ‘the strongest candidate for the new job,’ a ruse considering my replacement’s zero experience on radio let alone in traffic: a position on air that is a difficult art form to master. As a veteran announcer and host in Montreal, I worked the last two months with professionalism with my head held high.”

Though the public broadcaster wouldn’t call this “staged,” it did say the new position was “an open competition and anyone could apply” and Zafran was on a yearly contract that “did expire and was not renewed.”

Alleyne, whose previous job was as a reporter with CityNews Montreal, hired there only a year ago, is indeed pretty green. He studied law in the Washington, D.C. area before returning to Montreal. Before that he had brief stints reporting for CBC and The Suburban.

Having listened to his traffic reports a few times on air, he was quite rusty at first, missing the smooth flow that more seasoned traffic reporters have shown on commercial and non-commercial stations. But he’s gotten better as he’s gotten used to the position.

But why replace Zafran?

Here’s the official explanation:

Montrealers get around the city in so many ways and we wanted to tell those stories — beyond traffic updates on highways and cars. So we created a new position of a transportation columnist. While the columnist still does traffic updates, they are responsible for a regular transportation column.

In other words, in CBC’s eyes, it’s a columnist who also does daily traffic updates.

Zafran doesn’t buy that description, and though he doesn’t offer any theories on why exactly management has soured on him, he does offer this:

The CBC has free reign on hiring and without a ratings-based mentality, bosses can literally turn a mime into a weather person and no one in management will face any consequences. And yet here I am paying the price.

Harsh.

But he also makes a case for what he’s done in the position:

I built their traffic department from nothing, negotiated to gain full access to all the CGMU cameras — at no cost, on my own initiative and time — and was considered by (Transports Québec), the SQ, EXO, STM, Ville de Montreal, CN, other hosts who relied on my hits from competing stations, not to mention internally at CBC Montreal as the ‘go to expert’ for traffic and transportation. I created the @montrealdrive Twitter page leaving it at 3600 followers, a few hundred less than the Homerun program itself. This was a planned removal that was witnessed by all.

Zafran said he has received a “mass outpouring of support and disappointment” following the news, after having worked for CBC for eight years.

“On a bright note,” he wrote, “I’m not dead. I can eat dinner again with my young family and I am catching up on all that I have neglected at home. I will not accept a character assassination by those who attempt to discredit me or my work. They know what they did to me and in turn my family life, but if they can sleep well at night then rest assured so will I.

“The job doesn’t define the person, that’s up to me. I won’t lose another breath over this tragedy, Steve. Soon better things will arrive, I’m in my prime and I will return from these last 8+ years to a professional, respectful environment for my 30th year on air in 2020, all chez nous.”

Zafran was also once the weekend weather presenter on CBC Montreal’s local TV newscast, but that role has since been eliminated. Now the anchor, Sean Henry, does brief weather updates himself.

Besides broadcasting, Zafran also does acting and voice work, including various radio and TV ads, and you may have seen him pretending to be a pharmacist on posters at your local Jean-Coutu. Before joining CBC in 2011, he did various on-air roles for 940 News and Q92.

34 thoughts on “Jeremy Zafran says his departure from CBC Montreal was a “staged elimination”

  1. Sheldon Harvey

    I would like to see the job posting that CBC/Radio-Canada posted for the job in order to see what their qualifications were for the position. From what I have seen in the past with CBC job postings, there is usually a fairly wide salary range posted on jobs. Perhaps their choice of an inexperienced radio person might permit them to pay said person at the lower end of the pay scale that perhaps what Mr. Zafran was making. Finally, it wouldn’t surprise me if affirmative action may have played a part in their choice. Anything’s possible

    Reply
      1. Irwin Block

        I don’t drive, but I understand why CBC Home Run needs a traffic guy, and I got to like Jeremy Zafran because he is smart, and quick on his feet, and has a range of interests that go beyond the road, and he has a strong sense of humour. His banter with Sue Smith was fun and energizing. i also understand that contract employees at CBC have not job security, but I believe he is a s strong broadcaster that deep local connections and deserved a promotion rather than abrupt dismissal.

        Reply
    1. Radio Mike

      Zafran was quick, informative, and even entertaining, one of the significant reasons one would listen to CBC local.

      Actually other than occasional bright spots like JZ CBC local has been going downhill since Bronstetter left. Booting JZ and Frank…just more bad decisions Not only have they lost me as an afternoon listener, but mornings as well.

      As for “lets go” ( a truly silly name), its the best thing that has happened for CJAD ratings.
      Maybe ratings will prove me wrong, but I bet CBC local is doing a slow dive like the Titanic

      PS- I have no idea what a “transportation columnist” is, but it doesn’t sound like it would interest me, and I guess I’ll never know coz CJAD just gives me the traffic news I need.

      Reply
  2. Dilbert

    The sourest of grapes, it seems…

    You take a job on contract. The contact expires. The company decides to hire someone else on a contact. That’s why you are on contract, and not considered a full time employee or as a salaried employee. That contract removed all obligation to both parties the day it expires.

    What he did during his contract, what he achieve during that time, his years of experience… all nice stuff, but they don’t change the very nature of a contact that has expired. He was essentially an outside contractor who’s work contract has ended.

    That they hired someone else for a similar job (essentially the same job) really doesn’t mean much. That new contract does not have to be awarded on the basis of loyalty, accomplishments, or whatever. The CBC could very well be looking to save money by using someone with a lot less experience, while keeping an eye on the bottom line or perhaps using monies saved to do something else within a tight budget.

    What Jeremy has done here by coming out in public like this is to make himself much harder to hire on contract in the future – and much of the radio business is done contractually. Nothing like pooping all over your previous employer to make the next one feel good about taking you on!

    Reply
    1. brucerwilson

      Well, here’s hoping he gets a gig where HE defines the contract terms. I know people who’ve been on contract for years because the hiring party values them so much. CBC, as usual, made a stupid mistake in letting Zafrin go, just as they let Barbara Budd go. Dumb management.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      I kind of disagree with you on the point about being on a contract means they can get rid of you when it expires. Yes, you are correct that when it expires they can refuse to renew or extend the contract. Nothing confusing about that. Black and White matter.

      But, when you are on a annual contract, and that contract has been renewed for 8 years. Then the question becomes is he a contractor, or an employee?

      Did the corporation control his schedule? Did they treat him like an employee? Did they give the impression that if he played along, his annual contract may lead to a full time employee job.Did they assign the work over the eight years? Was he allowed to have other contracts, clients? Did the schedule he was assigned on allow him to refuse shifts, assignments to take care of other clients? After all, if you are on a contract, that means you work for yourself. And that you are providing a service to your clients.

      At what point are you no longer a contractor, and really an employee even though you signed a annual contract. As a way for them to have an employee, while getting away with the annual contract classification. And after 8 years of renewed contracts, at what point did they realise that he’s not good at what he does? Was the refusal to renew due to costs? Internal politics? Political Correctness maybe? Race, skin color etc etc.

      I know I’m being the devils advocate about the matter. But, what would appear as a straight Black & White matter begins to change into a very Grey matter when you stop and think about it.

      Sorry to read that he’s out of a job (contract) after 8 years.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        It’s the reason they do it on contract, and not as employment. You get to skip over all of that stuff. When the contract is over, it is over – there is no come back.

        Hours of work and jobs performed are almost certainly terms of the contract.

        In essence, and while most people won’t like it, it really isn’t any different from a contract to mow your lawn or for a janitorial service. It’s a service for a term in return for a payment, nothing more and nothing less. The guy who mows your lawn isn’t your employee. He is contracted labor.

        Unless you are hired and put on payroll, you are never really an employee.

        Reply
          1. Benjamin Hunting

            Yes, definitely. You don’t get to ‘skip over all that stuff.’ It is in no way similar to ‘someone who mows your lawn.’ This is a legal space I have negotiated for the last decade as a writer.

            In Canada, you’re considered an employee if the client/person/company paying you determines your hours and your place of work (among other controls, such as how many clients you have, etc). You’re a contract employee for tax purposes, which is radically different than being an independent contractor (ie, a small business).

            Independent contractors are not contract employees, and vice-versa.

            Reply
    3. Gazoo

      You are right, his contract was up. And the CBC hired someone with less experience (and more than likely for less dollars) and I am sorry, but this was not for the better.

      Reply
  3. LaCon

    Let’s face it. As I pointed out in my rant towards English Montreal broadcasting media as well as the joke of all major city markets – English Montreal, I really feel for Jeremy. As someone told me a long time ago, it is not if they let you go, it is a matter of when. Jeremy is a real professional person with a wonderful sense of humour. Management in big companies such as CBC, Rogers, Bell, Cogeco, and Corus, are all the same! They do not care about loyalty. It is about profit, profit, profit, and cut, cut, cut – pure and simple. Yet another English Montreal radio personality’s passion has suffered by the mighty media axe- what an absolute pity and management should be ashamed of themselves!

    Sincerely,

    Radio Man!

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Jeremy Zafron, besides his cool last name which sounds like an exotic spice from Easter Africa, did a great job with the traffic. He got hosed by the Mother Corp. What the hell is “staged elimination.” Another Bureau of Blowhard term for fired, right?
    And let’s face it; though Mr. Zafron is still young by most standards (Baby Boomer standards in my case) and this is just another example of the young and new trend that’s managed to invade even the CBC. Just put ‘em on an ice floe and set them adrift.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Holy shit! I misspelled Jeremy Zafran’s last name. I apologize, but I’ll stick with the exotic slice thing anyway. ??

    Reply
  6. Jon Simon

    You say the new guy has improved, I hope so. I was a loyal Home Run listener but on day two I tuned away from the traffic report and have avoided CBC in the PM since then. I am enjoying Daybreak with Ainslee more than I had thought I would. Is Finnerty still planning on returning in November?

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I got dumped from the CBC the same way years ago. Seems some things don’t change. Jeremy is a really good and relaxed broadcaster. Hopefully other employers will pick up on that

    Reply
  8. Steve

    Please, this guy. Acting like he is some bigshot and revolutionized something. Traffic reporters are meaningless in 2019 with Google Maps and Waze provided real-time info uses more data sources than some schmuck looking at a static camera.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Traffic reporters are meaningless in 2019 with Google Maps and Waze provided real-time info uses more data sources than some schmuck looking at a static camera.

      Tools available to the general public will also be used by traffic reporters, of course. While mapping apps do provide information about traffic (assuming there are enough vehicles that have gone through the traffic that are providing data to these sources), they don’t replace everything a traffic reporter does, for example explaining why an incident has occurred or how long it is expected to take to resolve. With the amount of rush-hour listening to radio still coming from cars, there will still be a need for traffic updates for the foreseeable future.

      Reply
  9. Mihran

    I was hoping mr. Zafran was on a short hiatus, but after two weeks of missing his lively, swift and often tongue in cheek traffic reports, I came upon this article…. Man! Am I ever disappointed to find out my fears were true!
    Jeremy: We wish you all the best! You and Frank made homerun all the more pleasant, and gave CBC radio the humour, wit and personal touches it so often lacks. Hope to hear/see you soon on a more deserving outlet.

    Reply
  10. sheryl Woolhouse

    We will miss Jeremy. He was great. I won’t miss silly Sue Smith. I hope Jeremy can get another great job. He deserves it.

    Reply
    1. GSL

      Jeremy Zaffrin provided a professional service with polished delivery and the raised the bar to a level that will not be easy to surpass (based upon present status). I worked for CBC both as a permanent, professional employee and on a contractual basis. Management decisions can be self serving and arbitrary, not subject to critical justification or rational. Jeremy’s attributes are not defined by the CBC and he shouldn’t take thIs episode personally. Rather,
      Jeremy should be considered to be too good for the CBC.

      Reply
  11. Director of Radio

    The whole “hire people with no little or no radio experience” approach to radio has exploded dangerously at the Toronto plant numerous times. I’m not clear why they’re exporting this nonsense to the regions.

    Reply
    1. Dilbert

      It’s cheaper to do it this way, the work gets “done”, the product is on the air, and well, that’s it.

      Bottom line. If they could get a robot to do it, they probably would.

      Reply
      1. Director of Radio

        The new traffic reporter is certainly cheaper than the old one, but even when they have money the ceeb is not immune to hiring unqualified people (See Shad’s painful year of on-the-job training at Q for the most obvious example).

        Reply
  12. Director of Radio

    Why do we keep hiring people from private radio? Or from TV? Neither of these fields provides people that are a good match for public radio.

    Montreal does this far more often than other CBC plants. Some of the more sanely managed regions have found candidates in print, the arts, or even in the dregs of community radio. In the old days they even used to drag people out of academia.

    Reply
  13. Charles Bernard Stock

    I miss Mr. Zafran and I do not like his replacement. That is why I looked for what happened to Mr. Zafran.
    Management is almost always incompetent, but the CBC seems to have raised their incompetence to an art Form.
    CBC is on the downhill. After having been a fan of “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” I think it is time to put it out of its misery.
    I would also appreciate having news readers who can speak English properly. Please find a few who know the difference between a stative and active verb, correct pluralization, and those who realize that “where” means “in or at which place” so “where are you at ” is good in some places and among some people. This is just a start.
    I suggest Mr. Zafran apply to Global. Its a better station a better station anyway.
    Please do not get me wrong, I like Nancy Wood, Jeff, Semple, Andrew Yang and a few others are fine but there are too many less that illustrious personalities.

    Reply
  14. Catalin

    I talked with Jeremy almost two years ago at Plaza Pointe Claire, all home run crew was there. We both live in ile Perrot. He was very funy and didn’t talk only about traffic. Now CBC Montreal sounds more and more like CBC Ottawa, no fun just plain, boring. Hope I will hear him or see Jeremy again.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    Thinking of you and your family. One of life s hurts that you ‘ll turn airfund ten fold. You were loved. Karma Jet is a wonderful thing.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    I too looked for what happened to HomeRun after returning to Montreal from being away during the summer. What a shame – not to run down the current host or traffic guy, it’s just that it was always fun to tune in to hear the banter and lively interesting discussions from Jeremy and Frank with Sue at the helm. It seems Sue’s departure triggered discussions and decisions that led to many changes – and not for the better, sorry to say. Jeremy, you will be fine, as your professionalism will be appreciated in a better place.

    Reply

Leave a Reply