Paul Karwatsky leaves CTV Montreal to devote himself to autism awareness

Paul Karwatsky.

After taking a leave from his job long enough to have people wondering about his status, Paul Karwatsky has decided to leave his job as anchor at CTV Montreal to focus on autism awareness, a subject close to his family.

The news was announced to staff on Friday morning, leading to a story in the Gazette, and an announcement was posted to CTV’s website on Friday afternoon.

It included a statement from Karwatsky explaining his decision:

As many might know, I’ve been heavily involved in raising autism awareness for years. I’ve decided to dedicate myself full-time to this cause which is close to my, and my family’s, heart. It’s a key time in history for all those living with autism and so much needs to be done to ensure our children have all the opportunities they deserve as they grow. All my efforts will be focused on this moving forward. The details on what exactly I’ll be doing are to come.

Though it’s unsaid in the statement, the fact that changing his career would mean a more family-friendly work schedule had to be a consideration. He has been hosting both the 5pm and 11:30pm newscasts since the 5pm news was added in 2018, and the late-night news slot is tough for people with children. Previous anchors like Cathrine Sherriffs*, Debra Arbec, Tarah Schwartz and Annie DeMelt who worked the late-night or weekend newscasts (or both) all left those jobs for more 9-to-5 ones, and only Arbec (the 6pm anchor at CBC) is still in the industry.

On Facebook, Karwatsky said leaving was a “massively difficult decision” and would provide more details about his future in the next few weeks:

This was a massively difficult decision. The outpouring of well-wishes I’ve been getting is overwhelming. I’m going to post a proper goodbye to everyone who sat through my bad jokes at home over the years . I really want to say that there is no better group of people than the hundreds and hundreds of Montrealers I’ve been privileged to meet who’ve supported our station over the years.. people who I truly feel are part of a huge extended family for me… a family I joined nightly all those years ago in watching CFCF when I was a kid. I’ll still be a part of that family watching from home. I can’t express how much I’ll miss being a direct part it all. But I’m excited about the future and some of the great things I’ll be getting behind. Details to come over the next few weeks! Thank you to you all.

Karwatsky’s departure was briefly noted during the 5pm and 6pm newscasts on Friday, the latter by Mutsumi Takahashi.

CTV says it will name a replacement for Karwatsky. As it happens, all of the potential internal candidates are women. Caroline Van Vlaardingen would be the most obvious choice. Others with some anchoring experience include reporters Amanda Kline, Kelly Greig, Cindy Sherwin, Angela MacKenzie and Maya Johnson. If they really wanted to go for a man, the pool is much thinner locally. There’s … Rob Lurie?

Externally, well, there’s one person with decades of Montreal English-language newscast anchoring experience who’s currently available.

When Karwatsky’s replacement is named, she or he will be Takahashi’s fifth co-anchor, after Bill Haugland, Brian Britt, Todd Van der Heyden and Karwatsky. Though because the two split the four daily newscasts, they don’t actually anchor together anymore.

UPDATE (Sept. 15): Karwatsky explains his new job in a video, and opens up a bit to the Gazette’s Bill Brownstein about how autism has affected his life as a parent.

*Correction: I listed Catherine Sherriffs as an example of someone who left a late shift for a 9-to-5 job, but in fact it was because she was being moved from the late shift to a day job that she decided to leave CTV.

19 thoughts on “Paul Karwatsky leaves CTV Montreal to devote himself to autism awareness

  1. Daniel Berkowitz

    It sounds more like he smelled he was going to be “de-staffed” and decided to hit first… Maya Johnson would be a good choice, it would reflect how ethnically diverse the Anglo community is in this province.

    Good luck to Paul in all his futures endeavors

    Reply
  2. Patrick McNeece

    Klein, Greig and Johnson would all do well. Greig probably has the most developed and well-rounded journalism chops required for that kind of role.

    Despite the lack of obvious in-market talent, I’d be surprised if CTV doesn’t gender-balance their newscast.

    The question is do they want to hire a younger guy who needs a little bit of development or a more ready-made, short-term solution, like a Leslie Roberts…

    Reply
  3. mathiasmarcus

    Hello, Jamie Orchard should get at least a shot, right? Each of the anchors you floated have experience behind the desk, each to their own degrees. Jamie should be a consideration.

    Reply
  4. TV guy

    Steve,
    You’re backwards about Catherine. She had the late anchor slot, had a child and moved north of the city, and was then informed shortly before ending mat leave that she would have to work a daytime shift instead.

    Reply
  5. Nicholas Robinson

    Wow, I had Paul all slated to fill Peter Jennings’s shoes in the Biglys . . . and that means to the American casts, although these days the American newscasts are almost a parody of Hard Copy and Price Is Right, so I guess that option’s useless. But Paul had that priceless mix of sly humour/insurrectionism and Elder Statesman-Gravitas so crucial to a mature newscaster, in the school of Cronkites, Huntleys and Brinkleys (shit, I’m old). Plus, I loved Paul’s ties . . . too bad, really really too bad, because of all the newscasters I’ve seen, American and Canadian, in the past 20 years, Paul was definitely a #1 candidate for Six-Figure Advancement.

    Reply
    1. Nicholas Robinson

      I agree. I’m floored. We NEED familiar faces like Paul’s—I seriously thought I was going to be growing old(er) to Paul becoming the Crusty Old Elder Statesman of Canadian news . . . they all seemed to decamp to the States but now he just decamped . . . I really can’t imagine watching Global; Pulse News, CFCF 12, it’s been in my blood for so long now.

      Paul, Annie . . . who’s next? Why is everyone fleeing the ship?

      Reply
  6. Dilbert

    I think you will see more of this coming. TV and Radio use to be the glamour jobs of communications, often paying a little less but giving you the chance to get out there and get heard. Now communications jobs in larger companies and organizations seems to be much more desirable, and more companies seem to need people to be their public face, running social media and generally giving the company or organization a public profile.

    TV, radio, and other media in Canada have suffered through wave after wave of consolidation and application of technology, and the head counts are going down all around. Senior staff that might have had some sense of job security in the past have been falling to the job cutter’s ax. Bell has been moving already to a videographer reporting model, and you can’t help but imagine that they have been looking at their non-prime newscasts as a potential place to go anchorless or pre-recorded anchor work. Technology and a money hungry employer does not lead to job security. Mutsumi Takahashi will retire at some point, but that may still be a few years away.

    My guess is the future announcement will be that he has taken on being PR / media / social media guy for an Autism group, organization, or support group. With his contacts inside the Quebec news world, it will be much easier for him to get exposure for whatever organization he becomes part of.

    Reply
    1. Gazoo

      To your point, former CTV Weekend anchor Tarah Schwartz taking a role with the MUHC

      Fondation CUSM / MUHC Foundation on Twitter: “The MUHC Foundation is thrilled to welcome @TarahDSchwartz as Director of Communications and Marketing. We’re excited to have her on the team, and sharing the amazing ways the @cusm_muhc is leading the way in changing the course of lives and medicine right here in Montreal.

      Reply
      1. Michael Black

        There’s even older examples.

        Chris Mota had the overnight show on CJAD for a while. I think Peter Anthony Holder took over right afterwards. I can’t remember why she left, but at some point she was doing PR at ConU, I think until she retured.

        Mike Cohen has long written for the Suburban, but at some point his day jib became spokesman for the EMSB, or maybe it was the PSBGM at the time.

        I’m sure this has come up here before Tara Scwartz, maybe something about a trend for journalism students to go straight into PR?

        Reply
  7. Carla

    So now what’s left are the old timers, Stephan Giroux, Rob Lurie and Mitsumi. I will miss Paul and his outstanding journalism, smirky smile and boyish good looks.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Not sure I’d qualify Kelly Greig, Amanda Kline, Emily Campbell, Maya Johnson and Matt Grillo as old-timers. Plus they just hired a bunch of new reporters in the past couple of years.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Not sure if I would put them in the same category, most of the journalists you just mentioned have been there less than 2-3 years and are in their 20’s and 30’s…by no means old timers.

        Reply
      2. Michael Black

        There were all those people who were with the station “forever” when I was growing up.
        Maya Johnson is definitely in that category now, except since I remember when she started, it seems like a finite time. She seemed so young then, I’m glad she stayed, even if it meant becoming the Quebec City correspondent.

        Reply

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