CJAD has laid off virtually all its reporting staff as recent cuts at Bell Media, starting at the very top with the departure of president Randy Lennox, filtered down to the local station level on Monday.
Bell Media doesn’t like to give specifics about these kinds of things, nor does it like to allow its local managers to face the music when they’re forced to make cuts like these, so most of the information below is pieced together from sources within the CTV Montreal and CJAD offices, plus some information from Bell Media and the union.
(As always, a big thanks to all the people who quietly feed me information during times like this.)
CJAD eliminates reporting staff
Already cut to what one might have thought was the bone, CJAD is eliminating what’s left of its reporters. Shuyee Lee, Richard Deschamps and Elizabeth Zogalis have confirmed their jobs were cut, and Kelly Lapare and Luciano Pipia are also believed to be out.
Sad to report I’m the latest casualty of layoffs after nearly 28 yrs at CJAD. Thanks to all the class acts I’ve worked with & all the listeners. Grateful & proud to have been part of the legacy of CJAD reporters. (Need a slightly used journalist/assignment editor? Please DM me!)
— Shuyee Lee (@SLeeMtl) February 1, 2021
Lee got a lot of supportive reaction from fellow journalists on Twitter. Her final story, which she wrote but did not get on the air, was posted to her Facebook page instead.
Anchors Trudie Mason, Jason Mayoff and James Foster remain with the station. All three were still doing newscasts after the cuts.
Rather than its own reporters, CJAD will rely mainly on CTV Montreal for local news. CTV Montreal will hire a morning videojournalist to help fill the void during the morning hours, which are more vital to CJAD than CTV. But CTV reporters will also be expected to file for radio in the morning, which some tell me they’re worried will make it even harder for them to do their primary jobs of putting together news stories for TV.
Based on what I heard during the newscasts on Monday, expect them to consist of clips from CTV Montreal, wire stories from BNN Bloomberg, NBC News Radio and Associated Press Radio stories out of New York, and for local news read out by the announcer without much in the way of clips or colour.
CJAD’s 4pm newscast today:
Local traffic (45s)
Quebec COVID stats (50s)
Canada vaccine brief (no local component) (30s)
BNN story out of Toronto on a grocery service (45s)
AP story from New York on shovelling (45s)
AP story from New York on Tony Bennett (30s)
— Steve Faguy (@fagstein) February 1, 2021
Betito, Pole lose their shows
Jon Pole’s Nightside, which aired weeknights at 8pm, and Passion with Dr. Laurie Betito, which aired at 10pm, have been cut. The big weekday hosts — Andrew Carter, Elias Makos, Natasha Hall and Aaron Rand — remain.
Betito says she will remain with the station despite losing her show of 22 years, taking the high road by thanking the station in a Facebook post. “I will remain part of the CJAD 800 family, appearing on shows as the resident relationship expert,” she writes. “All is not lost, as we are in talks for future projects together. In the meantime, I will be working on a Passion Podcast. So stay tuned!”
Pole told me “To have been part of the history of CJAD 800 is an honour for me as a broadcaster.” He also shared his thoughts during a Twitch stream, saying he had no hard feelings about the decision, and being a broadcasting veteran had a good idea “how the movie would end.” Plus, it’s not his day job but “something I did for fun.” He did note, however, that in his time on the air he never heard from an advertising salesperson, and said the (presumably impersonal) way Bell Media sells advertising makes it vulnerable during an event like the pandemic when advertisers cut back.
In their place, CJAD has scheduled a one-hour highlight show of the Elias Makos show as well as a repeat of the Evan Solomon show. After 7pm or 8pm weekdays, the station will no longer have original programming.
Similar changes were instituted at CFRA in Ottawa a few years ago. It went as far as to rebroadcast the 6pm CTV newscast on the radio.
CTV anchors do CJAD newscasts
With no one left at CJAD after 7pm, they won’t bother with a news reader either. Instead, the late CTV Montreal anchor (usually Maya Johnson) will be expected to read hourly newscasts for CJAD through 10pm.
No more CTV reporter in Quebec City
CTV Montreal will not be replacing its reporter in Quebec City when Maya Johnson returns to host the 5pm newscast. Instead, it will only have a cameraman there and rotate in reporters from Montreal as necessary, as it did while Johnson was on maternity leave.
CJAD also cut its reporter at the National Assembly five years ago, with Bell having decided it could make do with one reporter for both TV and radio.
Even Global still has a reporter in Quebec City, and it doesn’t have two news-talk radio stations and two music radio stations to share costs with.
CTV Montreal has also cut a supervisor of operations job and a cameraman position. Jean-Luc Boulch, a veteran cameraman (or “multimedia technician” in his official title), has retired from the station and joins wife Jamie Orchard at home.
Coming home on his last day. After 37 years on the front lines of almost every important story in Quebec, this beautiful human retired today. He’s been a rock for people at his work, and our family is so lucky now to have him home as we look forward to our next chapter together. pic.twitter.com/IBy0cO76vR
— Jamie Orchard (@secondactsis) February 3, 2021
No more local cut-ins for Your Morning
Your Morning, the show that replaced Canada AM, added five-minute local cut-ins every half hour in 2018, hosted by Caroline Van Vlaardingen. Those were suspended during the pandemic. Now we understand they are being permanently cut.
Van Vlaardingen has been filling out the 5pm news since Paul Karwatsky left. It’s unclear what she’ll be doing once Johnson starts in the job, but presumably going back to reporting.
New branding for newscasts
CJAD’s newscasts have now been given the CTV News branding, and begin with the CTV News theme. Certain elements, like the weather, now have a sound bed. You can hear the difference in these excerpts from newscasts:
Monday, under the old theme:
Wednesday, under the new theme:
The wave of layoffs spread through the rest of the country, hitting Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday. There were 210 layoffs announced in Toronto, with more expected to come. Thanks to union rules, we have some lists of affected positions, with more than 100 of them being Unifor members.
UPDATE (Feb. 9): In addition to the cuts announced below, Bell Media has shut down TSN Radio stations in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton, cutting dozens of jobs.
Based on social media announcements, news reports and website scrubbings, here are who we know are gone:
- Sharon Bir, account executive
- Rick Henriques, communications coordinator
- Robin Johnston, Director Original Production, Factual and Reality
- Brendan Halloran, head writer for Jay and Dan
- Kristian Jack, soccer analyst
- Dan O’Toole, host of Jay and Dan
- Natasha Staniszewski, host
- Brent Wallace, TSN Ottawa reporter (the Ottawa Citizen did a story on him)
- Dahlia Kurtz, weekend morning show host at CFRA 580 Ottawa
- Jasmin Ibrahim, CTV Morning Live Ottawa Live Eye Host
- Mary Anne Ivison, Pure Country 94 on-air host
- Tom Brown, CTV weather presenter
- Anwar Knight, CTV weather presenter
- Ivy Mak, CTV assignment editor
- Glynn Perkins, CTV assignment editor
- Various camera operators and others
- Newstalk 1010 Host Barb DiGiulio
- Newstalk 1010 Host Ted Woloshyn
- Newstalk 1010 news director Kym Geddes
- Newstalk 1010 reporter Hayley Cooper
- Newstalk 1010 reporter Lucas Meyer
- Newstalk 1010 news anchor David McKee
- Newstalk 1010 news anchor Claude Feig
- Newstalk 1010 news anchor Heather Seaman
- Newstalk 1010 weekend host Mark Towhey
- Robyn Gerson, Virgin Radio Toronto midday host
- Alanna Kelly, weekend anchor at CTV News Vancouver Island (the newscast disappears with her)
- Ceara K, midday host at Virgin Radio 107.3
I should also mention that Martin Spalding, a long-time Montreal-based manager whose last role was Vice President, Radio & CTV Operations, was among the cuts last month when they filtered down to the mid-management level.
The Montreal Gazette has a story on the CJAD cuts by me and Frédéric Tomesco. It includes some comments from Bell and the union.
I also contributed with editor Greg O’Brien to a national story at subscription website Cartt.ca, which warns that similar cuts will be felt across the country this week. (It has since been updated several times by Greg with news out of Toronto.)
The QCGN is appalled to learn that BellMedia is gutting its newsrooms. Our minority English-language community cannot afford to lose strong media voices as it heads into a period of uncertainty over language. https://t.co/RpWMA7LCpl
— QCGN (@QCGN) February 1, 2021
The Quebec Community Groups Network was among those to express shock at the cuts to Bell Media’s newsrooms. “Our minority English-language community cannot afford to lose strong media voices as it heads into a period of uncertainty over language,” it wrote in a tweet.