CJAD guts newsroom, CTV Montreal cuts Quebec City job as Bell Media cuts hit front lines

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.

Update: Dave Simon also got the axe from CJAD.

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.

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.

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:


Cuts elsewhere

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:

Bell Media

CTV (national)

TSN

BNN Bloomberg

Halifax

Ottawa

Peterborough

Toronto

Niagara Falls

Kitchener

London

Windsor

Winnipeg

Vancouver

Victoria

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.

More coverage

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.)

Le Devoir and the Journal de Montréal also wrote stories about cuts at CJAD, and The Canadian Press had a brief, vague story about the cuts overall at Bell.

Broadcast Dialogue has been compiling some names of people suddenly without a job as has AllAccess.com.

The cuts at TSN prompted stories from the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and others.

Reaction

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.

96 thoughts on “CJAD guts newsroom, CTV Montreal cuts Quebec City job as Bell Media cuts hit front lines

  1. Patricia G

    Super disappointed. I’ve been a listener for 25 years… I don’t care much for Elias… his ego is too much for me. I hate the CTV jingle at the top of the news… I stop listening at 9am and start again at 4pm. I hope someone is actually reading these comments and taking to heart what us listeners are saying.. probably not!

    Reply
    1. Gazoo

      Of the 4 daytime announcers, Elias is the one I will tune into every one in awhile. He has been a breath of fresh air and certainly better than his opinionated predecessor.
      As for the other three, rarely listen to any of them.

      Reply
  2. Andre

    As the Vice Chair & Group President of BCE and Bell Canada of BCE Inc, the total compensation of Wade Oosterman at BCE Inc is $6,885,560. There are no executives at BCE Inc getting paid more.

    I wonder how many of the CTV cuts could have been saved by this

    Reply
    1. Steve Why

      What a sad commentary for English radio in Montreal. Everyone should have seen this coming with Bell Media as the owner. Watch out for internet hikes!!

      Reply
  3. Just Me

    What about Todd Van Der Heyden’s show Viewpoints? It’s not on CJAD’s schedule for today or next Saturday. And Ken Connors usually chats with him Saturday mornings at 7:40 about his upcoming show, and didn’t this morning.

    Reply
  4. Skid

    Last time I checked, BCE had not been converted into a charity. Todays media is nothing more than propaganda departments for whomever pays the most. Content gets created in the boardroom/government backroom and is submitted for distribution over the airwaves. As freedom of speech disappears, staff reporters have become obsolete.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      First point, while they are not a charity, they are also using the public airwaves and have certain commitments and obligations that come with it. What is financially best isn’t always legally or morally acceptable.

      As for the rest, when you have fewer staff and fewer resources, the temptation that many end up giving into is allowing those who write the press releases dictate the content and tone of “news”. Rather than investigating or getting the other side, they run the story as is. Some newspapers especially have been caught basically running the press release verbatim.

      Freedom of speech isn’t disappearing. As you said, BCE isn’t a charity, and free speech in their case isn’t free.

      Reply
  5. S. Santos

    Maybe Dahlia Kurtz in Ottawa could (end up in the valley) She could end up at City 101.1 Smiths Falls-Ottawa. The other lady from Morning Live Ottawa could go to Rogers TV Ottawa or CTV’s competition on Sparks St. Dr. Laurie could go to AM 600. Is 600 Montreal Talk station launching soon.

    Reply
  6. Philip

    Any news with the weekend schedule? I’ve heard that Todd Van der Heyden was not on yesterday. Was anybody not on from Montreal that is usually on? Just curious.

    Also, anything changed for Mix or Chom?

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      I checked on CJAD.com, and it seems the weekends are mirroring the weekdays as it becomes a Best Of station. Alot of repeats, a lot of paid programming (i.e the host lines up the advertisers to get air time).

      Tempted myself to write Chris as I write CJAD off, but I doubt his bosses will care as long as they get a mega bonus for cutting costs next quarter.

      Reply
      1. Al

        Curb the temptation. Chris is stuck between a rock & a hard place. Executives have become executioners by corporate edict. I think we all know what trickles down, and it’s definitely not riches. Kinda tough to have a “Best Of” weekend when the sourcing is just plain mediocre. If/when they dump Connors, Laxer, and Eakes (I hope it never comes to that), it will be time to order the headstone.

        Reply
  7. Chucky

    Bell Media’s layoffs have extended to Winnipeg where TSN 1290 has dropped its Sports format and now stunting. Station’s Twitter feed is already deleted.

    Reply
  8. Philip

    Is James Foster out now as well?

    Andrew Carter has announced today on his program that he will be waking up a half hour earlier from now on to do “Live at Five” with Trudie. So……

    Reply
    1. Just Me

      On “Live at Five” this morning Trudie Mason said that next week “Live at Five” would be her and James Foster as usual, with Andrew Carter joining them.

      Reply
  9. S

    And now, as of Monday, Feb. 15th, Aaron Rand and Natasha Hall will merge their shows together, and it will air Monday to Friday from 2pm to 6pm.

    I think all of us are waiting for a new (independent) English language radio station to be created now – because the CJAD that we knew is dead.

    Reply
  10. Albert Musco

    A Toronto news talk radio radio broadcaster commentated about ten years ago concerning the closing of an AM radio station in Halifax ,as the looming death of AM radio. As a senior , I not only grew up with am radio , but it has been my constant companion in my golden years !

    Reply
  11. Norman Bates

    I was puzzled when Todd Van der Heyden’s ‘Viewpoint’ on CJAD Saturday did not appear a few weeks ago and therefore likewise was presumably terminated. In my opinion, Todd’s was perhaps the only interesting show as he dealt with important topics and interviewing many professional individuals.

    Lately, however, having heard Aaron Rand and Natasha Hall now “co-hosting” the same talk-show, it is painfully obvious that Natasha has been pushed to the background with Aaron holding forth most of the time. I predict that Natasha will soon move on to other pastures or perhaps become a stay-at-home mom instead. Okay, nothing lasts forever and the same old radio “personalities” do become tiresome after awhile. Then, you begin to wonder why a select few survive on the air year after year when others more deserving do not (we know who they are).

    In any event, so-called “talk radio” today is nothing like it used to be decades ago when AM radio hosts allowed callers more time to express their views. Today, it’s “hello-thanks-for-the-call-goodbye” followed by the usual inane commercials which dominate air time–such as that horrendous “Kars for Kids” ad with its infamous earworm jingle that has quite correctly been criticized and lambasted in the U.S. where it has aired for many years before being foisted upon Canadians. (Google Search it for the story).

    Who remembers the wonderful heyday of CKGM’s Pat Burns back in the mid-sixties? Yes, Burns’ opinions and aggressive technique were often controversial but his style is so desperately needed today when compared to the lightweights afraid to rock the boat or “outrage” those who are overly insensitive for no other reason than to generate publicity for their “agenda”.

    Oddly enough, the Bahamas’ Guardian Radio (broadcast live there on FM as well as online) retains the more pleasant, traditional, laid-back call-in talk programming, even welcoming regulars who express their opinions and are not abruptly cut off by impatient hosts fearful of overstepping into commercial time.

    Reply
  12. Darlene Humphreys

    My parents & I moved to Ontario from Montreal 5 years ago, and I bought an Alexa so Mom could listen to CJAD as she has done for 70 odd years (as we kids did as well, growing up).
    Things are certainly changing, for the worse: life is hard enough these days, why take away the pleasant, sire and comforting things that (especially) our elders live for?

    Reply
  13. John Dykeman

    Hello. Sad news.Gord Sinclair must be turning in his grave.
    Andy Poplawski left on his own just in time.
    There goes my evening listening (Jon Pole) who was very entertaining during height of Covid.
    Guess CBC One is still a good choice. Good news gathering service as well.

    Reply

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