CBC doesn’t usually send press releases about the retirement of its journalists. But Bernard St-Laurent isn’t a simple journalist. The senior political analyst announced today he’s finally hanging up the microphone after 40 years in the business. His last day is June 26.
St-Laurent has a long career as a broadcaster, not only hosting local radio shows like Radio Noon and Homerun and the national program C’est la vie, but guest hosting on just about every national radio show and contributing in various ways to CBC.
Though in his later years his standing as a broadcaster seemed to wane a bit, and he always sounded on air as if he was out of breath, his colleagues are remembering him today as a mentor, a friend, and a wealth of institutional knowledge about Quebec.
Bernard St-Laurent in a 1978 class photo at the parliamentary press gallery in Quebec City.
Enjoy your retirement, Bernie.
UPDATE: Montreal Gazette story on St-Laurent’s retirement. It notes that C’est la vie, the CBC radio show about francophone Quebec culture, will continue with a new host.
St-Laurent was also on CBC News, doing his job talking about provincial by-elections and then commiserated briefly about missing his colleagues and listeners.
For three weeks after CBC President Hubert Lacroix announced cuts equivalent to 657 full-time positions at the public broadcaster, employees at the CBC Montreal office finally learned how those cuts would trickle down at the local level.
This week, I met with Shelagh Kinch, the Quebec regional director for English services, who laid it out for me: 10 positions are being “affected” by the cuts, and at this point it looks like five people will be leaving the CBC as a result.
I explain it all in this story, which appears in Saturday’s Gazette.
The changes break down as follows:
- Management is being restructured, eliminating the job of news director. Mary-Jo Barr has been let go. Helen Evans will be in charge of both news and current affairs, while Meredith Dellandrea will be in charge of non-daily programs (like Cinq à six, À propos and Our Montreal) and have “a major role” in the CBC Montreal website. “Helen has an extensive background with us,” Kinch said. “She’s probably produced every one of those programs for us. She also has very strong leadership skills. I need somebody that people are behind and people want to work with.”
- Two retirements won’t be replaced: journalist Ivan Slobod, who left in September after 30 years at the CBC, and Sally Caudwell, who produces Radio Noon.
- The two part-time jobs producing Cinq à six and À propos are being replaced by one full-time producer. Tanya Birkbeck, who produced Cinq à six, will stay at the CBC as a news reporter. Sophie Laurent, who produced À propos, is out of a job. Frank Opolko will take over producing both jobs.
- Web development is being centralized in Toronto, and a local developer is being made redundant. The person in that position will be able to apply to the Toronto job, Kinch said.
- A communications officer position is being made redundant. Catherine Megelas is the unlucky one. She said in a Facebook post that it was “a super shitty day” the day she was told. Redundancy means that the union will try to find another job for her to fill, a process that could take up to 90 days.
- A late-night camera operator is being reassigned.
- One arts reporter position is being eliminated. Pierre Landry, the arts reporter for Homerun, is the only one who’s on contract, so his won’t be renewed past the end of June.
- One position, described as a reassignment, that CBC said it couldn’t give any details on. (UPDATE: It’s anchor Andrew Chang, who’s taking up a new job at CBC outside of Montreal)
The departures will be staggered over the summer, as contracts end, notices are given and alternative jobs explored. But by September, the changes should have taken effect.