Tag Archives: Bob Babinski

Bob Babinski resigns as City Montreal Executive Producer

Bob Babinski was hired at City Montreal a year and a half ago.

Bob Babinski was hired at City Montreal a year and a half ago.

16 months after being hired as the first man in charge of City TV’s new station in Montreal, Bob Babinski is leaving. He announced the news on Twitter on Saturday:


I spoke with him shortly after that post, and you can read his reasons in this story, which should appear in Monday’s Gazette.

The decision was announced to staff at the station on Friday, just after the broadcast of Breakfast Television. This was by design, Babinski told me, “to have the least impact on staff.”

Babinski said it was “a difficult day yesterday.”

While he said he’d been thinking about it for a while, as one does for decisions like his, he called his bosses to make it official earlier this week, the same week those bosses were busy with Rogers’s upfront presentations, giving advertisers a taste of what is to come for the fall season.

I talked with Babinski on Tuesday at the Montreal satellite event for the upfront, and he said nothing about wanting to leave. He explained that he didn’t want word to leak out before making the announcement to his staff. That announcement, which shocked everyone, was made in the presence of Jordan Schwartz, Rogers Media’s VP of in-house production and Babinski’s boss, who is visiting to help tweak the morning show a bit. (The first minor tweaks to the format should be apparent on Monday’s show.)

Schwartz tweeted this somewhat cryptic message just before midnight on Friday night:

And this more direct one on Saturday:

Schwartz told me later that he was sad to see Babinski go, but “in my head I always expected this day. I didn’t know if he’d want to stay for the day-to-day-to-day.”

There was the thought of whether there was something Rogers could do to make Babinski happier in his position, Schwartz said, but “I heard it in his voice that it was the right call.”

Schwartz said “I thought that he was a gentleman in the timing that he picked,” because it’s at the beginning of summer and gives them time to find someone new before the fall.

Manuel Fonseca, the managing producer of local programming at City Vancouver, takes over as interim executive producer in Montreal until they find a permanent replacement. Schwartz didn’t want to put a timeline on that, but said he’ll look for someone “as soon as possible.”

“I need a change”

So why is Babinski leaving? Simply put, “I need a change,” he said, emphasizing that the decision was entirely his and to the disappointment of his superiors.

Babinski said the first year and a half was about hiring new talent, setting up a TV station from scratch, and developing a new show. As we enter the second seasons of Montreal Connected and Breakfast Television, his job is becoming more administrative, doing things like coordinating content from the network. “While that’s extremely important, that stuff is less close to my heart,” he said.

So, in the middle of summer, he’s leaving and will go back to being a freelancer.

He won’t be entirely disconnected from Rogers, he said. Without giving too many details, he said he will be working with the company to produce programming related to hockey, as Rogers begins finding ways to recoup that $5.2-billion investment in NHL rights over 12 years. It will definitely be an off-air role, though. The former CBC sportscaster says his on-air days are behind him.

Babinski also told me he plans to go back to pursuing his “basic passion” of training others to be better broadcasters. He wants to expand the stuff he’s been doing there and apply it to other industries, helping corporate executives become better public speakers, for example. Again, not too many details because he doesn’t want to tip his hand before it’s all figured out.

He remains in his job until Friday, June 13. He’ll be spending his last week doing his job as usual, and preparing files for a transition to a new boss.

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Montreal Connected leads off City Montreal’s local programming

City Montreal staff. Seated: Montreal Connected Executive Producer George Athans (left), City Montreal Executive Producer Bob Babinski (right). Standing, from left: Montreal Connected hosts Wilder  Weir and Alyson Lozoff, New Media Producer Elias Makos, Montreal Connected Associate Producer Kelly Greig, Montreal Connected Director of Photography and editor Ian Graham

City Montreal staff (so far). Seated: Montreal Connected Executive Producer George Athans (left), City Montreal Executive Producer Bob Babinski (right). Standing, from left: Montreal Connected hosts Wilder Weir and Alyson Lozoff, New Media Producer Elias Makos, Montreal Connected Associate Producer Kelly Greig, Montreal Connected Director of Photography and editor Ian Graham

After years of wanting to get into the Montreal market, and months after acquiring a station here, City television is finally ready to dip its toe into local programming. It announced last week that May 30 would be the premiere of Montreal Connected, the station’s weekly half-hour sports show, and named its two hosts.

I spent Monday afternoon with the staff at the station for a story that appears in Thursday’s Gazette that introduces the anglo community to the show and its two hosts, Wilder Weir and Alyson Lozoff.

As is usually the case, I learned plenty more about them, the staff behind the camera and the station that I couldn’t cram into that story, so I’ll lay it all out here.

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City Montreal gets a boss: Bob Babinski

Bob Babinski, teaching a student in my intro to broadcasting class in 2004.

Bob Babinski, teaching a student in my intro to broadcasting class in 2004.

As Rogers officially takes over control of CJNT from Channel Zero, and the station adopts the full City primetime schedule as of Monday, Feb. 4, it has announced its first hire: Bob Babinski, a freelance television producer specializing in sports, and a part-time professor in Concordia University’s journalism department, has been named “Executive Producer and Local Content Manager” for what will on Monday officially become City Montreal.

Though only announced on Monday, Babinski has been on the mind of Rogers Media Broadcast President Scott Moore for quite some time. He’s told me in previous interviews that he had someone in mind for this job, but couldn’t name him because he couldn’t actually hire him until the acquisition of the station was approved by the CRTC.

Babinski and Moore know each other from their time at CBC Sports. As his biography shows, Babinski worked for CBC Sports covering the Olympics, the 2010 World Cup, and producing feature stories for Hockey Day in Canada. Moore became the head of CBC Sports in 2007 before leaving in 2010 to go back to Rogers.

Babinski has also been teaching part-time at Concordia University since 2000, with students including yours truly. He’s currently teaching a feature writing class on Tuesday mornings.

In his new position at City Montreal, Babinski will be responsible for its local programs, Breakfast Television (the weekday morning show) and Connected Montreal (the weekly sports show), and the hiring of its 20 to 30 staff in front of and behind the camera. He tells me he’s starting by going to Vancouver, Calgary and maybe Toronto next week to visit their programs to learn how they work.

He has until August to do put these shows on the air, so we’re not quite at the hiring stage yet. But Babinski said he’s already been contacted by many people, including many former students, who heard about the appointment and congratulated him, some with CVs included. “My hope is that the staffing process will happen in the spring,” he said. But he wants to hear from as many people as possible who might be interested in positions. (His email is bob.babinski@gmail.com.)

I asked Babinski what his vision of the morning show was. He used words like “urban”, “young” and “authentic”, which might give us an early idea of how it will distinguish itself from Global Montreal’s morning show, which has already started pandering appealing to West Island anglos.

“I want it to be a celebration of what’s good and great about Montreal,” Babinski said, particularly focusing on its various cultures and reflecting “the international flavour” of the city.

As a freelancer for such a long time, I also asked Babinski if he’s ready for a return to a 9-to-5 job. He laughed, saying I wasn’t the first person to mention that to him. But he said this job fits in with the way he sees work.

“I’ve never seen work as something that starts at a certain time of day and ends at a certain time of day,” he said. “I don’t think the idea of a 9-to-5 job is what drew me to this opportunity.” Instead, it was the chance to “be part of something that’s starting from scratch, and make my mark on it,” to have “one big project that I’m totally into.”

Babinski will be totally into work for the next few months. Starting a television station from scratch isn’t a simple thing to do.

Moore confirms that “assuming some bits of paperwork get done,” CJNT officially switches hands at 5am Monday. The electronic schedule goes blank as of that time. It had been previously established that the station would adopt the full City primetime schedule that day, because it’s the day of the premiere of the City original sitcom Seed, at 8:30pm. A schedule on City’s website shows Metro Debut still there from 7am to 10am, and OMNI News newscasts at 5pm (Mandarin) and 8pm (Italian). has been updated since this was posted. Metro Debut is no longer listed, and neither is any other ethnic programming on weekdays, except for a small block at 7am.

Ethnic programming will eventually come back to Montreal with ICI, a new cooperative station set to launch in late spring or early summer.