Tag Archives: CBC Daybreak

CBC Daybreak on TV: Slightly enhanced radio makes for awful television

Host Mike Finnerty, right, with sports reporter Andie Bennett in the Daybreak studio.

Host Mike Finnerty, right, in the Daybreak studio.

For almost two weeks now, CBC has been broadcasting an hour of Montreal radio morning show Daybreak on television, with cameras installed in the radio studio. Managing Director Shelagh Kinch explains a bit how it works on her blog. But basically, a handful of cameras are set up in the studio that allow us to see the people on the air as they’re speaking. Because the cameras are voice-activated, the switching happens without the need for human intervention (i.e. without needing to hire someone for it).

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CBC Montreal ends sports reporter rotation; Doug Gelevan, Andie Bennett get stable gigs

Douglas Gelevan will work full-time as sports anchor on CBC Montreal's evening newscast and as sports columnist for Homerun

Douglas Gelevan will work full-time as sports anchor on CBC Montreal’s evening newscast and as sports columnist for Homerun

Three years after creating a two-person sports unit and rotating them regularly between morning and afternoon jobs, CBC Montreal has finally come to its senses and is giving them more stable schedules.

Douglas Gelevan announced on Friday that he’s moving to a full-time job as TV sports anchor and afternoon radio sports columnist as of Monday.

“We’re going to experiment with exactly how the daily work flow will work with me over the next month,” Gelevan tells me. “By fall the permanent structure should be in place. I know the plan is to create a workflow that will get sports more involved in the 6 to 6:30 part of the program in addition to a sportscast in the 5. A back and forth scenario between the TV and Homerun studio is likely, but I can’t say for sure.”

Since Homerun airs from 3 to 6pm and the TV newscast is from 5 to 6:30pm, there’s some overlap, meaning the schedule has to be figured out (especially because it takes a couple of minutes to run from one studio to the other). But the team had been doing radio hits at 5:50pm after anchoring a sportscast during the 5pm block, so it should be manageable.

I asked Gelevan if he’ll enjoy the fact that he won’t have to get up as early for Daybreak. For a sports reporter especially, those kinds of hours can be very difficult.

But “it’s never been a issue for me,” he said. “Working on Daybreak is feels like getting fired out of canon as soon as you wake up. I’ll miss that aspect of being on the show for sure. And working side by side Mike, Monique, Jeanette and Brendan… They’re awesome.”

Andie Bennett remains on Daybreak full-time

Andie Bennett remains on Daybreak full-time

It’s been three years since Andie Bennett left what was then Team 990 to join CBC, prompting the creation of the sports unit. The move meant going on TV regularly, which clearly took some time getting used to, though viewers have seen her get more comfortable in the role as time has passed.

“I’m a radio girl at heart and we were all in agreement that it is better to have consistency on the airwaves,” Bennett said. “The TV work has been a great experience and I will still be doing some TV from time to time, ideally doing maybe one item a month that will be a bit more in-depth, thought-out, creative type of story.”

Aside from giving these two broadcasters more stable schedules, the change solves some practical problems. Promotions for either Daybreak or the TV newscast would either have to include both of them or neither. Now, Gelevan can stand next to Debra Arbec and Frank Cavallaro on those TV posters and Bennett can be more prominent in the B-roll they shoot for those tomorrow-on-Daybreak TV commercials.

“With Andrew Chang’s departure, we wanted to create a consistent on-air team for CBC News at 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00,” said CBC Quebec content manager Meredith Dellandrea (who’s filling in for other managers on vacation). “Doug Gelevan is great in the TV sports role and we’re so happy he agreed to this change. We are also pleased that Andie Bennett — also great on TV and radio — has agreed to be the Daybreak sports reporter on a daily basis.”

Both Bennett and Gelevan describe this as a win-win.

“It’s good news for everyone I think,” Bennett said. “I wanted to return to radio full-time and Doug does great work in the scripted TV format.”

And they insist they’re still a team. Their “sports unit” stories, where they go out together and try out new sports for our amusement, will continue.

With all the common sense that went into this, it makes you wonder why it took three years to get here.

Mike Finnerty returns to CBC Daybreak (UPDATED)

Mike Finnerty ad from his last Daybreak stint

Mike Finnerty, who left his job as host of the morning show Daybreak on CBC Radio One to work at the Guardian newspaper in London, and was replaced by Nancy Wood, who was turfed only a few months later by management, settles back into his old chair starting Monday morning at 5:30am

Well, maybe not the old chair. The CBC radio studios have been moved to the basement of the Maison Radio-Canada, to share space with CBC television and better integrate the two newsrooms.

It’s been more than two months since it was announced that Finnerty would return. That gave him some time to finish up at the Guardian, fill in as a host of The Current, move back to Montreal and get back up to speed with his Daybreak team.

I asked him about his impending return, and he sent me a really long email, most of which I’ll share with you here (slightly edited).

Quite a few changes, actually. It will definitely sound different. I take responsibility for the different mind and voice, but Daybreak has a new senior producer Meredith Dellandrea. It’s a team effort, but she’s been working on this re-launch since I was hired in July.  She’s very good.

  • It will sound a lot pacier and more nimble
  • It will deliver more of the crucial Montreal info you need more efficiently, and it will frontload that information tucked up to the end of our half-hourly newscasts
  • It will update you more regularly
  • It will retain the same team, and I like to hope the same magic/spontaneity/cheekiness we’d achieved before I left
  • There will be a focus on interviewing, getting the Montreal players on air and on the record

We’ll continue to push ahead on the tech front – you may not hear it first day, but we’ll start making use of how easy it’s become to send quality audio files over the Web/Twitter.

The premium on audience interactivity continues — we consider they co-own the show (because they do lol), so you’ll hear their story ideas, their comments and even direct participation in the storytelling. We’ll up our game on social networking, especially Twitter. (ED: They use their Facebook page a lot too)

The 5:30 half-hour will be spruced up a bit for our early-morning listeners.

The podcast stays and you’ll hear in different ways that we’re keenly aware of how much the audience is interacting with us digitally through the Internet.

As for me, I’ve just come back from 15 months at guardian.co.uk — a news organisation with complete clarity about its brand and what it stands for:  it makes an impact, is thoughtful, colourful, cheeky, provocative, interactive, creative, and seeks out viewpoints from across the spectrum of thought and opinion Those are all values I sign up to, so I hope they’ve been reinforced in me and you might even hear more of that on air.

Is it just like riding a bicycle?  You’ll find out tomorrow from 0530.

Finnerty's new face on the Daybreak home page

Finnerty’s guests his first week include Mayor Gérald Tremblay, Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum, CBC boss Hubert Lacroix, some “surprises”, a longer interview with police chief Marc Parent (he presented an excerpt last week), and as usual the stars of the latest news cycle who are willing to wake up at 7am for a radio interview.

UPDATE: I listened to the first complete show with Finnerty as host, and I have some initial reaction on the subject:

  • I rarely listened to the first half-hour of Daybreak – only insane people are up at 5:30am – but it’s really really dead. They’ve replaced the “Daybreak playback” with a press review, which is Finnerty and Dimitri Katadotis reading off the headlines of the newspapers that have just arrived. It’s pretty well as boring as it sounds. The rest of the half-hour is a daily chat with the folks at Quebec AM in Quebec City. I realize you’re not going to get many interviews for 5:40am (getting interviews for 7:40am is hard enough), but people who wake up at this time of the morning need much more energy than this.
  • Finnerty is well aware of his reputation for being a confrontational interviewer, and only time will tell whether he’ll mellow out in the long term, but this interview with Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay is interesting in how cordial he is. Certainly Tremblay has had some questions to face over the past 15 months, but Finnerty is practically lobbing softballs at the guy. He also interviewed Christian Paradis over the Tory minister’s recent political troubles, and the interview was fair. Finnerty didn’t ask him 10 times if he was going to resign. Maybe he was unusually happy this day, maybe self-conscious about people’s criticisms of him, or maybe he just hasn’t found an issue to be really fired up at yet. We’ll see.
  • A lot of the show is spent previewing itself. Here’s four minutes of Finnerty just doing station IDs and talking about what’s coming up in the program. Get rid of that and you can have a whole other segment.

CBC finally picks Daybreak host, and it’s … Mike Finnerty?

Now CBC will need to put a giant Mike Finnerty poster on top of this Mike Finnerty poster which covers a Mike Finnerty poster

Okay, I didn’t see this one coming. Four months after posting the position of Daybreak host, and after months of rotating in guest hosts and having a show with no real direction, CBC has settled not on Steve Rukavina or Sue Smith but on bringing back former host Mike Finnerty.

The Daybreak website has a release and The Gazette has a story (UPDATE: And a longer one in today’s paper). CBC.ca also has a story, which entirely glosses over what happened to former Daybreak host Nancy Wood.

The release has the usual quotes of how thrilled everyone is. Similar comments directly from Finnerty via email:

I’ve had a blast at guardian.co.uk and learned so much that I sometimes thought my head was going to explode.  I hate the idea of leaving.  It’s a great job.

But I miss broadcasting.  I miss being on air.  I miss live radio.  And yes, I miss Montreal.

I have a notice period here to serve out, three months, but I am taking two weeks off in August to host The Current for Anna-Maria Tremonti.  That’s starting August 9th.

I think you know I’m a fan of Fagstein and a regular reader (and occasional visitor to the threads).

So y’all better be on your best behaviour, okay?

Back and forth, but this time to stay

Finnerty left Daybreak just over a year ago to take a job as multimedia news editor at London’s The Guardian. He was replaced by a TV reporter and former Radio Noon host, Nancy Wood, and … well, we all know how that turned out. (Wood has since taken a job at Enquête.)

Finnerty said when he left that the big reason for doing so was his partner, Dom, who moved with him to Montreal but had trouble finding work here. An opportunity opened up in London, and they decided they’d both move back across the Atlantic.

Now, Finnerty says, they both found they missed Montreal:

I think it’s fair to say that it was on moving back to London last year that he realized how great a city Montreal is. He used to say, “I finally get the Montreal state of mind”. He is totally onboard with the decision to return to Daybreak.  He thought I did a pretty good job at it and might even do better this time around :-)

Finnerty says his contract with the CBC – which he signed on Saturday – is until June 2014. This is much longer than that given to Wood, which suggests that either the CBC has more confidence in Finnerty than it had in Wood (you’ll recall they referred to her as an “interim” host) or that they’re tired of searching for new hosts every six months.

Even with the four-year contract, Finnerty expects the kind of pressure on him to perform that his predecessor had:

A friend of mine who hosts on the BBC once said to me that when you’re on air for a living, you need to accept that you could be tapped on the shoulder at any time.  I don’t expect the CBC to keep me on air if I’m not doing well. That’s being honest.

I am comfortable with management’s ratings expectations because they’re the same as mine.  I expect that if you, taxpayers, fund CBC Radio we have to deliver something of demonstrable public value, in this case a type of local coverage of Montreal that you cannot get otherwise.  Good, solid, reliable, essential, surprising, Montreal listening.  When you listen to Daybreak, I want you to think you’ve had Montreal for breakfast, that you’ve got your money’s worth.

If no one is listening, or if just seniors are listening and not a broad range of Montrealers, than how do we justify spending your money?  Daybreak doesn’t need to be Number One – though why not? – but it has to show that it is of clear, public value.  It has to have good ratings.  The CBC management are right to insist on that, and I am totally onboard.

The last time Finnerty was host, Daybreak on CBME-FM had an average minute audience of 15,100 listeners and a total audience of 61,000 with a 14.4% market share, according to numbers dug up by Mike Boone. Wood’s ratings were lower than that, with an average audience of 12,800 listeners, a total audience of 53,000 and a 12.4% market share. Wood’s ratings were the major reason for her being pulled from the host’s chair.

Even though the numbers suggest fewer people tuned in to his replacement, Finnerty acknowledged to The Gazette’s Basem Boshra that has has some hearts to win back: “I know there were a lot of listeners who were upset at Nancy’s departure, and what I would like to say to them is that it’s time for the page to be turned. It’s time for me to get to work on winning their affection back, winning their respect back, and proving to them that, day in and day out, we’re going to bring them the stories and voices that matter and make a difference to Montreal.”

Aggressive? Me?

Online reaction to Finnerty’s return is mixed. The Daybreak Facebook page, the Gazette story and CBC story have some messages congratulating Finnerty and others questioning the choice. A Facebook group originally setup to protest Wood’s removal also has some comments, as well, of course, as the Radio in Montreal group.

Finnerty was known for his confrontational style with guests (even where it seemed unnecessary), which turned off many listeners. Asked about it, Finnerty agreed people think that of him, but he disagreed that it was either aggressive or unwarranted:

I accept that some people think that of my style, yes.  I read all the feedback that comes my way and I do care, and take it onboard.  I also get a lot of positive feedback from people for putting the tough questions to people in positions of power.  I don’t think my style is aggressive. I think I have a role to play hosting the CBC morning show in Montreal.  I don’t think it’s fair to have someone on air to talk about an issue that demands a tough or assertive question and not ask it.  I think Montrealers want me to pursue questions of importance, and if they aren’t answered, I think it’s fair to point that out or ask again.  Fair is the watchword.  Call me on it.

The bottom line is that I want Daybreak to be an interesting listen.  I want its journalism to be robust.  I want people to tune in because they know they will get good interviews where we focus on the issues that matter and try to find out what’s new, what’s important, what’s really going on.

Finnerty asked to add, even though it sounded “a bit luvvy”, that “the Daybreak team is bloody brilliant:  Monique Lacombe, Sonali Karnick, Pierre Landry, and David Blair. Steve Rukavina is a tremendous host and one of the biggest assets at the station.  I loooooooooove Sue Smith. They’ve been working really hard.  I can’t wait to join them.”

Finnerty’s start date as host of Daybreak hasn’t been set yet, but will be in the fall, possibly around Thanksgiving. In the meantime, he’s filling in as host of The Current for two weeks starting Aug. 9.

UPDATE (June 22): Mike Boone, in his column yesterday, didn’t mince his words about Finnerty being replaced by Wood and then coming back within 14 months:

What a joke.

But there is continuity at CBC Montreal. The same gormless twits keep making hare-brained programming decisions. On our dime.

UPDATE: You can listen to Finnerty’s interview with Daybreak the next day in their podcast (MP3).

CBC posts Daybreak host position

The surreal Daybreak saga just got a bit moreso, as the CBC officially posted a job opening for the host of Daybreak. Like with the last host, this position is a “contract” job instead of a permanent one.

What you do

As a Host for the English Radio of CBC in Montreal, you will host the flagship weekday program “Daybreak”, in keeping with Corporation standards and policies. More specifically, you will keep up with all political, social, economic and cultural developments relevant to a local Montreal audience and maintain contacts with various sources. You will do the research necessary for interviews and other program activities. You will write or adapt intros. During production meetings, you will assist in planning and choosing content for the program. Your role as a host will also include community outreach at public events.


We are looking for a candidate with the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  • Five (5) years’ on-air experience or equivalent.
  • Proven journalism skills.
  • Excellent command of the working language (English).
  • Very good knowledge of the other official language (French).
  • Extensive general knowledge.
  • Extensive knowledge of stories and issues in Montréal and Québec.
  • Understanding of the culture of French Canada.
  • Strong high-energy on the air, strong ability to connect with audience.
  • Team leader.
  • Ability to work under stress.

Candidates may be subject to an audition in English and knowledge testing.

This is a contract position.

We recognize the importance of a diverse workforce and we therefore encourage applications from Aboriginal peoples, women, members of a visible minority and persons with a disability.

Sound interesting? Apply now! We thank you for your interest, but only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Job: Programming and Production

Primary Location: Montreal

Job Posting: Mar 19, 2010

Unposting Date: Mar 30, 2010

Status of Employment: Contract

Work schedule(s): Full-time

It’s funny, I know someone who fills all those qualifications perfectly…

Meanwhile, those campaigning for Nancy Wood to get her old job back are running out of steam. Jon Simon, the creator of the Keep Nancy Wood as host of Daybreak Facebook group, has given up after hearing from Wood that she’s moving on. This despite the group having 621 members, more than the official Daybreak Facebook page has fans.

UPDATE (April 1): The Suburban’s Mike Cohen has some thoughts on possible replacements.

Nancy Wood gets Daybreak host gig

Nancy Wood gestures with a hot dog at a CBC union protest in May

Nancy Wood gestures with a hot dog at a CBC union protest in May

Two months after former host Mike Finnerty left Montreal and CBC Daybreak for London, the Corp. will announce (UPDATE: announced) this morning that Nancy Wood will be his successor. The Gazette got the scoop in Friday’s edition. CBC Montreal also has a story up, packaged with the news about the new evening TV newscast.

Long-time radio listeners (actually, anyone over the age of five) will remember Wood as the host for 11 years of Radio Noon (disclosure: I worked as a researcher on that show while she hosted – for a total of one shift). Before that she worked at various reporting jobs, including Maclean’s, the Toronto Star and the Gazette. More recently (at least, before sitting in the Daybreak host chair as a fill-in and job candidate), she has been a national television news reporter out of Montreal.

Nancy Wood, new CBC Daybreak host

Nancy Wood, new CBC Daybreak host

Wood is a no-brainer for the Daybreak job, even with a large field of good candidates. She has extensive experience hosting a CBC radio program in Montreal, and knows the city well. She was also the favourite of The Gazette’s Mike Boone, who lobbied for her to get the job years ago. The only real question was whether she was interested in getting up at 4am every weekday.

Now we know.

Welcome back to radio, Nancy.

UPDATE: Wood let her listeners know of the decision kind of off-hand in her morning chat with Quebec AM’s Tim Belford at about 5:45am.

The 7:20am segment was devoted to an interview of her by Gazette columnist Mike Boone (now we know how the Gazette got the scoop), in which she said she didn’t mind the hours, she preferred the radio medium where she can deal with many issues instead of spending an entire day putting a TV package together, and discussed what a typical Daybreak host day is like.

For the record, it’s like this:

  • Wake up at 4am
  • Leave at 4:15am
  • Arrive at the CBC at 4:30-4:45am
  • Show begins at 5:30am
  • Show ends at 8:37am
  • Record podcast (usually about half an hour)
  • Record promos
  • Meetings to plan the next day’s show
  • Leave about 11am
  • Nap
  • Go over scripts for the next day’s show, decide where to add in awkward silences
  • Go to bed at about 8:30pm, and “just lie there”
  • Actually fall asleep at 10pm

Wood and the Daybreak team are also asking listeners to tell them what issues they want the show to talk about this fall. I’d like to suggest an exposé on local media issues bloggers.

The Daybreak website has already been updated with pictures of Wood.

Finnerty’s gone – who will host Daybreak now?

Mike Finnerty giant ad outside Maison Radio-Canada

Mike Finnerty giant ad outside Maison Radio-Canada, slightly torn to reveal ... another giant Mike Finnerty behind him.

In case you missed it, Friday was Mike Finnerty’s last day as host of Daybreak on CBC Radio One. Finnerty announced last month that he was leaving the CBC to move to London and take a job with the Guardian.

The theme of the final show (all links in this paragraph are streaming RealAudio format, which astonishingly it still uses) was what people will miss about Montreal (including lots of suggestions from listeners), since Finnerty is leaving the city. Finnerty also took the time to interview two CBC bosses, the big boss Hubert Lacroix, on the future of the public broadcaster, and local boss Patricia Pleszczynska on who would replace him as Daybreak host. Finally, he invited all the other CBC Montreal radio hosts to talk about what they’d miss about the city.

Despite hinting otherwise, there was no announcement of a new host. Pleszczynska said to “wait until September” while they evaluate the various candidates, many of whom we would expect would test-host the show over the summer.

You can listen to Finnerty’s final podcast here (MP3), which includes some original “live… to download” host banter and repeats the morning interviews. Or you can listen to my selections from Finnerty’s last Daybreak (MP3) from the over-the-air version.

Now it’s time to decide who will replace Mike in the anchor’s chair. I suggested a few names last month, but in the past few months during Finnerty’s vacations to London we’ve had a few guest anchors who might be candidates for the job. Links below are to the podcast versions of their shows in MP3 format, which isn’t a perfect way to evaluate how they do live on-air, but gives you an idea of their interview abilities and ability to socialize with the staff.

Shawn Apel is the first temporary host to take over the Mike’s mic on Monday morning.

UPDATE (July 15): The Gazette’s Mike Boone suggests it should be a woman in the host chair. Wood, Campbell, Sonali Karnick and Anne Lagacé-Dowson are mentioned as possible candidates.

Mike Finnerty leaving CBC Daybreak

Mike Finnerty giant ad outside Maison Radio-Canada

Mike Finnerty giant ad outside Maison Radio-Canada

Mike Finnerty, the host of Daybreak on CBC Radio One in Montreal, announced this morning that he will be leaving the show at the end of June and moving to London (England, the good London) to take a new job as multimedia news editor for The Guardian.

The reasons are mostly personal. Finnerty’s partner moved with him to Montreal when he took the Daybreak job in late 2006, but had trouble finding work here. Finnerty’s partner got a new job back in London, and Finnerty decided two and a half years was enough sacrifice to ask of someone else.

Mike Finnerty leaving CBC Daybreak (MP3, 6:05)

Both of them came here from London when Finnerty was tapped for the Daybreak job to replace veteran Dave Bronstetter. He worked at BBC World Services for 10 years, and before that he was a radio reporter for CBC in Quebec City and Montreal. Lest anyone question his loyalties, the Esterhazy, Sask. native told The Gazette’s Kathryn Greenaway in 2007 that he still wants to be buried in Montreal. I assume that sentiment still applies.

Among Finnerty’s legacies at Daybreak are the Daybreak Daily Podcast (a daily “best of” featuring interviews from that morning’s show), the Daybreak Twitter account and the guest editor series.

Who wants to host a morning talk show?

Finnerty says that although the Daybreak crew has known about this departure for months, they don’t know who will be replacing him in the show’s anchor chair.

The job has a lot of exposure, but also involves a lot of work. Getting up at 3:30 every weekday morning is a deal-breaker for me (you know, in case they were considering me for the job).

So who should jump into the big chair now? With the budget crunch hitting the corporation, acquiring a high-paid external candidate would probably not look too good, and there are plenty of capable people from within the organization.

Two names that jump immediately to mind are Steve Rukavina, who has been a temporary host of Radio Noon and seemed to connect with some listeners until Sue Smith was given the job, and Sonali Karnick, who has been the hardest-working person in that office for years now and is currently on the sports beat for Daybreak. Both are young, dedicated, and most importantly adorable.

UPDATE: Brendan Kelly (who double dips as a Daybreak columnist) writes about Finnerty’s decision in The Gazette.


CBC Daybreak has taken to Twitter, with staff (including host Mike Finnerty) sharing the tweeting duties. Although it includes a lot of stuff that might be considered noise to some (live-tweeting of Habs games, for example), it also gives a rundown of the next morning’s broadcast the evening before, which is useful.

The only thing is you have to learn how to speak txt:

Your Mic is at 0740, 0815 is the chase, new 2u+me from the am. Ur first am MTL news, all the world and biz news from onight – c u from 0530

I think I’ll just stick to listening to the podcast and finding out what was on the program hours or even days after it aired.