Tag Archives: CBC Montreal

CBC vs. City in softball game Thursday

Steve Rukavina isn't afraid of City.

Steve Rukavina isn’t afraid of City.

Thursday evening will see an epic media battle for the ages.

Or not.

Staff of City Montreal have accepted a challenge to play a softball game against the CBC Montreal all-stars, who are still recovering from a 10-0 humiliation at the hands of the Jewish General memory clinic last month.

The game begins at 7pm at Nelson Mandela Park in Côte des Neiges, corner of Westbury and Barclay Aves., near the Plamondon metro station.

There’s no money on the line, just pride. They’ll be passing the hat to support the NDG Food Depot.

But the trash talking has already begun

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Photos: CBC softball charity game

On Tuesday night, staff from CBC Montreal played the Trailmakers of the Jewish General Hospital’s memory clinic in a charity softball game in front of at least five spectators at Hampstead Park.

The game was an embarrassment for the CBC Montreal team, which failed to score a single run and lost the game 10-0. But they had fun. And I got some pictures. So here they are:

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Living English: Un peu de respect, SVP

CBC Living English panel, from left: Debra Arbec, Kevin Tierney, Terry Mosher, Jean-François Lisée, Anne-France Goldwater, Tamy Emma Pepin, John Stokes, Mike Finnerty

CBC Living English panel, from left: Debra Arbec, Kevin Tierney, Terry Mosher, Jean-François Lisée, Anne-France Goldwater, Tamy Emma Pepin, John Stokes, Mike Finnerty

It started with a chuckle when Jean-François Lisée raised his hand after moderator Mike Finnerty asked who in the crowd thought the English language needed protection in Quebec. It could have been seen as a good-natured laugh at the idea that a Parti Québécois minister, a member of a cabinet that pushes for stronger language laws, believes the English language needs help.

It got worse about 16 minutes in when blogger Tamy Emma Pepin tried to explain language conflicts in a historical context, saying that while historically francophones have felt oppressed by anglophones who had economic power here, her generation has no recollection of the days before the Quiet Revolution and there’s less resentment on both sides of the language divide. (She didn’t explain it very well, using the word “superior”, but it wasn’t hard to figure out her point.)

The crowd got angry. One person sitting near me actually said out loud that she was lying about history.

As the night went on, the interjections from the crowd got worse, and the entire event even more awkward and infuriating for spectators like me who came to hear a polite discussion.

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Nancy Wood back in the saddle

Nancy Wood has a lot to be happy about these days

There’s a saying in radio that it’s not if you get fired, but when. People are pulled off the air all the time without notice, told their station is going in another direction, or has decided to make a change, or some other vague euphemism for the fact that they want a change behind the microphone. As someone who covers local media – and particularly broadcasting – I’ve seen quite a few of these. When I ask about it, both parties usually repeat the vague euphemism and offer some boilerplate about how they wish each other well in their future endeavours.

For those let go, it’s rarely good news. Even if they do end up finding a job quickly elsewhere, even if the reason for their departure isn’t their fault, it’s crushing to be pulled out of a public job like this, because you know they wouldn’t have done it if you were wildly successful.

I don’t particularly enjoy reporting on these things. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t take joy in seeing people lose their jobs. But a hiring is just as much of a change as a firing, and only the former tends to involve press releases. So I search them out (sometimes a difficult thing to do because they can’t be reached at work) and ask them for comment. Trying to manage the blow to their reputation, and protect future job prospects, they stay timid, keep a happy face and repeat management’s vague reasoning.

Nancy Wood is not one of those people.

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CBC Montreal has a new set

If you’ve been tuning in this week, you’ll have noticed that CBC Montreal has inaugurated its new set. Built in the same space in the Maison Radio-Canada’s Centre de l’Information as the previous one, it feautres a new smaller desk, a new background, flat screens and LED lighting.

Tearing down the old set and building the new one took two weeks, during which the newscast was done from the newsroom studio.

Anchor Andrew Chang takes viewers on a tour of the new set on the first newscast on Monday (it starts at the 24th minute).

Here are some shots from that first newscast to give an idea what it looks like.

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CBC Montreal building new set

Debra Arbec doing the news from the newsroom set

UPDATE (April 18): The new set is done. See what it looks like here.

Much like CFCF did last year, CBMT is doing its daily newscasts from its newsroom set as its main set is being torn down and redone.

Andrew Chang gave viewers an idea of what’s going into the new set on Monday’s newscast. It will involve a new desk with a Plexiglas top. Behind the anchors will be five HD plasma screens, and a large 70-inch touchscreen will also be on the set, which is being designed in house in the Maison Radio-Canada.

Until then, the evening newscast will be hosted from the set that sits just outside the control room, which itself is just beside the newsroom. Reporters doing live in-studio segments, which were done from this set, have been moved to an adjacent room that is used for remote interviews for CBC News Network or The National. Frank Cavallaro’s weather set is a green screen just a few feet from the desk Arbec is sitting at above.

The 10:55pm newscast is done from this set as well, except with a green screen lowered behind it.

Because the camera for this set is standard definition, anchors won’t be appearing in HD until the camera is upgraded or they move into their new set. And, like with CFCF last year, the set only fits one, so Arbec and Chang will have to alternate behind the desk.

Nancy Wood replaces Amanda Margison as late anchor on CBC Montreal

Nancy Wood anchors her first late newscast on Monday, April 23

Nancy Wood is coming back.

Two years after being removed from her job as host of Daybreak on CBC Radio, Wood has been given the job of late anchor on CBC television. She will replace Amanda Margison, who is leaving Montreal to move to London, Ont.

An exact start date is still to be determined, but the change is expected to happen by the end of the month. UPDATE: Wood’s first shift was Monday, April 23. You can see video of it here.

Wood has spent the past two years working in a special capacity at Radio-Canada’s investigative show Enquête, doing stories for them but also repurposing Enquête’s stories for English television (you know, all those “CBC/Radio-Canada investigations”). Wood told me yesterday that it was clear when the project was renewed for a second season last year that this would be its last, so she’s been preparing to return to the English side for some time.

With the opening of the late anchor position, Wood said it was a convenient way of bringing her back without causing any disruption to other positions or bumping anyone out of a job.

CBC’s union rules allow Wood to return to her old job of national television reporter based in Montreal if the anchor job doesn’t work out. It’s what kept her at the CBC after losing the Daybreak job and what she had planned to do before news of the late anchor vacancy came up.

I asked Wood whether being on a 10-minute late newscast was better for her professionally than being a regular reporter for national news. She pointed out the advantage of being a daily presence on local television versus a letter and more intermittent one nationally. She also said being a national reporter can often mean being told on a moment’s notice to run off to some distant corner of the province to report on a breaking story. Being an anchor is more predictable in terms of work hours and location.

But there are downsides to the new job, she admitted. With a shift ending at 11:15pm, it means not being able to spend weeknights at home with her two teenage kids, and only seeing them in the mornings, when they are much less verbal, as any parent can attest.

Wood said she’d also be a bit sad about not being able to work on long features like the stories she’s doing for Enquête. She just came back to Montreal from Louisiana, where she worked on her final story, expected to come out next week. After that, she’ll move to the English side. (UPDATE: Her final investigative story has come out, about the health risks of an anti-malaria drug given to Canadian soldiers)


It was actually Wood who used the R word first in our conversation, pointing out that part of her job will be to try to boost the ratings of the late newscast, sandwiched between The National and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

Wood’s departure from Daybreak reportedly had a lot to do with the show’s ratings with her at the helm.

When asked whether she’s worried about ratings, Wood said it would be nice to see a boost, but that will depend more on how much promotion of the show will be done using the usual means as well as during advertising breaks of The National.

I’m sure it’s a coincidence, but I can’t help noticing how the timing of Wood’s job change matches that of CBC Quebec boss Pia Marquard. Though it’s unclear what role Marquard played in removing Wood from Daybreak, the move happened as she took over the job, and many CBC listeners angry over Wood’s removal blamed Marquard directly. Wood’s move back to a more public role happens just as Marquard is leaving the post for health reasons.

CBC Montreal News Director Mary-Jo Barr couldn’t be reached for comment last Friday and has since left on a two-week vacation. I’ll try to talk to her when she comes back. UPDATE (April 18): CBC Montreal News Director Mary-Jo Barr had nothing but praise for Wood. She also noted when I talked to her that Marquard was instrumental in Wood being given the late anchor job.

As for Margison, she confirmed she’s “moving on” but didn’t offer much comment on the matter, beyond her surprise that the news came out via Twitter.

“There are no secrets any more,” she writes in an email.

Not when it comes to anchors, I’m afraid.

Thomas Daigle

Sabrina Marandola

Daigle, Marandola hired for weekend newscast

Meanwhile, the second of two jobs opened as a result of the impending expansion into weekends have been filled. Sabrina Marandola will be taking over the job of weekend weather presenter.

Marandola confirmed the news Thursday afternoon on Twitter.

The move is hardly a surprise. Marandola has often acted as a backup to Frank Cavallaro.

Marandola joins Thomas Daigle, who was named to the anchor position last week.

UPDATE (April 18): Barr heaped the praise on both Daigle and Marandola, saying how thrilled CBC is to have them in these roles. Barr said Daigle, who has no previous anchoring experience, is nevertheless “a really strong live reporter” who is “engaging on camera, a great communicator”. Marandola, who started backing up Cavallaro around Christmas, is “dynamic and engaging” and “really has a love and passion for weather,” Barr said.

I asked Barr, because of Wood’s history, whether ratings would factor in to how these anchors are evaluated. Barr said that of course ratings are important (“that’s why we’re here,” she said), but that there are no expectations on anchors when it comes to ratings numbers.

The newscasts – 6pm-6:30pm on Saturdays and 10:55pm-11:05pm on Sundays – start May 5.

Managing Director Pia Marquard leaving CBC

Pia Marquard, managing director at CBC Quebec, is leaving her job at the end of the month for health reasons.

In a message to staff, which includes English television and radio in Montreal and Quebec City, Marquard said she was “very proud and happy that I’ve been part of the Quebec team during the last two years” but that breathing problems after failed operations on her vocal cords have made it difficult for her to continue in her position, and “this is not a job that can be done part time.”

CBC News Editor in Chief Jennifer McGuire said she “accepted (Marquard’s) resignation with regret.” McGuire’s note to staff also said Marquard “intends to resume her consultant’s career in Montreal.”

Marquard became managing director at CBC Quebec in 2010, and is probably best known for a decision that was taken before she started. Marquard came into her new job amid a public backlash over the unceremonious removal of Nancy Wood from her job as host of CBC Daybreak. Marquard never commented publicly about the change, and to this day it remains unexplained.

Otherwise, her reign has been fairly uneventful, starting after the expansion of TV newscasts to an hour and a half and before the further expansion into weekends. There were two major on-air positions filled under her watch, with Mike Finnerty returning to Daybreak and Debra Arbec getting the co-anchor position with Andrew Chang on television. Also on her watch were technical upgrades, switching the transmitter to digital and upgrading the newscast to high definition.

Marquard’s replacement has not yet been named, but McGuire said one will be announced “within a few weeks.”

Marquard’s and McGuire’s messages to CBC staff are included below.

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Dave Bronstetter’s goodbye message

(The above video has nothing to do with this post. It’s a year old, but it’s Dave Bronstetter being Dave Bronstetter)

If you missed it when it aired, Dave Bronstetter’s goodbye from CBC radio has been (mostly) posted online on the All in a Weekend website. It’s broken up into half-hour blocks (though most of the audio segments are less than 20 minutes in length because news was cut out):

The show was appropriate for a goodbye to such an important part of CBC Montreal’s history. The three hours were completely devoted to Bronstetter, with guests that included also-retiring Katie Malloch, Melissa Kent, Nancy Wood, Brendan Kelly, Yvon Huneault, Maura Keeley, Shawn Lyons, Bernard St-Laurent, Jonathan Goldstein, Tom Harrington, Rick Cluff, Frank McCormick, Laurent Lavigne and Dave’s daughter Fiona.

But the show was plagued by technical problems so bad that the entire first half-hour block never made it to air. Instead, listeners who tuned in to hear the heavily-hyped show heard what can only be described as filler music from the time the national newscast ended at 6:10 until the problem was fixed at 6:31am. When the show did resume, there were further technical problems, and just about every recorded segment they wanted to play didn’t cue.

Still, for Bronstetter fans, it was a chance to say goodbye to a man who had disappeared from the air for reasons that weren’t made clear at first. The show included taped calls from listeners, plenty of trips down memory lane, and even a song by singer-songwriter Connie Kaldor (it’s near the end of the last half-hour).

The recording on CBC’s website cuts off the most important part: Bronstetter’s last words. The final goodbye was unfortunately brief because they were coming up to the top of the hour (host Sonali Karnick tried and failed to get in a brief end-of-show message before the network cut her off in the middle of a word).

Thankfully, my laptop was recording the show, so if you missed Dave’s final message, you can listen to it here.

The All in a Weekend website also has a few photos from Bronstetter’s final show.

There wasn’t much reaction to Bronstetter’s goodbye online, but there was a blog post from Brendan Kelly and another at The SWLing PostAs It Happens (starts at 21:21) gave him a quick nod, replaying Kaldor’s song.

Bronstetter also did interviews for CBC Montreal’s TV newscastDaybreak in Montreal and Quebec AM in Quebec City.

When asked during the final show what he planned to do during retirement, Bronstetter was noncommittal, suggesting maybe some voiceover work. But the usual retirement things like fishing have never been quite his thing.

CBC Montreal adding weekend newscasts

CBC Montreal's TV news studio won't go dark for 65 hours on the weekends anymore

In case you didn’t see the article in Wednesday’s Gazette, CBC Montreal announced this week that it is adding newscasts on weekends as part of the Mother Corp.’s “Everyone, Every Way” strategy that has brought similar announcements of increased local services across the country.

To be specific (because the press release is anything but), starting in May (the exact date is still to be confirmed):

  • CBMT will get a half-hour local newscast at 6pm Saturdays, replacing the national newscast at that same time. It leads into Hockey Night in Canada.
  • CBMT also gets a late newscast at 10:55pm Sundays, after The National.
  • CBME-FM (88.5) gets local hourly newscasts on weekend afternoons, extending local news hours from noon to 5pm on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays

A couple of questions remain unanswered.

  • Anchor: For the TV newscasts, an anchor hasn’t been chosen yet. The position is to be posted in the coming weeks. Top candidates would probably be Kristin Falcao, Sabrina Marandola, Catherine Cullen and Peter Akman, who have had experience filling in for vacationing anchors.
  • Jobs: It’s not clear at this point how many people will be hired to fill these new newscasts. CBC Quebec managing director Pia Marquard told me there would be “a couple of people at least”. Certainly an anchor will be needed on the TV side and a second news reader on the radio side. Plus one would imagine more reporters being needed on the weekend to file fresh stories for these newscasts. But Marquard seemed to suggest a lot of this would be done by shuffling around existing staff.

I asked Marquard about programming for Quebec communities outside of Montreal. No news there, even though one would think supporting anglophone minority communities in Quebec is part of the public broadcaster’s mandate. Outside of the Quebec AM and Breakaway radio shows out of Quebec City and programs of CBC North out of northern Quebec, the only radio and TV programming produced in the province comes out of Maison Radio-Canada.

I also asked her about the possibility of more non-news local programming. Things along the lines of the Secrets of Montreal special that ran last fall. She pointed to the CBC Montreal Summer Series, which are one-off one-hour specials that air Saturday nights during the summer, when nobody’s watching. Last year’s crop wasn’t particularly impressive. Of the six one-hour specials, two were English versions of Radio-Canada’s Studio 12 music performance show (which won’t return after this season, by the way, so they’re going to have to find another way to produce cheap one-hour shows). It’s not that I don’t like Studio 12, but it’s like those “CBC/Radio-Canada investigations” in which CBC Montreal repackages the work of Radio-Canada and takes credit for it.

Marquard did point out that CBC News Network will be airing the best of these summer series shows on Saturday afternoons this summer (when even fewer people will be watching, I imagine).

I don’t want to be too negative here. CBC television in Montreal has made a lot of progress in the past few years. It wasn’t long ago that all it had was a half-hour newscast on weekdays, producing 2.5 hours a week of programming. With these changes, it’ll go up to nine hours of local news a week, which is still way behind CFCF.

It would be nice if more of an effort was made to produce more local and regional programming for Quebec’s anglophone community from CBC, especially since there are no private English-language TV stations and few English-language radio stations outside of Montreal. And it would be nice if we had some programming that’s not confined to two-minute news reports or six-minute studio interviews, that could reflect the unique culture that is anglophone Quebec.

But for now I guess we’ll have to be satisfied that news that breaks on Saturday morning doesn’t have to wait until Monday at 5pm to be reported on local public television.

UPDATE (Feb. 17): Jobs have been posted for weekend news anchor and weekend meteorologist. The former is strangely listed as “full-time” even though it’s only two days a week.

Dave Bronstetter retiring from CBC Radio

Dave Bronstetter (CBC photo)

Dave Bronstetter, the veteran CBC Montreal personality who was most recently the host of radio’s All in a Weekend, is hanging up the microphone after more than three decades in broadcasting.

The announcement was made Saturday morning on his show by Sonali Karnick, who has been replacing Bronstetter. Bronstetter has been on leave from his show since last fall for reasons that haven’t been made very clear publicly.

Karnick said Bronstetter will return to do one final show with her on Feb. 18. They will be running some best-of clips between now and then, and have asked listeners to send in their favourite memories and leave goodbye messages for him.

Most Montrealers will associate Bronstetter with his long stints as host of weekday shows Homerun (in the late 80s) and then Daybreak, from when Royal Orr left 1996 until 2006, when he stepped away from a five-day-a-week job to take the reins at All in a Weekend.

At the time, Bronstetter said burnout and fatigue we having serious effects on his health.

I’ve been asked a few times over the past few months about why he’s been on extended leave. Bronstetter himself has been asked about it a lot as well, at least through posts on his Facebook wall. In response, he’s been mostly vague, saying he hopes to come back soon and he’s getting better by the day.

Bronstetter just celebrated his 59th birthday, though his Facebook profile has him listed as being born in 1905.

The announcement didn’t include news about Bronstetter’s permanent replacement at All in a Weekend. Karnick left her job as sports reporter for Daybreak to take up a job at CBC Sports in Toronto. She was recently brought in as the interim host of All in a Weekend, supposedly until the end of the season. Karnick would be an obvious choice, assuming she’s interested in staying.

UPDATE: A story from The Gazette, which confirms no permanent replacement has been chosen but Karnick will continue until the end of the season. The news was also mentioned on CTV’s local newscast.

UPDATE (Feb. 6): Brendan Kelly, who worked with Bronstetter as a regular contributor to Daybreak, talks to Bronstetter, who confirms he’s leaving on the advice of his doctor because he’s burned out and depressed.

CBC open house this weekend


As part of its 75th anniversary, and on the weekend of Culture Days/Journées de la culture, CBC and Radio-Canada stations across the country are opening their doors to the public and showing them around.

Among locations in Quebec are:

Pretty well everywhere that creates programming.

Specific crowd-pleasers are planned in various large cities, though on the English side it’s mostly in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

At Maison Radio-Canada, where understandably most of the interesting stuff will be in French, there’s still plenty of interest for anglos. Besides the tours and personalities, a Hockey Night in Canada display is promised, as well as opportunities for kids who are fans of CBC Television’s children’s programming.

The Montreal building on René-Lévesque Blvd. will offer guided tours, one a short one of about an hour and another a longer one of an hour and 45 minutes. The CBC Montreal and Radio Canada International portions are included only in the longer tour. (See a full list of attractions in this PDF flyer)

Doors are open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. On-air TV stars like Debra Arbec, Andrew Chang and Amanda Margison have said they’ll be around for about lunch time on Saturday.

You might recall that CTV Montreal held open houses in 2009 and 2010. In both cases the studio considered the events a huge success, and though there is definitely a desire to repeat the process in the future, there aren’t any specific plans yet for another one.

CBC Montrealers sing Christmas songs for a good cause

Those folks at CBC Montreal have taken to embarrassing themselves in front of the Internet to promote a holiday fundraiser for Dans la rue.

The Carolling Challenge will see personalities and listeners sing along in an effort to drum up donations. There’s even a practice today at 1pm (in case you’re not going to either the protest against the Journal de Montréal or the protest in memory of Mohamed Anas Bennis, which are both taking place at the same time), before they hit five locations between Monday and Wednesday. Send a picture of yourself at one and you could even win a bag!

After that, next Sunday, there’s the annual Christmas Sing-In, a recording that will air on Christmas Day on the radio.

But if you just like seeing videos of CBC radio personalities singing Christmas songs (and if that’s the case, there’s something wrong with you), here’s a bonus video of Sue Smith singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town:

Nancy Wood moves to investigative reporting

Nancy Wood

From CBC’s Facebook page:

News about Nancy

We know that there is some curiosity about Nancy Wood’s next assignment at CBC and we have some news that we’re happy to share. Nancy will start work representing English services within Radio-Canada’s investigative journalism unit. They are as delighted to be working with one of the CBC’s top journalists as she is to join this prestigious team. She will produce regular reports for CBC radio, CBC television and cbc.ca. Nancy will be working alongside the excellent reporters and producers from Radio-Canada doing the groundbreaking investigative work the unit is famous for. You can expect to see her on television and hear her on radio starting in September.

If you have any brown envelopes full of scandal, you can send them to her at: Local A-18, Société Radio-Canada, 1400, René-Lévesque Est, Montréal Quebec, H2L 2M2

Or if it’s a virtual envelope you’re slipping her, her email remains nancy.wood@cbc.ca

We all wish her the best in her new assignment,

Pia Marquard
Managing Director
CBC Québec

Those of you who watch CBC News Montreal at 5/5:30/6 know that the station routinely piggybacks on Enquête investigations (branding them “CBC-Radio-Canada investigations”). We’ll see how Wood’s presence on this team changes that.

UPDATE: From Wood herself: “I am looking forward to it. The journalism there is fantastic, the people are great. It’s a great opportunity.”

Let’s hope she enjoys and does well at her new job, and her performance there is judged on something more important than ratings.

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.