Herb Luft says goodbye, surrounded by family and friends, from CFCF on Wednesday
Herb Luft, who has been working at CFCF since – we have it on good authority here – the dawn of time itself, gave a final signoff to viewers on Wednesday’s show. Once his remaining vacation time is burned off, he’ll be officially retired.
Classy station that it is, it devoted a substantial segment of both the noon and 6pm newscasts to Luft and his career (and a brief segment on the 11:30 newscast), showing the highlight reel, chatting about his 39 years there and even doing a streeter asking random people on the street to wish him good luck (one lady complimented him on always being clear and never stuttering). His family was invited to join him behind the anchor desk for the 6pm newscast’s final minutes.
You can see videos from both the noon newscast and 6pm newscast online. I’ve included a few stills below from his highlight reel, so you can see the progression of his hair reporting through four decades.
Herb Luft in one of his estimated 10,000 reports for CFCF
I was going to start this post off by saying “when it rains, it pours,” but CFCF news director Jed Kahane beat me to it in his announcement to staff Thursday afternoon. Shortly after the news of the impending retirement of Quebec City bureau chief John Grant, veteran reporter Herb Luft is also calling it quits and turning in his microphone for good.
Luft is among the most recognizable faces (and voices) at CFCF, and has been there so long even your grandparents probably recognize the name.
According to his bio, Luft moved to Montreal to work for CFOX radio in 1969, and in 1971 moved to CFCF radio, and by 1977 was working for the television side full-time. He’s worked as a general assignment reporter just about that entire time, though he’s probably better known among Montreal’s early risers as the anchor of the morning newscast from 2000 until it was cancelled in 2009. Sources tell me he took that pretty hard, though it didn’t show in the solid reporting he continued to do in the months afterward.
“Herb has been one of the great contributors to building this station into the respected landmark it is today,” Kahane told staff in his announcement. “Day after day he produces solid journalism that our viewers respect. And by my quick count, give or take a few thousand, he’s cranked out around 10,000 stories in his time at CF, and done it without losing his passion for telling a good story, and telling it right. He’s a fixture in the present, and an on-air link to a very storied past.”
Luft himself was brief and to the point about the news. “Let’s call it nervous excitement,” he wrote in an email, no doubt sifting through many from colleagues who only heard about the news today.
The retirement is official on Aug. 4, but by then he’ll be at his cottage on vacation. He’s filing his last report for CTV News on June 30. It goes without saying that this will be noted on air. Hopefully that will include video of him getting tased in a police demonstration in 2001, which unfortunately I can’t find online.
Luft’s daughter, Amy, works behind the scenes at the station as well as at The Gazette. She’s building a journalism career of her own, though not on the coattails of her locally famous dad.
Herb Luft, who grew up in southwestern Ontario, turned 62 in January. That’s about two thirds of his life spent at CFCF, of which I can only find this short clip from 1984 on YouTube. Let’s hope the archivists at CTV Montreal can find better ones.
Morning news anchor Herb Luft will return to regular reporting
The news hit insiders this morning, and the press release was issued just after the end of business: CFCF (aka CTV Montreal) is cancelling its 6am morning newscast, effective immediately, and replacing it with another half hour of its national morning program Canada AM. (Previously, CFCF would cut into Canada AM after the first half hour.) They’ve already updated their weekly schedule to reflect the change.
The decision, which is being made to cut costs, will mean the cutting of four positions (one of which is already vacant). Herb Luft, who has been anchoring the morning newscast since it started in March 2000, will return to general assignment reporting.
CFCF’s license requires a minimum of 15.5 hours a week of local programming. Since the cancellation of Entertainment Spotlight and SportsNight 360 in January, this has been entirely made up of local newscasts (and the late sportscast at 11:45). The cancellation of the half-hour weekday newscast drops CFCF’s local programming hours from 18.5 to about 16 hours a week with a one-hour weekday noon newscast, one-hour daily evening newscast and 35-minute daily late newscast.
It also means that there is now no morning local news from any of Montreal’s anglophone television stations. Global Quebec cancelled This Morning Live last year and replaced it with a repeat of the previous night’s News Final. CBC Montreal airs a national morning news program.
First News, as it was officially called, was also the last local morning newscast in the CTV network. All the other stations ran all three hours of Canada AM from 6 to 9am.
UPDATE: The Gazette has a brief about it (that’s open to comments), which pretty much repeats everything already in this post. Evening anchor Todd van der Heyden mentioned the cancellation in the middle of the evening newscast (the website has a brief about it as well), pointing out that even with this reduction CFCF has more local news than its competitors.