Because he’s from Montreal, because he’s a nice guy and because he’s a geek at heart, I wanted to be encouraging and wish him well in his new job.
Unfortunately, after sitting through the first three-hour program, I was left frustrated, both at what CTV seems to be doing with its all-news network and at how that industry is changing in general.
When it launched in 1997, what was then called CTVNews1 was licensed as a continuous 15-minute news wheel, repeating the headlines four times an hour. This was to distinguish it from CBC Newsworld, at a time when all cable channels had genre protection.
But as the CRTC came to realize that cable news was healthy enough to warrant direct competition, restrictions on the CTV network became relaxed, and now the two are effectively head to head in terms of format. This is a good thing.
What’s not good is that rather than focus on more news to keep people better informed, CTV seems to be relying more on pointless, time-wasting banter that just wastes viewers’ time.
It ended not with a bang or with a whimper, but with the standard anchor goodbye. Friday was Todd van der Heyden’s last day at CFCF, and the 6pm newscast spent a few minutes at the end to acknowledge the departure of one of its anchors.
It was no Farewell to Bill, the special program devoted to long-serving anchor Bill Haugland in 2006, but CFCF’s tribute to van der Heyden was appropriate and classy. For those who missed it, the whole thing has been posted online. You can watch it in the CTV News video player here.
The segment starts with van der Heyden introducing a story about pandas (the usual fluffy, funny and entirely expendable story that fills time at the end of a newscast) only to have producers pull a switcheroo and run a story about van der Heyden put together by reporter/anchor Tarah Schwartz, which includes some testimonials from some of his long-time coworkers. The packaged report is followed by a one-on-one with Schwartz and a speech from van der Heyden thanking viewers for their loyalty (as far as he knew going into this, only the latter part was going to be in the newscast).
Unfortunately for van der Heyden and viewers, there was no message from coanchor Mutsumi Takahashi, nor from weather presenter Lori Graham, nor from sports anchor Randy Tieman. They’re all off on vacation, and I guess nobody thought ahead long enough to have them record a short video message before they left. The result gave some the impression that they had intentionally kept quiet as a snub. And with due respect to the people filling in during the holidays, this kind of moment isn’t the same with Randy Renaud and Paul Graif.
For the record, Takahashi (who was also on vacation at the beginning of the month when the announcement came that van der Heyden would be leaving), had this to say to me on the subject: “Bill, Brian, Todd… All I can say, Steve, is that I’m obviously having trouble holding on to my men…”
Though it’s possible they exist, I don’t know of anyone there who didn’t like van der Heyden. No matter what your opinion of his work, it’s hard not to like him personally once you get to know him.
Van der Heyden starts on CTV News Channel on Jan. 16, co-hosting the show Express, weekdays 1-4pm with Amanda Blitz.
At CFCF, no decision has been announced for his permanent replacement, but weekend anchor Paul Karwatsky (who led the list of candidates) has been named the “interim” co-anchor. This gives management more time to make a final decision, and a chance to try out Karwatsky in the post to see if he’s the one they want.
Good luck to him, and to van der Heyden I can only say: Qapla’!
For more on Todd van der Heyden and his departure from CTV Montreal, see my post on the subject from earlier this month. He was also interviewed on CJAD.
Todd van der Heyden, who has been anchoring CTV Montreal’s noon and 6pm newscasts with Mutsumi Takahashi since 2008, will be leaving the station and moving to Toronto to accept a job as an anchor on CTV News Channel, CTV announced on Friday.
CTV Montreal has a story on its website, CTV News Channel has a press release, and Van der Heyden confirmed the news on Twitter. He also announced it to viewers at the end of Friday’s noon newscast (see video above).
His last newscast for CFCF will be Friday, Dec. 30. He starts anchoring CTV News Channel’s Express from 1-4pm weekdays with Amanda Blitz, starting Jan. 16.
You can read the abridged version of all this in the story I wrote for The Gazette. Or, for you TV fanatics, lots of detail and baseless speculation below.
This is one of the reasons I dislike Twitter. It makes perfectly reasonable people look like grammatically-challenged teenagers that make no sense.
Except, they don’t call it CFCF-12 anymore. They call it “CTV Montreal”, in order to comply with the “CTV [Name of city]” naming convention imposed by national office. Neither do they call their newscast “Pulse”, because CTV wants it called “CTV News” (or, if you must, “CTV News Montreal”). And other than the newscast, which runs 19 times a week, there is no other programming produced at 1205 Papineau Avenue.
But when CTVglobemedia told its local stations that they were opening their doors on Saturday, I joined a few young aspiring journalists for a tour of the station, my first time setting foot in the building.
CTV Montreal announced Thursday on the air that veteran Brian Britt is leaving his anchor chair, retiring from TV journalism less than two years after taking it from the only man more gravitasial than him, Bill Haugland.
Naturally, this being CTV Montreal, the news didn’t appear on their website until Monday. The news came suddenly to viewers and even some of Britt’s coworkers. Britt didn’t want anything announced ahead of time and didn’t want any big fanfare as was done to Haugland. He simply said his goodbyes a the end of Thursday’s broadcast.
Unsubstantiated rumours that would be journalistically irresponsible to report without verification suggest he was pushed out the door a bit earlier than he would have wanted, but they don’t seem to have any real traction. Prevailing opinion is that this was Britt’s decision.
For those who had Britt as the next off the island, give yourself a pat on the back:
Kristian Gravenor has Todd van der Heyden being promoted to the top anchor spot. That makes sense, since he has all the manufactured gravitas and the boyish looks. But I’m still pulling for ol’ Herb Luft, who’s felt at home in the anchor chair since back when he had hair.
UPDATE (July 28): CTV announced today (video) that van der Heyden will indeed replace Britt and will co-anchor both the noon and 6pm newscasts. Executive Producer Barry Wilson finally got around to giving Britt’s career the obit it deserved.
July 29: The Gazette has a story about the anchor change.