Tag Archives: Tommy Schnurmacher

Tommy Schnurmacher announces retirement from CJAD

Tommy Schnurmacher, host of CJAD’s Gang of Four and a fixture on Montreal’s English-language talk radio scene for decades, announced today he’s hanging up his headphones for good. His last show will be Dec. 13:

Schnurmacher told listeners he will travel more and finish a novel, although he promises to continue to share the opinions that have earned him popularity and created debate: “I may be saying goodbye to daily radio deadlines but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will not be able to keep myself from holding court from time to time whether that’s on-air, off-air or on Twitter”.

(A video of Schnurmacher’s on-air announcement is posted on CJAD’s website.)

CJAD will replace his noon-hour show by moving the Natasha Hall show up to noon and adding a second hour to the nationally broadcast Evan Solomon Show from 2-4pm.

The move comes as Bell Media is in the process of cutting staff across the country (and some of them are billing their departures as retirements). I’m told that Schnurmacher’s leaving of his own accord here.

But it was only a year and a half ago that Schnurmacher said retirement wasn’t on the horizon. “No. I love doing this. I love the work, I don’t foresee retirement any time soon,” he told me in May 2016. In November, he cut down his hours at CJAD, leaving his late-morning show to Leslie Roberts and keeping just the Gang of Four part, which went an hour long at noon. In his on-air announcement, he said he has discovered in the past year that he enjoys travelling even more than he thought, and he wants to do more of it.

Schnurmacher’s final show will be a special broadcast in front of a live audience, with tickets being given out to CJAD listeners.

CJAD fires Barry Morgan, hires Leslie Roberts in daytime shuffle

Barry Morgan

Barry Morgan (and soon posters of him as well) are no longer with the company.

The headline on CJAD’s website is that Tommy Schnurmacher is moving to afternoons and reducing his schedule to an hour a day.

But the real story, not mentioned at all in that article, is that Barry Morgan, who hosted noon to 3pm weekdays, has been let go. His name and photo disappeared from the station’s website over the weekend, and Ken Connors has been moved to his time slot this week to fill in.

UPDATE (Nov. 23): CJAD announced this morning its new daytime lineup:

  • 9am-12pm: Leslie Roberts
  • 12pm-1pm: The Gang of Four with Tommy Schnurmacher
  • 1pm-3pm: Natasha Hall

Roberts resigned from the anchor chair at Global Toronto last year after a Toronto Star investigation found that he owned a PR firm and his clients were appearing on his show without any disclosure. CJAD’s story about Roberts’s hiring makes no mention of this, but it does note that Roberts’s father and grandfather all worked for CJAD.

CJAD program director Chris Bury tells the Gazette’s Bill Brownstein that Roberts has served his time outside the industry:

“That happened nearly two years ago and he was out of the industry for a spell, but he has moved on, and we’re moving on. We’re turning the page. There is absolutely zero reason to be concerned about that issue going forward. Leslie has been so transparent about it all, so above board, in order to have a clean slate going forward.”

Asked whether Roberts still has ties to BuzzPR, Bury said he “no longer has a stake in any PR company. And, as with anyone on the station, we insist that any potential conflict of interests be declared and we manage them proactively.”

Hall was hired by CJAD from The Beat just last month to co-host the 8pm show, renamed The Night Side. Her first job in radio was at 940 AM (940 News) after winning a contest.

Jon Pole, who hosted The Night Side Mondays and Tuesdays, will take over Hall’s shifts the rest of the week, at least for now, Bury said. “We don’t have anything finalized but I’m a huge fan of his creativity and drive.”

Schnurmacher’s hour-long show is being billed as a way for him to reduce his schedule so he can focus on other projects. He’ll be bringing his Gang of Four with him to his new time.

Station management had no comment about Morgan’s departure and Morgan himself could not be reached for comment. But Bury told Brownstein that “I wish him the very best. The industry is constantly evolving, and sometimes that means making hard choices.”

Morgan has been at CJAD for decades, as a sports reporter and eventually upgraded to evening and then afternoon host. Schnurmacher just marked 20 years at the station, most of it in that 9am to noon time slot.

UPDATE (Nov. 26): Brownstein interviews the new daytime lineup, starting with Roberts, who says he takes “I accept full responsibility” for his mistake at Global.

Tommy Schnurmacher marks 20 years on CJAD, and has no plans to retire


Tommy Schnurmacher came into the studio this morning a bit disappointed. Today marked 20 years since he started at CJAD 800, but it seemed nobody but him had noticed. Maybe, he thought, they just didn’t care.

In other words, the plan went perfectly.


Schnurmacher was surprised when, at the top of his show, it was suddenly hijacked by a montage of about a dozen of his coworkers’ recorded tributes to him, and a parade of well-wishers crowding into the studio with cake and wine (both kosher) and a martini.

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Andrew Phillips in the Tommy hotseat

I don’t envy Andrew Phillips’s job. As editor-in-chief of the Gazette, his involves lots of paperwork, employee management and dealing with various crises. More importantly, though, he’s a public face of the paper, which means he has to respond to everyone’s complaints. And those complaints can get very heated.

On Friday, Andrew (yeah, we call him by his first name, he’s cool like that) stepped into the ultimate torture chamber for a Gazette editor: Tommy Shnurm… Schumra… Tommy’s morning show on CJAD. If you’ve never listened to that station, just imagine all the grumpy old people you know. They’ve all lived here for decades, read the Gazette every day, want those kids off their lawn and think everything was better before. And Andrew Phillips took their questions.

Here’s a quick summary of what was said:

Part 1

  • Andrew talks about the new Viewpoints page which launched on Monday
  • Susan says she’s frustrated that The Gazette is “forcing” its readers to go online (extended stock pages are no longer printed on Saturdays but only available online). Andrew responds that it’s the people, not the media, who are demanding these changes and moving online to get their news. Andrew also says the paper gets most of its revenue from the print edition, and there are no plans to cancel that as Susan fears might happen.

Part 2

  • Arlene says the font should be bigger and the print is too light. Andrew responds that the print quality is on par with that of other papers and the body type hasn’t been reduced in years.
  • Tommy asks what the Gazette is doing to attract younger readers, and Andrew mentions the paper’s music coverage on Thursdays, its Tuesday Youth Zone page aimed at high school students, and its focus on online.
  • Seymour says ads have increased so much there’s little editorial content left, and he only spends 45 minutes reading the paper cover to cover instead of hours he spent before. Andrew says 45 minutes is a long time to spend with the paper and he doesn’t think there’s enough advertising (in absolute terms).

Part 3

  • Tommy asks what percentage of the paper is local coverage, and Andrew says according to his calculations about 80-85 per cent of the paper is written locally.
  • Chris says he disagrees, says it seems he’s reading a “Canwest” paper and not a “Gazette” paper, especially in movie reviews for example. Andrew says he doesn’t think that it’s crucial for a local reviewer to review every movie, because the review won’t be that different whether it’s Canwest or the Gazette.
  • Stan says the Gazette is a tabloid masquerading as a broadsheet and declining in quality. There’s no hard news on the front page on Saturdays, and he’s fed up with those annoying wrap-around ads. Andrew says newspapers who sell for 55 cents a copy must make hard decisions about coverage, and he doesn’t see anything wrong with a serious newspaper having a splashy cover page on Saturdays.

Part 4

  • Andrew talks about westislandgazette.com
  • Christopher asks why he should stay with the Gazette instead of the Globe and Mail (which doesn’t use as much wire copy to supplement its coverage) and La Presse (which has more local reporters). Andrew says The Gazette is the way to go if you want Montreal news in English.
  • Oliver says The Gazette is fantastic, especially in arts and lifestyle sections.
  • Tommy asks what comic strip is the most popular, but Andrew says none particularly stands out in the surveys they’ve done.
  • Tommy asks what sections of the paper are most popular. Andrew says in terms of the type of information people want, their surveys always show a high priority for local news.
  • George says he’s frustrated at why obits are always in a different section every day. Andrew says it’s all about putting the jigsaw puzzle together and you can check the index at the bottom of A1 to find out where the obits are each day. (It’s really complicated juggling ads, comics, puzzles, obits, weekly special pages and doing so in a way that ensures every section has an even number of pages (and usually a number divisible by four as well. That means the obits will move depending on the day — but Monday to Saturday it’s usually at the back of the business section)

Part 5

  • John says quality of writing and reporting has gone downhill since mid-90s, and he objects to the firing of Bill Johnson (even though that was over a decade ago). Andrew says he doesn’t know how to answer that.
  • Charles says there’s not enough coverage of amateur sport, at least compared to the Journal de Montréal. Andrew says the paper can’t do everything, and can’t cover all amateur sports (especially when readers want pro sports, especially hockey), but online ventures like WestIslandGazette.com provide an opportunity for people to spread the world about amateur sport. (I should also add that Dave Yates has a weekly column on Fridays about amateur sport, but there is so much going on it would be impossible to cover it all)
  • Jerry says newsprint comes onto his hands from the paper. Andrew says it’s the nature of newsprint and his hands get even dirtier because he reads six papers a day.

Part 6

  • Heather says the quality is still superb even if the paper is condensed
  • Tommy asks why there are fewer columnists than there used to be. Andrew says he doesn’t think there are fewer columnists and the paper has dozens of people writing for it.
  • Carol says she’s sad to see the nutritional information in recipes being removed. Andrew says it was a lot of work to put together and the interest didn’t justify the work
  • Mike wants to know who selects the quote of the day. Andrew says it’s people on the news desk who do it, selecting from various sources and usually trying to keep it tied to the main stories. He says he’s always impressed by the quote selections, and the copy editors at the paper are awesome, especially that Steve Faguy guy.

The summary of that last part might not be word-for-word accurate, but it’s the gist of the conversation.

More questions? Ask Andrew directly on his blog.