Thursday 12 September 2013

In the wake of Peterson, Bird and Desjardins dismissals, what is next at CJAD and TSN 690?

On the day the intolerant PQ government let loose its controversial Charter of Quebec Values, CJAD Radio made big news of its own by letting go longtime program host Ric Peterson, sportscaster Chantal Desjardins, newscaster Claude Beaulieu, weekend host Sharman Yarnell and demoting Suzanne Desautels to a more limited status. Over at the new Bell Media sister station, TSN 690, morning show co-host Ted Bird was shown the door. Is this just the beginning?
Chantal Desjardins
"Seems the soul of English Montreal radio was gutted yesterday," former CJAD/CHOM/Virgin Radio boss Rob Braide wrote on his Facebook page. "So many great broadcasters with years of service and first class performance and ratings thrown out the door to crank the margins by a few cents. Shameful!"
Today, I am told, the hosts of TSN 690's weekend morning show called The Franchise were told they are gone. Both The Franchise and Bird are expected to play a more active role on the very popular Montreal Hockey Talk internet radio show. 

Peterson broke his silence on Facebook as well, writing: "After more than 30 years of broadcasting in Montreal I thought my first day off the air would be one without much talking on my part," he wrote. "I was mistaken. I am very touched by the many phone calls and moved by the texts, emails, comments as well as the posts to my social pages. Your kind words are very much appreciated. It pleases me to know how many lives I’ve touched, thank you for listening. Some wise soul once said, 'man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward' I am looking forward to sharing my future adventures with you all."
Barry Morgan, probably the most versatile broadcaster in Montreal, has temporarily taken over the Ric and Suzanne Noon to 3 p.m. slot. Dan Laxer, who lost his full-time status two years ago  when Aaron Rand was hired, returned Wednesday evening to his old 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.  spot once known. Laxer has been a good soldier, never making waves over his dismissal. He continued to co-host the Sunday Trivia Show and filled in doing traffic and other shows whenever called upon. In order to pay the rent he became a personal trainer, a programmer of Yiddish theatre and social media specialist for a local school. I have never hidden my  admiration for Laxer, who I think is a natural on radio.
Dan Laxer (with his daughter).

"It felt fantastic to be back in that role again, even for just one night," Laxer told me. "That was my timeslot when I first started in 2006. I don't know what management has planned for evenings, but I've told Chris Bury that I'd gladly jump in there, if they'll have me."

I am quite shocked to see Beaulieu cut loose. We just spoke last week. Wearing my PR hats for Canadian Jewish Congress and the EMSB, Claude and I communicated regularly. An impeccably bilingual professional, it is sad to see him go.

CJAD and TSN 690 program director Chris Bury was not able to talk to me today, understandably busy. This was the first day of TSN 690 studios debuting under the same roof as CJAD, CHOM and Virgin Radio. Convergence has begun and we  should expect  a series of big changes to come. Dropping Desjardins, who had amazing chemistry with Aaron Rand, can only mean that sports will soon be centralized at TSN 690. So will Rick Moffat soon do morning sports on both CJAD and TSN 690 and Mitch Gallo split his time between Melnick and Rand? Where does  Abe Hefter stand? Will the Alouettes and Impact broadcasts be moved over to TSN 690 for next season?

Whenever the much anticipated AM600 Radio begins airing, perhaps the likes of Peterson and previous CJAD casualties such as Peter Anthony Holder,  Kevin Holden  and Sol Boxenbaum can resurface. Former CJAD boss Steve Kowch is presently charting a course for the new station, which has no projected air date. 

I spoke to Kowch today.  "In radio, it's not if but when you get fired," he said. " Being on air is like being a star on a sports team. Eventually someone else comes along who hits more home runs or shoots the puck in the net more often. And like the sports personalities, radio personalities have fans who get upset when they're let go.

"I've spoken to Ric Peterson, Ted Bird and Claude Beaulieu since their departure and they're all taking it in stride - upset yes, but at the same time they're looking at others options. I wouldn't be surprised if some give up radio all together and do something else.  I always told students when I taught talk radio in college, that they were getting into a profession where there is no gold watch waiting for them in 30 years.

"What is surprising with this round of cuts is the timing. Montreal radio is two weeks into the fall ratings season. Normally management makes these kind of moves before ratings or after the 13 week rating period. This isn't the first time local radio personalities have been let go and it won't be the last. It's not a Bell thing, it is just the nature of the beast called radio."
Steve Kowch

Desjardins has done some sportscasting for CTV Montreal. She's gorgeous and personable and would be a great pickup for Global TV or 925 The Beat FM.  Is there a spot for Peterson on CBC Radio One?

Every time I see something like this happen I thank my mother for convincing me not to make radio broadcasting a full-time endeavor. There are the lucky ones who can spend a lifetime in the business.  Then there are others who find themselves unexpectedly on the unemployment line.

Check out the amazing Fagstein's analysis and colourful comments section.


  1. I'm surprized you didn't blame the firings on the PQ.

  2. Bill TimotheatosSeptember 13, 2013

    Unlike the PQ and Bloc Mr. Anonymous, some people say it as it really is. THank you for the write up.

  3. Glad I can still here The Franchise on . Those guys are funny. And Ted's Habs week in review there is awesome.

  4. Hey, you bring all the dismissed broadcasters to AM600 and CJAD, you are in trouble. We still miss Peter Anthony Holder's show, and Sol Boxenbaum's show.

  5. Stewart BrennanSeptember 13, 2013

    To Anonymous:
    I'm NOT surprized you didn't know how to spell surprised.

  6. lets get sol boxenbaum back to his original spot i need to talk with him about my habits mr. O

  7. I was thinking the other day about what a wonderful job the broadcasters have done this summer with bill 14, Lac Megantic, Charter of Values and here I find out lots of my favorites got the boot. I loved the Ric and Suzanne show. I listen all the time and some of these people feel like old friends..Sorry that this has happened. You need an overnight show. I know you have to pay the bills but your overnight shows are torturous to listen to. Love the news at 5 a.m. Sad day for broadcasting...