Saturday 29 June 2013

Travel guru Gerda Rosner will be missed

She was 91 years of age, but when I heard the news that extraordinary travel guru Gerda Rosner had passed away in late June I was still taken aback. You see Gerda was hardly your  typical  senior. Until her final days she told all who would listen that she had no intention of retiring. A nasty fall ended up leading to her departure from us - much too soon. I was certain she would still be in the business at the age of 100 and beyond.
Gerda Rosner

Gerda and I met about a decade ago and when she discovered that I was a journalist. regular communications ensued. She was great at email and continually sent me story pitches. I complied with many articles. She was most appreciative of each one, always calling to say "thank you."  Photos were not emailed though. She snapped them the old fashion way or dug profile shots from her archives which I'd scan. We last spoke in the fall when she reminded me how I could reach her in Florida. Gerda was tapped in for sure, working on Linked In and Facebook.

Gerda  had been a worldwide health spa coordinator since 1965. She helped launch Weight Watchers in Montreal and opened her own company called the Happy Losers, which helped people lose pounds and feel good about themselves. The author of six cookbooks, she continued to organize winter trips to the Imperial Club in Aventura, Florida and fall packages to Canyon Ranch locations in Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts.

Gerda was born in Berlin and  was raised in Montreal. For many years she served as the president of  ORT. She actually got into the spa routine thanks to her parents who would bring her to facilities such as Safety Harbor in Tampa and the now defunct Palm Air Spa in Pompano. Many years later, when she started Happy Losers, she introduced an incentive program for her “students.” Those who did well in their program were offered a reward package to Safety Habor.

In 1974 Sam Edelstein, the owner of the Lido Spa, came to Montreal to meet with Rosner. Her reputation already preceded her and he was anxious to make a deal with her to serve as his local rep. An agreement was reached and clients began signing up by the dozens.

Gerda had her list of regulars who returned year after year. They ranged in age from 60 to 90, with average stays of between three weeks and three months.  Last winter she posted on her Facebook page:   "Having a great time in Florida. I am sold out at Imperial Club and have a big waiting list. Hopefully people will book early next year so they won't be dissapointed again. I hate to refuse anybody to have a good winter. Going to celebrate my husband David's 96th birthday. Hurrah!"

Gerda's speciality   was the teaching of chair aerobics. “Every morning at 9:15 the classes begin,” she would tell me. “There are more than 100 people and they fight to get spots. »

Gerda was relentless in terms of promoting her trips, calling and emailing me frequently. She was good on the computer and set up separate email addresses for Canada and the USA.

Gerda spoke endlessly about her second huband David Nencel (her first husband Marvin passed away more than 20 years ago) four children, 13 grandkids and eight great grandkids. Her son Myron has a particularly compelling story.  In 2001 a construction site accident put him in a wheelchair for life. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he moved on. Two years later he was elected to the North Miami Beach town council. He ultimately ran for mayor, serving one term in office.  

I think it is safe to say that there will never be another Gerda Rosner.

Friday 28 June 2013

Laura Casella leaving CJAD for City Montreal Breakfast TV

Laura Casella
City Montreal has rounded out its on air team for the new Breakfast Television Show, which will debut here towards the end of August. Laura Casella is leaving her post as morning reporter on CJAD to assume similar duties with City.  Alexandre Despatie and Joanne Vrakas are the co-hosts of the new shoe while  Wilder Weir has already been announced as the live eye reporter, meaning that he will be on location speaking with Montrealers from the city’s diverse communities. Casella will be on site for the day's top news story, just as she is with CJAD each morning.

Casella has been with CJAD for six years, starting off as an overnight newscaster, then producing the Tommy Schnurmacher Show.  For the last two and a half years she has been the morning reporter. She does have TV experience though, having worked part-time for CTV Montreal.

I have been touting Casella as a logical choice for full-time TV duty for some time now. She is attractive, poised and an individual with good people skills. A graduate of Dante Elementary School and Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard, I will make a pitch to have Laura broadcast live from one or both of those spots some time in the future.

City Montreal executive producer Bob Babinski has built a strong team, both in front of and behind the  camera, as he prepares to face off against the Global TV Morning News.

“Breakfast Television will combine local news, weather and traffic with the biggest celebrity interviews, community happenings and lots of big ticket giveaways,” promises Babinski.

CJAD news and program chief Chris Bury now must find a replacement for Casella. How about bringing Dan Laxer back for that role? He has been a good soldier since being let go when Aaron Rand was hired. Laxer still co-hosts the Trivia Show and fills in on  other shifts. This could also serve as an opportunity to take advantage of the de facto merger with TSN 690. Robin Flynn has actually been working for both CJAD and TSN 690 for the better part of  a year, producing, doing sportscasts and traffic. She is a real talent and might be a good fit, although her first love is really sports.
Dan Laxer


Thursday 27 June 2013

Now that TSN 690 has been saved what will happen next?

I think it is time that Montreal sports fan raise a glass for Tom Pentefountas, vice-chairman, Broadcasting at the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) .

The CRTC has taken its share of knocks over the years. However, its actions in saving TSN 690 Radio twice in the last year deserves our praise. Pentefountas, a Montrealer whom I know is a big sports fans, asked all of the right questions during hearings for Bell's second bid to buy Astral Media.  Today, the CRTC approved the purchase of $3.4 billion for Astral's suite of  TV specialty channels and radio stations.

What this means for Montrealers is that Bell Media now owns TSN 690, CJAD, Virgin Radio, CHOM,  a few French language stations and of course CTV Montreal and RDS

So what happens next?

Before long TSN 690 will likely move into the present-day Astral headquarters at the corner of René Levesque and  Papineau (right across the street from CTV and RDS).
Rick Moffat

I suspect that Alouettes and Impact broadcasts will gradually move over to TSN 690 from CJAD. Look for a lot of crossover, with the likes of Ted Bird showing up on CHOM and Rick Moffat, Abe Hefter and Chantal Desjardins doubling up their sportscasts on TSN 690. Hefter and Barry Morgan are  fabulous candidates to sit in as replacement guest hosts for TSN 690 hosts when they are away.  How about Michael Farber on TSN 690 as well as CJAD?

Mitch Melnick has quite a history with CJAD. Will he get some airtime there?

I do hope that Wayne Bews, the superb and devoted general manager at TSN 690, remains at the helm. He deserves as much credit as anyone else for keeping the station alive.
Tony Marinaro

How about Aaron Rand bringing the colourful Tony Marinaro on the air each day for an insider's briefing?

As mentioned earlier, Bird was a star on CHOM FM and still remains close buddies with Terry DiMonte. He is great in the mornings on TSN 690, but once the two stations are under the same roof I would think it would a natural for him to deliver CHOM FM sportscasts.

This is "win win" for everyone and  I for one could not be happier.

As a condition of the CRTC's approval of the deal, Bell must sell a number of Astral's English and French specialty TV channels, including the Cartoon Network, Disney DX and Teletoon, along with some of its English-language radio stations. Bell must also keep a number of English-language TV stations in operation for at least four more years.
When the deal is finalized, Bell's share of the English-language market will grow to 35.8 per cent, while its share of the French-language market will be 22.6 per cent. Bell must adhere to the CRTC's code of conduct for commercial arrangements that limit anti-competitive behaviour and treat independent programmers and distributors fairly, the CRTC said.

Bell must also give its competitors "reasonable access" to advertising opportunities on its radio stations.
The CRTC is also requiring Bell to spend $246.9 million on "tangible benefits" over the next seven years -- $72 million more than the company proposed.

Some of those tangible benefits include paying for initiatives in the radio and television sectors that are meant to create more Canadian programming, and spending on Canadian films and festivals to promote them.