Saturday 6 June 2015

Richard Dagenais resurfaces at CJAD

It was great to hear the golden pipes of Richard Dagenais once again.  After having his job abolished at the Global TV Morning News last month, he has resurfaced as a freelance news anchor on CJAD Radio. His first shift was on June 6.
Richard Dagenais

Dagenais was part of  dynamic duo for two and a half years with Camille Ross on Global. The two really played well off each other and I would always tune in to find out via Dagenais what "international day" it was. He has got a great sense of humour. When Global owners Shaw Media decided to rejig the newscast and introduce a newscast from Toronto, that meant somebody from the Montreal team had to go. So, from three on air personalities, they went to two. Ross and Jessica Laventure remained.

I hope Dagenais can get some more work with Bell Media properties here: CJAD, Virgin Radio, CHOM, TSN 690 and CTV Montreal,  In fact, from 1985 to 2002 --16 years - he worked for CHOM and CKGM as  a writer, producer, host, and interviewer.   He joined Global in 2002. When the first incarnation of their morning show was cancelled in 2008 he was out of job, but was brought back two years later as a maternity leave replacement.

While Dagenais was not eager to do an interview with me, he his finally shared his thoughts on his personal blog. Here is the link. 

"That last day one month ago was difficult and the sign-off, dreadfully precarious," Dagenais writes. "One wrong word or move by anyone would have caused me to unwind emotionally on-air. Just as we came out of the last commercial break, Julie, one of our directors, declared quietly in my earpiece, 'it’s been an honor.' Managing a weak smile, I waved my fist at her through the camera, struggling to hold it together. Thankfully, Camille respected my request to do nothing out of the ordinary. Media critic Steve Faguy hit the nail on the head when he later observed I signed off that last Friday as though I would see viewers on Monday. It took immeasurable effort just to manage what he perceptively described as my 'see-you-Monday' wave!"

When I asked CJAD news director Chris Bury if there would more shifts for Dagenais, he could only respond "it's too early to say." Let's hope we hear more of him in the immediate future.

Thursday 4 June 2015

CTV Montreal goes for youth and hires Sean Coleman as new weekend sports anchor; Sportsnet Central Montreal lays off staff

When CTV Montreal gave sports anchor André Corbeil the option of having his workload scaled back to only the weekend broadcasts, he chose instead to move on with his life. He is now the territory manager for Robinson Bioproducts. Chantal Desjardins  had previously done weekend shifts, as did Eric Thomas. Both are now with Rogers Sportsnet. Veteran Paul Graif, the morning show co-host at K103 FM, was also in the mix the last few years.
Sean Coleman

Jed Kahane, the news director for Bell Media in Quebec, conducted a comprehensive talent hunt the last few months and the winning candidate is Sean Coleman – late of  City’s Sportsnet Central Montreal and a contributor for TSN 690 Radio. The timing could not have been better for last week Sportsnet Central laid off Coleman, producer George Athans and Kelly Greig. Check out Greig’s blog here for a typically sad story in the world of journalism.

“I am very fortunate  for the timing,” Coleman told me. “I’m incredibly lucky and grateful for this opportunity.  There were whispers of layoffs at City for a while, but the decision to lay off the entire crew caught us blindsided.  On Wednesday the show’s staff was told ‘Congratulations for two great years but that’s it.’  It was the first time I was ever laid off,  so it was a mix of shock and indignation.  Lots of people offered advice on what to do next. Of course, you often hear ’As one door closes, another opens.'  In the moment it’s tough to believe, but literally five days later CTV offered me the new position.  I couldn’t be happier.”

Coleman, 23, says the opportunity to work for CTV is a dream come true. For the past five years he has also worked at TSN 690 Radio as  a sports anchor, delivering Sportscentre updates every half-hour - primarily on the weekend with  The Habs This Week and the Canadiens Saturday pre-game shows as well as for  Alouettes and Impact broadcasts.  In addition, he had the opportunity to host a late show on Friday nights called GameNight OT and now host another  called the Sunday Sermon.  At City, he was a sports reporter and producer for local professional and amateur sport stories.  “I would have to take a story from start to finish: -  locate it, research it, book it, produce the shoot, report and script,” he said.  “Both jobs have left me well-prepared for the duties at CTV.”

Born and raised in LaSalle, Coleman still lives near Riverside Park.  He attended   Loyola High School where he was a three-sport varsity captain, then went to Phillips Exeter Academy – a prep school in New Hampshire – for two years before returning to McGill to study economics and political science.  “I worked for TSN every Saturday and Sunday through my degree at McGill,” he says.  “My last year at McGill I was also working full-time for City, taking early classes before work or online ones.  It’s safe to say I’m accustomed to juggling.”

Coleman says that given the fact he has been doing sports updates since the age of  18, he does not see a big learning curve with his new CTV duties.  “The toughest part of the transition is just the nature of live television,” he says.   “On radio you’re solely focused on your voice.  On TV there’s your voice and fifty other things to worry about as well.  But it’s all part of what makes television so amazing.  I’m blessed to work alongside two of the industry’s best in Randy Tieman and Brian Wilde.  The best way I can improve is through practice, practice, practice and soak up as much knowledge as possible from both of them.:

During the summer months Coleman expects to be busier than usual at both TSN and CTV, filling in for vacationers. Ultimately he will be in the market for  regular weekday work.   “For the last five years I’ve grown accustomed to working and studying six, often seven days a week,” he said.  “While this time off is a nice little break, I still have the itch to work more.  I’m also a golf fanatic, so I’ll have a little more time to work on my game.” 
You can follow Sean on Twitter @colemanmtl


Wednesday 3 June 2015

Louis Douville and Jed Kahane taking on bigger roles with Bell Media in Quebec; Kahane heads all Quebec news operations

Louis Douville
Louis Douville and Jed Kahane have received well deserved promotions at Bell Media.  The former has gone from vice-president and general manager of CTV Montreal to occupying the same title as well for Bell's six Montreal radio stations (CJAD, TSN 690, Virgin Radio, CHOM, Rouge, NRJ). Kahane, who has been director of news and public affairs at CTV Montreal since 2008, retains those responsibilities but takes on the new role of news director for Bell Media in Quebec. In addition to the six stations listed above, he will also oversee the journalists and their work at stations in Abitibi, Drumondville, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Quebec City, Saguenay, Trois Rivieres, St. Jean, the Gaspe, and Rimouski.

Kahane is one of the nicest guys in the business and  made an impressive transition from reporting to management. He began his media  career at CKO Radio in 1989, moved to CBC from 1992 to 1997 and then CTV's Alberta bureau in Calgary for three years. In 2000 he returned to Montreal as Quebec bureau chief for CTV, a post he held for eight years until replacing Mike Piperni at CTV Montreal. He has quite the responsibility right now, with more than 50 radio journalists plus the team at CTV under his wing.
Jed Kahane

Basically, Kahane is now  responsible for pretty much everything to do with news: from news policy and standards to hiring and cooperation between Bell Media's various platforms. He  will keep his CTV office on Papineau and have another right across the street which houses the six radio stations. While Kahane will have the overall responsibility for news,  Chris Bury remains the news and program director for CJAD and TSN 690. 

There have already been a number of changes at CTV Montreal, with crossovers involving Lori Graham doing weather on CJAD and Aaron Rand and Terry DiMonte doing noon spots with Mutsumi Takahashi. With Kahane dealing with these personalities on a daily basis one can only assume this could increase and that is a good thing.

Sunday 31 May 2015

Dean Stock's courageous battle with ALS; car wash raises $12 k for the cause

Last summer former NHL tough guy and present-day Hockey Night in Canada commentator PJ Stock took the Ice Bucket Challenge, the hugely successful worldwide fundraising initiative for ALS– a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed.   PJ subsequently challenged his brother Dean to do the same thing.

Four months later, on December 11, 2014, Dean was diagnosed with ALS. Happily married, the father of three gorgeous young children and employed at Vanguard Pharma, Dean and his brother decided to go very public on this issue. They established Team Stock via the ALS Society of Quebec to raise money for research and to assist the families of those suffering from the disease.
Dean (in blue) and all of his supporters at the car wash.
On May 30, Dean’s colleagues from Vanguard Pharma held a fundraising car wash at Pennzoil in Dollard des Ormeaux. With Allison Dorval leading the way, a number of people stepped forward and pledged before the event took place. Some colleagues actually drove in from Quebec City. When all was said and done, more than $12,000 was raised for the ALS Society of Quebec.

I got to meet Dean in person. He still remains physically fit, six months after the diagnosis. However, Dean is now experiencing difficulties with his speech. Problems communicating with others and difficulties with eating and drinking are frustrating symptoms that people with ALS experience. As the disease progresses, it weakens the muscles of the mouth and throat by causing atrophy (a decrease in the size of the muscle) or spasticity (decrease in control caused by “tightening” of the muscles). These changes affect various aspects of the speech   and swallowing.

Dean, wife Paula, their beautiful kids and the Stanley Cup.
“I am going back to work,” Dean said. “I am on disability now, but I will go back part=time. From there, who knows?”

As Dean noted, doctors told him that everybody with ALS progresses differently. “It might go to my body or localize here,” he said, pointing to his throat.”

Dean realizes how lucky he is to have a loving family and colleagues like Dorval, Normand Rousseau, Sophie Hamel and others. Dorval even brought her three teenage sons to volunteer on what was a baking hot Saturday afternoon.  “Much of our success was with our ‘pre-event’ push,” she said, “yet we washed over 50 cars and rarely stopped for a minute.  We had over 25 volunteers present and each and every one of them gave everything in honour of Dean, his family and all those affected by this devastating disease.”

I spotted folks like noted communications guru Jean-Claude Torchia at the Pennzoil location supporting the cause. PJ Stock was in Toronto working for Hockey Night in Canada.

“On behalf of team Vanguard Pharma Quebec, we would like to extend a huge thank you to the owners of Pennzoil and Mandevco  Properties, who graciously accepted us to use their location and to bombard their washroom facilities,” Dorval said. “We thank Melodie Prince of the Quebec ALS Society, who provided us direction on our event and to each and every individual who donated to this special cause.”

Vanguard Pharma  matched each  employee’s donations by 1.5.  “In their tremendous support of Dean Stock, they are also supporting all those affected by ALS in Quebec,” said Dorval. “As our president and general manager, Kevin Danylchuk, likes to say ‘thank you for keeping Vanguard Pharma on the move.’ It was a successful endeavor.” 

The Stocks grew up in Dollard des Ormeaux, where their parents still live. PJ and Dean both settled in St. Lazare with their families.

Here is my video interview with Dean Stock and Allison Dorval. It was very windy outside, so excuse some of the choppiness. 

Sorry folks but the Tour de l'Île de Montréal is a "disgraceful" inconvenience

It is time to put an end to The Tour de l'Île de Montréal and its sister event the Tour de Nuit. For one reason or another, I was able to stay put in the West End while this "Tour of Inconvenience" took place in recent years. Today, I had no choice but to deal with it.

Saturday I went on the  Vélo Québec website to try  an navigate my routes respectively. It did not help very much.

The day began at 8:30 a.m. when I had to drop someone off in LaSalle. It was smooth sailing. Since I had  to go to the new super hospital for the first time on Monday, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to check out the parking situation there. St. Jacques Street near Girouard is already blocked until 2017 as part of The Turcot Yards reconstruction, so I drove along Upper Lachine Road. As I reached Girouard, a police officer waved the endless of  vehicles like mine away. That entry was blocked in favor of  the cyclists, so I sat in traffic for 15 minutes. What if there was an emergency and  I had to get to the hospital quickly? Nope, it seems a recreational cycling event which does not raise one penny for charity takes precedence.
What a mess!!

I gave up on going to the hospital and headed home. A few hours later I had to return to LaSalle. On St, Jacques Steet cars were lined up for almost a mile to get through the Turcot Yards. I slowly made my way through this mess and into LaSalle, but as I crossed the Angrignon bridge I saw an endless array of frustrated drivers not moving. You see the main boulevard of St. Patrick was shut off to traffic for the holier than thou cyclists, forcing all traffic to Angrignon. Furthermore, we could not travel back via Ville St. Pierre on Dollard Avenue because of the St. Patrick bottleneck. This is an instance where a GPS really does not help a lot. I used my own smarts and drove towards  Boulevard  De La Vérendrye, crossed through Ville Émard and got on to Highway 20, which helped me avoid the traffic.

There are other places I had to go on this day, but I got tired of being a hostage on my own city.

Sorry folks, I know there are thousands of cyclists who love this event. But it is really not fair to inconvenience the larger proportion of the population who have nothing to do with it! How much money is spent on the huge police presence? How many tickets are not handed out because the cops are on cyclist patrol duty? I saw people running red lights like there is no tomorrow. How many businesses are negatively impacted? The Carrefour Angrignon parking lot did not look as crowded as usual.

Known as well as  the "Go Bike Montréal Festival,"  the event has some heavy duty sponsors: Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, the Jean Coutu Group, Gaz Métro, Desjardins Group, MEC, Provigo, TELUS and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). What if they all pulled out unless the organizers added a charitable slant? 

It is time to move this event to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve where they won't get in the way of anyone and perhaps allow money to be raised for something worthwhile. I have had it!

See my Facebook page. It seems that a lot of people agree.

 Sunday, May 31, 2015

This famous cycling event offers no fewer than five route options. For a recreational o