Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Big changes at work, including no more Maritime Morning Weekend Edition

Yesterday was one of those days that happens from time to time in radio, but nobody wants to be part of. The company where I work laid off a bunch of people and made big changes to the programming schedule.

It's hard to say goodbye to Maritime Morning Weekend Edition, the show I've been hosting for nearly a year.

It's a lot harder to say goodbye to some terrific people who I got to work with for as long as eight years.

Erica Munn was my broadcast partner when we launched in 2005, co-hosting the afternoon news wheel. Erica has deeply-held convictions and has a beautiful voice. She's a zany character and definitely an original. The newsroom is already different without her here.

Scott Macintosh delivered our sportscasts from the first day. While most broadcasters make speaking errors from time to time, often several times a day, Scott only flubbed once or twice a year. He's professional, reliable, even-tempered and a genuinely nice guy. He worked the most brutal shifts and never complained. I hope he and his family are okay.

The audience is seeing Jordi Morgan as the headline loss. Jordi hosted Maritime Morning for the past several years after Andrew Krystal left for Toronto. He was a polarizing host. Some thought he was a right-wing shill, but others thought he was just right. Either way, people listened. Jordi's a smart guy and has always been very kind to me. I've enjoyed working with him. I'm not sure what he'll be doing next, but it will certainly be interesting.

Desiree Finhert was the longest-serving member of our reporting staff. Desiree is an avid learner. She was great at bringing new story ideas to the table. She threw herself fully into whatever she was doing. I was looking forward to her coming back. She is currently on maternity leave.

Amanda Debison has been filling Desiree's spot on contract. I've had the pleasure of working alongside her on weekend mornings, when I got to see how hard she worked to gather news from all over the region. She'd even go out after her shift and gather pictures and tape for more stories. Beyond that, she's hilarious and had me nearly passed out from laughter most weekends. I hope someone hires her soon.

Melissa Mancini took over production of The Rick Howe Show when Jenn Howell moved to Ontario. Melissa is wise beyond her years. She's sharp, and deep, and adept at getting the backstory and the good interview. She'll bring value to whoever brings her on board. She's also very kind, and I felt such sincerity when she'd ask me every day how my wife Amanda was doing. I'd gladly work with her again.

Meghan Groff becomes the new morning show editor. She's a level-headed and smart team player who always has an eye on protecting the product. After several years of working in the talk show pit producing Jordi's Maritime Morning and a lifetime of world travel to some interesting places, she brings humility, organizational savvy and a real sense of what's interesting to listeners. Everyone's eager to help her out and help her shine.

Also gone but not forgotten are Lite92.9 jock Jamie Paterson, Myrna in Creative, Mike Bridges in Production and Mike in Sales. The people who remain in those departments are going to be working a lot more.

Layoffs were also handed out at other stations in the chain. Some people I worked with for years in Toronto are now jobless. I'm told our station in Ottawa was also thinned out.

These days are awful. I feel survivor guilt for still being here, but I'm grateful to still be employed.

The station has retooled the broadcast day with fewer people in an effort aimed at survival and ultimately profitability. It's hard. It's a full reset. I know a lot of listeners will be turned off at first. I get it. We come into peoples' homes and cars and headphones and then it all changes. It's hard for them. It's hard for us. We've lost people we spend more time with than our families.

So, the morning news wheel will run from 5am to 9am with Dan Ahlstrand and Brynn Langille. The Rick Howe Show moves to mornings, from 9am-1pm. Hockey Central will come from Sportsnet in Toronto from 1pm to 2pm. Todd Veinotte's show will be on from 2pm-6pm, then Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown.

As for me -- I'll be doing news updates from Monday to Friday. I'm also the new Web Editor and will have afternoon news updates on Lite92.9.

That means the end, for now, of Maritime Morning Weekend Edition. It might come back some time in the future, but we need to rebuild a solid base for the station before bringing back what was obviously a popular show.

I want to thank Erin Trafford, Brett Ruskin and Allison White for developing the show before I took it over last fall after Erin moved to TV. Thanks to Allison and Jenn MacNeil for producing the show over the past year or so. I know I'm not the most organized and I'm not the best at generating ideas. You've been very kind to me. I couldn't have gone on the air without your help.

Big thanks go out to our regular guests: HRP PC Don Jenkins with Crime Stoppers, Matt Corkum from halifaxtech.ca for explaining the technology that makes life fun, Jeremy Webb from Off the Leash for getting me out of the house and into the theatre, Dr. Chris Killacky for bringing ethical insight into the news, Roger Haineault from Taxfilers for giving insight to business from sometimes exotic locations, Tom Clark from Global News for taking time out of his pre-production on The West Block for explaining national affairs, dog trainer Tristan Flynn from Jollytails for developing the popular K9 Connection segment, and Harv Stewart for being so patient with me on sports.

Thank you to all the guests who've joined us by phone or in studio. I've had such great conversations on topics from the silly to the deadly serious. I've learned a lot. I think we've entertained people and even helped some. It's been a pleasure being able to share your stories.

Thanks, especially, to all the listeners. I worried that no one was listening, but every time we opened the phone lines for a contest, every line filled up immediately. I know people were listening. Thanks to those who phoned and wrote and tweeted. I like to think I gave everyone a fair shot, even Conspiracy Bob. Okay, I was harsh with the chemtrails guy, but he's just about the only one who deserved it.

Not every show was perfect, but it was getting better and better. We had some really great segments.

Is it over forever? Maybe not. Will I keep doing talk? Yes, I'll be filling in for Rick Howe when he's off. There's always the possibility that other time slots will become available. I'm open to it. I enjoyed doing the program and I think I did a good job.

Changes like these are difficult. I hope for the best for everyone who lost their jobs yesterday.

I hope the listeners will be understanding and not give up on News95.7. The people who remain are going to work hard to maintain the trust that has been built over the past eight years, and continuing the tradition of information and entertainment that has made the station part of the local fabric.

Stick around. As company founder Ted Rogers used to say, "The best is yet to come."

6 comments:

  1. Great but sad read Scott. As a avid 95.7 listener since Krystal days, adjustment will be tough with recent changes. I have never missed one of your weekend shows yet and fear I will go insane with boredom without it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You did a great job on Maritime Morning Scott. Honoured to have been one of your last guests. I know from experience this is a tough industry. Thinking of all the awesome people who were let go and all the awesome people who remain. I'm sure you all will make the most of this and keep the conversation going. Hang in there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just average Joe Listener here. I was excited when 95.7 arrived, and I've been a loyal listener from day one. Damn I've even had it on weekend mornings and listened to those annoying informercials. I feel terrible for those talented souls who lost their jobs yesterday and I will pray that they land on their feet. I will continue to listen, mainly to support those left behind. Damn profit

    ReplyDelete
  4. No mention of Connie Thiessen?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Darn I miss you guys. I tried listening to the new format but it is like trying to break in a new pair of shoes...painful! I just may have to return to CBC.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, everybody. I realize the new schedule is jarring to a lot of people. If you feel compelled to switch channels, I understand, but I hope you'll keep checking back regularly just in case we're delivering exactly what you want. I hope we can surprise you.

    ReplyDelete