Your mayor and members of city council have had a number of opportunities already to see the progress of construction of the new $18 million Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre (the ACC), which is expected to open its doors on Parkhaven Avenue by September. We had our latest sneak preview a few days ago and I was just astonished at how much work has been done since they first broke ground last fall.
The complex will include a 10-lane competition pool (which I am standing by above), a recreational pool, the Senior Social Centre, multipurpose rooms for meetings and banquets, a satellite public library, a dance studio, an art studio, an exercise room with physical fitness equipment, a games room, a youth drop-in room, a kids gymnasium room, a babysitting service for parents using the facility, a coffee shop, and an exterior terrace.
Our ACC has been a project that community leaders have long dreamed of. As a former competitive swimmer, one of Mayor Anthony Housefather’s dreams has been to bring an indoor swimming pool to the city. Our competition pool will allow us to have a swim team, a master’s team, a synchronized swimming team, a water polo team, and other activities such as free swim, swimming lessons for older kids, and programs to prepare them to become lifeguards.” The recreational pool will also provide games and fun for families, a beach area, swim lessons for younger children, aquasize classes and more.
The governments of Quebec and Canada have given Côte Saint-Luc grants totaling up to a maximum of $11.57 million, which equals two-thirds of the costs of building the facility. Mayor Housefather and councillors Mitchell Brownstein and Ruth Kovac (pictured above with Councillor Glenn J. Nashen) are overseeing the project. City Manager Tanya Abramovitch and Parks and Recreation Director David Taveroff are the key leaders among senior staff while we are very fortunate to have someone of the calibre of Anthony Palumbo to take care of the day-to-day operations of the work crew
I am very excited, as the Côte Saint-Luc City Councillor responsible for sponsorship, that we have engaged the services of BNP Strategies Philanthropic Management (BNP) to conduct a feasibility study for a fundraising campaign for the ACC. When I was first elected and handed this portfolio I immediately set out to establish a process where we could move towards the areas of event and program sponsorship and ultimately naming rights. Within two years of the start of our first mandate a series of guidelines were approved by council. Sponsorship agreements for events and of certain publications also started to take shape. The coming of the ACC, I believe, provides really opportunities for naming rights. I am anxious to see the case statement BNP presents to us in the early summer.
I have had the pleasure of being involved with the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors Sports Celebrity Breakfast since its inception seven years ago. It all actually began with a phone conversation between myself and Harold Greenspon. I was interested in seeking a seat on Côte Saint-Luc City Council back then and it was the constituency of Harold’s that I was targeting. Out of respect I asked whether he had planned to run again, to which he responded “I’m not sure.” I told him that I would never run against him, so when he decides to please advise me as I would love his support.
“Listen,” said Harold, “I am very involved these days with the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors (CJCS). I want to start a Sports Celebrity Breakfast. If you can help me do that, I will support your council run.”
I had previously organized such events at Beth Zion Synagogue with Joe Presser, who was one of the first people I called to join our new committee. I gathered a few others and we agreed to launch this venture. To make a long story short, the Breakfast has gotten bigger and more popular every year. What began as an event for which we hoped to break even evolved into a true fundraiser for an important cause, seniors in crisis, a program that delivers much needed assistance to seniors who are unable to financially look after their needs
As the co-emcee and producer of the event itself, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Harold Greenspon turned the chairmanship over to Mike Wagen, senior vice-president of Delmar Cargo, five years ago. Mike really turned on the faucets in terms of bringing in the dollars. By choosing former limited partner of the Expos Mark Routtenberg and honouring the 1994 team for our 2011 event, we raised over $175,000. We were sold out two months in advance, with more than 650 people on hand at the Gelber Conference Centre, which is attached to the CJCS headquarters.
Routtenberg was a limited partner in the Expos ownership group from 1991 to 2001. He was also a general partner of the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when they won the Memorial Cup in 1997 and served as chairman of the Canadian hockey team which captured gold at the Maccabiah Games in Israel that same year, with Jacques Demers as head coach. He is presently the president of Freemark Apparel Brands. Previously, he was chairman of Ideal Plumbing Supplies and president and CEO of Guess Canada Inc.
Among 1994 Expos alumni on hand were manager Felipe Alou (pictured with me below), general manager Kevin Malone, team president Claude Brochu, Cy Young Award winning pitcher Pedro Martinez, standout outfielders, Rondell White, Marquis Grissom and Cliff Floyd, pitchers John Wetteland, Mel Rojas and Denis Boucher. Noted rap artist Annakin Slayd presented his spectacular tribute to the Expos, which has become a YouTube sensation.
Also on hand were former Stanley Cup winning coach for the Canadiens Senator Jacques Demers, Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes players Etienne Boulay and Scott Flory, new team president Ray Lalonde and former player Bruno Heppelle. Thanks to team owner Farrel Miller and president Sebastien Courcelles, the Montreal Juniors delayed their departure to Halifax for their game three of their first round playoff series in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League so that head coach Pascal Vincent and three of his top players could join us - Habs prospects Louis Leblanc and Philippe Lefebvre and Los Angeles Kings draft pick and goalie J.F. Bérube.
Here is the CTV Montreal report on the event:
Former World Boxing Organization super middleweight champion Otis Grant, Canadian Paralympic sledge hockey goalie Benoit St. Amand, former Canadian LPGA champion Jocelyn Bourassa and Adam Braz of the Montreal Impact were there. The mascots were well represented Youppi, formerly of the Expos and now with the Habs, was joined by Snorro of the Montreal Juniors and Tak Tik of the Impact. It should be noted that the Montreal Canadiens were to be represented. Unfortunately for us they were shut out for their third successive game the evening before and head coach Jacques Martin decided to call a rare Sunday morning practice.
Make no mistake about this though. This was a day to remember the Expos and when it was all over, the feeling was pretty unanimous: if only they had never left. I invited Rodger Brulotte, the voice of the Expos on RDS and French radio, to share in some of the introductions and interviews. He was superb, providing us with some of his famous home run calls.
Routtenberg put it best when he spoke about the 1994 Expos being one of the best teams in baseball. Unfortunately, with the club in first place towards the end of August, the Major League Baseball Players Association triggered a strike. Both the season and a dream of a World Series championship were dead.
As Routtenberg reasoned, if the strike had never occurred; if the planned downtown stadium had been built; if the Canadian dollar was not valued at close to 60 cents vs. the American buck back then; if there were a proper revenue sharing formula in place, well we would still have our Expos.
“We are the largest North American city not to have a major league baseball team,” said Routtenberg.
The question I asked, and have been doing so for many years, is why does Montreal not at least have a minor league professional team? Whom better than Routtenberg to try and bring an ownership group together and retrofit the Centre Claude Robillard as their home. Former Expo Warren Cromartie has been working behind the scenes to make this happen. I would bet the likes of Pedro Martinez, who earned more than $100 million in his career, would climb aboard.
Many of the former Expos whispered that Montreal should get a major league team again. This, I doubt, will ever occur in our lifetime. Montreal will not have a Major League Baseball team in our lifetime, nor in our children's lifetime,” Brochu told me. “The cost is now prohibitive.”
And why can’t our city at least become the home of a minor league pro franchise? “I'm not sure Montreal can handle a minor league club right now,” he said. “We are in a form of denial to some extent, which indicates to me that the mourning of the loss is not over. There is almost no indication in the city that the Expos ever existed and people are only now beginning to say they are missed.”
Watch the Annakin Slayd video for yourself. I have seen it at least 100 times. You could see tears pouring out of the eyes of grown men today as it played on the big screen.
The Expos have been gone for seven years. It is something I always accepted. Did I miss their presence? Perhaps a bit, but after the 2011 Breakfast I realize more than ever what we lost.
Pedro sports the Expos cap of THE TEAM 990's Matthew Ross.
Most recently I was among a select few elected officials invited to an exclusive two hour briefing by Bill Bruce, the highly respected director of Animal and Bylaw Services and Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer/Protective Services, for the City of Calgary. When I began organizing meetings last summer to launch the City of Côte Saint-Luc’s first formal Trap Neuter Release (TNR) Program to try and control our cat population, Bill Bruce’s name came up often as the top authority in Canada in this area.
While a Côte Saint-Luc Cat Committee has been established, we are still in the infancy stages. Volunteers are being assigned different tasks and as soon as the weather gets nicer a team of trappers will head in search of feral cats.
I was delighted when the Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Quebec (CAACQ) invited me to meet Mr. Bruce (pictured with me above). This was a small and intimate gathering at St. Laurent Borough Hall. In attendance were community representatives interested in the topic of animal control. Liberal Senator Francis Fox was the highest ranking politician in the room. The CAACQ is headed by Johanne Tassé. The boroughs of St. Laurent and Verdun have cat bylaws and they were both represented. So were the cities of Longueuil, Ste. Agathe, Val David, Morin Heights, St. Marguerite and Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough of Montreal Councillor Piper Huggins (Projét Montréal). Montreal, in my opinion, remains a key player to getting the TNR issue higher on the public agenda. Last summer Pierrefonds-Roxboro Councillor Catherine Talbot attended my meeting. She is a member of Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s party.
In Calgary, the mission of Animal & Bylaw Services, is to "Encourage a safe, healthy, vibrant community for people and their pets, through the development, education and compliance of bylaws that reflect community values.” Their service includes: responding to Calgarians' concerns regarding municipal bylaws and provincial statutes; developing bylaws and educating the public; adopting cats and dogs; and partnering with citizens to create clean and healthy communities.
The City of Calgary encourages responsible pet ownership through licensing, public education and enforcement. Licensing fees, not tax dollars, fund the following programs and services:
• Reunite lost cats and dogs with their owners. • Operate the Pet Drive Home program. • Educate cats and dogs owners about responsible pet ownership. • Enforce the Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw. • Shelter and feed lost cats and dogs in our vet-operated facility. • Manage our animal adoption program. • Offer school programs at no charge. • Deliver public education programs. • Run our volunteer animal socialization programs. • Help neighbours resolve their animal related conflicts. • Provide funding to veterinary clinics for emergency medical care for injured stray cats and dogs. • Operate the no-cost spay and neuter program for the cats and dogs of eligible Calgarians. • Provide medical care to adoptable cats and dogs in our state of the art clinic. Calgary’s Animal & Bylaw Services advocates Responsible Pet Ownership based on the following four principles: License and provide permanent identification for pets; Spay or neuter pets.; Provide training, physical care, socialization and medical attention for companion pets; and Do not allow pets to become a threat or nuisance in the community.
To say that Bill Bruce is inspiring, well that is an understatement. “Every animal that ends up in a shelter or on the street is there because a human relationship failed them,” he began. “Our goal is compliance: getting people to do it because it is the right thing to do. We encourage responsible pet ownership through licensing, public education and enforcement.”
Bruce stressed the importance of “engaging the stakeholders” by educating the public. “ Education is the most powerful tool to change behavior,” he stated.
Bruce told us about the four principles of pet ownership:
1. License and provide permanent identification form pets; 2. Spay or neuter pets; 3. Provide training, physical care, socialization and medical attention for companion pets; 4. Do not allow pets to become a threat or nuisance in the community.
Today, Calgary has 49,500 licensed cats, which equates to 50 percent compliance according to an annual pet census Bruce conducts. Cat licenses cost $10 if the feline was spayed or neutered and $30 if not. The resulting revenue funds the state-of-the art Animal Services Centre Clinic, which, in turn, not only increases business efficiencies (for treating adoptable animals), but also subsidizes a no-cost spay-and-neuter policy for low-income Calgarians.
Calgary Animal Services has an annual budget of $5.4 million, generated not through tax dollars but through licence and penalty revenues.
The CAACQ is an alliance of animal welfare organizations whose members have joined together in order reduce the number of companion animals killed in the Province of Quebec. Its goals are to provide support in establishing new policies and improve existing practices for members of the CAACQ; educate the public on the importance of spaying and neutering; facilitate and promote the adoption option and responsible animal guardianship; and encourage municipal, provincial and federal governments to establish and enforce stricter animal welfare laws.
Tassé established the CAACQ in 2008. After working for 10 years as a volunteer marketing and adoption-promotion manager for Animatch, she realized that despite all the efforts made by similar organizations, the number of animals in shelters was consistently high. She created the CAACQ in order to get to the source of the problem of animal overpopulation, and to implement cost-effective solutions for the well-being of animals. The CAACQ also wants to change the Quebec general population’s mind-set to make a better ethical choice and adopt animals in need of a home. A large number of healthy animals are killed every day and adoption is the solution.
Here is a video of Bill encouraging Calgarians to adopt cats:
The Freeway is about to run down Forte Street in downtown Montreal. On Monday morning, the new Freeway and Lisa in The Morning Show debuts on Virgin Radio. Freeway Frank Depalo, born and raised in Montreal North and Rosemount, was repatriated by station brand/program director Mark Bergman quite soon after Cat Spencer’s surprise announcement that he was leaving to take over mornings on The Q 92.5 FM. Cat will succeed Aaron Rand, whom we are told will do his final show towards the end of April. But here is the rub: Cat’s contract with Astral Radio does not conclude until August 31 and from everything we have heard there is no desire to spring him loose from that agreement prematurely so he can chalk up strong ratings for the competition. It is smart strategy. Put him on the sidelines and move the new guy in as soon as possible in order for him to develop a following.
I have a feeling that Freeway will become an instant favorite here. He has a vast amount of radio experience and 18 years after leaving his native land to pursue a career in radio elsewhere he is back home. “I always told my late father that my dream one day was to come back to Montreal as either a program director or morning show host,” Freeway told me in an interview at the station. “Well Mark is doing a great job as program director and I certainly did not expect Cat to leave. So, when I got the call and the offer I was pleasantly surprised. My mom is so excited she wants to invite Cat for dinner. I think that will happen. I will reach out. We have never met in person, but I think that will happen. He may now be my competitor, but I consider it a friendly competition.”
Freeway was working at Energy 101.5 FM in Calgary when he got the call from Bergman. He and his girlfriend owned a home there and the basement walls had Montreal Canadiens logos painted on it. “I was lucky to rent the house to some friends and they got rid of the Habs stuff,” he laughed. “I have always remained a huge Habs fan. It is so exciting to be back and able to follow them every day and even talk about them on air.”
When I reached Player (at the left with Freeway), who has been a morning show staple here for seven years, she was busy walking her dog Roo. She was excited about beginning this new partnership and is confident it will work. “I felt good about Frank the first time we met,” she said. “We will just build from there. This is just like a new couple getting together and you know sparks will fly.”
Frank is eager to introduce his seven month old dog Enzo to Roo, who is 11 and a half. Let’s watch if this bit makes it on air.
Frank took English Literature and History at Concordia University while serving as program director f or campus station CIRL. Upon graduation he got work at the old 990 HITS, a previous incarnation of CKGM. He was known then as Frank Kelly. He spent three years there and moved on to Vancouver (Z 95.3 and LG 73), Toronto (Mix 99.9) and of course Calgary. For four years he also hosted the Canadian Top 20 Countdown, which is carried on Virgin Radio on Sundays.
Oh yes, and how did he get the nickname “Freeway?” While working in Vancouver in 1995, the motion picture Free Willy came out. “The station wanted me to go by the name “Free Willy” Frank,” he explains. “I opted for Freeway.”
I asked Bergman, who grew up in Côte Saint-Luc, how he snagged a star like Frank so quickly. “We have a big network of hosts that we have on our wait list,” he said. “Frank was number one on that list.”
Also joining Virgin to take over from Heather B in the early afternoon is spunky Nikki Balch from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Bergman feels she will bring new energy and flare to Virgin, noting that she possesses an incredible love of hit music, pop-culture, and social media. Nikki comes from out East, where for the last five years, she was the morning co-host at Z103.5. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Coast Award for “Best Radio Personality.”
Nat Lauzon remains on air from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cousin Vinny and The Rush are on from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then Tony Stark takes over.
The Côte Saint-Luc Cat Committee (CSLCC) has officially launched a Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) program. Following a well attended public meeting last summer and a series of meetings with individuals willing to volunteer for this cause, activities are commencing with the financial support of the City of Côte Saint-Luc and Canadian Pacific Railway .
Left to right at a recent committee meeting: Shelley Schecter, myself, Dr. Monica Cybulski of the Côte Saint-Luc Hospital for Animals, Alanna Devine of the SPCA and former Mayor Bernard Lang.
I am spearheading the initiative and I wish to expresse my appreciation to Mayor Anthony Housefather and other members of council for their financial support. The Canadian Pacific Railway has also given a donation towards the project. While TNR, which humanely traps, sterilizes and then releases feral cats back into their original territory, will be the main focus of the CSLCC, efforts will also be made to educate the public about the importance of sterilizing cats. This will be done by arranging visits to local schools, setting up information booths within the community and establishing a Facebook page. A special hotline will be introduced for people to report feral cats in their neighbourhood. From our initial meeting, which attracted well more than 100 people, we have a dedicated group of cat lovers whom I believe will make a difference in our community. I am also grateful for the fact that both the SPCA and the Côte Saint-Luc Hospital for Animals are aboard.” Shelley Schecter, considered to be one of the city’s foremost experts in TNR, has agreed to serve as the CSLCC’s special advisor. She will train committee members on trapping. A female cat can reproduce four times a year, beginning from six months old, and can give birth to from one to eight kittens each time. By sterilizing the cats, their numbers are brought down through attrition. TNR programs have been proven worldwide, throughout Europe, the United States, parts of Canada, as the most humane and cost-efficient way of controlling and decreasing the numbers of homeless cats. I hope that other communities will follow the lead of Cote Saint-Luc and launch such committees as well. Among the committee members is former Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Bernard Lang, who has been a cat owner for years.
I remember the moment well. In our youth, my younger brother Chuck and I were very fortunate to get a lot of tickets to Montreal Canadiens hockey games at the old Forum. Chuck in particular lived for hockey fights. In the winter of 1980 we attended the game which marked the debut of a virtually unknown tough guy named Chris Nilan. That season with the minor league Nova Scotia Voyageurs he had scored 15 goals and added 10 assists in 49 games. More impressively, he had 304 penalty minutes. Wearing number 30, Nilan’s became an instant fan favorite. Chuck’s heart was beating a mile a minute as he waited for Nilan to get in his first fight. It did not take long for that to occur.
In my opinion Nilan was the greatest enforcer the Habs ever had. Yes, even more so than the legendary John Ferguson.
Check out this video of a Nilan-inspired brawl with the Boston Bruins.
Nilan spent nine seasons with the Habs. After three seasons with the New York Rangers and a year and a half with his Boston Bruins, he finished his career in 1991-92 with the Habs. He retired with 110 goals, 225 points and 3,043 penalty minutes, adding eight goals and 17 points in the playoffs, as well as 541 penalty minutes.
Nilan was selected. 231st overall in the 1978 Amateur Draft. During most of his years with the Habs he played on the team’s top defensive line with Guy Carbonneau and Bob Gainey
After last week’s vicious hit Boston’s Zdeno Chara inflicted upon rising Canadiens star Max Pacioretty, I immediately thought about Nilan and what he would have done in a situation like that.
Nilan was not only an enforcer. He could play good hockey as well. As luck would have it he was in town last week to appear at the Erin Sports Association’s Irishman of the Year Breakfast and good enough to sit down with me for a chat at his downtown hotel.
“I was actually in Afghanistan visiting the troops last week with the NHL alumni,” Nilan shared. “We were all watching the game on a TV feed at 4 a.m. Kandahar time and I went out to get a coffee. When I came back, my former teammate Mario Tremblay, told me I had missed the hit. I didn’t actually see it until I accessed it on my blackberry last Friday morning.”
If Nilan were part of the present-day Canadiens, how would he have reacted to the Chara assault? “If I was on the bench it would have been hard for me to jump off,” he said “But if I was on the ice something would have happened. That is for sure! When I played, I was not afraid of anyone, no matter how big they were.”
What does Nilan think of fighting in today’s NHL? Brace yourself for this answer! “I think they should take it out,” he stated. “But (Commissioner Gary) Bettman won’t do it. If he realizes afterwards it was a mistake, how does he put it back in?”
Since fighting is still very much part of the game, Nilan believes that instigating a fight and getting an additional penalty for that is not such a bad thing. “In fact,” he said, “it could be one of the best penalties a player can take for his team.”
Nilan told me he is launching a website called knucklesnilan.com and plans to use this to make himself available for speaking engagements. He is also involved in a documentary called The Last Gladiators about fighting in the NHL. The producers hope ri have it ready to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival next fall.
During his years with the Habs, Nilan and his family lived downtown and in West Island Kirkland. “We built a beautiful home there,” he says. “I loved the fact it was such a peaceful community where I really felt relaxed.”
Nilan auditioned to become play-by-play man Rick Moffat’s colour commentator for CJAD broadcasts of the Canadiens prior to the season. When Sergio Momesso got the nod, CJAD program director Chris Bury came up with the idea of creating a post-game show feature called “the third man in.” Said Moffat: “Nilan's name certainly came to mind and it seemed like a natural fit. As Sergio likes to quip on the air, ‘Chris was actually the first man in’ on many occasions. There is no doubt Nilan remains a beloved figure in Habs lore and is candid and blunt about his views, as he is open and honest.”
If there is one thing that really bothers me about the Canadiens since the duo of GM Pierre Gauthier and coach Jacques Martin took over is the absence of a true enforcer like Nilan on the roster. I am sorry, but Travis Moen, Ryan White or Paul Marra do not really fit the bill. Former GM Bob Gainey signed tough guy Georges Laraque to a $1.5 million per season three year contract. It was clear that whenever Georges was in the lineup, opposition thugs watched their step. Last season, after Laraque scored his first goal as a Hab, Gainey allowed Martin to whisper in his ear and take Laraque off the active roster. Okay, so Martin did not want to dress Laraque every game. But his mere availability could have come in handy when the Philadelphia Flyers smashed the Habs around in the playoffs.
As Nilan said re Chara: “Do you think Chara would have continued to go after Pacioretty is Georges Laraque was on the bench?”
Why do the Habs have someone like Tom Pyatt on the team at all? He has one goal this season and when he was forced into a fight with Gregory Campbell of the Bruins he got beaten to a pulp. I cannot understand why Gauthier did not try to acquire a true tough guy like Chris Neil of the Senators or David Clarkson of New Jersey? If only they could find another Nilan in the system.
Nilan was so exciting to watch .He was one terrific fighter, Just google his name in YouTube to find out. Had he been in the game today he’d easily be making $3 million a year.
I asked Nilan how he interacts with former opponents he fought with. “When I played I did not talk to any of my opponents,” he said. “But that all changes when you retire. I fought Bob Probert a lot. Before he died last year we were very friendly. We even went on a trip to Afghanistan together.”
While in Afghanistan Nilan said he met with seriously injured troops, flew on helicopter over the warzone and witnessed a rocket missile land within the base he was staying at. He enjoyed the experience immensely, noting that this was his third such trip.
A team of Secondary V physics students from Bialik High School in Côte Saint-Luc's District 2 are going to Israel to represent Montreal at the prestigious international Shalheveth Freier Physics Competition. The team, consisting of Matthew Creme, Bailey Cohen-Krichevsky, Michelle Miller, Ariel Sterlin and Sean Sukster and their coach, Bialik graduate Shawn Bramson ’08, bested competitors from other Montreal private high schools.
For months the students worked on building a safe using physics principles. This past February 23rd, Bialik’s squad, along with teams from St. Georges, The Study, Hebrew Academy and Herzliah High Schools, had to try to "crack" each others’ safes within ten minutes. Students were judged for their design and their knowledge of physics by representatives from McGill University and the Université de Montréal.
Under the stewardship of the school’s Director of Academics Judy Stein and their coach Shawn Bramson, Bialik students won the competition in 2009 and travelled to the Weizmann Institute in Israel for a short but intense visit made possible largely with support from the Weizmann Science Canada and LEARN Quebec.
Winning this competition in two of the last three years further evidences the high standing of the sciences at Bialik. This was keenly observed also last fall when Professor Mark Talesnick from Israel’s Technion University repeatedly remarked on how impressed he was with Bialik students and specifically their demonstration of scientific knowledge and curiosity. And, this he noted, after visiting many high schools in Montreal.
These wins also further validates what Arnold Cohen, President of JPPS-Bialik, recently wrote: “…when you choose our Jewish school you are choosing a school that measures up to any other private school in every respect, academically, socially, facilities, etc. with the added benefit of being Jewish-defining.”
CBC Montreal’s Television News will be losing one of its co-anchors exclusive news I sadly must report that the truly wonderful Jennifer Hall (below right) has given her notice and will leave in June. News Director Mary Jo Barr confirmed to me that she is already keeping her eyes open for another female to team up with the young and talented Andrew Chang. The pair have made an extraordinary team since CBC introduced a 90 minute 5 p,m. newscast on September 8, 2009.
“It is definitely with mixed emotions that I leave this fabulous team at CBC Montreal,” Jennifer shared with me. “For reasons that have everything to do with family, we have decided we need to move back to Southwestern Ontario. As a family, we have embraced all the wonderful experiences the West Island has to offer and we've truly enjoyed our time here. It's so easy to fall in love with Montreal. I've also felt privileged to work as a journalist with the best newscast in town. I will miss my CBC family terribly but will never be too far out of touch.”
Barr sounded understandably sad. “We will miss her dearly,” she commented. “ She is a strong journalist and a warm and engaging anchor. She has been a ray of sunshine in our newsroom. She is witty and gracious to everyone. I know this was a difficult decision for her to make.”
Hall joined the team at CBC Montreal from Parliament Hill, where she was national affairs reporter for CTVglobemedia's 'A' network. Prior to that, she was both host and producer of the provincial current affairs program Inquiry with Jennifer Hall. Her move to the anchor desk was familiar territory, as she held the role for many of the previous 20 years.
Does she have a job lined up in the London, Ontario area? “Since this truly was a decision about family, I decided to plan my next move later,” she confides. “ I do have some exciting ideas I will pursue in the months ahead.”
I got to know Hall since she arrived in my role as the head of communications and marketing for the English Montreal School Board. She is a very involved anchor, actively pursuing stories and feature ideas of her own. When I asked her to come speak at a high school Career Day she did not hesitate to agree and the kids really liked what she had to say.
Thank goodness CBC resigned weather forecaster Frank Cavallaro, who brought aboard a nice following of his own.
So who will replace her? Here are some of my suggested candidates: Kristy Snell and Nancy Wood (below left) from the radio side, Kristin Falcao from TV or from CTV Tara Schwartz, Lori Graham or Aphrodite Salas.
Well, Cote Saint-Luc raised Mark Bergman has not wasted any time in finding a successor to Cat Spencer.
The Cat is moving to The Q 92.5 FM to replace Aaron Rand at a date to be determined. Just last week it looked as if he would be required to complete his contract co-hosting the Virgin Radio morning show with Lisa Player, making him unavailable to his new employers until September 1. Rand is expected to depart at the end of April.
Freeway Frank (below right), no stranger to local listeners as the host of the nationally syndicated Canadian Top 4o Countdown, will debut on the newly dubbed "Mornings With Freeway & Lisa" on Monday, March 21 at 5:30 a.m.
“It’s been my dream to host a morning show in my hometown of Montreal since I was a kid.” Said Freeway Frank. “My heart’s never left this city, and I can’t imagine a better place to be, than the top rated radio station in Montreal! My late father would be proud.” Lisa Player has co-hosted Virgin Radio’s #1 rated Breakfast Show for the last 7 years, where her unique personality and quick wit has made her a staple on the Montreal radio scene. “Change is inevitable; it's what makes life interesting” said Lisa Player. “From my interaction with Frank so far, I know it's going to be more than just a little interesting. Looking forward to having some good times in the morning! Welcome back to Montreal Freeway!” Mornings with Freeway & Lisa, will debut on Monday March 21st 2011, at 5:30am.
Freeway Frank (Frank Depalo) was born and raised in Montreal, and went on to become a popular Canadian radio personality over the last 20 years. His return here will mark the first time that Frank will be playing in the city where he was born and raised. “Montreal has just found its next attraction," says Bergman, the station's Brand Director. "I’ve never met a guy with more passion for being on-air, online, and onsite! Freeway Frank will soon be to ‘Montreal’ as smoked meat, bagels, and The Habs! Cat Spencer had a great run at Virgin Radio; we will miss his contagious smile and professionalism. We wish him well.”
As for Freeway Frank, he notes "“It’s been my dream to host a morning show in my hometown of Montreal since I was a kid. My heart’s never left this city, and I can’t imagine a better place to be, than the top rated radio station in Montreal! My late father would be proud.”
Player, who has co-hosted Virgin Radio’s #1 rated Breakfast Show for the last seven years, sounds excited to work with her new partner. “Change is inevitable; it's what makes life interesting,” she said .“From my interaction with Frank so far, I know it's going to be more than just a little interesting."