1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar


The A-Team

| posted Monday, Aug 19th, 2013

The London Games were just wrapping up last summer when Scott Moore contacted me to discuss the possibility of a City station opening in Montreal. That night, TV news reports from Trudeau airport showed Alexandre Despatie returning from competition. As he spoke to reporters, my thoughts went back 14 years, to the same airport, and a 13-year-old Alex running into his mother’s arms with a Commonwealth Games gold medal. This time, there was no medal but there was certainly triumph in simply competing at the Olympics just six weeks after his horrific head-scalping training mishap. Before the cameras, Alex said he had not decided about his future, but I could see in his eyes that he was done with diving.

I could also see in his eyes an engagement with the camera that can’t be taught, and a warmth and charm that Montrealers are about to discover in him as a TV host. Alex represents the highlights of Montreal: He is fully bilingual, creative, smart, fun, fashionable, and able to compete with the best.

At Buonanotte, as I pitched my vision of Breakfast Television Montreal to Scott and to Jordan Schwartz, the other possible co-host I told them about was Joanne Vrakas. Coming from CBC News and before that MusiquePlus, Joanne has remarkable range as a broadcaster – one that we haven’t seen in Montreal for a long time. Like Alex, she represents the best of the new Montreal – having grown up in the heart of the city, speaking English at home in a family of Greek descent and completing all her schooling in French. Joanne and Alex met for the first time this spring at an audition we held at the Château Ambroise. They connected immediately and our support and creative team was struck by their instantaneous chemistry.

In the excitement of our rehearsals leading up to the August 26th launch, that chemistry is still contagious, spilling over into the rest of the remarkable team that is BT Montreal – a team that I think will change the broadcast landscape in this city:

  • Catherine Verdon-Diamond, who peppers her weather and traffic with an original sense of humour.
  • Wilder Weir and his playful style as he roams the city with his Live Eye feature camera.
  • Elias Makos and his uncanny ability to explain how the lens of social media is interpreting what’s going on in our world.
  • Laura Casella, already well established with morning radio news listeners through her work on CJAD, is going to raise the existing bar of live TV news hits.

I have been blown away by the energy and creativity of the whole team, both on and off-air, to date.

I was told by many people that taking part in a start-up operation is a uniquely exhilarating and satisfying opportunity, and I have not been disappointed. I am thankful that Scott and Jordan, who have given me the time and resources to carefully select every person at every position in our operation. No one is here by accident, favour, or default. This is the A-Team, and we are Montreal.