CBC has tough job replacing Jian Ghomeshi at Q
You don’t have to approve of Ghomeshi’s reputation
to concede he brought a unique set of qualities to the broadcasting table.
Whoever becomes the new permanent
host of CBC Radio's Q has to ask the tough questions, Joel
Rubinoff says, like former host Jian Ghomeshi did of Billy
While CBC producers scurry about like rats on a sinking ship —
trying to get their stories straight over who knew what when
scandal — the radio show at the centre of this
controversy limps brazenly onward like a marathon runner with a
Ah, Jian, you really left us in the lurch
after allegations of sexual assault saw you fired — your
reputation in tatters — from Q, the show you helped bring
to international prominence.
I’m not knocking the contributions of early fill-in hosts Brent Bambury,
Piya Chattopadhyay and Tom Power — nice people, I’m sure, and not without
But listening to them ingratiate themselves with your audience has been like
watching Katy Perry sing “Yesterday” on the Grammy tribute to the Beatles:
stilted, awkward, painful.
It’s sad, really. From demurely snooze-inducing with a side order of Stiff
Upper Lip to aggressively boisterous with a fake bonhomie more suited to
school fundraising carnivals, the deer-in-the-headlights quality of those
overseeing a show once renowned for its effortless charm is staggering.
It’s not that Ghomeshi — whose name now conjures up creepy visions of women
being sexually violated — is irreplaceable.
It’s that in the time since his firing, there has been no indication anyone
at the publicly funded broadcaster understands the unique alchemy that made
Q the pop culture juggernaut it became in the seven years since its
I listened to Elvira Kurt’s Cultural Hall of Shame the other week — where
she riffs on obscure entertainment trends with varying degrees of hilarity —
and couldn’t believe it was the same comic I found so engaging during the
Instead of the irreverent teasing that defined her relationship with the now
disgraced host, and gave her steam-of-consciousness ramblings a veneer of
wit, the satirical comic was hung out to dry by the buoyantly ebullient
Power, who laughed too hard, talked too fast and seemed oblivious to Kurt’s
jittery brand of verbal slapstick.
You don’t have to approve of Ghomeshi’s reputation — four charges of sexual
assault and one of choking after 15 women came forward with abuse
allegations — to concede he brought a unique set of qualities to the
broadcasting table: intelligence, charisma, a willingness to push the
Or to acknowledge — as we have learned in the days since his departure — how
rare they are to find.
Still, there are bills to pay, products to promote, U.S. syndicates to
And as CBC continues its search for someone who can capture the cultural
zeitgeist with the same combination of affability and irreverence, we offer
10 cardinal rules for those with an eye on the throne.
Show some backbone, dammit.
No one likes a suck-up. If you’re a genuine fan, let your enthusiasm shine.
But if you can’t ask the tough questions — if you can’t call out Billy Bob
Thornton and Whitney Houston’s mother as obstreperous hypocrites, as
Ghomeshi did — you have no business sitting behind that microphone.
Don’t overthank your producing staff.
“From the bottom of my heart to the top of my head, never have I been
privileged to work with such a fine array of talented, generous and . . .”
Oh, come on. We know Ghomeshi had the reputation of being a paranoid
Nixonian dictator who played head games with his crew, so yes, appreciation
is warranted. But do it on your own time.
Recognize that interviewing celebrities is as much art as science.
And it requires greater cognitive skills than reciting questions off a piece
of paper written by your producing staff. Seize on provocative comments.
Make a visceral connection. Follow up when necessary. When you sit there,
zombielike, awaiting an opening to insert your next question, you come
across like someone’s clued-out uncle. Or a really bad sitcom actor.
Dispense with the monotonous, stentorian voice of authority.
It went out of style with Brylcreemed hair and tail fins on Cadillacs.
Challenge us. Make us think. Engage us with your wit and charm.
Develop a punk rock attitude when guests try to snow you with marketing
What’s that, Jason Segel? You consider yourself a wizened philosopher and
humble humanitarian for co-writing a children’s book about nightmares? Guess
what? You’re a crappy B-actor who wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for
director Judd Apatow. Get off your high horse, you pompous windbag.
But don’t be a putz about it.
Read the situation. Respond in the moment. Think on your feet. There’s a
thin line between engaged and obnoxious. Don’t cross it.
Don’t worry about being liked.
It’s more important to be respected. As Elmore Leonard put it, be cool.
So who will be the lucky beneficiary of Ghomeshi’s fall from grace? That’s
the million-dollar question.
CBC planned to release a “long list” of hosting contenders followed by a
short list of four or five at the end of January, with a Q relaunch
in February or March, possibly under a new name.
“It’s going to be a culture program about entertainment and the arts,” says
Cindy Witten, senior director of Radio 1. “After that, everything is up for
The tricky thing, pundits agree, will be finding someone who can embrace the
wide diversity of Q’s mandate: everything from Mick Fleetwood
yammering on about the glory days of Fleetwood Mac to StoryCorps’ David Isay
explaining his quest to collect the wisdom of humanity to architect Daniel
Libeskind expounding on the World Trade Center redevelopment.
At this point, says Witten, the field is wide open:
male or female, known or unknown, CBC insider or not, young or old, one host
A glance at Q’s web page gives some clues about public preferences, with
everyone from comedian Norm Macdonald to aboriginal musician/broadcaster
to actor Sandra Oh to musician
“The goal is to make it look simple,” says Witten, who
makes it clear she wants someone “out of the box”: smart, curious, witty
with a “big personality” and a “foothold in culture.”
“Our job is to either find a person who has been doing it for awhile — who
has the skills and charm — or to identify the potential in someone to
stretch and grow.”
What’s really interesting, she says, is how invested the public has been in
“The first few weeks we were getting hundreds of emails a day. We were
overwhelmed by the response.”
Ultimately, she says, it will be up to her and executive director Chris
Boyce to make the decision.
“It’s not going to be this democratic process where everybody gets a vote,
but we definitely want to see and hear what people think.”
In the end, “I think there will just be someone who stands out and sparkles
and will make the decision easy for us.”
Joel Rubinoff writes about pop culture for the Waterloo Region Record.
Email him at
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Jian Ghomeshi was charged with "overcome resistance -- choking," and it was
on the basis of decades old allegations by one or more women without any
The charges were screened by god knows how many crown attorneys and the driving
force was more Political than legal not that there is anything wrong with the
charges being laid if it were not for the low probability of a conviction in a
she said versus he said.
If the Genders however were reversed and it is a male who calls the police it is
a very different story.
In Ottawa recently police attended a 911 call to find a father bleeding around
the neck with scratch marks around his neck consistent with a strangulation
Six months later charges of threatening death and assault for some 55 assaults
in one day were screened by an Ottawa Crown attorney and charges laid.
Less than a month later, the charges were STAYED by Corrupt Crown TARA DOBEC
despite dozens of pages of medical reports by doctors with pictures of the
injuries, 170 pages of confidental reports of violence by the mother over 6
years, and digital audio recordings of all the assaults in which she admitted
assaulting children and the father.
The fact is women and men can be equally violent however our Attorney General
Madeleine Meilleur turns a deliberate blind eye to Offences committed by Violent
Females and Offences against the Administration of Justice such as Crown
Attorney TARA DOBEC and VIVIAN LEE of Ottawa.
Memo to Peter McKay, you have a serious problem with Justice in Ontario. Take a
walk over to 161 Elgin Street.
Ottawa Mens Centre