Saturday, 21 November 2015

Graham Richardson: Last anchor standing


Amidst a groundswell of support for Carol Anne Meehan, the felled anchor of CTV Ottawa's supper hour newscast, sits Graham Richardson, the last anchor standing who must be greatly regretting his decision to leave CTV National News a few years ago. He must be wistful, remembering his time as Los Angeles Bureau Chief and his sweet job working in the Ottawa Bureau.

Now he sits alone at the anchor desk engaging in mindless chatter with this guy, the weekend anchor and part-time elf who has the unbelievable moniker Matt Scubie. Graham must be thinking to himself he is one degree away from being asked to do humiliating dress-up gigs himself.

Richardson suffered another humiliation yesterday with news that he will do double duty by being forced to rip and read copy at the radio station CFRA every hour in the afternoon in addition to anchoring the supper hour news. Imagine having to walk into CFRA and look the newscasters in the face, the ones who used to be news personalities but who are now reduced to simply rewriting copy from the Ottawa Citizen and calling up the Ottawa police desk sergeant for traffic updates.

It must really, really suck for all of them. So perhaps Carol Anne was lucky. At least she left on a high note, her dignity intact with her thousands of fans penciling their names on a petition to bring her back. At 59, Carol Anne will be much better off entertaining offers from P.R. companies around town than she would be having to get dressed up as Mrs. Saint Nick and humiliating herself.

I haven't switched channels in protest. I'm actually enjoying watching Graham squirm in his seat while sharing silly jokes with JJ Clark, the erstwhile snowcatcher who is just one tap dance away from personal obscurity.

It wouldn't surprise me to see Graham Richardson move on. Bob Fife's job is up for grabs in the Ottawa news bureau. And Graham might be hoping that his reputation hasn't been tarnished too badly by playing relief pitchman to Max Keeping who recently went to his reward.

Everyone would be much better off seeing the back end of Graham who has the personality and warmth of a turnip (unless he's ass kissing Daniel Alfredsson). I'd like to see him replaced not by Scubie but by Mike O'Byrne, the last anchor standing from the old days. The audience would resist knifing him because at least Mike is charming and is happy to rub elbows with the public.

Not like Graham who is unapproachable and rude in public. I am biased because the first time I encountered him was a few years ago, when I was delivering press releases on behalf of a charity. I was trying to get through the door, and instead of opening it, he slammed it in my face. Guess he was too important back then to pay attention to an old lady with her arms full.

Since then, I've watched Graham weekly sitting grimly on the spinning bicycle at my gym, looking forward, marching through the place with his head down like he was afraid  Harvey Levin and TMZ would take a picture of him in his tights.

Truth be told, Graham is rude to everybody. My friendly husband, who has cred as a former CBC and CTV cameraman, once tried to engage him in a conversation in the locker room. They did have shared history, after all. Scott said Graham looked at him like he was insane for wanting to talk to him.

We don't want that kind of anchor for the supper hour news. We need someone who actually likes people, and is happy to engage with them out in public. Max always did. Ditto J.J. and Mike O'Byrne.

Perhaps it's not Graham's fault. He had big shoes to follow after Max. He probably thought he could bring some dignity to the job by turning CTV Ottawa news into a Cronkite-like affair.

Unfortunately, that's not what people want here in folksy Ottawa.

Call us old fashioned. We'd prefer an elf named Scubie to Frosty the Snowman.


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