And on the 27th day of the Olympics….Florida!

So, here’s a reminder. The Summer Olympics begin in Rio next Friday, just 7 days from today. But, where’s the hype? Where are the non-stop athlete profiles? Where’s the catchy theme song? Certainly with my reduced viewing habits this summer, I may have missed some of this hoopla, but then again, I can only compare it to the mothership of all Canadian Olympic broadcast hoopla, the 2010 games that CTV broadcast from Vancouver.

During my career, I was lucky enough to be part of two CTV Olympic teams. In 1988, I was the Bobsleigh and Luge commentator at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. You know, the one with the Jamaican bobsleigh team. I was making the call live on CTV when they suffered that horrific crash. I remember it well, it was a heart-stopping moment, and in that moment, all you can think about is if everyone is OK and not to speculate on things you see and the viewer sees. In the end, the team was OK, and several years later their story became the mostly fictional movie “Cool Runnings”.
I loved my time in Calgary. I remember arriving about five days before the Games began and it was -20, and two days later, it was almost +20 and luge practise had to be cancelled because sand was blowing accross the track at Canada Olympic Park. I was able to ‘socialize’ quite a bit and remember meeting Prince Albert of Monaco in a bar, and still have my photo with him to prove it! At that point, he was there as part of Monaco’s two-man bobsleigh team, so I actually consider my time in that bar as ‘research’. Prince Albert is now a member of the IOC. All in all, my first experience in Calgary was great, and at that point, a personal high in my career.

If you remember the 1988 Calgary Games, you’ll also remember CTV suffered many technical glitches and gaffes over the course of those Games, much of it attributed to using brand new equipment, with not enough time for those using it to train. But hindsight is always 20/20 and I’m proud of that team. At this time, CTV also held the rights to the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, and I’m not sure I was ever going to be part of that team after 1988. But not to worry. In Calgary I met and worked with Dan Matheson, the Canada AM Sports and Weather Anchor who was also an on-air host in Calgary. He suggested to the folks at Canada AM that I fill in for him while he was in Spain at the ’92 games, and well, for me, and thanks to Dan, the rest is history. It was great to have him join me at Cabot Links for a few days last week.

As time went on, Olympic broadcast rights shifted back to CBC and that seemed to be just fine with the folks at CTV. Broadcasting these games, then, as it is even more so now, is an expensive proposition. But things changed on July 2nd, 2003 when the City of Vancouver won the bid to host the 2010 Winter Games. CTV had paid 4.5 million dollars ( Canadian) for the broadcast rights in Calgary. To get the broadcast rights for Vancouver, CTV paid 153 million (US) for both Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games in London England. Of the 153 million (US), more than 90 million (US) was paid for the Vancouver rights. For CTV president, at the time, Ivan Fecan, it was worth it. Every penny. He knew the value of having an Olympic Games held in Canada on his network. Many thought he overpaid, he didn’t. He had a vision, and he saw it through. In the end, the 2012 games didn’t matter to CTV, as they sold to Bell after the 2010 Games and before the 2012 games.

After being awarded the broadcast rights in February of 2005, CTV dove in head first. At Canada AM, we played a large role as the network’s national morning show.
It started with a remote from Whistler in the early winter of 2005. The occasion was 2,010 days from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Over the course of the next five years, the games were ‘top of mind’ and mentioned, but nothing that would hit you over the head. With two years to go to the start of the games, we took the entire show to Whistler to mark the occasion. We did a special show with one year to go. In that final year running up to the games it was hard to turn on CTV and not be reminded they were on the way. The marketing was brilliant, the hype was building. Donald Sutherland started to come into our living rooms with Olympic moments. The “I Believe” song became an earworm for all Canadians. We did daily updates tracking the Olympic torch and it’s journey across Canada from Oct. 30th, until the start of the games on February 12th. It was hard not to get caught up in it all.

The Canada AM team was assigned to be a part of “Olympic Morning”. This meant I would be doing my second Olympic games for CTV. A wait of 22 years, and something I wasn’t even sure I’d be around for when the games were awarded to Vancouver back in 2003. Our hosts at the time were Bev and Seamus. Bev was paired with former TSN sports anchor Jay Onrait, Seamus was in Whistler paired with Melissa Grelo, Marci would do news updates and I would be on location in and around different parts of the city. For the Canada AM team, and for us only, the Olympic broadcast experience would begin with a week of shows on February 8th from Vancouver leading up to the games, then 16 days of Olympic Morning shows, followed, for us, by 5 more days of regular Canada AM shows back in Toronto. If you’re keeping score, the four of us did shows for 26 straight days.

It was a gruelling and emotional time. So much was on the line, so much had gone into preparation. Millions of Canadians had been bombarded with CTV Olympic was now time to deliver. And we had to deliver starting at 3am local time, to match 6am eastern time. The week of pre-shows fell into the normal Canada AM time slot of 6-9 eastern, but 3am to 6am in B.C. I remember doing the first remote from the Janyk residence in Whistler. Their kids, Britt and Michael had both spent time on the natonal ski team. From there, I had to race back to Langley B.C. to carry the Olympic Torch. My Olympics got off to a flying start. Once the Games started, the length of our show extended to 6 hours. Meaning we were on the air from 6am to noon eastern time, but 3am to 9am in Vancouver. I spent many a lonely hour in places like Robson Square, but our team of producers never let us down in convincing guests to make appearances at ungodly hours of the morning. You might wonder what time you have to get up in Vancouver to do a show that starts at 3am. For me, it depended on the location of the remote. If it was in Vancouver at a place like Robson Square, or the Molson Hockey House, or Canada House at The Bay or the Canadian Mint pavilion, I would get up at 1am. If it was in a place like Surrey, or Richmond, then I would get up at 12.30am. Yes, this meant on many nights I was in bed at 6pm. Heather came out to visit for 5 days and she found it exceptionally exciting to realize my day was done just as she was expecting dinner.

I was able to attend one event, and that was the Canada-Russia quarter-final hockey game. I was given tickets to the CTV ‘box’ and watched Canada dismantle Russia 7-4 to advance to the semi’s. I remember walking out of the arena and all you could hear from the condo’s surrounding the rink was people singing “O Canada”. Goosebummps. By the time our final Olympic Morning show rolled around on day 16 of the Olympics and day 21 for us, I was broadcasting from Robson Square and had to go directly to the airport to catch an 11am flight home. It was somewhere over Saskatchewan that our Air Canada pilot came on and told us Canada and the US were tied at one in the gold medal hockey game late in the third period. And it was somewhere over Manitoba that he came on to tell us Sydney Crosby had scored the winning goal, in overtime, to give Canada the win. It was so surreal I thought he was making it up.

Bev and I had returned on the same flight, and I’ll never forget what happened as we were getting off the plane in Toronto. A small group of Air Canada staff came up to us, and I think we thought there was some kind of ‘issue’. There wasn’t.
They had come by to specifically tell us how much they enjoyed our work on the show. I’ll never forget it. We were TOTALLY exhausted, and this was the best ‘pick me up’ ever.

By Monday March 1st, we were all back in Toronto and back on the show. It was day 22 in a row for us, but at least we got to sleep in until 4am. By Friday March 5th, day 26, we could hardly function. But we did. Even today as I look back on it I can’t believe we all did it.

On Saturday March 6th, day 27, Heather and I were in Florida.

Twitter: @jeffhutcheson
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Representation: Dan Champagne


Thrown ‘under the bus’….and it’s still sore..(updating with new information)

I am updating this blog post after being contacted by the Canadian Press. They wrote the original June 6th story referred to in this post several times and the quotes taken and used in this post are lifted directly from that story, as I indicated. The Canadian Press issued this statement to me after reading this blog post. This is the statement from the Canadian Press regarding those quotes attributed to Mr. Randy Lennox. Quote ” The Canadian Press says the quotes are accurate” Unquote.

With this confirmation, I have changed the texture and tone of the 8th paragraph from what was originally written. Below is paragraph one.

Back from a memorable 8 days at Cabot Links in beautiful Inverness Nova Scotia. I had waited a year for that ‘retirement’ trip, and it was everything I hoped it would be and more. I played 7 rounds of golf while Heather was a real trooper and played six times. Considering you have to walk the two magnificant courses, you average about 7 to 8 miles everytime you play, and they aren’t flat either! All in all, it was the perfect getaway..except for one thing that I read that brought back something I had hoped was behind me, but it wasn’t….

If you follow this blog, you will remember my post of July 11th, which was titled “A Proper Goodbye..what is that?” If you haven’t read it, perhaps a quick visit to my archives is in order. Basically it outlined why we decided to do just ONE final show, as opposed to what was originally suggested to us by management, and that was doing a final WEEK of shows. In the end, the three of us agreed that doing a whole week would be too hard on us emotionally, that the show would essentially be viewed as a ‘dead man walking’ and after weighing all the rammifications of doing a week versus just one day, we decided one day was all we had it us. When we were informed on Friday May 27th that Canada AM was being cancelled, the plan related to us was to tell the staff the following Friday, then do a week of goodbye shows. But following a weekend to absorb and process the cancellation news, Bev, Marci and I agreed that one day was all we could do. Our counter-proposal was suggested to our boss Nanci McLean, who informed us she had to run it by upper management. She did, they accepted, we were all bound by a confidentiality agreement, and then, on one day’s notice, not a week, came the announcement of the cancellation of Canada AM. Again, this was a host decision to do one day, as outlined in my previous blog.

The rest, as far as Canada Am goes, is history. As I’ve also stated here before, Bellmedia had to cancel the show before the “Upfronts” or fall launch which was scheduled for the middle of the following week. This is the event where networks announce their new fall line-up to advertisers. They clearly had decided months earlier they did not want a Canada AM on the air when they announced the new morning show, “Your Morning”. After 43 years Canada AM was cancelled June 2nd, the final show was June 3rd and the public backlash was considerable, and still continues in bits and pieces to this day. But the first week was Niagara like..very little of it positive. In the face of all this, Bellmedia decided to put out a press release on Monday June 6th announcing the new show. Once again, much of the reaction wasn’t positive. I’ve always thought this quick announcement was a mistake because Canada AM viewers were still angry, frustrated and grieving, and such a quick replacement announcement cleary didn’t sit well with tens of thousands of viewers.

Cue the bus. In a Canadian Press story released June 6th, written by Lauren La Rose, and published in many papers, and even on the CTV website, the new show was announced, with many quotes from the President of Entertainment Production and Broadcasting for Bell Media, Mr. Randy Lennox. In the article, Mr. Lennox indicated the three Canada AM hosts had known for a ‘period of time’ about the looming changes. Then he was quoted as saying this. “Our hosts were the ones that made the decision to have one final episode rather than, for example..a weeklong celebration”
This is the next line of the article..
“When asked why CTV didn’t publicly disclose that the Canada AM team didn’t want an extended goodbye, Lennox said he had to ‘respect the wishes’ of those affected”
And the next line..
“I would be remiss to tell people what to do, said Lennox, “I’m a listener, and I listened to what they felt was appropriate for an elegant transition and then we conducted ourselves according”

So to recap, in the most emotional time of my broadcast career, and after days of gut wrenching and vast soul searching, a decision was made for a ‘one’ day goodbye and this decision was agreed to by all concerned, including, I assume Mr. Lennox, and would be bound by confidentiality, to, ironicaly, in the words of the ‘published’ article, “respect the wishes” of those affected. I was livid at reading this article, and on the CTV news website no less! I fired a memo off to Nanci McLean, indicating it was my understanding we were all on the same page about our anxiety of doing a final week of shows, and it was my understanding she supported our decision and respected our feelings on the issue. Most of all, it was our understanding we were all on the same page.

When I saw the words in the article referring to a “weeklong celebration of shows”, I knew that portion of the article was reaching out to the thousands of viewers who wondered why the show was cancelled so abrupty, and it was clear to me, the blame was being shifted from cancelling a show that had aired for 43 years, to a host decision to do a one show finale. It’s also clear to me that Bellmedia respected our wishes about how the show ended, until the backlash from the cancellation became overwhelming and began to ‘bruise’ the launch of the new morning show. It’s never a good thing when the show you just cancelled gets more publicity than the show you just announced. In addition, media response to the cancellation of Canada AM was clearly slanted against Bellmedia. So, in the face of all this, it became easy to assign the blame to us, when no blame should have been assigned at all.

This is the last line of my e-mail..
“I am beyond disappointed and in a state of disbelief that CTV felt it necessary to disparage and disrespect my 40 year career and loyalty by assigning blame to the hosts of Canada AM when we had been led to believe all had signed off on our decision to have a one day goodbye”

I had never met Mr. Lennox, he had never been in the Canada AM offices and had never visited our studio to my knowledge, in his short tenure at the top. But five short minutes after writing the e-mail to Nanci McLean, my phone rang, and it wasn’t Nanci, it was Mr. Lennox. He asked me how I was and I said “not to good”. I outlined my concerns to him, and he told me at that point he couldn’t really say much because he hadn’t read the story. He did say, that he did not say the things I quoted to him in the article, and that the only thing he recalled saying was praising the show and what it had accomplished over the years. I now know this is not true, and that the quotes in the Canadian Press story were accurate. He said that he was going to get in touch with the CTV communications team to see how the story came out the way it did, and that he would get back to me later that night. He did. Four hours later he called me back, said he had read the article and reassured me had not been properly quoted and that he understood why I was upset. I now know this is not true and I’ll repeat the Canadian Press statement here regarding the quotes given my Mr. Randy Lennox.. “The Canadian Press says the quotes are accurate” And that was the last time I spoke to Mr. Lennox. I remained shocked and gutted by what was written, because at the end of the day, what was written was true and Ms. La Rose reported accurately what she told. My theory that we had been purposely thrown under the bus is now hard to deny.

This past week, while at Cabot, I read a story about the launch of the new show, and in that story, taken again from the Canadian Press, the quote from June 6th referring to the hosts of Canada AM knowing about the demise of the show for a ‘period of time’ was used again. I thought, first, why bring that up again, and second, the quote was meaningless the first time, just as it is in this story, so what’s the point? This whole episode was fading back in the recesses of my mind, only to be brought out again, not because it was included in the CP story, but because it was said in the first place. Oh, and by the way, I never heard back from the CTV communications team.

Twitter: @jeffhutcheson
Instagram: jeff.hutcheson
Representation: Dan Champagne

Cabot it is…

As many of you know, my decision to leave Canada AM was made in June of 2015, and was known to staff, family and friends from that date forward. It wasn’t until May of this year I made the ‘formal’ announcement. When I would tell people I was retiring in the months following my decision, they would say to me “is this a secret?”, to which I always answered “’s not a secret, it just hasn’t been made public yet.” Such is life waiting for the ‘powers that be’ to give you the green light to share. At the end of the day, I was very happy with the May date to announce I was leaving.

Heather and I began discussing a ‘retirement trip’, probably, at the beginning of summer last year. I knew I wanted to go somewhere and do something special. We tossed around a lot of ideas. Greece had always been on the list, Italy had always been on the list, would we go back to Scotland or visit Ireland together for the first time? We gave it a lot of thought. What about Canada you say? Well, as you know, I’ve travelled back and forth across this land many, many times. And Heather and I have been able to see a lot of the country together as well. We’ve been to Yellowknife, Whistler, Vancouver, Fernie, St. John’s, Halifax, Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Montreal, Lunenburg, Moncton, Gros Morne/Humber Valley, Ontario’s cottage country, Kingston, Winnipeg and the list goes on. I must say a Canadian stop wasn’t even in the thinking process early on.

Last August, we made our 4th consecutive trip to Inverness Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, to stay at Cabot Links. We love playing golf, and I had been intrigued from the word go since reading about about a new ‘links style’ golf course being built on the site of an old mine in Inverness some 7 years ago. So, we decided to go the year it opened, and have returned yearly ever since. In that time, Cabot has expanded from one course, called Cabot Links, to add a second course called Cabot Cliffs, which ‘officially’ opened this year, but was available for ‘preview’ play on our visit last summer. The “Cliffs’ was recently named by Golf Digest, the bible of golf, as the 19th best course…in the world!

But for us, the yearly trips to Inverness and Cabot were much more than a golf trip. Much more. We absolutely fell in love with the area. The old town of Inverness is being resusitated by the golf course, jobs are being created and things are hopping again in the summer. The beach adjacent to the golf course is spectacular, and booming again. We love sitting on the balcony of our room watching the sunset over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We love going to the little ice cream shop at the top of the driveway to the course. There’s a great burger shack at the beach. ( although burgers and ice cream are now on the outs for me!) You can get in your car and drive the Cabot Trail, which is some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. You can also hop in your car and take a 10 minute trip to Mabou where one of the Rankins just might be playing the Red Shoe Pub. And yes, the golf is everything as advertised and more. Two of the best golf courses in the country, and two of the top 100 IN THE WORLD, right there. There are many definitions of ‘links’ style golf courses, and many courses use the term ‘links’ in their name. But the actual term ‘links’ comes from Scotland and is used to describe an area where the land and sea are joined by a rough, grassy area. In this case, and, as is the case with many courses in Scotland, that ‘rough grassy area’ is moulded into a golf course, while keeping the integrity of the land intact. Cabot Links is the only true golf ‘links’ in Canada that fits the ancient Scottish definition. For those who golf, the courses do a wonderful job of maintaining the true tradition of the game. Walking only, caddies are recommended, here, golf is NEVER a nice walk spoiled!

Most of all, to us, Cabot and Inverness are about the people. Just try and find someone who’s grumpy…it’s impossible! We’ve made great friends simply by returning year after year, you know, the type who remember your name even though you may only have met once or twice. The type that can’t seem to want to do enough for you, but know when enough is enough. They type that are having a sunny day, even though it’s pouring rain. The type that make you fudge and have it mysteriously delivered to your room. The type memories are made of.

So, you know where all of this is leading. Last August we were sitting on our balcony, watching yet another sunset when it hit me. This was the place to come on my retirement trip. We could spend Canadian dollars, we could drive there, and that’s what we decided to do. I put the call out to some of my close friends, those who have made an impact on me in my life,and my career, to join us for a few days, and that plan fell into place nicely as well. So, tomorrow, it’s off for 9 days of bliss at Cabot Links, and if we’re lucky, Andrew, the GM, will point us in the direction of that square dance he reluctantly went to last year, and now can’t stop talking about. And, that my friends, is why we love it!

I may be blog free for a while on this trip but you can follow me on twitter or instagram if you like..
jeff.hutcheson is my instagram address

..and in the blatant plug department, here’s the information of my Scenic Canada Danube river cruise next May..the original Rhine cruise sold out in less than 25 days, , but there’s still room on this one..!

Twitter: @jeffhutcheson
Instagram: jeff.hutcheson
Representation: Dan Champagne

That’s a Merry-Go-Round you idiot…!

In my 40 years of broadcasting, I witnessed a lot of change, and for the first 30 years or so, most of it was of the technical variety. When I started in the business in 1976, everything was shot on film, and you had to record your ‘voice over’ on an audio tape, and then the film was cut by listening to that tape. You then hoped it matched by the time it got to air. From there, video tape made its way into the business, and from there digital recording came along. It took about 30 years for all that to happen. Now, you can use your phone to get close to the same result, and I did in France a couple of years ago, and it was awful hard to tell the difference between what I shot on my phone and our $70,000 camera. ( I know cameramen everywhere just fainted! )

But the biggest change in terms of being a viewer, and being on TV is social media. For years, broadcasters had sought out ways to become more ‘in touch’ with their audience. For the longest time, actual handwritten or typed letters were the only way to communicate with a radio or television host, or program manager or producer. Then, you had to hope your letter was, at the very least, read. Although I will say, in every place I’ve worked, all mail was treated seriously and answered if signed. With the advent of e-mail, it became easier for you to contact someone, but only if you knew their ‘actual’ e-mail address. Most shows, like Canada AM, had a generic ‘address’ ( ), which one person read and forwarded to the person involved. It always bothered me that as an ‘on air’ person, the gatekeeper was instructed to sent all e-mail that was disparaging in anyway to the boss, to, I guess, ‘protect’ the feelings of the ‘talent’. You knew when something controversial was said or done, and you didn’t hear about it, the gatekeeper of e-mail was doing their job!

One thing about e-mail is that it could ‘collect’ in an in-box before being read, or at the very least, you always knew who it was from and what the subject was and could chose to ‘put-off’ reading for a while. But Twitter and Facebook changed all that..mostly for the better. Comments became public instantly, and we used this to our advantage a lot. Bev or Marci or I would muse about something on air, and within seconds, one of our viewers had an answer. As Canada AM was supposed to do, we provoked thought with many of our segments and dialogue with viewers opened instantly. If you liked something, you told us. If you didn’t like something, you told us. If you had a question, you asked us. If you had a suggestion, you passed it along. And during our meetings about show content, social media reaction played a role in the decision making process.

I had put ‘social media’ on my blogging list almost from the start. I used to joke at work that sometimes I was getting a little tired of all our ‘micro-managers’, that is, those whose sole purpose on social media was the catch mistakes, and immediately correct and belittle a person for that mistake. And these come in many forms. The banter between the three of us was never scripted. Ever. Having said that, we have all corrected ourselves when realizing we had mis-spoke. There is a difference between a mistake, of which I made many, and mis-speaking, the result of processing things in a live format and making comment that you believe to be correct, or, as happened many times, had no idea you said the wrong thing.

I remember one time, I was talking about the ‘chase the ace’ draw in my beloved Inverness Nova Scotia. Full disclosure. I love this place. I have vacationed at Cabot Links there the past four years and will be going there again in a week for my ‘retirement trip’. Heather and I love the people, the area, the scenery, the tradition, the music, the whole package. One day, while talking about this draw, I inadvertantly said ‘Invermere’ Nova Scotia instead of Inverness. Clearly, I knew the difference, but mis-spoke. Well, the twitter response was fast and furious. “How can you be on a show called ‘CANADA’ AM when you don’t even know it’s Inverness”. “Jeff needs a geography lesson, he should know the country better than that. He’s embarassing himself”. These came within seconds, and the people writing them clearly knew we were talking about Inverness and not Invermere, but they felt compelled to point out mistakes. Whenever one of the three of us would make a mistake, one of the others, or a crew member would point it out and we would make the correction as soon as we could. We were always open to that.
The above is an example of what was happening, almost instantly, for years. Keep in mind, this was a very small fraction of comments and responses that came in, less than 1%, but it was the same 1% over and over and over. And many times a correction was made before our ‘micro-managers’ could even get to us.

And, those same people didn’t stop at mistakes. We posted a photo of me sitting in my office a while back, and I’m not sure what the situation was that we posted it, but I know Producer Jen took it and I liked the shot. So did most of you, but I’m guessing that’s because you didn’t see the Coke bottles. Yep, two, plastic Coke bottles could be seen in the shot, if you looked hard enough, and perhaps squinted.
The tweet was almost immediate. “Drinking that much Coke isn’t good for you and is probably why you’re so large”. (..that actually hurt because at this point I had lost 30 pounds!). I haven’t had a drink of Coke in over 30 years. My soft drinks of the Coke and Pepsi variety are all diet. Those two Coke bottles, you could hardly see in the shot, had the names of two of my kids on them. You remember when Coke was putting bottles out with peoples names on the label, and I was trying to collect my kids names. That’s why they were there, in the shot, and apparently, by osmosis, making me fat.

Earlier this week I posted a lovely picture at the top of this blog and on Twitter and Instagram of Heather and I launching a Chinese lantern at dusk on Simcoe Island. The photo was perfect, the colour great and it was a lovely moment for us. It was a still night and the lantern floated away..over Lake Ontario. Most of you thought it was a lovely moment too, which is why I share such peeks of my personal life. However…. “that’s how the Fort McMurray fire started”…”isn’t there a fire ban in SE Ontario”…”the metal ring around the lantern becomes debris in the water.” Point is, the photo will likely end up on the wall in our den, and most people saw the beauty of that photo. What is it about some people that makes them the boss of the rest of us? Why have some people annointed themselves the social media police? I know it’s the need to feel they have some significant worth, why else engage in any other way except to share my joy over a great photo. What is the point in trying to ruin it? As my friend, and golf writer, John Gordon said..’Haters gonna hate”.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, as much as this may sound like complaining, it’s not. What it is, is me pointing out ‘part of the territory’. I’ve been getting hate mail, hate e-mail, hate phone calls and hate tweets my entire career. I’m not looking to have a pity party or anything like that. I recognize ‘one-agenda’ people when I see them, and quite frankly, for most, when you engage back it stops. And, you totally discount those anonymous trolls who are so cowardly they hide behind a made up name. This practise has been experienced by everyone I know who is an ‘on-air’ type, so by no means is it exclusive to any one person. Also be aware we appreciate the support of the hundreds and hundreds who have come to our defense many times!

I was doing a show in Honfleur France last May. I was standing in front of a 140 year old historic merry-go-round, or carousel, and thought it would look good in one of my ‘opening’ shots. Bev and Marci threw to me from the studio in Toronto and I mentioned where I was and that the ferris wheel behind me was 140 years old, and still operating today and threw it back to them.

Did you just catch where I mis-spoke???

I immediately looked at my producer and said “I bet someone has corrected me on this already”. I got to my phone, and yep, less than 20 seconds, 20 seconds(!) after I said it, this tweet..”that’s not a ferris wheel, it’s a merry-go-round you idiot.” Yes, I stand corrected!

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On Instagram: jeff.hutcheson
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Representation: Dan Champagne


I just love the above photo of Heather and I releasing a Chinese lantern at dusk at our friend’s cottage on Simcoe Island, directly across the water from Kingston. These biodegradable lanterns are a bit trickly to get to the position you see here, but we were able to light the fuel cell without setting the rest on fire and flip it over for launching. The lantern then uses the heat and rise about 4 or 5 hundred feet in the air, maybe more, before extinguishing. We had a calm, crystal clear night for this and it really was a cool thing to see. Cabot Links should stand by for some launcing action in the near future!!

As I mentioned last week, yesterday was the day we drove my car to PEI from Kingston. After spending the weekend just outside Parry Sound and then a few days at my friend Mac’s cottage we were set to roll. I certainly realize there are lots of people who make a drive like this all the time, but for us, it was the first lenghty drive in a long time. About 7 years ago, Heather and I drove to Montreal in one day, went to Ikea the next morning and loaded up our SUV with 7 items, and drove back to PEI. We made it Montreal from New Haven PEI, where we lived at the time, in about 11 hours, but on the way back added at least an hour, because there was so much weight in the back it felt like the front of the vehicle wasn’t even touching the road! To add to that adventure, we were trying to get home before Hurricane Bill was forcast to have an impact on the Maritimes. It was August of 2009, and Bill just brushed the shore of Nova Scotia, but we got home safely before the wind and rain from the storm began to buffet PEI.

In my mind I had this trip figured out to about 14 hours. When I blogged about this last week, many of you thought I was nuts and that it was going to take 16 or 17 hours, but Google maps showed the distance as 1440 kilometres so I was hopeful. It was up and out by 6.10am yesterday morning for a boat ride back to the Kingston side, and then we headed out with a gas/food/coffee stop just before the 401. We hit the 401 at Kingston at 6.44am and arrived in PEI at 9.16pm for a total of 13 hours and 32 minutes. Now, before you go, ‘what about the time change of an hour forward”, we didn’t reset the clock in the car until we got home so we left and arrived in eastern time. We did the drive, which turned out to be 1435 kilometres, in just three stops. The first, just inside the Quebec border where Highway 401 changes to Highway 20. This was about 2 hours into the trip and at that point I wasn’t taking it as a good omen. I had hoped to be well away from Montreal on the south shore for the first stop. But when you have to go you have to go!!

It had been probably 16 years since I last made the drive to PEI, so at that time, you had to drive into Montreal proper and then head south. Now, I discover this wonderful Hwy 30 which is a complete by-pass of Montreal on the south side and then links back up with Hwy 20 for your run to Quebec City. We went from the pit stop at the Ontario-Quebec border all the way to just south of Riviere du Loop before we stopped again, and that was our longest haul of the day. From there it was on to New Brunswick and our final stop later just outside Fredericton. I hit the Confederation Bridge in daylight, which was somewhat of a goal of mine on the trip and in fact, it was just at dusk when we got home.

Having flown back and forth for the past dozen years, it was nice to make the drive again. But, not nice enough that I would want to make a habit of it!

Twitter: @jeffhutcheson
Instagram: jeff.hutcheson
Representation: Dan Champagne

“A Proper Goodbye”..what is that?

In the days and weeks following the end of Canada AM, I spent a lot of time reading viewer comments about the demise of the show. There were several thousand, and ‘several’ might be low, on the still operating Canada AM Facebook page,(at least at the time of this writing) and this blog has logged well over 1000 ‘comments’ and e-mail thoughts as well since I first published on June 6th, and I thank you for that! I have approved every comment, meaning I’ve read every one and I also read all the e-mails. I would love to respond, and maybe, in time, I will. The point is I have been focused on what you, the viewer thought, and not so much on what was written in the media about our ending.

In the past little while however, I have taken the time to google stories about the end of the show from various sources, and those stories, and many of your comments seem to echo a similiar thought. And that is, why wasn’t the show given an opportunity for “a proper goodbye”. A proper goodbye. What is that? Losing Canada AM was not the same as, say, David Letterman saying goodbye. He was retiring. He wasn’t cancelled. And he announced a year in advance the date of his final show. Losing Canada AM was not the same as the Los Angeles Lakers losing Kobe Bryant. He was retiring, and announced a year in advance that this was to be his final season. There’s still an LA Lakers, just no Kobe. Lloyd Robertson announced a year in advance that he was stepping down from the CTV National News, he was retiring from reading the news, but the News wasn’t cancelled. Even going back to Johnny Carson ( kids, you’ll have to look that one up), he announced a year in advance that he was retiring, not that The Tonight Show was being cancelled. There are many instances of the ‘farewell’ tour scenerio out there, and the whole ‘goodbye tour’ aspect of things, to me, is based on someone leaving after a long tenure on a show, but not leaving because a show with 43 years of ‘legs’ was cancelled.

I’ve read that some felt we should have been given ‘the summer’ to say goodbye. Some felt we should have done a couple of weeks of ‘goodbye’ shows, or at the very least, and this seems to be the most popular, a week of ‘goodbye’ shows. I think all these scenerio’s forget one thing. We were all gobsmacked by the cancellation, hurt and saddened as I’ve outlined here. I’m telling you the very most I could do was one final show. Anything more than that would have required some pretty good acting, and I worried about it a lot in a short period of time, to the point that I thought I’d actually have to ‘fake’ my feelings if it were more than one send-off show.

Originally the plan was to have a final week of shows. When we were informed of the cancellation on Friday May 20th, the suggestion from management was to tell the staff the following Friday, May 27th, and then do a final week of shows from May 30th to June 3rd. I left that meeting about 9.30am, in shock, and tried to process and digest the news and the plan. It wasn’t easy.

I got on a flight and flew home and shared the news with Heather, as my non-disclosure document allowed me to do. I spoke to Marci and Producer Jen MacLean that night, but did not touch base with Bev. I personally had a pit in my stomach at the prospect of doing a final week, when everyone watching would know it’s the final week, and the phrase ‘dead man walking’ kept coming into my head. Emotionally, I was pretty sure I couldn’t do a whole week. This was the long weekend in May and as I was getting ready to fly back to Toronto Monday I got a text from Bev. One thing led to another and pretty soon the three of us were in agreement that a one day final show would be what we would be comfortable with. This was relayed to Nanci MacLean, our boss, and by early Tuesday afternoon, it was relayed to us that upper Bellmedia management was on board with our wishes. Thus, the new plan, as devastating as it would be to both staff and viewers, was to inform staff on Thursday June 2nd that the final show would be the next day, and a press release would go out the minute staff was told, and it did.

There is no way to sugar coat the cancellation of the show to staff or viewers, we knew it and management knew it. Would anyone have been less disappointed if you knew a week in advance the show was being axed? Your emails would have just begun 7 days sooner I suspect. We did think about doing a final week, don’t get me wrong. We had a lot to celebrate, and Marci said it best when she told me she was ‘proud of what we’d done.” That statement was hard to ignore. Very hard to ignore. But at the end of the day, we had settled on just one day, and we felt “a proper goodbye” is what we delivered.

Twitter: @jeffhutcheson
Instagram: jeff.hutcheson
Representation: Dan Champagne

My Car is in to the rescue..

This is a travel day for Heather and me. We’re hopping on board the early Westjet flight from Charlottetown to Toronto to get my car and drive it back in PEI from Ontario. I left the car in Toronto when I officially moved to PEI back on June 14th, but because I was able to think, and yes, overthink the situation, I knew last January my plan to get the vehicle home. If you’ve never made the drive from Toronto to Charlottetown, it’s about 1700 kilometres, or about 450 kilometres shorter than if you were driving from Toronto to Tampa. So with the magic of a one hour time change, we will land in Toronto at 8am, and from there it’s off…to Parry Sound Ontario, and for those keeping score, the home of Bobby Orr. ( who we’re not expecting to be home.)

I’m heading there to take part in the West Parry Sound Health Centre golf fundraiser at the wonderful Ridge at Manitou. So, we’ll get up, fly those 1700 kilometres, then get in the car and drive about 250 kilometres almost directly north to my friends cottage on Lake Manitouwabing and settle in for a couple of nights. I believe we have a 1.30 tee time today, sort of a practise round, which is code for the round where you reunite with friends and take partake of several beverages during the round because you’re not driving. The tournament itself is Saturday. I will say the organizers here are brilliant, with the event not starting until the early afternoon to afford extra time shake off the day before, which is code for..I think I could be nursing a hangover in the morning.

On Sunday morning we’ll get up as early as we can, which is code for, hoping to not have a repeat of Friday on Saturday, and head out. We’ll make the 475 kilometre drive to another friend’s cottage near Kingston and settle in for a couple of nights. From Kingston back to Charlottetown is about 1400 kilometres, and we’ll ‘try’ to head out early on Tuesday morning, and that’s code for, depending on how much fun we have, and I’m expecting ‘a lot, will actually determine on the time we leave!

We hope to make the trip back home in one day. It’s pretty much four lane highways the whole way and I think we can do it in about 13-14 hours. If you’ve made the drive, you know there is no real ‘as the crow flies’ route and if we have to we’ll stop on Tuesday night and get home Wednesday. Did I ever tell you about the time Heather and I drove to Montreal in one day to go to IKEA?

By the way, I’m on instagram now at jeff.hutcheson so feel free to hop on board, and if you missed out on my Scenic Luxury Tours ‘Bon Voyage’ river cruise on the Rhine next summer,( the whole boat sold out in 25 days ) you might want to check out my twitter feed on Monday. You can find me @jeffhutcheson Have a great weekend!

Twitter: @jeffhutcheson
Instagram: jeff.hutcheson
Representation: Dan Champagne