Finally watching some ( Your ) Morning TV and looking ahead to ‘Tierra’ firma!

And, hello again.   Been a while, I know, but sometimes life just gets in the way, or you get lazy.  In my case, it’s a little of both I guess!

So first up.   The question I get asked the most, can now finally be answered.  It’s been 21 months since I retired and Canada AM was cancelled.  I continue to appreciate all the kind and wonderful comments I get about people missing the show, and I know Bev and Marci are both constantly running into loyal Canada AM fans as well.   Most, ask me if I have seen Your Morning.  Until recently, the answer was no.  I have stated that I was disappointed in the cancellation of Canada AM because I thought I would be able to continue to watch Bev, Marci and the gang in my retirement.  Now, I’m not sure I would have. I say that because my lifestyle has changed so much.  I just don’t get up at the crack of dawn, and I just haven’t turned the TV on in the mornings like I first imagined I would.

I’ve now seen Your Morning several times.  Most of my veiwings were in the last month or so.  Before I go on,  I will say I tuned into Your Morning on October 2nd of last year and came away disappointed. ( stick with me here ) It was the morning after the Las Vegas shooting, and when I tuned in to check out their coverage, it wasn’t even the lead story, or any story, in their 8.30, eastern time, newscast, yet, a reminder to check the batteries in your smoke detector was included.  After the newscast, there was an interview about the shooting. The reason I found this odd is because Canada AM thrived on ‘breaking’ news.  Our numbers reflected the fact Canadians tuned in to us for ‘breaking’ information.  The US networks, and CBC, were ‘wall to wall’ on the shooting at this point.  I don’t know the reasoning behind Your Morning programming.  I do know, on that day, I was surprised at what I saw, or didn’t see.  BUT…

Once I got into a bit of a morning routine and decided to turn on the TV more, I must admit, I find harmony with what Canada AM was then, and what  Your Morning is now.  In fact, I believe if there had been a smoother transition plan from old to new,  the show could still be called Canada AM.  Canada AM was a ‘brand’.  It had a reputation.  It had trust, it had tradition, it had brand loyalty.  These things aren’t acquired overnight, but it’s a process that takes years to build.  The show I’m seeing now has new faces, new energy and a new look, but 21 months later, it’s still basically Canada AM.  Not a bad thing.

Like any new show, Your Morning had to ‘find its way’.  It wasn’t easy.  It was heavily criticized by some in the media in the early going.  I think it went to air still deciding what it was trying to be.  As you are aware, this show is not run by CTV News, but by the production department at Bellmedia.  The same folks who produce ‘The Social’, ‘Marilyn’, and ‘Etalk’, among others.  These are all very successful shows in their own right.  One thing the production team had never tackled though, was morning television.  It’s a completely different animal, and while they likely wouldn’t admit this, and perhaps admonish me for suggesting it, their belief that the ‘Etalk’ type crowd, a younger demographic, would watch their new morning show proved to be an early mistake. Today’s generation ‘streams’ TV shows,  make, and watch, their own content, and don’t stick to any kind of TV schedule.  I also told the story in these pages about the head of production telling me, point blank, she’d never seen Canada AM shortly after that division’s takeover of the show. ( by the way, I still have contacts that have supplied ratings information, so I’m aware of the early struggles of the show).

One of the early problems faced by Your Morning was its’ launch.  It was announced just three days after the cancellation of Canada AM.  The reaction to the cancellation completely overshadowed the announcment of the new show.  It didn’t get the positive news coverage it needed at the time, because the Canada AM audience was upset.  I also don’t think there was an understanding that the new show needed the old Canada AM audience for a ‘base’.  Once they lost them, and a new younger demographic didn’t show up, en masse, there was ratings trouble.

I think, if Bellmedia had kept the Canada AM name,  some of the Canada AM viewers would have stuck around.  It didn’t have to be such a shock to the viewer’s system.  I was retiring.  While Bev and Marci were completely gobsmacked at the time, both have now settled into wonderful new roles.  Bev on CTV Newschannel, which provides her an opportunity to sleep in past ‘stupid o’clock’,  which I think she loves, and Marci becoming a staple on The Social. ( a show thats’ ratings have gone up since Marci arrived ) In addition, Marci and her business partner are getting ready to launch a new shoe line in March.  This couldn’t be a more natural business for Marc to get into and her company will be successful, I know it.  Would this exciting new life path have opened up if Marci was still on morning TV?  I don’t know, but I’m guessing her new career path opened the door to this, and all the other great humanitarian work she continues to do.

Change is inevitable.  If there had been a transition to the new hosts during the course of the summer months of 2016, loyal viewers may have raised a stink, but at the end of the day, they would still be watching Canada AM.  I think that was the biggest obstacle to overcome.  Hindsight is 20-20.  But a summer of transition, three months, would have afforded the chance for a nice send off to the leaving hosts, and a chance to gradually welcome the new ones.  The Today show carried on nicely after the audience was stunned at the sudden departure of Matt Lauer,  and while I’m not suggesting this change was on that level, I am suggesting the viewers accepted the change.

As for Your Morning?  It’s really Canada AM 2.0. now.  I have seen a remote from Winterlude, complete with cooking segment with the chef from the Chateau Laurier, and a visit to the Diefenbunker.  ( I only bring this up as I did all three! ) I have seen great news hits, cooking segments, entertainment,  host banter and opinion, a fresh look at the weather, remotes and taped pieces highlighting people and places in this great county,  and, I have seen talented broadcasters.  All the same things I saw on Canada AM.  I have also seen the behind the scenes work, clearly on display, of those Canada AM staffers who joined the new show.  In short, I don’t know why so many people tell me they can’t watch it, or find it unwatchable.  I completely disagree.  It’s morning television,  it looks awful familiar, it’s clearly getting more comfortable,  and that’s a good thing to the audience they need to sustain.

So,  on to other things…. I had a wonderful arrangement  last year and hosted three river cruises, all of them chalk full of Canada AM fans.  It was the Danube in May, the Rhine in August and the Mekong in November.  I don’t know if you’ve ever done a trip with a group of people that you didn’t know going in,  but on all three occasions fast friends were made quickly because the entire ship had two things going for it right from the get go.  First, we were all Canadian.  Second, we were all fans of Canada AM!  For me, it was the chance to meet almost 360 new friends and I loved every minute of it.   And, happily for me, that’s not the end of it..

I have a new travel arrangement with Tierra Tours, a division of the Vision Travel Group.    I’m excited, not only about this deal, but to be part of such a great travel team, offering a world wide menu.   Over the course of the next three years, we’ll have several opportunites to travel together, starting with a 12 day trip to Ireland in August.  Heather will be joining me for this one, and I’ll include the Tierra website to check out the itinerary at the bottom of this blog.  It’s jam packed, includes castles, the Titanic, Belfast, Cliffs and Giants, Dublin, Cork,  and, since it’s Ireland, a pint or two of Guinness! ( and other beverages found in great Irish pubs!) Space on this tour is limited compared to the cruises, so the sooner you check it out the better.  I have a couple of other trips in the offing, but we haven’t released these yet, but rest assured I am getting a tee shirt printed up that will rightly state “world traveller”!  Hope you can join me on one of these great adventures..

The winter here in PEI has been fairly tame so far.  Heather and I went to Florida for a getaway in January,  and I’m just back from staying with my adorable friends, Paul and Sue,  in Venice Florida, where I managed to get in 5 rounds of golf in eight days.  Florida has experienced some very cold weather this year, in fact 10 days before I headed south,  they woke up to a temperature of ZERO in Venice Florida, but, thankfully I hit the weather jackpot during my stay.

Great to be writing again, I hope I can keep it up!

Tierra Tours info:

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