Paul Houde is not bitter, he is not angry.
But the radio man who has 47 years of experience on the counter is still “surprised” that the management of Cogeco decided not to officially announce that things stopped there for him after fifteen years on the waves of 98.5 FM.
I am confused. Given my long career, being told that we are not going to publish a press release to announce this, I admit that it surprised me.
It is therefore he who had to write a press release in which he confirms that he will host his last show on June 19. “With management wanting to reorient their weekend morning programming, I respect that decision,” he wrote.
He respects this decision, but he has trouble understanding what justifies it. “We made spectacular leaps in the polls. We are not unaware that it is Radio-Canada which dominates the weekend. But in three years, we managed to multiply by three or even by five the market shares. We are now second after Radio-Canada, enough for her to look over her shoulder. »
At the end of the day on Friday, Christine Dicaire, director of communications at Cogeco, wrote to me: “Indeed the 98.5 has decided to review the programming of its weekends. The rest will be announced in the coming weeks. […] For the moment we would like to thank Paul for his work over the past 15 years and we confirm our common interest in collaborating over the next few years. »
Paul Houde learned a few weeks ago that his bosses were not going to extend his contract. “I had a firm three-year agreement and two option years,” he told me during an interview on Friday afternoon. They decided not to avail themselves of those two years. I kept that to myself, because it’s no fun for a team to go to work when there’s a long time to go. »
Paul Houde is at the helm of Weekends by Paul Houde since the fall of 2019. Before that, he hosted from 2007 the shows Montreal now and Quebec now. Always for the same company, it was morning man at Rhythm FM. It is therefore a big name from Cogeco that is leaving the ship.
“Everyone knows this illness that afflicts me, that of numbers. On May 4, I’ve been doing radio for 47 years. It’s not a pretty number. I want to get to 50.”
Paul Houde remains proud of the tone he managed to give to his show during these three years marked by the pandemic. “We realized fairly quickly that people wanted to hear about other things. We decided to tackle subjects that affect people’s daily lives. Immediately, the listeners joined. This is the first time in my entire career that I have felt listeners as close as this. »
I really liked the presence of Paul Houde on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I had the opportunity to write it. In the company of his great accomplice Thérèse Parisien, as well as Jérémie Rainville, Kathrine Huet and Stéphane Boucher, he approached all sorts of subjects with rigor, but never taking himself seriously.
Paul Houde has always made me laugh. If this guy were to be an object, he’d probably be a yellow highlighter pen. His way of emphasizing words and ideas makes him a communicator that is a pleasure to listen to.
His erudition, his manic side for statistics, dates and sports results, all of this is put forward without ever an ounce of pretension. It’s rare these days.
I have a few friends who have had the chance to work with him and all of them have told me what a pleasant and generous comrade he is. Thérèse Parisien, who has been one of the pillars of 98.5 FM since its creation in 2004, multiplies the praise when it comes time to talk about her colleague.
“God, I enjoy working with him. Over time, we have developed a relationship where I am a bit of a stooge. I’m a natural blunderer, so he has a field day. »
Paul Houde and Thérèse Parisien started working together at CKAC in the early 1990s. “We’re not the type to hang out off the air. But sometimes he shows up at my house with his RV. He tries to park somewhere and he gets angry. With him, it’s always fun. »
Thérèse Parisien had informed the management of 98.5 FM of her decision not to return to the air next fall. The one who underwent a serious operation last fall wants to enjoy life. “I have friends who are sick and I watch what is happening around me. When I learned about Michel Côté, it gave me a big boost. For all these reasons, I want to have time for myself. »
Paul Houde wants to be clear on one thing: this departure does not mark the beginning of his retirement. “That would be stupid,” said the 67-year-old host.
I feel that I am at my maximum mental and physical energy. Radio has been the main part of my life. I remain deeply a man of radio.
This hard worker is preparing a series of 10 programs on America. He is regularly invited to various sets and has two other projects in the works. This Saturday morning, he will address his listeners, because he thinks of them first. And to his team members.
“There are things in life that are far more important than our respective futures. But I still want to say that I will miss the moments of intimacy that I had with the listeners and my colleagues terribly. »
The departure of Paul Houde adds to the many others announced recently. This week, the management of ICI Première informed us that Michel Lacombe was leaving this institution to which he was faithful for fifty years. His close interviews were an asset for this channel. His questions always carried fragments of his vast culture.
The end of The evening is (still) young and of The more the merrier, the more we read disrupts the schedule of ICI Première. Other changes or departures are undoubtedly to be expected. In short, it seems that the days of the director of programming, Sylvie Julien, have been busy for a few months.
On the Quebec side, we learned of the departure of Claude Bernatchez, host of the morning show on ICI Première. After many years of having to get up early, the number one in the Old Capital wanted to move on. Having been a cultural columnist on the morning show in Ottawa, I can tell you that the alarm clock ringing at 3 a.m. in the middle of the night, especially in January, is the worst sound a human wants to hear. .
We don’t know what the future holds for Claude Bernatchez, but it would be a shame if the management of Montreal missed out on this fine talent.
We should not forget Pierre Therrien, who, after 40 years at Radio-Canada, left ICI Musique. And Jacques Fabi, the “beacon in the night” of 98.5 FM, who has decided to retire.
Each year, radio seasons are marked by departures, schedule changes and new hires. I, who have been following the world of radio for many years, can tell you that this spring is very special.
Are these the effects of the pandemic? Obviously, a lot of people have had time to reflect over the past few months. Hence this incredible bubbling.