Last night, Barbara Budd, the longtime co-host of CBC Radio One’s As It Happens, said she was leaving the show on April 30.
And then it came out today that it wasn’t her decision.
Later she told the Star, “The CBC is always trying to make things better, its programs are always evolving, and after 40 years they want As It Happens to grow.
“I don’t fit in with that plan.”
Budd, a veteran co-host and host of the program since 1993, admitted in an emotional interview Monday that the decision by CBC Radio management came as a shock.
“I was surprised, but I understand their reasons. I would never have willingly walked away from a show I loved with all my heart, even years before I became a part of it.
“Change is difficult for listeners, viewers and readers, as the media world evolves. But change is inevitable.”
I listen to AIH as much as possible, mainly the late-night show because of my work schedule. While doing so, I’ve never thought, “‘Gee, that Barbara Budd sure sucks. Wish they’d dump her.’”
Quite the contrary. I think she’s been an integral part of the show.
But maybe she stepped in front of someone powerful in line at Ooh La La — or at least they thought she did.
Because frankly, I think that ‘s a shoddy way to treat someone who’s been a strong asset to one of the CBC’s flagship radio shows.
The Globe and Mail provided this perspective on Budd’s departure:
The CBC producers’ decision not to renew Ms. Budd’s contract with As It Happens after 17 years as co-host is part of a larger move to replace CBC Radio’s news and current-affairs announcers with journalists. Veteran CBC reporter Alison Smith’s move to her current position hosting World At Six, and former foreign correspondent Peter Armstrong’s new job at World Report, replacing long-time host Judy Maddren, are both part of that push. …
The shift is “something that’s been happening for years,” said Janice Neil, an assistant professor at Ryerson University and former senior producer at CBC Radio in Toronto.
The CBC notes that the strategy is widespread in the industry. “In a general sense, it’s true that with the evolution of the show, we are looking to put more of a focus on hosts who are also journalists,” said Jeff Keay, a spokesman for the CBC.
It’s not entirely a cost-saving measure, he added. “It’s not so much that, as it is the evolution of the show, the demands of the show. It gives you more flexibility, and I think it gives more of an ability for hosts to bring a journalistic interpretation to the [work] that they do.”
Thing is, I liked Judy Maddren too. Peter Armstrong is a fine journalist, but again, I’m not thinking that World Report is significantly better with him as host. I miss Maddren.
But even with a quasi-public broadcaster, numbers are important. If the CBC reaches a bigger audience as a result of their changes, then the executives made the right decisions — excluding the personal effects on Maddren, Budd et al.
If they didn’t, then the CBC knows where to make its next staffing changes.