Graham Richardson has hit the sweet spot.
At the end of March, Richardson, 39, will inherit the anchor job at CTV Ottawa from the venerable Max Keeping, a man who has nearly single-handedly built a local news empire at Clyde and Merivale over the last 37 years.
Is Richardson up to the challenge?
The youthful national news reporter was approached three months ago by the CTV suits, who had passed over many others salivating for the job. He is virtually an unknown to those who only watch the supper hour news, and who don’t stay up late for Lloyd Robertson.
He is reserved, careful and somewhat aloof compared to the gregarious Keeping, a transplanted Newfoundlander who spent as much time schmoozing with the locals as he did anchoring the news. Keeping spent nearly every waking hour doing charity work, emceeing events and getting around as much as a seasoned parish priest.
Richardson, an avid hockey dad, has a young family and is guaranteed not to keep up with Max’s busy social calendar.
Fortunately, Max isn’t leaving anytime soon. The saving grace for CTV Ottawa will be Keeping’s commitment to become its Ottawa ambassador. Presumably this means he will take on the schmoozing full time and leave Richardson to go about the serious business of news gathering.
People will be watching to see what kind of stamp Richardson will put on local news, whether he will stick with the tried and true “Home Team” formula, or try to move CTV Ottawa towards the sleek Toronto model. As Vice-President of News, Keeping wasn’t as concerned with the image of his reporters, and seemed to choose them more for their enthusiasm and competence than their camera readiness.
CTV may want change
In the past few years, CTV has been moving its local affiliates away from their traditional hometown style of news broadcasting to a more sophisticated look, with all the stations branded with the same identity. (Ironically, in spite of the splashy graphics, CTV is also extremely cheap. The CTV Ottawa late news is actually directed from Toronto using robotic cameras to save money. )
In recent years, the network has managed to smooth over the rough edges, giving Keeping a new coiffed look, instead of the rat tail and moussed hair he preferred.
By choosing a handsome new anchor from the traditional “hair and teeth” school, CTV has signaled that it wants to shake things up, and perhaps lose some of the small town sensibilities which some people find quaint while others find dated.
For his part, Richardson has said he’s not ready to put his stamp on the local news just yet. As he says himself, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Time, and ratings will tell.