CBC North Country losing its host for the second time in less than three years

Fifteen months after returning to the air with a new host following the retirement of long-time fixture Mark Szyszlo, CBC’s Thompson-based North Country radio program is once again at risk of falling silent.

Ramraajh Sharvendiran, who moved to Thompson at the end of August 2018 and took to the air on Oct. 8 of that year, was announced Jan. 10 as the new co-host of The St. John’s Morning Show with Krissy Holmes in Newfoundland.

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“I am so excited,” Sharvendiran told CBC News. “I really wanted to move to another region that has another experience that I haven’t been exposed to. St. John’s made sense.”

Sharvendiran’s last day on the air in Northern Manitoba is expected to be next week. He begins his new gig in Newfoundland Feb. 24.

The Toronto-born Sharvendiran, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Sri Lanka, only got into radio broadcasting as a career a couple of years ago, though he hosted a York University campus radio show for eight years, continuing the role after graduating and beginning a job in public health. 

“At the five-year mark I decided it was either time to pursue this academically through a master’s in public health or social work or to pursue what I had kept on the backburner for, by that point, eight years, which was radio,” he said shortly after his arrival in Thompson.

“This was probably one of the most challenging jobs I’ve had,” he told CBC this month. 

Prior to Sharvendiran’s first day on the air, North Country last graced the airwaves on March 31, 2017, former host Szyszlo’s last day on the job after more than 30 years behind the microphone. Szyszlo was also an import from Ontario, starting out as a freelance radio journalist before being named host of the noon-hour North Country show and later taking over the regional morning show as well. 

In 2009, the CBC announced that its Thompson operation as well as its one-person bureau in La Ronge, Sask. were among 800 positions being cut in an effort to save $171 million. That prompted Churchill NDP MP Niki Ashton to spearhead a campaign to save the northern stations, bringing the issue up in the House of Commons and presenting a petition with 1,300 signatures just days before the CBC’s May 15, 2009 announcement that the programs were no longer on the chopping block. The La Ronge bureau was permanently shut down at the end of February 2012.

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