Churchill-Keewatinook Aski NDP MP Niki Ashton wrote a letter to CBC president and CEO Catherine Tait Jan. 20 asking her what she will do to ensure Northern Manitobans continue to have a regional radio show once current North Country host Ramraajh Sharvendiran signs off for the last time later this week before beginning a new job in Newfoundland in February.
“I am writing to you today to ensure that Northern Manitobans continue to receive quality, northern CBC programming and that CBC will do everything to ensure that the CBC studio in Thompson remains open following the departure of Mr. Sharvendiran who worked as the CBC North Country host,” said Ashton’s letter. “As I’m sure you remember, the last time the CBC North Country radio program host retired, northerners were forced to go a year-and-a-half without the important programming. Prior to that there was a clear attempt to close our studio. I was proud to be involved in that campaign to save CBC jobs here in our north and am confident that such a campaign won’t be necessary this time around. Not only does the North Country radio program provide us important local content, it also ensures that the CBC has access to northern voices and can tell northern stories that can be difficult to do from downtown Toronto, Montreal or Winnipeg. Please let me know what steps you are taking to ensure Northern Manitoba continues to be represented in the CBC roster."
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.
Prior to Sharvendiran’s first day on the air, North Country last graced the airwaves on March 31, 2017, former host Mark 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.