North Country host gets new gig, show goes quiet

CBC’s only northern Manitoba-based employee is heading east for greener pastures.

CBC North Country host Ramraajh Sharvendiran has moved elsewhere in the company, accepting a position as a co-host of CBC’s St. John’s, Nfld. morning show. The 32-year-old Toronto-born journalist signed off from the show for the last time Jan. 22.

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Sharvendiran began hosting CBC’s only northern Manitoba-based show just over a year ago, moving to Thompson in August 2018 and going on the air Oct. 8, 2018.

"I am so excited," said Sharvendiran in a statement issued by CBC.

"The minute I left, and this was probably one of the most challenging jobs I've had, I learned how short-sighted I had been with my perspective," he said.

"I really wanted to move to another region that has another experience that I haven't been exposed to. St. John's made sense."

A former public health worker, Sharvendiran jumped into the void left when long-time North Country host Mark Szyszlo retired from his post in March 2017 after more than 30 years on the job.

Sharvendiran said he came to the region having never visited it before, but found the job challenging. CBC has opened up a job listing on their website to host the show.

"I was born and raised in Toronto and people there aren't known for being friendly," he said in the CBC statement, adding that while people in Thompson and northern Manitoba were quite warm, "St. John's and Newfoundland take it to another level."

"The minute I left, and this was probably one of the most challenging jobs I've had, I learned how short-sighted I had been with my perspective,"

CBC’s Thompson bureau has been in danger of shutting down several times in the past, notably in 2009 when the company announced it would shut down both its bureaus in La Ronge and Thompson as part of nationwide cost-cutting measures. While the CBC bureau in La Ronge, which employed exactly one person, was eventually shut down, the Thompson bureau was spared from the chopping block.

After Szyszlo’s retirement, the airwaves for CBC’s Thompson bureau fell silent for about a year and a half before Sharvendiran came north.

Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton issued a statement Jan. 20 imploring CBC president and CEO Catherine Tait to continue to provide a regional presence for northern Manitoba on CBC airwaves following Sharvendiran’s departure.

“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,” Ashton said in the statement.

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