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CHCH reporters, hosts say thank you and goodbye

CHCH reporters and hosts say goodbye and thanks to the people of Hamilton whose stories they've told over many years serving the city. Station management abruptly fired 167 news employees Dec. 11 while offering some new contracts.

Skelly: 'The pay was lousy and the stress was high, but it was fun, perhaps too much fun.'

CHCH fired dozens of news staff Dec. 11, 2015. (CHCH)

While there have been many changes at CHCH over the last few days, long-time reporter and host Donna Skelly leaves the station with great memories that she wanted to share. Read her message below. CBC Hamilton has collected messages from CHCH staffers, some posted in social media others submitted to the CBC. Mark Hebscher describes his strange last few hours on the job. Matt Hayes says thank you and goodbye. Read them all below. 

Donna Skelly, reporter and host 

When I started in the newsroom at CHCH Hamilton almost 30 years ago, reporters used typewriters, ashtrays overflowed and women had yet to occupy the coveted "main" anchor chair. Dan McLean was the respected face of news and Tom Cherington the master of interviews.

(Twitter)

Local news was king and the station was proud of it.

My memories of CHCH are fond, painful and everlasting. I was part of a large contingent of people who produced three daily newscasts. Reporters and cameramen worked as teams. The term "videographer" had yet to be created. Writers wrote, producers produced and editors slapped together newly shot footage, then ran stories up two flights of stairs to make deadline. Tempers flared, tapes were thrown and chaos ensued right up until show time. And then, calm settled in, stories went to air and everyone went out for a drink to socialize.

The hours were long, the pay was lousy and the stress was high, but it was fun, perhaps too much fun.

You have probably read stories about the relationships forged between staff at CHCH. It was a unique environment, with dedicated, hard working, talented people who cared as much about their colleagues as they did their work. I was fortunate enough to work with them, for close to three decades.

CHCH has seen it's share of change... change in technology, personnel and ownership. In 2009, Global, the owner of the day, threatened to shut it down. A new owner was found, but on Friday, without notice, they declared bankruptcy, leaving the future of the 60-year-old institution up in the air.

I have often said working in news gives you a front row seat to things most people will never experience, and for a while, CHCH gave me the ticket to an outstanding performance.

Matt Hayes, weather personality

From his blog. 

THANK YOU, HAMILTON.

Dec. 12, 2015

As you may now be aware, today was my last day at CHCH. I walked into the CHCH newsroom 33 years ago for the very first time. Cigarette smoke hung in the air and I had a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach as I thought to myself, "I'm in over my head".

I have lived a good part of my life in front of the camera. I did the weather from the nursery at McMaster hospital holding my daughter Kyra the night she was born; so many memories come flooding back. I have always viewed the opportunity to come into your homes every day as a gift. I loved my job and it makes me sad to know that this chapter has ended. I am also sad for my many colleagues who lost their jobs today and that I won't be sharing laughs with them anymore. I have always tried to have fun and brighten the lives of both my coworkers and viewers. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me into your home all these years. It has been a tremendous opportunity to meet so many of you and watch our amazing community grow. The greatest compliment I would ever receive is when someone would say "I feel like I know you", which meant that a part of me made it through all of that technology.

It has been a great run, but it's not the end; I look forward to being a part of the Hamilton community for years to come. It's a special place, this city.

You'll still be able to find me on the air every morning on 102.9 K-Lite FM from 5:30-9:00am with Sunni Genesco. Thank you, Hamilton. You are the best!

Mark Hebscher, talk show host

An excerpt from a post on his web page.

CHCH-TV is still alive, but it's real soul passed away last Friday afternoon. The heartbeat of Hamilton and it's surrounding communities was badly wounded. It was a sneak attack. It gutted the entire building. I lost my job, along with dozens of others. Some of my friends got to keep theirs. And just two weeks before Christmas....

Then the owner, the same guy who had made the announcement on TV, tried to answer some questions about severance (none) and the union (busted) and the positions that would be offered (a joke) and why did they have until Sunday night to accept or reject the new offer?  Some people were crying. Others appeared relieved that they still had jobs. I was thinking my job was safe when suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was my boss. He refused to look me in the eye. "You're in the wrong room". "What?" "You're not supposed to be here.  I'm sorry." And then he turned and walked away. That was it. The end of my TV career. The one's who went to Studio "A", where I should have gone, got gassed. Quickly. Efficiently. Escorted out of the building forever. In tears. Humiliated. Treated like garbage after all those years of loyal service.

Read the full post here.

Cindy Csordas, videographer

From other CHCH news staff from Facebook and Twitter

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