Montreal

Mike Finnerty: It's time to make way for a new voice on Daybreak

Most of all, I will never forget the thrill of turning the microphone on every weekday, rain, snow or shine, and saying good morning to Montrealers.

Host says Montreal's 'dynamism' is back, but he's ready to turn the page

'I want to make way for a new voice, another style, a fresh perspective on the city for 2021,' Finnerty says. (Charles Contant/CBC)

After 13 years as the host of CBC Montreal's Daybreak, Mike Finnerty has decided it is time to move on. His last show will be Friday, Nov. 27.

Here, he explains the reasons behind his departure — and answers some rapid-fire questions that are normally reserved for special in-studio guests.

Why are you leaving Daybreak?

It is time. I've hosted Daybreak for a total of 13 years, including over the last, eventful decade 2010-2020. That's a lot of time! This is not my chair — it's been my great privilege to keep it warm, but I want to make way for a new voice, another style, a fresh perspective on the city for 2021.

Looking back on the job, what did being Daybreak's host mean to you? How did you approach the job every day?

I've had a front row-seat as so much has changed in Montreal. The revolt over corruption in the city. The big changes at city hall from Tremblay to Applebaum to Coderre to Plante. The massive student protests. The struggle to come to terms with our modern identity, to make the city a fairer place for all its citizens. The rise in the high-tech sector, the explosion of terrasse culture and now our pulling together in the pandemic.

I've met and spoken to SO many Montrealers about all that and more. I'm incredibly fortunate, and incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

Most of all, I will never forget the thrill of turning the microphone on every weekday, rain, snow or shine, and saying good morning to Montrealers.

Mike Finnerty at CBC Montreal's annual Christmas Sing-In. (Tam Lan Truong/CBC)

What's next for you?

This Christmas, you'll find me at Borough Market selling cheese in my second home, London. I need some time to turn the page, and I get a lot of joy from a product that has a history that reaches back through the centuries. I am in awe of the mysteries of fermentation, all the incredible tastes, smells and varieties of cheese.

I want to learn more, meet more farmers and cheesemakers. It is a hands-on, physical job, but also one that's really close to people. So I'll don the cheesemonger's apron and see where the next chapter takes me.

What's the definitive Montreal food?

All the foods! But a sunny day on the terrasse at a Montreal bistro with a platter of nibbly things (cheese included!) is heaven.

Favourite interviews or guests?

Ellen Gabriel.

What are your strategies for waking up early and napping?

How can you not love the quiet, intense beauty of the pre-dawn morning? And regarding napping, I cannot be brief on that topic.

Something you noticed change in 10 years?

Montreal's dynamism ... it faded. It's back.

Something that didn't change at all?

Sometimes I'll walk down a Montreal back alleyway and see the same young people you might have seen 30 years ago, laughing, playing, hanging out.

The early days of Mike's radio career at CBC — New Richmond, Que., in 1990. (CBC Quebec Archives)

Favourite Montreal neighbourhood to hang out in?

I love Little Italy and the Jean-Talon Market.

Cheese recommendations?

Go to a cheese shop — ask the cheesemonger: "What's really popping today?" Cheeses are living things. You may have a favourite, but it may not be a great batch. A good cheesemonger will know what will knock your socks off on a given day.

Prediction for the next 10 years?

Montreal rising and rising.

Tune in to 88.5 FM in Montreal Friday morning for Mike Finnerty's final broadcast as host of Daybreak.

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