CBC's q replacing Shad as host

CBC's flagship music, arts and culture ​show q will have its third host in three years, with rapper Shad being replaced by Tom Power.

Canadian rapper to host his final episode of q on Tuesday

Juno-winning rapper Shad, left, is being replaced as host of CBC's music, arts and culture show q by Tom Power. (CBC)

CBC Radio's q is getting its third host in three years, with Shad being replaced by Tom Power​.

The rapper, whose real name is Shadrach Kabango, hosts his final episode of CBC Radio's flagship music, arts and cultural affairs show, on Tuesday, the CBC announced Monday.

Previously hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, q saw ratings drop following his high-profile departure and hasn't been able to recover.

Power, who served as a regular guest host for several years, will officially take over the mic in October.

Kabango was hired to replace Ghomeshi, who was dismissed from the public broadcaster in October 2014 amid allegations of sexual assault. Ghomeshi was acquitted of all charges at one trial involving three complainants and had another case dropped in May after he agreed to sign a peace bond and publicly apologize.

"It's been an honour and a joy to serve in this role," Kabango said in a statement.

It's been an honour and a joy to serve in this role...I'm grateful for an amazing experience.- Shadrach Kabango

"Countless fascinating guests and don't even get me started on my colleagues: smart, funny, and dedicated is just the beginning. The show will continue and is in great hands with Tom Power — an excellent host and a great guy. My relationship with the CBC remains strong.... I'm grateful for an amazing experience."

Susan Marjetti, executive director of CBC Radio English Services, said the broadcaster is "exploring a new show with Shad that plays to his strengths and passion for music. Shad remains part of our CBC family."

"I think long-form interviewing even for seasoned broadcasters can be a real challenge, so imagine if you're just starting out in the medium of radio and you're called upon to do 20- and 22-minute interviews," Marjetti told CBC News. "I think that is a very, very difficult and challenging task."

Experience required

A Juno-winning rapper, Kabango was tapped as Ghomeshi's replacement in March 2015, but has had trouble attracting the same sort of audience. The show had 168,000 listeners in June 2016, compared to 220,400 in June 2015. It had its highest audience (282,000) in September 2014.

"There evidently wasn't that institutional strength, that deep well of brand equity we would hope for q, that would carry the show through a host that wasn't Ghomeshi," said Toronto-based brand consultant Andris Pone.

"What it proves, I think, is the q brand itself was not that strong. It proves that the brand of the show is ... extremely dependent upon the brand and performance of the host," he noted.

Marjetti says she thinks q is "still a really strong brand, it's still a really strong franchise."

"That's another thing that our audience research showed us — is that people love this show. They have a lot of advice, but they love this show."

The host change doesn't surprise Marion Coomey, professor at Ryerson University's RTA School of Media in Toronto.

"By no means did I think [Kabango] was a failure. I think he was adequate. But to do that kind of program and to replace someone who was a very dynamic host, they needed to find someone with a big on-air personality but also has a load of experience," Coomey told CBC News on Monday.

"It takes more than just being smart and funny and charming and interesting. It's about understanding how to do an interview, doing an interview in-depth — not just reading the questions off the page, knowing enough about the subject matter you can followup on it if someone goes off-script and having the comfort to do that. It takes time."

'A clean slate'

Monday's announcement means Power, 29, will leave his current role as presenter of Radio 2 Morning. A new host for that show will be announced later.

The Toronto-based Power — CBC's youngest host of a national radio program since Peter Jennings — started with the public broadcaster at the age of 21 as host of music show Deep Roots. He's also seen in a weekly music segment on CBC-TV's Our Centres program.

"I think for Tom, he's just going to be himself — that wonderful, charming, witty, Newfoundland sense of humour," said Marjetti. 

It was also announced Monday that Jennifer Moroz, formerly of The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos and The Current, will be the new executive producer of q.