After 30 years with the CBC – 18 of them hosting the provincewide show B.C. Almanac, Mark Forsythe is retiring from the public broadcaster. His retirement was announced Tuesday; his final show will be Dec. 24. The new host of the program will be Gloria Macarenko.
Mr. Forsythe said what he will miss most is the relationship the open-line broadcast show fostered every day with listeners. He called the decision to retire a tough one, but said the time felt right to hand over the reins to someone else.
"I don't want to belabour the CBC funding woes, but that's kind of where it's come to for me," he said in an interview on Tuesday. "Basically, we don't have the resources for me to prepare a daily provincial broadcast that I think listeners are entitled to. That's what it comes down to. If I don't have the heart to do that, then I should probably move on [so] there are opportunities here for other people, younger people behind me."
In April, CBC/Radio-Canada announced plans to cut 657 jobs to meet a $130-million budget shortfall.
Since joining CBC Radio in Prince Rupert three decades ago, Mr. Forsythe has made lasting memories of travelling around B.C., telling a range of stories that reflects the province back to itself, he said. These include broadcasts from Duncan, where the Cowichan Tribes First Nation struggled with a spike in suicides; wildfires in Salmon Arm, Lillooet and Barriere; and Adams River during a peak salmon run.
"I feel gratitude for the good years I had at CBC, the opportunities that they gave me," Mr. Forsythe said, adding that he will take some time to consider future endeavours such as writing, photography and working with non-profit organizations.
Ms. Macarenko, who will continue to host Our Vancouver and The Story from Here in addition to B.C. Almanac, praised Mr. Forsythe as a "wonderful listener" and strong interviewer.
"I've marvelled at the way he keeps the show on course and on topic while dealing with a lot of unknowns, which can happen in any one of those calls that comes through," she said.
Ms. Macarenko said it is too early to say what the show might look like in the new year, but she doesn't anticipate it will change dramatically. "It's been a formula that has been successful," she said. "I think it's familiar, it's in-depth, and the regular listeners know what to expect from that hour between noon and 1 o'clock."
Lorna Haeber, director of programming for CBC Radio in British Columbia, said Mr. Forsythe is fondly referred to as "Mr. B.C."
"You would be hard-pressed to find anybody who has travelled to more corners of this province and has explored it, is inspired by it, who cares about it and he takes that really seriously. Journalistic integrity is just a hallmark of everything he does and I think that permeates the show and the work that he does."
Ms. Haeber said Ms. Macarenko, who until recently was the host of the local CBC TV newscast, was a "great fit" for B.C. Almanac. "I think that she has all of the qualities that listeners come to expect of a host on B.C. Almanac in terms of the journalistic integrity, the depth of knowledge about issues important to British Columbia, and she's a really great communicator so I think people will just enjoy being able to phone up and engage with her."