ICI Radio-Canada Première host Michel Lacombe will host the last episode of his show Le 21e on May 25 before retiring after a career in journalism spanning more than 50 years, he said. confirmed Thursday.

The contract of Michel Lacombe, who only worked three days a week at Radio-Canada, expires this spring and it has been resolved not to renew it. “It’s a decision that was encouraged by management,” says the host in an interview, who recognizes, however, that at 77, he did not see himself clinging to his microphone indefinitely. “I’m leaving with a smirk,” he blurts out.

“I’ve had a blast working to promote people who deserve it, like dancer Rodney Désir or new FTA co-director Martine Dennewald. I’m going to miss that a lot, ”said Michel Lacombe of some of the latest guests on his show. He will receive Judge Jacques Chamberland, who in 2017 chaired the Commission of Inquiry on the Protection of the Confidentiality of Journalistic Sources, for the last of the 21st, on May 25.

Approaching retirement, Michel Lacombe is serene, and grateful to have been able to lead a long and fruitful career mainly within the public broadcaster. “Radio-Canada is the only place where you can do the kind of big thing that I managed to do, both public affairs shows, where you have time to dig in and build a reputation that makes that you can approach anyone and never be told no. »

Michel Lacombe launched his career in journalism in the summer of 1966 in Chicoutimi, “a party town at the time”. The following summer, that of the Expo, he joined Radio-Canada in Montreal, after repeatedly insisting with a boss who hired him to “see him less often”. At the turn of the 1970s, it entered channel 10 (Télé-Métropole). “It was absolutely fabulous”, says the journalist who says he learned a lot during this period rich in news with the big strikes and the October crisis, in particular.

Involved in the young Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec, he then returned to Radio-Canada, where he was notably parliamentary correspondent in Quebec for the public affairs program Present at the time of the election of the first government of René Lévesque, in 1976. He then did international journalism on Radio-Canada TV for Le Point, in the early 1980s, before returning to the radio to conduct an interview every morning with those who made the news.

At the turn of the 90s, he made his mark as host of the midday public affairs program, which was notably called Midi-15. “We did a major reform of public affairs programs there, with a call-in part, which I had a lot of fun hosting,” he recalls.

He then briefly takes over from Joël Le Bigot at the animation of the morning show on the Montreal antenna of the broadcaster, before being shown the door by the management, who fears a drop in the audience. “It’s an adventure that didn’t turn out very well,” laughs Michel Lacombe today.

Back in public affairs, he then took the helm of Open on Saturday and Faut pas crucier tout ce qu’on dit, the broadcast of which ended in 2019. Since then, Michel Lacombe has stuck to the animation of 21st in addition to special series devoted in particular to the Quiet Revolution, to Hubert Aquin or to the invention of the radio. In 2020, he also hosted with his wife Nathalie Petrowski a summer program on generational conflicts called OK Boomer.



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