Veteran broadcaster Kathy Coulombe was a familiar voice for those listening to radio news in Montreal. In her last years, her audience became worldwide when she joined Radio Canada International.
On Saturday, December 1, Coulombe died of cancer at the age of 56.
As a Montreal Gazette article
points out: "She became known to many Montrealers over the years as the voice of news at CJAD, CHOM and MIX96, which became Virgin Radio. Most recently she worked at Radio Canada International’s The Link and was heartbroken when the service shut down in June."
"She was exceptionally good at her work," said Marc Montgomery the host of RCI's The Link. "She was always a joy to work with, and always pleasant, no matter what the situation."
The Link's former producer Levon Sevunts remembered coming back from vacation a few years ago and very quickly discovering how valuable to the programme she was. "I did not want to let her go."
"Her dedication [to her work] was unparalleled," said Sevunts. He admitted that as more and more colleagues in the media discovered he was working with Coulombe, he realized he was working with a Montreal "broadcasting star. That she was really well-known." But it was her professionalism that Sevunts remembers. Doing a daily two hour weekday programme, he knew he could depend on Coulombe to chase down stories.
"She loved working at RCI, and got to do all kind of stories." Sevunts remembers that every story meeting Coulombe would promote an animal story. "She had such a kind heart. Sometimes I had to rein her in." And he'd get her to do a political or disaster story, and let her do her favourite animal story.
Father John Walsh, who hosts the Father John Walsh Show at Montreal radio station CJAD remembers doing an interview with well-known former newspaper editor and former Quebec politician Claude Ryan.
"I recall one night when Kathy was doing the news and I was interviewing Claude Ryan,” he wrote on Facebook. “Kathy delivered the news and he asked if he could stay and say hello to Kathy. Kathy was shocked to think Mr. Ryan would want to meet her... his comment -- I have always listened to your newscasts and wanted to meet you. I can still see the shock on Kathy's face."
"She knew she had a death sentence," said Sevunts. But she refused to allow it to affect her relationships with people. Other colleagues also mentioned how she would be more concerned about their health and problems, than the chemo and biopsies she was going through.
In the spring she talked of moving from Montreal, and joining her sister Jennie Keefe on Fogo Island in Newfoundland. She shared photos of the ocean views with RCI colleagues, and was truly happy about the possibility. At the same time saying she would miss her colleagues at RCI.
There will be no funeral - once again, Coulombe did not want to disturb.
Goodbye Kathy, thank you.
Montreal Gazette -The voice of news led a simple life - here
CJAD800 - Former CJAD broadcaster Kathy Coulombe has died - here
CBC News - Long-time Montreal broadcaster mourned - here