By Stephen Weir
He is one of the good guys and he is one of ours. Long time CP-24 stalwart Nathan Downer has been bumped up to the big times and is now delivering the news to a much bigger Toronto TV audience on a much bigger screen.
CTV News Toronto (CFTO) announced that as of last Wednesday Nathan Downer has taken over from veteran announcer Ken Shaw as the co-anchor of CTV NEWS AT NOON alongside veteran newsy Michelle Dubé. Downer will also co-anchor CTV NEWS AT SIX beginning in early January when Shaw retires.
“I’m very excited to join the anchor desk of Canada’s most-watched local newscast, to be part of this incredible team, and to work alongside an exceptional journalist in Michelle Dubé,” said Downer. “I’m tremendously honoured to uphold Ken Shaw’s legacy of guiding Torontonians through the biggest events unfolding in our wonderful city.”
For news watchers, the move from channel 24 down the dial to channel 9, they will finally get a good full screen look at the 49-year old broadcaster. The all-news Channel 24 uses only about half of the TV screen to show their tiny announcers reading the news – the rest of the screen is given over to weather reports, a rolling news ticker tape and ads. On Channel 9, viewers are now getting a full screen hi-def look at the handsome news guy.
Downer, who has a 14 year-old son and lives in Corktown in downtown Toronto, is Canadian born and raised, and has lived most of his life in Toronto. “My parents came from Jamaica, and in the early days we moved, as most immigrant families do, around the GTA – Scarborough, Regent Park and Mississauga – if I had to pick a “place” I’d have to say I’m proudly from Malvern.”
Nathan Downer is an experienced radio and television broadcaster got his start volunteering on a popular Caribbean Canadian radio show two decades ago.
It was 1999 and Downer offered to help out on Jai Ojah-Maharaj’s Insight Radio Show (Caribbean Connection) when it was broadcasting live on Toronto’s CHIN radio.
“I want to give a big Shout Out to Jai,” said Downer. “I wasn’t getting paid but what he taught me was worth more than money.”
It wasn’t long before Downer moved over to a newly launched FM station, Denham Jolly’s FLOW radio. “What a place to be! It was Canada’s first Black owned stations and it was playing music you never heard on the radio back then – Reggae, Hip Hop, Soca. I was doing a weekly talk talking sports. When the station suddenly needed a news announcer and director it was a natural that I got the job.
From there he moved to Global TV and then onto Queen St West as an anchor and reporter for CP24. He has covered the city’s most significant news stories during his 11 years with CP24.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Nathan to the anchor desk,” said Michelle Dubé, Co-Anchor, and CTV News Toronto. “I have long admired his work, both in the field and in the studio. Nathan has a genuine passion for newsgathering and sharing Toronto’s stories. I’m excited to work alongside him and share in his boundless enthusiasm for our city.”
Downer enjoys hosting many special community events and is an active member of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists. He’s also involved with charity work, including Camp Jumoke and Helping Hands Jamaica, and is on the Advisory Board for the Sickle Cell Awareness Group Ontario.
Downer received the Excellence in Media Award, a national prize presented by the African Canadian Achievement Awards (ACAA) in 2013. In 2012, the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) honoured Downer with the 2012 Distinguished Men of Honour Award.
It is not lost on Nathan Downer that he is a Caribbean Canadian face on Toronto’s most watched main stream news broadcasts.
“It’s a little intimidating but I am really glad I am not the only person out there doing this. CBC’s Dwight Drummond (fellow Yardie and host on CBC Toronto News) is both a friend and an inspiration. We need our (combined) Diversity voice.”
Downer sees his career in the broadcast industry as a tool he can use to inform, engage, and communicate. He has been a key part of the CP24 live coverage of the annual Caribana Parade.” That isn’t work. It is all about what is best with our Caribbean heritage.”