Latest NewsEleanor Wachtel announces retirement from CBC Radio

Eleanor Wachtel announces retirement from CBC Radio

Eleanor Wachtel, oft dubbed “Canada’s first lady of literature,” has announced she’ll be retiring from CBC Radio next month, concluding a more than 35-year career with the public broadcaster.

Wachtel, 75, officially began working with the CBC in 1987 as a literary commentator on CBC’s State of the Arts, although she started contributing as a freelancer for CBC Radio in Vancouver prior to that. Following a move to Toronto, she hosted shows including The Arts Tonight and Wachtel on the Arts

She helped co-create Writers & Company in 1990, which she’s hosted ever since, engaging world-renowned writers with her intimate conversation style. The list of acclaimed writers featured on the show span Alice Munro to John Grisham. Spy-turned-novelist John Le Carré told Wachtel at the end of their conversation in 2013, “You do it better than anyone I know.” 

Wachtel’s final show will be taped in front of a live studio audience at Toronto’s Luminato Festival on June 16 and air Sunday, June 25, marking the finale of Writers & Company after 33 years as CBC moves to develop a new literary program for CBC Radio and CBC Listen. 

“It’s been a privilege to engage with the finest minds in the world, and my life has been enriched beyond measure,” said Wachtel, in a CBC announcement. “Writers & Company has been a dream job. So I don’t think of this as retirement. Retirement is not a word that I relate to. I see it more as a change of pace. I’m planning to stay in the game. I’m hoping to use the wealth of my experience to take on different projects.” 

Over the years, Writers & Company has won numerous New York Festivals Radio Awards. Wachtel has been bestowed with nine honorary degrees from universities across the country, including a Doctor of Laws from Concordia University in Montreal (2010), a Doctor of Letters (2009), from McGill University in Montreal; a Doctor of Laws (2007), from Dalhousie University in Halifax; D. Litt. (2007) from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.; D. Litt (2002) from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax; D.Litt. (2001) from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver; D.Litt. (2000) from Athabasca University in Alberta; and D.Litt.(1999) from St. Thomas University in Fredericton.

She was named to the Order of Canada in 2004 and promoted from Member to an Officer of the Order in 2014 with the citation describing Wachtel as “the linchpin that connects Canadian readers to the worldwide literary community.” In 2002, she was won the Jack Award for the promotion of Canadian books and authors.

“A commitment to storytelling and storytellers is the foundation of everything CBC offers Canadians, and Eleanor has provided listeners with a window into other worlds and experiences for decades,” said Barbara Williams, Executive Vice-President, CBC. “Her unique way of unveiling the world’s greatest creative minds and their craft has endeared her to the listeners and the authors she speaks to each week. She has been an anchor of CBC’s literary programming, and we will be cheering her on as she begins her own next chapter.”

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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