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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Morning TV host Ljungberg signs off with an air of class

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FAREWELLS are never easy. And this one had every reason to be awkward.

But Breakfast Television host Jon Ljungberg opted for a classy exit, and he turned his final morning on the local Citytv morning show into an upbeat affair.

"I tried not to think about it too much, because if I did, I probably would have lost it," Ljungberg said Friday, soon after signing off BT for the last time. "You have to remember, there are some people there who I've been working with for all 11 years, so it was pretty emotional.

"(BT co-host) Jenna (Khan) would look at me and she kept tearing up, which didn't help, but we tried to have fun. I gave everyone a little spiel before the show and said, 'Let's make it positive, and let's have a blast,' and that's what happened."

Friday's show was the final end to what must have been a painfully long goodbye. Ljungberg explained yesterday that when he was informed by Citytv execs on Sept. 24 that his contract would not be extended, he was offered no explanation for the move.

"They took me to Hy's; I thought it was for my 11th anniversary (at the station)," he recalled. "But before the drinks even arrived, it was, 'We're not renewing your contract.'

"I still, to this day, haven't been given a reason. There was the usual 'The show's going in a different direction,' which it's not, because they're advertising for a host and listing exactly what I do now. I think they're just going for younger, and that's fine."

With his 11-year BT stint now behind him, Ljungberg, 48, will spend a couple of weeks visiting family and friends in Massachusetts ("I haven't been home during the holidays for 21 years, so it's going to be fun.") before returning to Winnipeg to start the next chapter of his career -- which will include a return to his standup-comedy roots, completion of a kids' book about Debby the Polar Bear that is due for release next spring, and working on a new project that could see him return to the local airwaves at a less alarm-clock-invaded time of the day.

Ljungberg said he's had a couple of offers in the public-relations realm, which would be a decided change in direction, and has been receiving an increasingly steady stream of inquiries as more people become aware of his final BT bow.

"I think word's just getting around, because not everybody watches the show, and some people are just getting the word that I'm not on it anymore," he said. "I'm getting a bunch of trickle-in offers -- phone calls, emails, whatever. I won't be sitting around, that's for sure."

It has been a tumultuous couple of months -- Sept. 24 was also the day Ljungberg learned his wife, Christine, had decided to exit their marriage -- but he says he's at peace now with the way his Citytv adventure ended.

"I have nothing negative to say about City; they let me go out in style," he said. "I had 11 great years, so I really can't complain."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 27, 2010 C11

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