W5 made its debut on CTV in the fall of 1966, and was still in the network's schedule 50 years later. But while W5 had become without doubt the longest-running weekly prime time public affairs program in North America, there is one little-known fact. When Michael Maclear took over the series in 1977, having hosted his own Maclear half-hour series for several years on CTV, the one-hour Sunday night W5 was renamed CTV Reports for the 1977-78 season with a companion half-hour, also called CTV Reports, on Thursdays. The Sunday program title reverted to W5 in the 1978-79 season, and the Thursday program was replaced by Live It Up, but there was that one-year hiccup. Subsequent title changes have been merely cosmetic: W5 with Eric Malling, in 1993, when the former CBC personality jumped ship to join CTV as the program's host, The New W5 in 1996, when Eric decided to take a one-way shore leave, and finally W-FIVE in 1997, presumably because it was now far from being new, and so needed yet another title.
Having said that, W5 has a well-deserved reputation, not only for its longevity but also for its integrity, which has enabled it both to endure and retain a faithful and gratifyingly sizeable audience. W5 - which stands for the five 'Ws' of journalism, Who, What, Where, When and Why - made its first appearance on CTV in 1996 on Sunday nights at 10:00pm, with Peter Reilly as Executive Producer and host.
Ken Cavanagh soon became the first regular host, and the anchor chair was subsequently occupied by many major broadcasters who eventually became icons, including Warner Troyer, Henry Champ, Ken Lefolii, Tom Gould, Michael Maclear, Helen Hutchinson Bill Cunningham, Eric Malling, Wei Chen and latterly Tom Clark. Regular contributors over the years have included Jim Reed, Dennis Macintosh, Isobel Bassett, Barbara Amiel, Trina McQueen, Merle Shain, Charles Templeton, Laurier Lapierre, Valerie Pringle, Gail Scott, Tim Ralfe, Carole Taylor, Sylvia Sweeney, Doug Fisher, Jack Webster, Genevieve Westcott, Christine Nielsen, Susan Ormiston,Elliot Shiff, Paula Todd and Victor Malarek. In 2004 W5 was strengthened even further when newscasters Lloyd Robertson and Sandi Rinaldo began appearing regularly.
For most of its first 20 years W5 occupied the Sunday 10:00pm time period, with occasional moves to 9:00pm. In 1986 CTV moved it to 8:00pm to accommodate movies 9:00 - 11:00pm in simulcast with U.S. Networks, and then to 7:00pm for three years starting in 1990. In 1993 it moved to Thursdays at 10:00pm, and thereafter was bounced around the midweek schedule, before returning to its 10:00pm Sunday time slot in the fall of 2000. In September 2001 it moved to 7:00pm Sundays; in 2002 CTV moved it yet again, to Fridays at 8:00pm, and a year later to Saturdays at 7:00pm. In September 2004 this award-winning show was on the move again, this time to Saturdays at 10:00pm, with repeats on Sundays at 1:00pm.
The 2005-2006 CTV schedule showed W5 returning in the Saturday 7:00pm time slot. where it stayed successfully in subsequent years.
As the years passed, W5 chalked up an impressive list of both domestic and international Awards for both the program and its on-air personalities, and continued to refresh itself year by year. In the 2004-2005 season, it became the longest-running Canadian television program, when it exceeded the record previously held by the CBC's Front Page Challenge.
Executive and Senior Producers have included Peter Rehak, Mike Lavoie, Fiona Conway, Ian MacLeod, Robert Hurst, Malcolm Fox and Anton Koschany.
On September 21st 2009, Malcolm Fox retired as executive producer of W-5 . Fox's career began in the late 1960s with Visnews in London, England. He worked as a film editor and soundman for CTV National News in England and then as a cameraman and producer in Halifax and Washington. He first joined W-5 as a producer in 1983 and was the program's senior field producer from 1996 to 1998 prior to becoming executive producer in 2000.
W-5's senior producer Anton Koschany replaced Fox as executive producer when the investigative program returned for its 44th season on October 24th 2009.
Season 45 began in October 2010, and the series was announced on June 2nd 2011 as returning for the 2011-2012 season, on Sundays at 8:00 pm, with repeats on Saturdays at 7:00pm on the newly branded VTV Two (formerly "A").
Though Lloyd Robertson would be doing his final National News broadcast on September 1st 2011, he would continue his association with W 5 into the 2011-2012 season.
On May 31st CTV confirmed that W5 would return to the schedule for the 2012-2013 season.
On July 29th 2013 CTV announced that a new season of W 5 would begin on CTV on Saturday September 21st at 7 pm, and on June 5th 2014, CTV announced that in its fall schedule W5 would continue to occupy its current time period on Saturdays, 7:00 - 8:00 pm, hosted by Lloyd Robertson.
On August 15th 2014, CTV announced that its 2014-15 production season would be reduced by up to 40% of its original W5 episodes, and would be cutting seven contract positions, including three producers.
CTV News President Wendy Freeman was quoted as saying : "These decisions are never easy. However the broadcast industry currently faces severe financial pressures due to changing viewer habits, along with a sharp decline in advertising revenues."
On October 3rd 2105, CTV launched the fiftieth year of W5, promising "a season with special events and programming looking back at the program’s remarkable 50-year history."
On September 6th 2016, CTV announced that W5 would launch its 51st season with new Host and Managing Editor Kevin Newman at the helm on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Newman would succeed former W5 Host and Chief Correspondent Lloyd Robertson, who took the role in 2011 after stepping down after 35 years as Chief Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV National News. Lloyd Robertson would continue to appear on W5 and elsewhere across CTV News properties and platforms in his new role as CTV News Special Correspondent. Lloyd's final W5 program as host, on September 24th, offered a nostalgic look back over 50 years of stories that had run on North America's longest-running news magazine program.
At its Upfront presentation on June 6th 2019, CTV announced that W5 would be returning for its 54th season in the 2019-2020 schedule. Later, the start date was reported as Saturday, Sept. 21
On Aiugist 6th 2019, CTV News announced that Kevin Newman would be stepping down as Host and Correspondent of W5 when the award-winning investigative series returned to CTV in September.
“I feel genuinely fortunate to have done some of the most meaningful work of my career at W5,” said Newman. “After four decades of reporting, it’s time to make room for the next generation, and I am grateful to be contributing to CTV News in new ways.”
Newman’s future activities would include a new podcast series for CTV News and iHeartRadio. This new podcast project would be released in the lead-up to and throughout the Canadian federal election and wpould focus on issues related to technology and democracy.
“Kevin has been an integral part of our news team’s mission to deliver compelling and in-depth news stories that matter to Canadians,” said Wendy Freeman, President of CTV News. “We’re very supportive of Kevin’s decision and look forward to continuing our work with him in a variety of new ways, including as a contributor to CTV NATIONAL NEWS during the Canadian federal election.”