Corus Québec announced Monday that it is cutting the morning program at four “Souvenirs Garantis” regional radio stations in Quebec and replacing them with a simulcast of Paul Arcand’s show from Montreal from 5:30 to 9am, starting next Monday.
Affected are (with links to local stories and lists of fired local personalities):
- CJRC 104.7FM, Outaouais
- CHLT 107.7FM, Estrie
- CHLN 106.9FM, Mauricie
- CKRS 98.3FM, Saguenay
Once upon a time, it took a lot of people to run a radio station. Now apparently it takes about a dozen, and even then there’s some room for more cuts. Corus managers defend the cuts by saying Arcand’s show isn’t a “Montreal” show but a “provincial” one. Even if we accept that as true, it still means the local voices are cut.
And this isn’t Saturday nights they’re talking about – they’re cutting the weekday morning shows, the most important timeslot of any radio station.
Corus’s press release says Arcand and Mario Cecchini will be visiting these regions this week to meet the media. Hopefully they’ll get some tough questions about why people in those regions should continue to tune in after their local voices have been cut. (UPDATE Feb. 19: See below)
Local voices are important, and that’s evidenced most by how little coverage there is here so far. Only Radio-Canada stations and Gesca papers mention the cuts, and the change in Mauricie has no local coverage whatsoever that I can find online UPDATE: Le Nouvelliste had the story the next day, and other papers have added coverage.
The FPJQ, the association representing Quebec journalists, condemns Corus’s cuts, as does the NDP. Agence QMI, meanwhile, didn’t see fit to mention that there would be any.
Pierre Jury of Le Droit rightly calls this part of the Montrealization of commercial radio.
UPDATE (Feb. 19): Le Nouvelliste has a report on what Paul Arcand is telling the regions he’s visiting this week:
- There will still be local journalists who will produce local news reports during the morning, and if something important happens, they will have the ability to stay on air (somehow I doubt that’s going to be practical in the long term).
- Nobody’s going to be hearing Montreal traffic reports on regional stations.
- He finds the term “Montrealization of the airwaves” insulting for some reason. He says that’s not what happening, even though it’s regional programming being replaced with Montreal-based programming.
- Afternoon shows are being extended, so the amount of local content is the same (only, instead of needing a morning host and an afternoon one, you just have one host on a longer shift).
- This is good for the regions because he’ll be dealing with more regional issues and they will get a larger audience.
- This has been done before, badly, and that’s why people don’t like this idea. But Corus has a magical ability to do a good job, and if they don’t then people will complain.