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
- Job losses: 2/15 (Louis-Philippe Brulé, Clinton Archibald)
- Local coverage: Le Droit (with reaction), Radio-Canada
- CHLT 107.7FM, Estrie
- Job losses: None/15; Susan Léger moves to afternoons
- Local coverage: La Tribune, Journal de Sherbrooke
- CHLN 106.9FM, Mauricie
- Job losses: 1/17 (host Mathieu Beaumont); morning contributors move to the afternoon show
- Local coverage: None Le Nouvelliste, L’Hebdo Journal
- CKRS 98.3FM, Saguenay
- Job losses: None/15 (but some employees lose hours); Myriam Ségal moves to afternoons
- Local coverage: Radio-Canada, Journal de Québec
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.
CHLN coverage in the Nouvelliste
More of Corus doing what it always does: trying to shrink into profitablity, even though it has failed over and over again in the radio market to do so.
Each time they make a move that changes the connection people have with a radio station, such as a format change or on the air personnel moves, they risk alienating some of their listeners. When you tell people in the regions that they no longer merit their own morning show, and that they should just eat the morning soup from Montreal, they are likely to move away from your station.
If you teach people to change the channel in the morning, they are likely not coming back the rest of the day.
At some point, the CRTC will realize that the regional stations are less and less unique, and more and more just retransmission / repeaters and perhaps consider moving the licenses to companies that might actually produce local content.
Here’s a hint for the regional stations: Simulcasting / rebroadcasting is the last step on the Corus ladder before you become either an automated oldies station, or shut down entirely. Get prepared, history is a great teacher!
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