This post has been corrected. See below.
Vince Barrucco, better known as Cousin Vinny, has resigned from his post as afternoon drive announcer at CJFM to explore "a new opportunity" in the city after a few months off the air.
Mark Bergman, brand director for Virgin Radio 96, confirmed that Barrucco submitted his resignation letter Monday morning. Bergman said Barrucco didn't say where he was going.
Through social media, Barrucco was coy about his destination, saying only that it was "a new opportunity" and that he'd be staying in Montreal.
But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to notice that another Montreal drive-time announcer has been scrubbed from the schedule: AJ Reynolds is no longer part of The Beat, his name and face gone from the website (for the most part) and his Beat Twitter account disappeared, all about the same time as Barrucco left Virgin. Barrucco's sudden disappearance from the air, the lack of announcement about his leaving, and his forced vacation from behind the microphone are all consistent with him being poached by a competitor.
Reynolds, whose Canada's Top 20 Countdown has been picked up by seven new stations across Canada and will expand to four hours daily as of March 5, according to an ad it's running on the Airchecker blog, said he was leaving the Beat on good terms and wished them well.
The Beat's station manager, Mark Dickie, said the station had decided to "make a change" because of
disappointing performance at drive time* "things not working out as expected." He wouldn't confirm or deny whether Barrucco had been hired to replace Reynolds.
Reynolds's syndicated show, Canada's Top 20 Countdown, will remain on the Beat, at least for now, Dickie said. It airs 5-7pm Sundays.
Claudia Marques, the traffic announcer paired with Reynolds, is on maternity leave (as is morning traffic announcer Natasha Hall, which led to plenty of jokes about the fertility powers of the traffic announcer's equipment there). Dickie said Marques's job will be waiting for her when she returns.
I asked Bergman about what a trend that seems to have developed, if it is true that Barrucco is heading to the Beat. Barrucco would be the third Virgin star, after Cat Spencer and Nat Lauzon, that has been poached by the Beat in just the past year. This is noteworthy because CJFM consistently does better than CFQR/CKBE in the ratings, so you have to wonder why people are leaving the No. 1 music station for similar jobs at the No. 2.
Dickie also downplayed the trend, pointing out that the Beat has plenty of people from the old Q combined with new talent from elsewhere.
Bergman, who said he didn't know where Barrucco was going, said he isn't worried about losing talent, because the team at the station is stronger than any individual announcer. And the numbers suggest he's right, at least so far. Nevertheless, Bergman stressed that he has the utmost respect and admiration for Barrucco and that he wished him well. Barrucco had been at CJFM since 2009, and on the afternoon drive show since he replaced Bergman in April 2010.
Barrucco told me he'll be starting his new job at the end of May.
"A great opportunity presented itself that was hard to refuse," Barrucco said. "I enjoyed my time at Virgin Radio and wish the entire crew the best! Looking forward to the future!"
Astral has posted a job opening for a full-time announcer (the deadline is March 16), though Bergman says he hasn't discounted the possibility of using someone already on staff to fill the afternoon drive slot and taking on someone new to fill out the schedule. He says he's searching around for what's out there in the talent pool.
He's been doing a lot of that lately, thanks to Cogeco.
*Correction: An earlier version of this post said Beat general manager Mark Dickie expressed disappointment with the performance of the afternoon drive show hosted by AJ Reynolds. In fact, he said that things had not worked out "as expected" - a statement I had apparently interpreted a bit too much. My apologies to Dickie and Reynolds.