Posted in Montreal, Radio

Cousin Vinny leaves Virgin Radio 96, AJ Reynolds let go from The Beat

This post has been corrected. See below.

"Cousin Vinny" aka Vince Barrucco

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.

AJ Reynolds: gone from The Beat

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.

22 thoughts on “Cousin Vinny leaves Virgin Radio 96, AJ Reynolds let go from The Beat

  1. Karine

    Well count me as one who sorely misses the old Q’s easy listening format. It’s not the only music I listen to but when I when to Q it was what I wanted from them. I’ve given up on Virgin a long time ago and am now doing the same with The Beat. I have now resorted to listening to that radio station from Vermont when I can get it.

    Reply
  2. josh

    Vinny will be going to the Beat in May for a lot more money. Same thing happened with Cat. Astral does not pay their announcers well, unless you’re Terry, Aaron or Andrew. Virgin has the numbers but Cogeco has the bucks to steal away announcers from other stations. Freeway is likely the lowest paid morning man among the Cogeco/Astral stations and he has the best ratings, go figure. Dickie should be canned for bringing in a guy from Nova Scotia and giving him only 5 months to get settled in. Vinny will be the only true Montrealer on air.

    Reply
    1. Michael D

      Surprising about the bucks portion as Astral does have the dough, but are notoriously cheap with everybody, outside of those top names mentioned..And Andrew Carter is overpaid and would get more bang for their bucks with somebody else..

      Cogeco may not necessarily have more bucks, but more creative,,,but they really gotta do something with their music selection on the weekend and have something different than on the weekdays….

      Reply
  3. dave

    seems Virgin is being stripped of all identity. Station is stronger than all of its parts…But it is losing ALL of its parts. Plus play list at CFQR seems a lot more Mix/Virgin like than whatever is coming from 96 these days who have gone younger/dancier and more annoying. If numbers don’t swing over to Beat now…they never will.

    Reply
  4. aaron

    Bergman and the whole ASTRAL team are so full of shit ! Has anyone on FORT street had a true and or original thought since the mighty ASTRAL took over ? The listeners at Virgin are there for the music.. The numbers dictate this yet if BERGMAN thinks he has anything to do with the numbers he is CRAZY ! they win by default.He is the new bread of radio PD/BRAND MANAGER .. If you can get by paying the minimal for talent and still get numbers why not ? The audience doesn’t deserve the best on air talent at ASTRAL .. They have proven this at VIRGIN and at CHOM .. Spalding and his monkeys taking talent out of the radio and bigger bottoms lines ! BRAVO for giving Montreal second rate talent and ASTRAL a better bottom line.

    Reply
    1. dave

      seems the lack of talent extends up the ladder past the on air talent. Not really quite sure as to why Bergman would be there or what he’s ever done to deserve the job (wasn’t he just a technical guy on the boards?), but at the same time, is it even a job? Does he even have a say as to any decisons that take place? Seems to me the job of PD has greatly diminished over the years…it used to be somebody wielding the ax and making critical decisions but now just seems to be a mouthpiece for higher-ups who are too busy counting pennies.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        Not really quite sure as to why Bergman would be there or what he’s ever done to deserve the job (wasn’t he just a technical guy on the boards?)

        Bergman was host of the afternoon drive show before he became the program director.

        but at the same time, is it even a job? Does he even have a say as to any decisons that take place?

        Sarcasm aside, it depends on the decision. Really big ones (like changing the station’s name) are probably made higher up, but something like hiring talent would be under Bergman’s job description. The applications for Barrucco’s replacement go to him.

        Reply
        1. dave

          think before he was a dj he was technical guy, but I guess doesn’t really matter…good for him and his move onward and upward.
          My comment about the job of PD though seems that there has been a level of management that didn’t exist years ago. Timeline, and I’m only guessing here, it seems it started when Rob Braide took over at AD years back. Suddenly the job of PD seemed to have lost it’s lustre. Montrealers knew who he was at various stations and if Gazette wanted a quote or explanation, the PD was who they went to. Now it seems they go over his head to the General Manager or whatever he is called. No offence to those people who hold or have held the job…but if there seems to be something newsworthy about Astral, it is always Spalding who is sought out.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            No offence to those people who hold or have held the job…but if there seems to be something newsworthy about Astral, it is always Spalding who is sought out.

            Part of this impression is probably due to the fact that until last summer Spalding was also the PD for CHOM. He took over the job himself temporarily when Daniel Tremblay left, and he was the guy who brought Terry DiMonte back.

            Spalding is also, obviously, responsible for anything that involves all three stations, like traffic, and I imagine he’s at least consulted on major hiring decisions.

            Reply
        2. Steve W

          At Astral all their program directors are labeled brand directors. I’m guessing all their routine programming(including some hiring) decisions are made by brand director, but anything bigger needs to go through their GM. Fagstein do you only contact Dickie with regards to The Beat programming as they do have a program director in Leo Da Estrela. I don’t think you have ever quoted Leo regarding anything with 92.5 FM programming.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            Fagstein do you only contact Dickie with regards to The Beat programming as they do have a program director in Leo Da Estrela. I don’t think you have ever quoted Leo regarding anything with 92.5 FM programming.

            I haven’t, more out of habit than anything else. Dickie speaks on behalf of the station, so when I have questions I call him.

            Reply
  5. Usedtobe

    Hey Steve,

    I was wondering why you changed the wording concerning the AJ Reynolds departure from “disappointing performance” to “things not working out…”

    If Mr. Dickie asked you to make the change, it could be to cover his ass in case of a lawsuit from Reynolds. Performance is measurable (i.e .ratings) whereas the second reason is vague and could mean anything. Was “disappointing…” your words or your interpretation?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I was wondering why you changed the wording concerning the AJ Reynolds departure from “disappointing performance” to “things not working out…”

      That was my fault. I misquoted (misparaphrased?) Dickie. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between things not working out and things being disappointing, but I’ll go with the direct quote and leave people to interpret it themselves.

      Reply
  6. Michael D

    well this is getting interesting..again no surprise here….both stations really sound the same..so it’s not surprising that there will be a movement of folks between the two places, but mainly going to the Beat…My info says there is a more relaxed laid back ambience at the Beat…

    and Cogeco with really their only English station in its stable aren’t afraid to spend some bucks…BUT, here the problem…is format…so outside of CHOM, Montreal’s only real rock station.. and Virgin and the BEAT, there really is no choice..CKOI is still the one in French…THE Beat or COGECO really lost an opportunity to do so something different last fall…

    Montreal is a major market to a point but not really..no country station, most markets in Canada and the US do, if Montreal was like New York or Chicago size-wise,,all-day jazz/blues station would proably work…but the direction the BEAT, and I know there will be some disagreement here. but a real ” Oldies” or ” Montreal’s greatest Hits” station would do bonkers on FM, especially now with most collections digitized…it would have to be run by not a kid or college rookie, but someone who knows that era, and announcers who knew that era….Marc Denis sounded good on ” montreal’s Greatest hits” but was handcuffed by AM mono sound, but sounded great on my stereo computer speakers…and it would have to be programmed who knows more than just 500 songs or so over 20 years…..

    Get the hint…need I say more. so we have CHOM and two other stations sounding the same…let the games begin!!

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      if Montreal was like New York or Chicago size-wise

      The difference between Montreal and other markets isn’t just a question of size. Because Montreal is a bilingual market, it’s effectively two smaller cities on top of each other, with half as much room for radio stations for each market group. So instead of a dozen music stations, we have three in English and four in French, plus the jazz station, the classical music station, CBC Radio Two and Espace Musique.

      Reply
      1. Neil K.

        The anglo radio market in Montreal has always been said be about 700,000 people, roughly the same market size as Winnipeg.

        Reply
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  9. Jonathan Robertson

    At least Reynolds was nice to listen to with sincerity in what he did as opposed to what ever the hell is happening during the drive show at the beat now. Between the technical mistakes, the show topics and recycled entertainment updates, it is just plain awful. I think Cousin Vinny made a huge mistake career wise, at least remaining with Virgin he had room to grow with Astral. Cogeco and the Beat is a death sentence in the Montreal market, there is no where else to go from there. I am cheering for the still number one Andres Collins.

    Reply

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