Posted in Montreal, Radio

Virgin shuffles lineup, puts Ryan Seacrest and Andrea Collins on afternoons

Andrea Collins moves to afternoon drive on CJFM

CJFM has shuffled its weekday lineup to fill the hole left by Cousin Vinny’s departure for CKBE. Andrea Collins, who was doing late mornings, gets to take over the afternoon drive slot from 3-7pm. Nikki Balch, who did early afternoons, moves to late mornings (9am to noon), and the remaining hole from noon to 3pm is being filled by … Ryan Seacrest.

Virgin Brand Director Mark Bergman tells me he had candidates from inside and outside Montreal for the afternoon drive job posted after Vince Barrucco’s sudden resignation, but that he found Collins was “the best one for the position.” Bergman said “she’s got a young sound to her, yet mature.”

“I’m soooooo excited! I’m used to more of a morning or drive spot, so this right up my alley,” Collins wrote to me in an email during her Wednesday shift. “Drive is generally a male-dominated position, so I’m really pumped to own it as a female, and happy the great peeps at Virgin were open to making that change. I promise it’s the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship ;)”

Balch, one of the unsung heroes of Virgin’s lineup, gets to start her day earlier.

But it’s Seacrest that will probably get some eyebrows raising among local radio watchers because it means no local announcer for three hours in the middle of weekdays. Bergman said he put Seacrest in the slot was because of his star power and how popular he is with the audience that Virgin Radio is attracting. Seacrest has long been a fixture of the Virgin schedule, including a Saturday morning show. But it’s a big leap from low-rated weekend slots to weekday afternoons.

Virgin’s schedule moves contrast with those of its main competitor, The Beat. While Cogeco’s music station is hiring away Virgin announcers (Cat Spencer, Nat Lauzon, Vince Barrucco) and putting a serious focus on local talent (even overnights), Virgin’s schedule is considerably lighter on local people. Its only weekend personality is Kelly Alexander and it has no live local person for weekday overnights. (It’s not just a question of being owned by Astral Media – CHOM is also heavy on local talent, including overnight and weekends.)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the ratings. Will listeners care that the voice between the hit songs they hear is Seacrest instead of someone local? Will star power have more of an impact than a local voice?

We’ll see.

18 thoughts on “Virgin shuffles lineup, puts Ryan Seacrest and Andrea Collins on afternoons

  1. Captain Obvious

    Virgin isn’t a station that I listen to, so I care little about their financial sustainability.

    Still, I wonder if anyone there remembers the lackluster results CHOM had when they syndicated Howard Stern a decade or so back?

    Okay, that was a morning show, and this will be a mid-day, sorry-I’m-too-busy-updating-my-Facebook-at-work-to-really-listen time, so it’ll be interesting to see if anyone actually notices.

    Will there be an outcry for local talent, or just shrugs between Katy Perry tunes?

    Reply
  2. Marc

    Hmm, more cheap syndicated crap à la Seacrest. We’re far from the days of the old AC-formatted FM96 which had solid gold Sunday mornings with Dean Hagopian and Jazz 96 with Len Dobbin.

    CJFM is really going down the tubes and being clobbered by CFQR CKBE.

    Reply
  3. June

    For me the beginning of the end with Virgin/The Mix was when they took Kelly off the air at 1pm and put that horrible Heather person…then Mark left his 4pm spot….Nat leaving was the last straw…. I no longer listen to Virgin.

    Reply
  4. Jim

    I hear The Beat could have saved some money by handing afternoons over to its “jill of all trades”, CJ.
    Rumor has it that the ratings have grown exponentially since we’ve been hearing her.

    Reply
  5. Jordan

    Fagstein asks “It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the ratings. Will listeners care that the voice between the hit songs they hear is Seacrest instead of someone local? Will star power have more of an impact than a local voice?”

    I think this decision is beyond ridiculous and sounds like an April Fools joke, this is what happens when a big company like Astral is getting ready to sell, they become lazy and saturate the airwaves with non sense. This is supposed to be a local FM music station, not a plug in from Los Angeles.

    CFQR as known as CKBE will greatly benefit from this stupid decision, now CKBE will become more aggressive, see the programming and creative weaknesses, spend some dollars investing into local talent and trades with Metromedia CMR PLUS outdoor advertising and win away huge audiences, CKBE must do this consistently effectively and not drop the ball and they will become the lone standing king of English FM musical broadcasting in Montreal.

    Reply
  6. Vahan

    I am not sure radio matters anymore. Well at least in my world and most people I work with. At one point in time I remember coming to work in the morning and talking to my colleagues about what we just heard on the radio while getting ready for work or driving into work. At other places we would huddle around a radio listening to the call in shows at CJAD and waiting for the noon newscast of Gord Sinclair. Now it is just, blah! Everyone sounds the same, the same stupid scratching of record station contest announcements with the different voice effects of the same announcer (for impact I suppose). But I can’t tell them apart anymore, so I have simply tuned out. I was actually excited that Terry was back on CHOM, but man what a let down. Apparently he has a co-host, I can’t tell which one of the three women’s voices she is when I listen for the 5 minutes each morning before getting on with my day. It might be my boring grogginess, yet they don’t have the same “wake up and get out of bed for a new day” effect on me anymore, so 5 minutes for quick news and off he goes. At work most people are now listening to radio from around the world on the web or to their iTunes. Good luck Bell trying to squeeze a buck out of your media. In my mind they are no longer actually making money, they are simply squeezing employees to keep more of what little is left over, giving the customers blah media. Oatmeal has become more exciting.

    Reply
  7. Sheldon

    Weight the costs on the Noon to 3 pm time slot. Pay a local DJ some bucks to voice-track the three hours a day, or bring in a syndicated American product which probably costs next to nothing.

    Regarding Collins in the drive-home slot, I have nothing against her. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her on the air. It’s just encouraging to see that a major commercial outlet in this city has chosen a female host for one of their prime-time slots. I certainly hope that there is at least pay equity at Virgin and that she’s getting equal pay for equal work.

    Reply
  8. Mario

    I don’t listen to Mix/Virgin96.
    But maybe with the impeding sale of Astral assets to Bell, in the most likely event that Bell will be forced to sell one of their English radio stations, CJFM 96 will be the sacrificial lamb.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      maybe with the impeding sale of Astral assets to Bell, in the most likely event that Bell will be forced to sell one of their English radio stations, CJFM 96 will be the sacrificial lamb.

      I don’t see any argument that suggests CJFM would get sold before CHOM. Virgin Radio is a national brand and CJFM is the #1 music station in the market.

      Reply
  9. darren

    Again some more GENIUS from the ASTRAL brain trust ? Fagstein please state the obvious .. Nobody at this company cares about on air talent ? How did Dimonte’s ratings go ? why is nobody asking questions at Astrals lack of concern with any of their so called brands ?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Fagstein please state the obvious .. Nobody at this company cares about on air talent ?

      I can’t make that conclusion. I won’t say that Astral is the greatest company in the world when it comes to its on-air staff, but it’s not the worst either. That said, Virgin is clearly more concerned about music than it is about having veteran DJs.

      How did Dimonte’s ratings go ?

      The last ratings period showed not much difference overall for CHOM’s morning show under DiMonte, but it has passed CKBE for third place among adults 25-54, and is in general on a slight upward trajectory.

      why is nobody asking questions at Astrals lack of concern with any of their so called brands ?

      What questions would you like asked? (Other than “why do you suck?”)

      Reply
  10. Charlie M

    Is it just me, or has Virgin sort of imploded the last few years? As a West Islander, I think WYUL 94.7 Hits has surpassed them here, whereas I would imagine the Beat is starting to gain traction in the Eastern and downtown portions of the island. Five years ago, it seems like it was all Virgin. Now I’m not so sure

    Reply
  11. Michael D

    Well ,is this true that I hear Pete Marier got himself a gig at the Team 990…ooops TSN Radio 990…and what shift….didn’t know there were any openings or did they create one…

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Well ,is this true that I hear Pete Marier got himself a gig at the Team 990…ooops TSN Radio 990

      He was a temporary fill-in on their morning show.

      Reply
  12. Bill the Radio Guy

    some stats for people who talk but have no clue.

    1-Virgin is the #1 station FACT
    2-94.7 is not even on the radar FACT
    3-No one will even notice Seacrest is on air FACT (local or not)
    4-Virgin hired a female host on drive FACT (and industry leading! Can you name another in a Major Market?)
    5-The Beat is clobbering Virgin? Did Someone actually say that? (False, not according to the ratings)
    6-Bell will sell Virgin? FALSE (Are you insane? The Best performing station in the market?)

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      1-Virgin is the #1 station FACT

      Actually, CJAD is the top-rated station overall, but Virgin is the top music station and the top station among most key demographics.

      4-Virgin hired a female host on drive FACT

      I must admit being a bit surprised that this is such a big deal. Is it really so radical that a woman has taken over the afternoon drive timeslot solo?

      5-The Beat is clobbering Virgin? Did Someone actually say that?

      The Beat claims to be No. 1 among women 35-54. But Virgin is still way ahead in the ratings game.

      6-Bell will sell Virgin? FALSE (Are you insane? The Best performing station in the market?)

      I also think Virgin is the least likely station to be sold, because of its ratings and because it’s part of a national brand.

      Reply

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