Cogeco Diffusion announced Wednesday that it is converting three of its regional stations from music to talk starting Aug. 20.
CKOI-FM in Montreal, the flagship station, is not included in the list of stations undergoing a format change.
For the three regional stations, the move is kind of a step backward. All three used to be talk stations until Corus changed their vocation in 2009: CJRC/CJRC-FM in Gatineau, CHLT/CHLT-FM in Sherbrooke and CHLN/CHLN-FM in Trois Rivières. All three were AM stations that converted to FM about five years ago. In 2009, Corus converted them from music to talk to become Souvenirs Garantis stations, and then they became CKOI after Cogeco took over.
The full schedule still has yet to be set, but Cogeco assured journalists on a conference call Wednesday that there would be no reduction of local programming, that morning shows, afternoon drive shows and weekend shows would stay local. One show we know will be carried across the network is Isabelle Maréchal from 10am to noon. Jacques Fabi's overnight show will also be carried across the network.
Sports programming will remain unchanged from what's there now. All three stations carry Les amateurs des sports with Michel Villeneuve and Bonsoir les sportifs with Ron Fournier/Mario Langlois, as well as hockey games (Canadiens in Sherbrooke and Trois Rivières, Senators in Outaouais).
A handful of jobs will be affected by the change, but most of those will be given other duties, the stations' managers said. There isn't expected to be a net change in the number of jobs, though Cogeco Diffusion head Richard Lachance said he is "not closing the door" to new jobs as new programming is developed.
Branding wasn't discussed during the conference call, but it's expected to be something similar to what's used in Montreal and Quebec City, namely the frequency and the letters "FM". On May 1, Cogeco Diffusion registered the domain names fm1069.ca, fm1077.ca and fm1047.ca. It already owned 1077fm.ca, but 1069fm.ca and 1047fm.ca are owned by others.