Radio ratings: Good news for 98.5, The Beat and CHOM

Quarterly radio ratings were released earlier this month. You can see the BBM compilation of top-line data here (PDF), but it doesn’t say too much.

Astral and Cogeco both provide analysis for the benefit of advertisers, Astral in the form of a slideshow (PDF) and Groupe Force Radio (which represents Cogeco stations and independent former Corus stations in Quebec City and Saguenay) also does a slide presentation (PDF). The latter tends to be more detailed, but is also more biased, highlighting their stations’ successes and their competitors’ struggles.

Here, based on those reports, is some analysis of what’s going on in commercial radio in Montreal. We’ll start with the English side.

English radio

Afternoon ratings show a spike for Donna Saker’s show on CKBE, rocketing it to No. 1. There’s a similar spike in late mornings and at noon-hour.

Overall, there hasn’t been much change in the ratings. A few points up, a few points down. But breaking it down a bit you see some significant gains for CKBE-FM 92.5 (The Beat) and a few highlights for CHOM-FM 97.7 as well.

The Beat, which rebranded last fall in an effort to attract a younger female audience but hadn’t seen much movement in ratings until now, is starting to see the change (and accompanying marketing spending) pay off. It’s second behind Virgin Radio among adults 18-49 and 25-54 (in both cases passing CHOM), first among adults 35-64 (passing CJAD) and has seen a gain of more than 50% in a year for men 25-54 (which is interesting because the station is targetting women).

The biggest news for The Beat is that it’s now No. 1 during the workday among adults 25-54, stealing a pretty big share from Virgin Radio compared to the last ratings period.

Before: Virgin dominates the day, The Beat and CHOM fight for No. 2

After: The Beat has climbed and Virgin has dropped, creating a three-way race

As the charts above from Groupe Force Radio show, it’s a pretty significant change.

CJAD 800

Everything’s pretty stable at ‘AD. No major programming changes the past few months (though Mose Persico’s show is gone). We can confirm some effects (or lack thereof) from schedule changes last fall:

  • Aaron Rand’s afternoon drive show has about the same ratings as Ric Peterson before him (at least among adults 25-54, for all audiences it’s down a bit).
  • Peterson, meanwhile, is slightly below the ratings of a year ago of people he replaced in early afternoons, Kim Fraser and Dan Laxer.
  • Viewpoints with Todd van der Heyden has about 16,000 listeners, a thousand less than Showtime with Sharman Yarnell a year ago. (On the other hand, the Chris Robinson Travel Show with Sharman Yarnell has lost about 3,000 average-minute listeners compared with last year).
  • Kim Fraser’s Saturday show is a few points below that of Anne Lagacé Dowson in the same slot a year ago.


  • Total listeners: When counting all age groups, including teenagers and retirees who are of little interest to advertisers, CJAD still has the largest market share at 23%.
  • Early mornings (Andrew Carter): Carter’s morning show still has the largest audience before 7am, when Virgin’s Freeway and Natasha takes over. Carter’s show is also the highest-rated show in Montreal radio, with 32,600 listeners during the average minute among all age groups.
  • Late night (Joey Elias): Elias’s comedy show gives the station a spike around midnight, particularly among women.
  • Weekend mornings: It’s not quite as dominant as it used to be, but the station is still No. 1 among adults 25-54 before 10am on weekends. The weekend morning shows get 25,000 listeners, which is more than Tommy Schnurmacher.


  • Youth: The station hasn’t historically done well among young adults, but its poor position is continuing to decline among adults 18-34. What’s worse it’s also losing ground among older listeners, handing the top spot among adults 35-64 to The Beat.
  • Early evenings: The loss of Canadiens games to CKGM seems to have hurt the evening ratings. Among men 25-54, the station has lost half its audience between 7pm and 9pm.

CKGM 990 (TSN Radio)

Not too many big changes here either. The addition of Ted Bird to the morning show came too late to have much of an impact on the spring numbers.

Nevertheless, the station has lost a lot of the ground it made up during the fall months. A spike during the ratings period ending at the end of February has been wiped away, perhaps because interest in the Canadiens (both in listening to the games and talking about them) faded along with their chances at making the playoffs.

That said, it’s still better than it was a year ago, and the year before that.


  • Mitch Melnick: CKGM is the only anglo commercial station with a stronger peak in the afternoon than in the morning. This is probably reflective of the fact that sports fans stay up later, but also of the fact that Melnick is the big star here.
  • Canadiens games: The loss in ratings attributable to the loss of Canadiens games at CJAD has showed in a corresponding increase to CKGM’s ratings for the same time period on weeknights, doubling its audience among men 25-54 in that time period. From 7pm to 9pm on weeknights, the two stations are now neck and neck, among both men and women. There’s also an increase for CKGM on weekends from 7 to 9pm among men, which is probably also because of Canadiens games.


  • Youth: CKGM has less than a third of the market share of CJAD among adults 18-34.
  • Women: Should come as no surprise. Its 2.4% market share among women 25-54 gives it a sixth that of CHOM and a seventh that of CJAD.
  • Mornings (Elliott Price and Shaun Starr): The flip side to a strong Melnick is a weak morning show, which has less than half the audience of any of the other four stations among adults 25-54. Will Ted Bird help change that? We’ll see in the next ratings report.

CKBE-FM 92.5 (The Beat)

Cogeco and The Beat are very happy with these ratings, but their increases aren’t quite in their target groups. The Beat is up significantly among men (where it’s behind CHOM and still behind Virgin) and young adults (where it’s still well behind Virgin). They’re up a bit in other demographics as well, but not as pronounced.

It’s too early to get any indication about Cousin Vinny in here. Though he started the very day after this ratings period ended, so it’ll be easier to make comparisons when the next set of numbers comes out.

If we compare to last year at this time, we can see noticeable gains in weekday and weekend mornings, weekdays during the day and weekday drive. There’s a more modest gain for Nat Lauzon’s weekend afternoon show.


  • Middays (Donna Saker): The queen of the work day is now No. 1 among adults 25-54, increasing her average minute audience for that demographic by 50% over the past year. Most of the gain has come at the expense of Virgin.
  • Older listeners: The Beat is now No. 1 among adults 35-64, passing CJAD.
  • Men: As ridiculous as it might sound for a station that professes its love for women so much, The Beat’s gains this quarter are much stronger among the XY-chromosomed. The Beat, in fact, has the best-rated drive show among men 25-54, even though the drive show was sitting without a permanent host for this entire ratings period.
  • Weekend mornings (Ken Connors): Though still behind CJAD, Ken Connors’s weekend morning show has shown significant results for The Beat’s key demo of women 25-54. Among men, it’s stuck with Virgin and well behind CHOM.
  • Income: The average household income of The Beat’s listeners is higher than the other stations.


  • Francophones: It’s not really counted in most market measurements, because they only count anglo households as part of the market, but CHOM and CJFM do much better among francophone listeners. So while Virgin and The Beat are neck and neck in overall market share among anglos, among francophones Virgin reaches 400,000 more listeners than The Beat in an average week, twice as much in an average day, and it has 50% more market share.
  • Demographics: When the name of the game is to own a demographic to maximize ad revenue, being balanced gender-wise is a bad thing, and The Beat is the most gender-balanced of the five commercial anglo stations. It’s also older – an average age of 49 compared to 37 for Virgin. More importantly, The Beat still isn’t beating Virgin overall in the key demographic of women 25-54.

CJFM-FM 95.9 (Virgin Radio 96)

Even though it’s still No. 1 in many key categories, this isn’t the best ratings report for Virgin because it’s losing a lot of ground to The Beat. (It’s losing a lot of talent, too, though it’s unclear at this point whether the latter is the cause of the former.) Among adults 25-54, rather than being 14 points ahead of The Beat, as it was last year, it’s now only 2.3 points ahead. Among men 25-54, Virgin has lost seven points in the past year and The Beat has gained seven points.


  • Youth: Virgin has a stranglehold 42% commercial market share among adults 18-34.
  • Women: It’s losing ground and The Beat is coming on strong, but Virgin still has first place among women 25-54.
  • Mornings (Freeway Frank and Natasha Gargiulo): Virgin’s morning show is still strong despite the loss of Cat Spencer to The Beat and Lisa Player to who knows where. It has a very concentrated peak around 8am among women.
  • Afternoons and evenings: The drive show (now hosted by Andrea Collins) and the early evening show (with Tony Stark) are tops among both men and women age 25-54.
  • Weekends: Even though Virgin uses syndicated programming and doesn’t have many DJs doing weekend shifts (Kelly Alexander’s morning show being the exception) while its competitors have high-profile weekend DJs throughout the day, Virgin dominates among adults 25-54 weekend afternoons and well into the evenings. Even among men, it’s neck and neck with CHOM for top spot in that age group.


  • Older listeners: About the only category Virgin does poor in is adults 35-64, where it places fourth.

It’s too early to judge from these numbers what kind of impact Virgin’s recent afternoon changes have had. But program director Mark Bergman tells me bringing in a syndicated Ryan Seacrest show has resulted in a slight improvement in numbers and that new drivetime host Andrea Collins is keeping her ratings stable.

CHOM-FM 97.7

With the arrival of Terry DiMonte and Heather Backman and the departure of Pete Marier, just about the entire schedule has changed over the past year. The station, which has been stalling in the ratings for a while, is starting to make some gains in some areas.

It’s been suggested to me (by people with axes to grind) that Terry DiMonte would bring CHOM’s ratings up, but mainly for women, not men. The data seems to give evidence to this theory. DiMonte’s show has doubled its average audience for women, from about 2,000 listeners in the average minute to about 4,000 among women 25-54. There’s also a noticeable peak for female audience during the morning show that didn’t exist a year ago. But among men 25-54, the ratings are also up.


  • Mornings (Terry DiMonte and Heather Backman): The show’s ratings are much higher than they were a year ago, when it was Chantal Desjardins and Pete Marier, among both men and women 25-54. Are they up enough to justify the expense of bringing DiMonte back to the mic? That’s a good question.
  • Middays (TooTall): Now the highest-rated show on CHOM’s schedule (among men 25-54 and adults 25-54). A year ago, CHOM would slowly lose audience during the day, but with TooTall he keeps the audience (particularly among men) strong until 2pm. His gender balance (very heavily skewed toward men) is also sure to please advertisers.
  • Weekends (Sharon Hyland and Rob Kemp): Hyland in the mornings and Kemp during the day have helped to boost CHOM’s ratings among men significantly compared to a year ago, at least until 2pm. Kemp does particularly well among young listeners, 18-34.
  • Men: CHOM is still No. 1 among men 25-54, after being slightly behind Virgin a year ago.


  • Afternoon drive (Bilal Butt): While the morning and midday shows are up, the afternoon drive show is stagnant. Its ratings are actually up slightly from a year ago, particularly among women, but the success of TooTall has made the dropoff in numbers in the afternoon more significant. Rather than dominating among men, Bilal’s numbers are about the same as the competition.

French radio

French-language market share for Montreal (by Groupe Force Radio)

The big winner, once again, is CHMP 98.5FM, which has seen its overall market share go from 12.9% in winter 2011 and 14.3% in spring 2011 to 23.5% in spring 2012. After a spectacular ratings jump last fall, its numbers have actually continued to go up.

As Le Devoir points out, much of this gain comes at the expense of Radio-Canada.

Otherwise, there aren’t any big losers. Rythme FM still dominates music stations, and CKOI still struggles, barely staying No. 1 among adults 18-34. This helps explain why Cogeco has decided that it’s better to model regional stations after CHMP than CKOI.

CKAC 730 (Radio Circulation)

Because it has less than a point in market share, the error margin is pretty high and it’s hard to make too much analysis out of relative changes. So the fact that it’s down 25% doesn’t really say much. Suffice it to say the station isn’t going to shatter the industry in terms of advertising.

CKMF-FM 94.3 (NRJ)


  • Mornings: It’s the highest-rated music station in the morning, and the only station that has it audience peak before 9am. (It’ll be interesting to see if that changes now that Mitsou is no longer part of the morning show.)
  • Youth: Not far behind CKOI in terms of young audience


  • Other than a strong morning show and okay performance among young men, the station’s ratings are mediocre.

CKOI-FM 96.9


  • Youth: The station is No. 1 among adults 18-34, but not by much. It has a 23% market share, but the four other stations have shares above 15% in this demographic


  • Everything else. There’s been a bit of a recovery from a very poor ratings report in winter, but not enough. Expect something drastic to happen to this station soon.

CHMP-FM 98.5


  • Paul Arcand: By far the most popular morning host, and CHMP’s top-rated show.
  • Paul Houde: Lesser domination, but Houde’s afternoon drive show also beats its competitors
  • Ron Fournier: His Bonsoir les Sportifs gives the station better numbers from 10pm to 1am weeknights than it does earlier in the evening
  • Men: The station is top-rated among men 25-54 throughout the day
  • Average listening time: 6.4 hours a week per listener, almost twice that of the music stations and a record for CHMP


  • Isabelle Maréchal: Even though it’s the one being tapped to be taken network-wide, Maréchal’s show from 10am to noon is the lowest-rated of the four big daytime talk shows, falling behind Rythme FM and even Rouge FM among adults 25-54.
  • Weekends: With weak programming, CHMP falls behind all four music stations on weekend afternoons

CFGL-FM 105.7 (Rythme FM)


  • Income: Rythme FM has the highest average listener income of the big stations, even beating CHMP. Only Planète Jazz (CKLX-FM 91.9) has a higher average income.
  • Reach: About 2.4 million people listen to the station at least once a week, making it the station with the highest overall reach.
  • Weekends: The station is No. 1 during the day on weekends, scoring well among both men and women.
  • Women: Rythme FM is the most skewed toward women (except for Planète Jazz) and dominates in this group from 9am to 5pm weekdays as well as from 10am to 7pm weekends.
  • Julie Bélanger: The daytime host brings her station to No. 1 during most of the time between rush hours.


  • Mornings: Les Matins de Montréal, with its long list of hosts, falls not only far behind Paul Arcand but behind NRJ’s morning show, where it fights among the other three music stations.
  • Véronique Cloutier: There’s a noticeable dip in ratings for CFGL’s noon show hosted by the animatrice vedette, one that you don’t see at the other music stations.

CITE-FM 107.3 (Rouge FM)


  • Women: It’s second behind Rythme FM among women 25-54, but CHMP is right behind it. It’s also second among men, but a more distant second, and tied with NRJ.
  • Weekends: It’s the only station competing with Rythme FM during the day on weekends, particularly among women. Its weekend morning show is also very competitive.
  • Evenings: There are points where it’s No. 1, during the weakest part of the day for all the stations.


  •  Mornings: Even among women, the morning show lags behind its competitors.

21 thoughts on “Radio ratings: Good news for 98.5, The Beat and CHOM

    1. Fagstein Post author

      BBM doesn’t take WYUL or WBTZ into account?

      They’re out-of-market stations. They’re counted, along with all the stations that aren’t BBM members, but they’re not reported.

  1. Eric

    The weakness for TSN990 in the morning is a crew that is not sports oriented. They want to be funny and witty and smart alecky. But they come off as goofs, and honestly have nothing of value to say. Adding Ted Bird, a sports nobody, doesn’t help. They should get people who know what they are saying, having 5 minutes with TSN Toronto personnel doesn’t count.

    People want to talk and listen to sports commentary and opinions not dumb ass comments about people that call in. Making fun of the people who listen to your show is not a great way of to increase your base of listeners.

    Anyway, I’ve always said that station sounds like a high school radio. Nothing more nothing less. CHOM should try to give Melnick a show, he always wanted to be a DJ, why not replace that Butt guy. Then he could play all the crappy music he wants so we can listen to sports programs.

    Everyone would be happy.

    1. Sheldon

      I have to agree that there has been a change in the quality of the TSN morning show and most of it happened with the departure of Denis Casavant. I stayed with the show after Casavant left, although I really found that the chemistry changed. Now that Ted Bird has joined the team, I’m finding it difficult to stay with. As you pointed out, they have indeed tried to make the show “funnier” but they have sacrificed a lot of quality sports-talk because of it. I’m sorry but the Don Scary and Revisionist History schtick, in my opinion, is just old and tired. I also have heard a few listeners being referred to as “loser” and “idiot” on the air because they took the time to either e-mail or text message the show with their opinions about the show. I guess listeners’ opinions only count if they are in agreement with those of the hosts. Not very classy. I find that the same attitude unfortunately carries over into the Marinaro show as well.

      I like Starr and Price together, but with Casavant included in the mix, it was certainly better. Now it seems, at least to me, that with Bird as a part of the team, they are almost trying to out-do each other rather than compliment each other. The “laugh-out-loud” style of yucking it up over each other’s jokes, something that permeates most FM “morning zoo” style formats, has crept into the TSN morning show. That really wears very thin, very quickly.

      I have always supported the station and I like the fact that they have given a lot of young, local people the opportunity to get on the radio and learn on the job, something that other stations in this market do not tend to do. Some of them are much better than others, but they are all trying very hard and I congratulate the station management for giving them the opportunity. What I always liked about the station in the past is that staff and management were, generally speaking, very open to comments, suggestions and criticism and often went out of their way to address the issues that were brought up to them.

      I am a huge fan of the Melnick afternoon show. What I particularly enjoy is that it isn’t just 100% sports. Melnick has often said that there are days when there just isn’t a lot of sports going on and if he had to do 4 hours a day of nothing but sports, he probably wouldn’t be doing the show. I think he has a finger on the pulse of the majority of his audience, and the ratings prove it. The show is heavy on sports when it needs to be, but he is a real pro at knowing how to balance it out and to offer entertainment and variety to his audience together with the sports.

      I am not a huge sports fan, but I am a fan of quality radio. I hope that TSN 990 continues to examine itself closely and pays attention to the loyal following they have. It has served them well in the past.

      1. Eric

        Good points Sheldon,

        I think that listening in the morning and getting off to a bad vibe kinda start ruins it for me. You are right, the zoo thing has been beaten like a dead horse.

        Honestly, I get angry just listening to them out do each other.

        And you are right, kudos for giving kids a chance, but I would let them get experience during the night in order to find their voice. Not during prime time.

        As for Melnick, I have my issues with him. I wasn’t a fan of bringing over Nilan but Chris has brought good points and gives the listener an insiders point of view. A bit like Momesso and Dollas. Which is what TSN is lacking. The listeners need more like them. People who played the game and can comment and say the way it is. Not make guesses and read what others say on other web sites.

    2. Gazoo

      just curious of you think Mitch Melnick is any better? spends a good protion of his show playing music (Dylan and the likes). does this have anything to do with sports? He has his buddies McGuire and Lee talk for 15 minutes each chewing up another chunk of his show.

      I agree with you regarding the morning show. Since Casavant has left, it has gone down hill. Shaun Starr drives me nuts and Bird brings nothing to the party in regards to sports.

      1. Gazoo

        further to Melnick, if there is not allot going on in sports (aka the Habs or hockey in general) there certainly are other sporting events going on… soccer, football, the summer Olympics are soon to begin, or perhaps even talk about local amateur athletes, promote them once in awhile.
        To me, the Dylan schtick has grown old and tiring.

        1. Eric

          Indeed. Imagine when Dylan dies ? OMG it will be a week long tribute and sh!t. Also his nobody singer songwriters. Seriously, people get this man a job elsewhere but on sports if he so wants to play music. Yes it’s different but we want sports not music. If I want music I’ll listen to my IPOD. Which is what I do in the mornings since TSN’s morning show is so infuriating.

          Happy Canada day…..

          1. Eric

            Reply to Fagstein about nobody songwriters = NO MUSIC. If I want to hear some music I put on my Ipod in the car. I always had the impression that he was part of some music/tour company and was pushing those artists. I could be wrong.

            BTW listened to the TSN morning show today and having Price back, is a breath of stale air…. Jeez there were at one point 4 people trying to get a word in (Price, Starr, Bird and some woman). Yup it’s a zoo with all the same type of animals….

          2. Neil K.

            Mitch is indeed partner in a music promotion company called Billy Bob Productions. His company has brought several important, highly respected non-mainstream singer/songwriters to town (Steve Forbert, John Prine to name a couple) and I imagine he does play their music on his show to push the shows.

  2. Bob

    Is There ary news on when TSN 990 switches to 690?

    Btw is there any news on whether or not CTV Montreal will ever get HD?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Is There ary news on when TSN 990 switches to 690?

      The plan is for the switch to happen in September.

      Btw is there any news on whether or not CTV Montreal will ever get HD?

      Within the next year and a half. Beyond that, I don’t have any updated information. The first steps will probably take place after the Olympics this summer, when CTV has some HD equipment and other resources it can offer to regional stations.

  3. Clive

    The richest TV network in the country still can’t get it’s landmark newscast in HD for another 18 months. Jeeez.

    Come on people, there are other options. Quit watching Pulse dammit!

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The richest TV network in the country still can’t get it’s landmark newscast in HD for another 18 months. Jeeez.

      CTV National News is already in HD and has been for quite some time.

      Come on people, there are other options. Quit watching Pulse dammit!

      Some people (about 200,000 or so) still seem to prefer having good content over having it in high definition.

      1. Eric

        How old is Mitsumi ? Seriously….Wikipedia doesn’t even mention it. That’s old.

        I stopped watching Pulse as soon as I was able to push the buttons on my remote.

        Bird Berdan from WPTZ was the BEST…. It always freaked me out to know they also broadcasted to the North Pole. I figured if Santa Claus can watch Bird, so can I.

    2. Marc

      Quality of the newscast wins out over screen resolution. 480p is perfectly watchable; has been so for decades.

  4. Peter

    Montreal radio has sucked for the 50 and up crowd since The Beat replaced Q92 many have gone to satellite radio, and they will never come back.


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