Posted in Montreal, Radio

TTP applies for English news-talk station at 600AM

Nicolas Tétrault, Rajiv Pancholy and Paul Tietolman

It got buried under all the hoopla about Bell, Astral and CKGM, but at the same hearing where the CRTC will consider Bell’s purchase of Astral and the proposal to turn TSN Radio into RDS Radio, it will also consider an application by three independent millionnaires to start up an English-language news-talk station to compete with CJAD.

The application – by Paul Tietolman, Nicolas Tétrault and Rajiv Pancholy, together under 7954689 Canada Inc. – is very similar to one they made last year for clear channel 940AM, which I’ve summarized here. The station would be a news-talk format, with 100% local programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with its own team of journalists. It would act as a sister station to a French-language one that has already been approved for 940.

Because 690AM went to CKGM (the station is changing frequencies this fall, before its format change), it has to choose an alternative. At first, the group said if it was not given one of the two clear channels (690 and 940) that would allow it to broadcast at 50,000 watts day and night, its business plan would not be viable. It also said the CRTC had to approve both stations or reject both, because their business plan requires both station to share resources.

The CRTC called their bluff, and TTP backtracked, accepting the French station and now trying for an English one on a different frequency.

Coverage area of proposed radio station at 600 kHz, daytime (black) and at night (blue)

Technical parameters

The new frequency is 600 kHz, which is the former location of CFCF and CIQC, and has been quiet since that station was transformed into 940 News in 1999 and move to the former CBC Radio frequency of 940 kHz. The station would even use the same transmission towers that CFCF/CIQC once used, and which now belong to Cogeco.

This is another backtrack by the TTP group. Tietolman told me after the application last fall was rejected that under no circumstances would they give Cogeco money to use their site. But putting a station at 600 kHz isn’t easy – the station’s pattern has to be directional because it’s not a clear channel, and 600 is a low frequency, so towers have to be spaced pretty far apart. Because the site was built for 600, it’s the ideal location.

So under TTP’s proposal, the transmitter site, along Highway 138 in Kahnawake, will operate both of its stations, at 600 in English and 940 in French. The English station would operate with a directional pattern pointed mainly north with 10,000 watts daytime and 5,000 watts at night. The French station would have an omnidirectional pattern with 50,000 watts day and night.

The site is being leased from Cogeco, which in turn leases it from the Kahnawake band council. As part of the lease agreement, TTP will pay Cogeco a low-five-figure monthly rent. TTP would assume most of the costs and responsibilities (including liability) for operation of the site.

Finally, the agreement prevents TTP from launching its own all-traffic radio station in either language, whether at that site or elsewhere. Tietolman said that would not be a problem and he has no intention of starting an all-traffic radio station.

Tietolman admitted that 600 wasn’t going to be as good as one of the clear channels, that the cost to operate it would be higher, and that it could cause some drop in ad revenue because fewer people would be able to listen to it. But he is confident the station’s business plan will still work.

Programming

The group has provided a programming grid for its new station, but it’s very vague for the most part. Many shows feature a “face-à-face” format Tietolman is convinced will be a big ratings draw, pairing people with wildly different viewpoints on talk programs. It also refers to coverage of live events, open-line talk shows, celebrity gossip, a “The View” type of program with two “high profile well known and charismatic and very opinionated women who have distinct opposing points of view”, and a psychological advice show.

The Tietolman group expressed a desire specifically to offer a way to give young people a chance to be on the radio (which will become even more necessary if TSN Radio is taken off the air). To that end, it proposes that weekend overnights will be hosted by students in their “apprenticeship” program.

Though the grid promises well-known hosts, and Tietolman said there is no shortage of quality talent he can choose from, no specific names of personalities are given.

Traffic is being promised every 10-12 minutes from 5am to midnight, and more often if warranted.

Most importantly, TTP made a commitment that its stations would mobilize in case of any major breaking news or emergency, any time of day. That commitment is repeated in this application.

Projections

TTP’s application projects the station would have a market share going up from 6.2% the first year to 9.3% in the seventh. This is compared to a 23.5% market share currently held by CJAD, which a separate projection shows dropping to about 19% as a result of the addition of the TTP news-talk station (CHOM, CJFM and CKBE are shown to drop about a share point each).

The station would have a budget of between $3.5 million and $4.8 million a year, with revenues increasing from $2.7 million to $5.8 million a year in the seven years of the first license term. By this projection, the station would start making money on an operational basis in the fourth year of the license, and would pay for its startup costs only after seven years. The station is being financed jointly with the French-language station through a loan of $25.5 million for both.

Tietolman didn’t know how many jobs the station would create, but figure it would be a few dozen. Tietolman said it was too early to say if the shutdown of TSN Radio in Montreal would mean any changes to increase sports programming at their station, or whether any people left out of a job at TSN could find work at TTP’s news-talk station.

Tietolman also offered an official “no comment” on whether his group would oppose Bell’s application to transform CKGM into a French-language all-sports station. The group, which has applied for radio stations in Calgary and Toronto, could be a potential buyer of Bell stations being put up for sale in other markets, and so might be a bit shy about sticking a wrench in their plans.

Timeline

The French-language station is expected to launch this fall, Tietolman said. But he also said he would not set an arbitrary date, and the station would launch only when it’s ready.

With a transmitter site secure, focus turns to a studio location (the two stations would share studio space) and programming.

The English-language station still requires CRTC approval, and with a hearing scheduled for Sept. 10, a decision is not expected until well into the fall, putting a launch probably somewhere in early 2013.

The CRTC is holding a hearing Sept. 10 at the Palais des congrès to consider this application. People who want to submit comments in support or opposition have until Aug. 9 to do so via the CRTC website (choose Option 1 – intervention – then check application 2012-0748-1: 7954689 Canada Inc.). Note that comments, including names and contact information, are part of the public record.

UPDATE: Tietolman informs me that certain information published with the group’s application was supposed to be considered confidential. The CRTC replaced the application on Wednesday morning with a version that has the confidential documents redacted. These include the programming grid and the lease agreement with Cogeco. So as not to be a dick, I’ve agreed to refrain from publishing some specific details (like the specific amounts of the rent to be paid to Cogeco), but I’ll keep some vague ideas of what the documents contain.

CBC television did a report on this new station during its Saturday local newscast (starts at 13:22), talking a bit with Pancholy. Also includes a brief comment from me, dismissing a suggestion that what’s happening to CKGM relates to what happened to Hour and Mirror.

29 thoughts on “TTP applies for English news-talk station at 600AM

  1. Jason

    Woohoo!!!!

    Awesome news, when ever that so-called NEWS talk radio station CJAD starts playing those boring a$$ #!@!$#@ sports broadcasts, off to 600 AM I go.

    Reply
  2. Usedtobe

    Get ready for the return of Lori & Olga and Ricky Cyr if Mr. Kowch is in charge! The description of the show with “two females” already sounds like it was designed for L & O. I’m sure they’ve already been shortlisted for morning or afternoon drive on the new station.

    Be careful what you wish for…

    Reply
  3. Marc

    Ah, the good ol’ pattern of 600. A nighttime skywave that reaches a great distance up the river to the east and barely hits Hudson to the west. I remember numerous times driving back from Ottawa wanting to hear the ball game and a good signal couldn’t be caught until you were almost on the island. Once the STereo light came on, then it was locked in. Yes, CFCF/CIQC did broadcast in C-QUAM AM stereo.

    a “The View” type of program with two “high profile well known and charismatic and very opinionated women who have distinct opposing points of view

    Hmm, Anne-France Goldwater and Linda Hammerscmidt?

    Reply
  4. Usedtobe

    And expect the reappearance of some other CJAD refugees that worked under Mr. Kowch: Kevin Holden, Peter Anthony Holder, Kathy Coulombe…I just hope they keep Kim Frazier away from the place.

    Reply
    1. Michael D

      Probably not Peter Holder, as he’s gonna be part of the new Global TV local morning show…Kim Fraser NO…Kevin Holden better not..Kathy Coulombe would be a good fit for a news reader spot and/or traffic on one the drive shifts….

      But TTP should really stay away from recycling some of those above ‘AD names,,as they were many that listeners began to loathe and were starting to loathe…We need new, fresher people out there..Alternative folks, not a former shadow of a competition station..

      Sharman Yarnell would be a good fit as she deserves more air time and could be good somewhere during weekly daytime programming….or maybe part of the proposed ‘The VIEW” program….

      Reply
  5. ATSC

    I would suggest, that Bell be forced to sell CKGM-AM, and one of the other English FM stations to this group. This way, they would get their hands on the 690 AM frequency that they wanted.

    And by securing a FM station, they can later consider multicasting on the FM station with HD Radio.

    Reply
    1. Marc

      Not gonna happen. HD Radio isn’t taking off. You’re the only person I’ve seen online who extols its virtues of even knows of its existence.

      Reply
  6. Steve Kowch

    Usedtobe obviously paid no attention to what I told the CRTC hearings about developing NEW talent.

    I also liked Michael D’s advice about staying away from old CJAD talent …not to recycle them and then goes and suggests I hire Sharman Yarnell from CJAD … all the people named above are good talent.

    All I can say is be patient …. there will be plenty of time to take shots at me once we’re up and running … I can predict already that some on the board will complain we hired strangers … young people, inexperienced people. And yes that will be true because you can’t develop new talent without putting young inexperienced people on the air.

    Unfortunately the people who will be making these comments in the future will be the same who suggested I shouldn’t recycle CJAD staff ..

    I plan to do a lot of consultation and I encourage people on this board to offer their advice (off line) about who they think should be hired for the new 600 and WHY … and what it will take to get them to put 600 on their car’s preset. Building two new radio stations is quite a challenge and is something postive for Montreal.

    All that I ask is give everyone at TTP Media a chance and recognize the great opportunity that is happening in Montreal … someone coming along and actually hiring radio hosts, news anchors, reporters, producers, operators in English and French.

    Instead of doom and gloom predictions, how about some positive reinforcement and help us build two radio stations that will meet the needs of the community and introduce new ways of doing things.

    Here’s my e mail address: steve@kowchmedia.com Lets start right away on the right approach… send me your ideas, who you think would be great on air … I want names of people who aren’t on the radio yet … maybe they just gradu uated from Concordia or Mcgill or Universite de Montreal or Laval or Sherbrooke … maybe they’re on university or college radio, maybe they have an internet show … I’m looking for dynamic, entertaining individuals who can are great story tellers.

    And yes, you can even nominate yourself.

    We’re looking for people representing all the cultural communities that make up Montreal.

    And yes, we need experienced individuals too … so people working at other radio stations are welcome to be added to the list … bilingual people are preferred … new media savvy people … people who understand the role social media plays in the everday life of a radio station are needed and people who want to get their teeth into a story who have experience in investigative reporting and dealing with access to information red tape are needed.

    We’re looking for bloggers who want a voice on radio and newspaper and magazine people who want a voice.

    We’re building from the ground up … we don’t have to fire anyone to hire someone because these are two NEW radio stations.

    All contacts will be kept confidential … look forward to hearing from all of you with your ideas.

    Reply
    1. Michael D

      This is an excellent post Mr.Kowch. I hope to email you some great suggestions for names out there. Some of them you may know, and some I know personally. I like your angle of people currently in the newspaper and magazine areas.

      Because they’re not on too many deadlines as I believe in radio and TV, they tend to have more time to investigate and more time to follow the trails.

      As for my comments on recycling old ‘AD people, I really meant to stay from those that were controversial and became sort of anti- lightening rods, like the Holdens, Cyrs, etc.. But the other ones I named like Miss Yarnell and Kathy Coulombe, would seem to be good fits in terms of the experience angle, but not controversial. I always like Miss Coulombe’s solid no-nonsense low key approach.

      We certainly wish you lots of luck, these will be an interesting few months to watch.

      Reply
      1. Usedtobe

        Michael D,

        Don’t you work for Mike FM,if you are the same Michael d? Why are you so concerned about what other stations are up to?

        Reply
        1. Michael D

          @ Usedtobe. Mike-FM, a nice little place, but no, never worked there, and I am not concerned about what happens, as such to the other stations. But two things need to happen here in September where and when all the action is going to happen.

          1–People must make an intervention in the TSN Sports radio thing here either by being forced to sell it or say to Bell ” You asked for a frequency change to better serve Anglo Montreal, so do it” For somebody that wants to get into the market, this might be a good little piece of radio real estate to pick up, and with a new re-tooled and no-nonsense Habs’ organization committed to turn things around, this might be a good time to buy TSN Radio if the opportunity came along..

          2–TTP must get the English licence, and provide a fresh alternative. CJAD has been coasting for years. Complacency has really set in. Their morning schedule needed more of a change than the afternoons. Their weekend schedule is filled by one hour shows, which could be filled by by other themes more vital to the community, but what people don’t know is that some of those weekend programs are actually fully sponsored, one business has actually bought the hour..

          So USEDTOBE, I am like you and all the others that like to sound off, BUT, if I may humbly say, I comment here with more inside knowledge than most contributors here, as let’s just say know very good acquaintances in most of the outlets, and most of the time tend to see which way the wind is blowing. You might notice here in my contributions that I don’t rant and rave.

          Reply
          1. Steve W

            Just to be clear, your ‘not’ Michael Dean who worked one or two days at Mike FM before being let go? And before that worked for years at 940.

            Reply
          2. Michael D

            @ Steve W, definitely not that guy, but I know who you’re talking about, and already answered that question up above, so that means you haven’t been reading…

            I think he’s in Ottawa I believe these days, although I could be mistaken…And, if I may humbly, I don’t think he knows half that stuff that I do about the local scene..Just sayin’

            Reply
    2. Usedtobe

      Maybe I missed something, but the AM600 has not even been approved yet. Why is everyone talking like it’s a done deal? Everyone keeps wrting about the TTP “two new radio stations”. Is it such a sure thing? That’s what Cogeco thought about an English traffic station.

      I’m still betting on Lori and Olga if the new station gets approved.

      And why such an emphasis on new grads, etc.? They’ll work cheap! No $300K morning man salaries to pay.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        Maybe I missed something, but the AM600 has not even been approved yet. Why is everyone talking like it’s a done deal?

        That’s a good point. Though the CRTC made it clear in its fall decision that the only reason it didn’t approve the station then is because of a lack of available frequency. Unless a competitor decides it also wants to try setting up a station at 600 kHz, this proposal will probably be approved. (The CRTC has scheduled it at the “non-appearing” part of the hearing, meaning TTP won’t have to make a presentation, unless there’s significant opposition to it through interventions.)

        Reply
        1. Usedtobe

          Would be funny if Cogeco puts an application for English traffic at 600 AM! Cogeco is going to profit off TTP (thru the lease agreement) so they’re probably buddy-buddy with TTP now and wouldn’t throw a wrench into the works.

          You mean Astal/Bell won’t contest AM600? I’d think the new station would be a perceived threat to CJAD so they’d oppose AM600.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            You mean Astal/Bell won’t contest AM600? I’d think the new station would be a perceived threat to CJAD so they’d oppose AM600.

            Nothing’s stopping them from doing so before the Aug. 9 deadline. But they would have to come up with some argument that could sway the CRTC, and “we don’t like competition” isn’t a good one, at least not for a company that’s going to have such a huge market share.

            Reply
          2. Marc

            I think it’s very likely that the English traffic station plan has been shelved. If so, whatever. There’s no need for it. If you don’t know what an “autoroute” is, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

            Reply
      2. Michael D

        @ Usedtobe,, it seems you haven’t read the comments by Mr. Kowch and the reports when they were making their presentations last Fall for the two clear channels. Those drive shows will have “Names”. They mentioned about dual hosts in the morning to bounce things off with opposing points of view, better than AC at ‘AD talking to himself.

        Names like Jim Connell and Peter Holder have been bounced around these websites. The student-programming you’re talking about would if I remember reading somewhere. would be all-nights. And why not. Other media outlets have used people in spots here and there from places Concordia’s Comm Arts program who were in their last year. ‘AD has used people from the local weeklies with some success like Dan Delmar from the Suburban even though, I am not a fan of his, and there are others that I can’t think of off-hand..

        There’s lots of good,solid people out there who will get listeners and won’t break the bank, and provide that fresh alternative to 800.

        Reply
  7. Sheldon

    It should be pointed out that the CRTC Intervention process is not only for those who oppose an application being heard before the Commission. Individuals can file interventions of support for applications. So, if you want to see this new TTP English station receive CRTC approval, you can file an intervention of support. Unfortunately most people only choose to react to something they are against. Go against the grain!

    Reply
  8. Usedtobe

    Steve Kowch is looking for local bloggers and recent grads. M-m-m-m…can we expect a “Fagstein Radio” show if the new station is approved? :)

    (Sorry if this is posted twice–the first time I don’t think it went through.)

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      M-m-m-m…can we expect a “Fagstein Radio” show if the new station is approved? :)

      Paul Tietolman has actually used me as an example of the kind of voice he’d like to hear more of on the radio. But there have been no discussions about me actually joining the station. And because of the conflict of interest it would create for someone who writes about radio, I’m doubtful such a thing would happen.

      Reply
      1. Usedtobe

        Ah c’mon Steve, you’d give up your blog for the chance to become a huge radio star! Think of all that money, the groupies, the job security, hanging backstage with rock stars…

        Reply
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  12. Richard

    It’s nice to have a Montreal radio signal on 600 AM again. All we need are the Expo’s baseball broadcasts to bring back more memories.
    I live in Alexandria, Ont. so therefor I most likely will not be able to pick it up.

    Stargazer, Rick.

    Reply

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