Posted in Radio

The end of Fort and Ste. Catherine

Virgin studios at Fort and Ste. Catherine Streets.

This weekend, Astral Media’s English radio stations stopped using studios at Fort and Ste. Catherine Streets and began using new studios in the Astral building at Papineau Ave. and René-Lévesque Blvd.

The new studios are in the same building as Astral’s French stations NRJ and Rouge FM, as well as other corporate offices. The consolidation has been planned for a long time, since well before Bell announced it was going to purchase Astral.

The new location across town is in an unofficial media district. The Maison Radio-Canada is on the other side of René-Lévesque. The Bell Media building (which houses the studios of CFCF and RDS) is on the other side of Papineau. The TVA building is just a few blocks away.

CTV was one of the media outlets to chronicle the transition. You can see the report from Derek Conlon (who worked at CJAD) here.

UPDATE (Sept. 3): Rob Kemp did a little video marking his final shift at CHOM’s Fort Street studio.

30 thoughts on “The end of Fort and Ste. Catherine

  1. Steve W

    Are you sure the consolidation was planned for a long time? Originally the Astral English radio stations was suppose to relocate to another downtown Montreal location. When that couldn’t go ahead, they decided on the consolidation at Astral building in east end where they’re now.

    Reply
      1. Steve W

        Originally the Astral English radio stations were planning to move the Place Montreal building in downtown(that was maybe just over a year ago). Ultimately it couldn’t happen, & they decided on current location(Plan B). I talked about it very recently with Astral English radio employee.

        If the PQ party wins tomorrow, & go ahead with their proposed Bill 101 language changes, is it likely the Astral English radio employees will be required to operate at Astral Building totally in English? I called up CJAD reception this morning as I was looking for information, but there was no one there on the phone at reception(not surprised on Labour Day), instead got an answer machine which was only in French(no English message). Not sure, will there be only one reception at Astral Radio building on Papineau & Rene Levesque(covering both the French & English radio stations)?

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          If the PQ party wins tomorrow, & go ahead with their proposed Bill 101 language changes, is it likely the Astral English radio employees will be required to operate at Astral Building totally in English?

          Broadcasting is regulated federally. For the PQ’s language laws to affect it, the Quebec government would need to take that power away from Ottawa. I’m thinking it’s unlikely that will happen any time soon. That said, since Astral has operations in both languages, both French and English will probably be used for corporate communications there.

          Reply
          1. Marc

            Broadcasting is regulated federally. For the PQ’s language laws to affect it, the Quebec government would need to take that power away from Ottawa. I’m thinking it’s unlikely that will happen any time soon.

            It’s one of the powers Queen Pauline is seeking ASAP.

            Reply
    1. Neil K.

      Several years ago Astral intended to move the studios into the Astral building on McGill College just below Sherbrooke. However I was told that the building is deep in the shadow of the transmitters on the mountain, and there would be too many engineering obstacles to overcome. I’m not sure if that is true or a broadcasting urban legend, but once McGill College was ruled out the decision was made to merge with all the other Astral properties on R-L.

      In either case a move out of Fort St. was planned years ago, and had nothing to do with the impending sale.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      And for the first time in its 67-year history, CJAD no longer has a physical presence in downtown Montreal. Sad.

      Papineau and René-Lévesque isn’t downtown?

      Reply
      1. David Pinto

        Steve, you said: Papineau and René-Lévesque isn’t downtown?
        Well, that is an example, yet again, of the Two Solitudes. Downtown means different things; en ville to a Francophone is not the actual physical equivalent of downtown for an anglophone.

        Reply
      2. Alex H

        “Papineau and René-Lévesque isn’t downtown?”

        It isn’t any more downtown than Greene Ave would be. Basically, it’s “in town” but certainly not downtown. That end of the city isn’t any more built up than Notre Dame near Atwater, and I don’t consider that to be downtown either. Close, but not downtown.

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      3. JM

        Steve,

        Take a look at the maps and blogs at http://www.tourisme-Montreal.org. Even their maps show downtown stretching from Atwater in the west to a block or two east of St. Denis. That’s still some distance from Papineau…like Lansdowne in Westmount is from Atwater going in the other direction. I assume Tourisme Montreal knows the city.

        Also take a look at a Google map and see where the label “Downtown” shows up at certain zoom levels.

        This has nothing to do with French or English perceptions of downtown although for many English Montrealers a few decades ago, the east end of downtown probably ended at Morgan’s (The Bay) on Phillips Square.

        Jim

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      4. Just Me

        I don’t consider it to be downtown, but CJAD certainly does since all of the opening spots for their shows and the news still say “broadcasting from downtown Montreal” – of course maybe someone at CJAD just forgot to get them changed, or they couldn’t afford it, or they want their mainly Anglo listeners to think that they’re still broadcasting from downtown Montreal and not some place in the east end.

        Reply
  2. Jim P

    Rumor that CJAD will have an express bus from Fairview for the announcers who have never been east of Boul St. Laurent. Is there space on the bus for the TSN690 crew?

    Reply
  3. Alex H

    Perhaps it’s just the old anglo in me, but seeing the english Montreal and TV stations pretty much all based east of St Lawrence seem like a bit of an affront.

    In this case, it just makes it easier for Bell, who can take over the buildings on both side of the intersection and slowly work to consolidate them down to 1, by eliminating more duplicate jobs and finding “synergies” in it’s system.

    Considering you guys seem to be heading for a PQ majority, another never-end-um vote, and potentially separation from Canada, perhaps this just makes it easier to convert the stations to french soon after.

    You want to be there is a change in the language of the workplace with this consolidation?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Perhaps it’s just the old anglo in me, but seeing the english Montreal and TV stations pretty much all based east of St Lawrence seem like a bit of an affront.

      CBC, CTV and the Astral stations would fit this criteria. TSN Radio (Greene Ave.), Global (Peel St.) and The Beat (Place Bonaventure) would not.

      Reply
      1. Neil K.

        I am really surprised that Bell kept The Team/TSN on Greene Ave. for as long as they have. I would have assumed they’d have moved the studios into the CTV building when Bell took over CHUM. Why pay rent a second rent in Westmount?

        Regardless of what happens with the CRTC decisions, it’s safe to say the station’s days on Greene are numbered.

        Reply
        1. Steve W

          Originally TEAM/TSN Radio was going to move into the CTV building on Papineau after Bell took over CHUM. Why it never happened I’m not sure.

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        2. Dave

          I don’t believe that Bell Media has any plans to pull CKGM out of Greene Av. It’s not a pressing need for Bell to have CKGM in the same building as CTV/RDS. One is a radio station, the others are TV stations. Astral Media operate its radio and TV stations on separate buildings too.

          Bell media has owned CKGM for almost two years now. If it wanted to relocate CKGM, it would have done it by now. I could be wrong but I don’t think TSN 690 is leaving Westmount in the foreseeable future.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            Bell media has owned CKGM for almost two years now. If it wanted to relocate CKGM, it would have done it by now.

            Actually the key date is 2007, when CTV bought CHUM. But a company isn’t going to relocate a radio station’s studios until its lease is up. That’s what Astral did.

            Reply
      2. Alex H

        Well, TSN radio will be french soon (and probably also moved to that building after that), Global’s presence in Montreal isn’t really a presence, they are in Toronto. The Beat at Bonaventure is the only real exception – and they are in a building with french radio stations. Not exactly encouraging, is it?

        Do you remember CFOX in the West Island? ;)

        Reply
        1. Gazoo

          good ol Cfox, where staff could head across Boul. St Jean to grab a burger and a couple of pints at another W.I. landmark, Le Manoir!

          Reply
  4. William

    I’m sure all the West Islanders who work there are thrilled about the hike.

    Then again, English radio in Montreal, they are lucky to be employed.

    Reply
  5. Alex H

    Rob Kemp doesn’t get a prize for accuracy, considering CHOM only moved over to Fort around 2002. Seems like just a wee little bit of hyperbole.

    Reply
    1. Rob Kemp

      Hey Alex,

      I’m well aware of when CHOM moved over to Fort from Greene. The video (along with the audio from my last break on Fort st) was meant to be a tribute to a building that has housed radio for 32 years and me for 18 plus of them. CHOM has spent a quarter of its history on Fort street, but yes, the bulk of it was spent on Greene ave.

      Thanks for listening.
      Cheers,
      Rob

      Reply
  6. Johnny Seven

    The Staff at CFOX would often just walk down a flight of stairs to the Hymus Tavern for some pickled tongue and a quart of Export.

    Reply
  7. Jean Naimard

    Geeky curiosity here: by what kind of medium are the studios linked to the transmitters? Digitized audio or a dedicaced analog coax?

    Reply

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