CHRC, Quebec’s oldest – and only – commercial AM radio station, is shutting down.
The owners (the Quebec Remparts hockey club) made the announcement on Friday, surprising few people but disappointing many, that they would pull the plug on the money-losing station at some unspecified time (probably within the next few weeks). UPDATE (Sept. 30): The station is being shut down at midnight on Sept. 30.
CHRC started in 1926, and spent most of its life as a talk station, notably the home of André Arthur (who expressed his thoughts to Radio-Canada). In 2005, it became Info 800, a sister station to Info 690 in Montreal. Then it was taken over by the Remparts and Patrick Roy. Its current format is mostly sports talk, with Quebec Remparts (QMHJL) and Laval Rouge et Or university football games (both of those will move to Cogeco’s FM93) and Quebec Capitales baseball games.
It’s not terribly surprising that such a station wouldn’t find a way to work, especially since there’s no other AM radio in the region and so little reason for anyone to even switch over to the AM band.
There’s still some hope that someone else might step in to buy it. And there are a few options. Cogeco probably won’t want it if it can make news and sports work on FM93. Astral is in existential limbo at the moment. Bell might be interested, but it doesn’t know yet if its RDS Radio project is going to get off the ground. The Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy group is another possibility, if they want to make a sister station to their Montreal French AM talk station.
If the station does end up going off the air, it would probably be good news for CJAD, which operates on the same frequency. At least, the station’s coverage toward the northeast would improve, with no interference from the Quebec City station. A possibility exists that CJAD could apply to change its signal pattern to be better toward the northeast, though how that works procedurally I don’t know.
UPDATE: There was no last-minute miracle. The station shut down at 6pm on Sunday, Sept. 30. Its final moments are a montage of messages from the station’s employees. Its final word: “merci.”