2013 will be a big year for local radio and TV

I wouldn’t dare say that the crisis affecting news media is behind us, but there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about local media — particularly on the broadcasting side — going into 2013. The coming year will see at least four new radio stations and one additional television station, which will mean more jobs for technicians, editors, advertising salespeople, marketers, broadcasters and even some journalists. And existing media will see some big changes too that will improve the local landscape.

In August, I did a piece for The Gazette going over upcoming changes station by station. Here’s mainly an updated guide to those changes we expect to see this year:

AM radio

The biggest changes will happen on the AM dial, thanks to the Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy group which plans to launch news-talk stations in English and French. There’s also another additional station, and perhaps a third by TTP Media. It won’t bring things back to what they were in the 70s, but a lot of those frequencies that once had big-name radio stations and have been silent the past few years will be brought back to life:

600: TTP’s English station will occupy the old CFCF/CIQC frequency, silent since 1999. The station was approved in November by the CRTC. The group wants it to have live programming 24/7, including a journalistic team that puts CJAD’s to shame. That will mean hiring a lot of people.

690 (CKGM): TSN Radio was saved as an English station when the CRTC said no to the Bell/Astral deal, but they’re going to try again, this time asking for an exemption to allow them to keep CKGM along with the three Astral stations. While a popular idea among the station’s fans, it might not work with regulators who would face giving four of the five English-language commercial stations in Montreal to one company. The one thing that might help get this through is the new TTP station at 600 bumping the total number from five to six. But will that be enough to justify an already dominant radio group (CJAD/CHOM/CJFM) getting even bigger? In the more immediate future, an early afternoon host has to be found (or announced) for Randy Tieman’s old slot.

730 (CKAC): The government-subsidized all-traffic station still does poorly in the ratings, though it doesn’t have to worry about that too much because of the $1.5-million-a-year paycheque it gets just for existing. There’s a new government that would love to save as much money as it can, but the deal with Cogeco only comes up for renewal in 2014.

800 (CJAD): No big plans are in the works for Montreal’s News-Talk Leader that I know of. But it might have to change whether it wants to or not. If TTP makes good enough offers to lure away talent from CJAD, the latter might have to reshuffle its schedule.

850: The CRTC has confirmed that there’s an application for the use of this frequency, but it hasn’t been published yet. We do know it’s from the Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy group and that it’s for a French-language sports talk station. They’ve seen an opportunity now that there’s no longer an all-sports radio station in French. But with 98.5FM carrying Canadiens and Alouettes broadcast rights, and devoting their evenings to sports talk, will there be enough of a gap for TTP to capitalize? If the application is published soon, it could be approved by this fall.

940: TTP’s French-language station goes here, on the clear channel that was once home to CBC Radio and 940 News. The station was approved in the fall of 2011, which gives them until this November to launch or request an extension from the CRTC. No launch date has been set, but the plan is to launch both simultaneously some time in the spring. And just as 600 could steal talent from CJAD and elsewhere, we could see 940 taking away people from stations like 98.5 or even Radio X.

990: The former CKGM/Team/TSN 990 frequency was vacated on Dec. 1 and is ready for Radio Fierté, a French-language music and talk station run by Dufferin Communications. They have until November to launch or request an extension.

1410 (CJWI): Still waiting for the Haitian radio station (CPAM Radio Union) to switch to this frequency from 1610.

1570 (CJLV): The Laval-based commercial station, which had threatened to shut down if the CRTC didn’t convert it into an ethnic station, had its bluff called when the CRTC ruled that the Montreal market couldn’t take another ethnic station. Its plan B seems to be a partnership with Internet radio station CNV (which you’ll see sometimes if you go to Complexe Desjardins) which sees the latter’s programming on the former’s signal.

FM radio

The FM dial in Montreal is full. That’s really the only thing preventing someone from launching another radio station to compete with Virgin, The Beat and CHOM. Still, there’s room for at least one addition in an adjacent market.

89.9 (CKKI-FM): Kahnawake Keeps It Country has hired a new morning man: local radio critic Sheldon Harvey. The small station with a low-power transmitter in its backyard isn’t even the most popular station in Kahnawake. Can the former pirate station get enough revenue to cover its modest expenses and keep it on the air?

91.3 (CIRA-FM): The religious station has received CRTC approval to launch a subchannel which will carry programming by La Fiesta Latina. The subcarrier signal requires a special receiver to decode.

91.9 (CKLX-FM): Months after relaunching as Radio X Montreal, the former Planète Jazz is still awaiting a CRTC decision on whether it can abandon its status as a specialty jazz music station and be relicensed as a general commercial station. The application for this was first published almost a full year ago, and officially heard at the Sept. 10 hearing in Montreal. Under its current licence, CKLX-FM is required to devote 70% of its musical selections to the jazz/blues format. This doesn’t technically interfere with them being a talk station during the day, since there isn’t much music during talk shows. But it does go against the Radio X model of rock music on weekends. So until its licence changes, CKLX airs jazz/blues music evenings, overnight, on weekend mornings and weekend evenings.

92.5 (CKBE-FM): The Beat has some schedule shuffling to do. Ken Connors has essentially replaced the fired Murray Sherriffs as the morning news man, and Pete Marier has been doing weekend mornings in his absence, but on the website Connors is still listed as the weekend morning man. Will Bad Pete get a permanent gig here? On the regulatory front, the station is awaiting a decision on a request to boost its power from 44 kW to 100 kW. That request hit a bit of a snag because Dufferin Communications has applied for an FM station on that frequency in Clarence-Rockland, Ontario, just east of Ottawa. The CRTC is treating the applications as competing, even though The Beat said it would accept interference caused by the overlapping coverage areas. The hearing was in November, and a decision hasn’t been published yet.

93.5 (CBM-FM): CBC Radio Two is waiting on the CRTC to decide whether, as part of the CBC’s larger licence renewals, it will be allowed to carry commercial advertising. The request received fierce opposition from commercial competitors who believe the CBC will use its government financing to create an unfair commercial advantage for itself, as well as from CBC listeners who believe this will cause the network to make more decisions based on ratings and advertising than on the quality of programming.

95.9 (CJFM-FM): Will Montreal’s top-rated music station face a stronger competitor in The Beat in 2013? Will its schedule undergo more changes as what seems like a revolving door of talent keeps spinning? Will listeners tire of Ryan Seacrest and demand more local talent during peak hours? We’ll see. Otherwise, there aren’t any big changes I know about in the works at Virgin.

96.9 (CKOI-FM): CKOI faces an identity crisis. Its ratings are pretty bad, and the regional network of stations with its brand has been switched to talk, with the exception of the Quebec City station that Cogeco doesn’t own anymore. Cogeco already has a talk station in Montreal with 98.5, so what to do with the low-rated flagship station of a network that no longer exists? Its owners can comfort themselves with the news that it still ranks highly among younger audiences (18-34), but you have to wonder if the station will last the year the way it is without some big shakeup.

97.7 (CHOM-FM): As Montreal’s rock station marks one year since the return of Terry DiMonte (see Bill Brownstein’s story in The Gazette), the schedule is pretty stable: DiMonte and Heather Backman in the mornings, TooTall during the day, Bilal Butt in afternoon drive and Jason Rockman in evenings, with Sharon Hyland, Rob Kemp and Randy Renaud on weekends and Brandon Craddock and Ronny Mack splitting the overnights. Its ratings are decent, and it owns the male demographic (not hard since the other music stations are both targetting women).

100.7 (CBFX-FM): Like Radio Two, Espace musique is seeking permission to carry advertising.

103.7 (CKRK-FM): Kahnawake’s K103 is trying to keep going without the attention that Ted Bird brought. It has a new program director in Al Gravelle, and a new morning guy in Zack Rath to join veterans Paul Graif and Java Jacobs. Will the station find an answer to its main existential question — is it a Kahnawake community station, or a wide-audience commercial station?

105.1 (CKDG-FM): Ethnic station Mike FM quietly lost afternoon guy Patrick Charles, leaving Tasso Patsikakis to carry the show solo. Is he bringing in the kind of ratings (and advertising) needed to make the relationship work for both parties? If not, there’s a limited amount of time to make it work. Earlug ads in The Gazette are nice, but if Mike FM is going to be a general-interest radio station during the morning and afternoon drive hours, it needs some serious efforts in promotion.

106.7: Dufferin Communications, the same company behind Radio Fierté, has received CRTC approval for its radio station on this frequency in Hudson/St. Lazare. The station, which will almost certainly carry Dufferin’s Jewel branding, will air mainly easy-listening music but also carry local news and information, which will be a boon to the local community. Here’s a CTV Montreal report on the planned station. Its launch could be as early as spring but expect it to be closer to fall.

Television

Local television in Montreal is going to see its biggest changes since 1997. The number of stations will increase by one, from 9 to 10, but the changes are more significant than that:

CBMT (CBC) has taken some significant steps to improve local programming, even in the wake of cuts to the CBC’s budget. The evening newscast expanded to an hour and a half, a late-night 10-minute newscast was added and then expanded to 30 minutes, and weekend newscasts added so the station has news seven days a week. This could improve even further depending on how the CBC’s licence renewal goes. The CBC has proposed that its local stations have seven or 14 hours a week of local programming, depending on the size of the market (Montreal’s English market would be considered large). Currently, CBMT has a bit under 11 hours a week of local news, so this would mean an expansion of some sort. The CBC also said that one of those 14 hours could be non-news programming. This could mean the return of cookie-cutter local lifestyle shows like Living or something else. But anything is better than nothing.

CFCF (CTV) is finally making the move toward high-definition newscasts, and a finish line is in sight in the spring or early summer for the 4:3 programming to be replaced by beautiful 16:9 HD. Its newscast also finally has a permanent replacement for Kai Nagata in Quebec City. Former Gazette reporter Max Harrold started there in November and is already working on his TV reporting skills filing reports in Montreal. He should be in Quebec City by the time the National Assembly resumes its work in February.

CKMI (Global) is launching a two-hour weekday morning show, long promised as part of Shaw’s purchase of Canwest in 2010. It’s supposed to be some time in the spring, but an exact date isn’t set yet. There’s also been no announcement of a host, though there have been hires on the technical side. The show will be Montreal’s first local morning show since This Morning Live was cancelled in 2008. That was five years ago, but could we see some of its personalities returning? Richard Dagenais still works there.

CJNT (Metro 14/City) is changing owners, from Channel Zero to Rogers, within the month. Starting in February, its ethnic programming will be stripped (at least from primetime) and replaced with the entire Citytv lineup, including some new original Canadian shows. By September, it will launch a three-hour local morning show, competing with Global, and a weekly half-hour local sports show, the first since SportsNight 360 was taken off CFCF to make room for expanded weekend newscasts. The move will mean 20-30 new jobs, mainly technical ones. Rogers has made clear that it plans to hire locally for its on-air jobs.

ICI is the new kid on the block, taking up the ethnic programming from CJNT. The independent station, with some generous support from both Rogers and Channel Zero, will need to install a new transmitter and setup a complete television station essentially from scratch, but hope to be on the air by late spring or early summer. With more than a dozen independent producers already signed on and many more reportedly waiting to join, the project for an ethnic station financed by its own producers starts with a lot of good will.

I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of stuff, that’s being worked on in secret, or that’s being done at a station too small to have a PR person keep me abreast. (If you know of stuff, let me know.) But even with just this, we can be confident that there’s a lot happening in this city in 2013. And I’ll try to document as much of it as I can.

Happy new year.

13 thoughts on “2013 will be a big year for local radio and TV

    1. Marc

      Yes, it was. As was most of their stuff. This was back when they had a real studio in the media district downtown.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      What about 88.5 on the FM dial?

      It’s there. But I don’t know of anything being planned as far as programming on CBC Radio One in Montreal. Mike Finnerty, Bernard St-Laurent, Sue Smith and Sonali Karnick don’t look like they’re going anywhere.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        Where? I just searched the site and the only time 88.5 shows up is in the comments field. The FM list on my screen starts at 89.9.

        Just want to make sure I am not going insane.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Where? I just searched the site and the only time 88.5 shows up is in the comments field.

          This isn’t a complete list of radio stations in Montreal. Just the ones that should (or might) expect major changes. There are many other radio stations in the city I haven’t talked about here. You can click on the link to the Gazette story for a fuller list of AM and FM radio stations.

          Reply
  1. Michael D

    Yes, it’s definitely going to be a big year, more English media on both radio and TV sides of the spectrum enough to make the hardline nationalist and separatist bourgeoisie shiver in their boots….but Steve, it seems quiet, though, out of the rooms of TTP. Do you know if they have their new studio site selected yet….Have you heard any noise about who might get hired on both stations? Or anybody handing in resignations at ‘ AD?

    But comments I have seen in the past, and that I certainly echo, and that you seem to allude to here, Is one should hope that they don’t go after any of those tired ‘ AD names..without looking like a copy.
    Of course, there may be room to poach some support staff that should have more airtime anyways, as I mentioned before, Like Sharman Yarnall, or the odd former ‘AD personality who were tremendously respected like Peter Holder, maybe the odd newscaster who might want a better shift..

    But you make an interesting comment about a journalistic team putting CJAD to shame, which shouldn’t be to hard to do…’AD has a couple of reporters splitting time between radio and the odd CTV reporting shifts, and a few others who are just there just doing basically reporting, nothing creative, the only serious guy they have there is Claude Beaulieu, he deserves better, like more leeway to do some investigative time to go looking for dirt,,he’s doing a good job, and he’s the only one that could do it there, which makes CJAD’s field of reporters very weak, so again, it won’t be too hard to outshine their staff..

    AS for TV, Steve, do we know, whatever happened to that money that the providers were authorized to tack onto monthly bills, that Local Programming intitiative, to give to the networks like CTV…Any chance that Bell might sweeten the pot in their Astral attempt no.2 by adding more hours lof local shows to the CFCF schedule like former wonderful local shows like the AS It Happens, or again Sportsnight 360, or a light McGowan’s World type program, local entertainment/lifestyle show…So where is that money gone to.

    Or will this not happen until the CRTC raises the minimum from 16.5 to maybe 20 hours…Where is the creativity.
    Meanwhile, Happy New Year’s everybody !!

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      it seems quiet, though, out of the rooms of TTP. Do you know if they have their new studio site selected yet….Have you heard any noise about who might get hired on both stations? Or anybody handing in resignations at ‘ AD?

      They haven’t announced anything yet, beyond the managers of the two stations (Steve Kowch and Yves Guérard). When last I spoke to them, a studio location had been picked out but a lease hadn’t been signed yet.

      I haven’t heard of resignations at CJAD or any other radio station. There isn’t much of a reason for anyone to quit more than three months before the launch date, and I don’t see the stations going on air less than three months from now.

      one should hope that they don’t go after any of those tired ‘ AD names..without looking like a copy.

      What about the non-tired CJAD names? There are plenty of people at that station. I don’t see people like Andrew Carter, Tommy Schnurmacher or Aaron Rand moving stations, simply because they already have high-profile jobs and have no reason to throw them away for similar ones at a risky radio station with no ratings. What we might see are the second-tier names jumping to get bigger jobs.

      But you’re right that I don’t think TTP is going to build their new radio station primarily by stealing big on-air talent from CJAD.

      But you make an interesting comment about a journalistic team putting CJAD to shame, which shouldn’t be to hard to do.

      I’m not making a comment, simply relating their goal. It’s actually a very difficult proposition, and more importantly a very expensive one. Even keeping journalists working 24/7 is an expensive thing to do.

      AS for TV, Steve, do we know, whatever happened to that money that the providers were authorized to tack onto monthly bills, that Local Programming intitiative, to give to the networks like CTV.

      It’s called the Local Programming Improvement Fund, and the CRTC decided last summer that it should be phased out in stages beginning last September and ending in September 2014. The fund gave money to small-market stations (not directly to the networks), and no television stations in Montreal were eligible to receive funding.

      Any chance that Bell might sweeten the pot in their Astral attempt no.2 by adding more hours lof local shows to the CFCF schedule like former wonderful local shows like the AS It Happens, or again Sportsnight 360, or a light McGowan’s World type program, local entertainment/lifestyle show.

      I suppose anything is possible, but I see no indication that this would happen. Bell’s proposals tend to be on more of a national rather than local scale. The only thing related to local stations in the last proposal was a guarantee to keep the money-losing CTV Two stations operating for another five years.

      Or will this not happen until the CRTC raises the minimum from 16.5 to maybe 20 hours…Where is the creativity.

      Right now the minimum local programming requirement is 14 hours for large-market stations and seven hours for small-market stations. (In French, the minimums are lower.) An increase might prompt some non-news programming, but I would guess it would more likely mean more newscasts, or more repeats of newscasts (the requirement doesn’t specify that the programming has to be original).

      Reply
      1. Michael D

        Non-tired ‘AD names, I certainly didn’t mean those guys that you mention, Tommy S should retire gracefully and maybe go write a column for the Suburban where his brand of anglo angst will go well with its editor in chief..Messrs. Rand and Carter overrated Carter is on the same scale of personality as our PM and I am sure George Balcan is embarassed up there in radioheaven..

        Ric Peterson and Barry Morgan might be interesting poaches..and for the second tier or names, again it really is weak…’AD is mostly reruns of stuff we all week,and outside of their only bright light Dave Fisher who should be where Carter is, there really isn’t much..Todd vander Heyden is having fun in TO, and the hosts of the other features, Legal lounge, Car show, etc…there’s others around who could do a gig like that. And No, I don’t want Dan Delmar either, he’s another Suburban guy…So there really isn’t much to really say, ” Let’s go get ‘ em !

        As For your TV comments, well maybe it’s time the CRTC take a hard look at that and raise the minimum another, for example, another 5 hours or so, with the stiplulation it be non-news or original.. making room for those type of shows that I mentioned above..

        AS for CTV 2, is that a condition by the CRTC or does have nothing else better than lose money..if so, someone should sit in with their executives and find out if they’re smoking some funny stuff..AMEN.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          AS for CTV 2, is that a condition by the CRTC or does have nothing else better than lose money.

          CTV had threatened to shut down stations that were at the time part of the A Channel network back when the Local TV Matters/Stop the TV Tax debate was at its peak. One station, CKX-TV in Brandon, Man., was shut down after its affiliation agreement with the CBC ended, and CTV couldn’t sell the station to CBC, Shaw or Bluepoint Investment Corp.

          Another station, CKNX-TV in Wingham, Ont., was also shut down in 2009, converted into a retransmitter of CFPL-TV in London. CTV had threatened to also close CHWI-TV in Wheatley/Windsor, Ont., but reversed its decision when the CRTC implemented the Local Programming Improvement Fund to help small-market local stations and looked ready to set up a fee-for-carriage system for local TV stations.

          Now that the CRTC is winding down the LPIF, and the Supreme Court has ended the idea of fee-for-carriage, the future of CHWI and other A stations is far from secure. But closing the stations, now that CTV is owned by Bell, could be politically problematic, especially since Bell wants the CRTC to approve a takeover of Astral.

          Reply
  2. 92days

    Th problem I have with CityTV’s Morning Show “Breakfast Television” is that there is way too much obvious Product Placement. It doesn’t matter what market it is they will throw in an obvious Tropicana and Nabob/Tassimo/ Maxwell House product placement on screen for most of the shows.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Camille Ross leaves CTV for Global Montreal – Fagstein

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