CJMS 1040 off air: Is this the end?

During the summer, when CJMS’s website went down and it experienced transmission problems, I was informed by its owner Alexandre Azoulay that it we should not be worried about its future and it would continue as normal.

Then last month the station was ordered by the CRTC to appear at a public hearing to respond to a series of serious licence compliance issues. And the station has been off the air for almost two weeks now. And nobody knows when it’s coming back.

(CJMS 1040 AM, no relation to the former AM station of the same call letters, is a 10kW/5kW country music and talk station based in St-Constant. It launched in 1999.)

Pascal Poudrier, one of the station’s on-air hosts (and also listed as station manager and program director), posted on Facebook that “certaines décisions importantes se décident présentement. Plate un peu, mais j’attends comme plusieurs.”

He also issued this statement on his Facebook page:

Le 25 septembre 2013 –Suite aux problèmes que connaît présentement la station CJMS au niveau de la diffusion, plusieurs personnes se questionnent et se réfèrent à moi pour obtenir réponses à leurs interrogations.

Ayant, depuis 2007, accepté des mandats et responsabilités de direction, j’ai toujours assumé ces dites responsabilités en défendant les intérêts de CJMS AM 1040 avec conviction, ce malgré les différents problèmes rencontrés par la station. J’ai assumé pleinement ces divers mandats tout en portant une attention particulière aussi à ce qui a toujours été une priorité pour moi dans ma carrière, les auditeurs et auditrices. En effet, peu importe nos fonctions, peu importe qui nous sommes, du moment où nous œuvrons dans le monde des communications, il est essentiel de ne jamais oublier ceux qui nous permettes de partager notre passion et de faire ce si beau métier.

Ceci étant, je réitère mon attachement pour la station CJMS et les liens solides créés avec plusieurs d’entre-vous. Je me dois cependant, avec regrets croyez-moi, confirmer que je n’ai aucune responsabilité tant qu’à la présente situation vécue par les administrateurs financiers de la station, dont je ne suis pas.

Le but premier de cette intervention de ma part n’étant aucunement de favoriser des spéculations tant qu’à mon avenir à CJMS, par soucis d’honnêteté, je me dois quand même d’avouer que la famille, la gestion de mon entreprise et la réalisation déjà amorcée de plusieurs projets au niveau professionnel, me demande une importante réflexion tant qu’à ce même avenir à CJMS.

Mes salutations à votre endroit sont des plus cordiales et respectueuses.

Très bonne journée à tous.


Pascal Poudrier

I spoke briefly with Azoulay on the phone. He said decisions are being made, but downplayed the severity of the station’s peril. The station would continue, he said, but some changes might be made. He said he’d be in a better position to say what’s going on next week.

While he said he wouldn’t comment further, I did get him to confirm that he plans to be at the CRTC hearing in November, and that he has yet to file any documents with the commission in his defence, despite a letter from the commission asking him to do so by Oct. 3. CJMS is accused of not having provided logs and logger tapes to the commission upon request, and having ignored repeated attempts to get this information. The non-compliance is serious enough that the commission has threatened to pull the station’s licence, which expires next August.

The CRTC confirmed it has not yet received any documents from Azoulay. “He still is able to bring his case at the hearing,” media relations director Denis Carmel told me. “We just wanted to give them an opportunity to clarify their position prior to the hearing.”

With severe regulatory issues on one side, apparent financial problems on another, and the station already off the air for unknown operational reasons, Azoulay’s assurance that the station will continue isn’t terribly reassuring.

We’ll see next week what he decides. If the station does go off the air and turn in its licence, others might be interested in taking its spot. CHOU 1450 (Radio Moyen-Orient), CJRS 1650 (Radio Shalom) and CJLO 1690 (Concordia) all have power levels lower than CJMS. And the only other station in the region broadcasting country music is CKKI-FM 89.9 in Kahnawake.

UPDATE (Oct. 11): The station is livestreaming again and is back on the air, though apparently at noticeably weaker power.

4 thoughts on “CJMS 1040 off air: Is this the end?

  1. Dilbert

    Have you considered that perhaps the move of CKKI from marginal “pirate” station to full on FM station perhaps had something to do with this as well? I cannot imaging that the marketplace for country music is really big enough to support both, and with CKKI now “legit” and with a decent enough signal and sound quality, it would appear that a marginal station in st constant might just be the loser in the deal.

    I could see them trying at least in the short run to do a format shift of some sort, although to be fair it’s much harder for a french language AM station to really do much about it. Sound quality wise they aren’t going to be a great music choice in most formats, and the only ones they might get some traction in are marginal (oldies rock, classical, elevator music).

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Have you considered that perhaps the move of CKKI from marginal “pirate” station to full on FM station perhaps had something to do with this as well?

      I doubt it. For one thing, CKKI is English and CJMS is French. CKKI’s coverage is also limited. And CJMS doesn’t air as much country music as its branding would suggest.

      I think CJMS’s problems are more about how it’s managed than what it’s format is.

  2. Sheldon Harvey

    In the time that I spent at CKKI late last year and early this year I can tell you that the audience was growing and the make-up of that audience included many, many Francophones. I had the opportunity to speak with many of them on the telephone over the period of a couple of months. Almost without exception, they were pleased to have a radio station playing all the country music, both classic and new country. This was the music they were looking for, not the brand of music that CJMS was playing. Of course, CJMS was restricted by being a French language station and had to meet the level requirements of French music.
    CKKI was inserting a number of French country songs into their playlist, plus some of the announcers were bilingual and regularly acknowledged the Francophone listeners and inserted the occasional French chatter and announcements. They now have a regular weekly show featuring French country music hosted by a Francophone host. This was greatly appreciated by the audience, with the audience continuing to grow, including more and more Francophones, particularly from southwestern Quebec, the very region that CJMS was particularly targeting.
    Getting back to CJMS, I fail to understand how someone can receive a license from CRTC and then blatantly ignore the guidelines set out in that license without expecting the hammer to eventually come down on them. I haven’t seen the numbers but I would venture to guess that this station cannot possibly be a money-maker, and if the rumours circulating prove to be true that the station is in serious financial difficulty and may currently be off the air due to non-payment of their Hydro account, that may support my belief. Why would someone continue to hold on to something that, more than likely, will never succeed?
    I wonder if such an operation can be nothing more than a tax shield for the owner(s). Perhaps they have other successful businesses yet continue to operate a money-losing passion project to offset the profits of those other businesses, a practice very common in business to reduce taxes. Hopefully we’ll have the full and real story within the next few weeks.
    I don’t think CHOU, CJLO or CJRS would be interested in the frequency and/or the transmitter & antennas. I would think the operational costs of the CJMS transmitter site would be somewhat higher than what they presently have, plus they would all sooner have FM frequencies, however remote that might be at this point in time. I just don’t see any of them sinking more money than they already have into AM operations.

  3. Sheldon Harvey

    Believe it or not, the station has actually resurfaced. Thanks to a posting on Radio in Montreal for tipping us off to this. They were on the air last night. I checked them around midnight. They had a weak signal and pretty crappy audio.


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