Fagstein turns 7: Ask me anything

It was seven years ago today that I posted my first blog post, having no idea what would become of it. Since then, it has grown from a series of short, uninformed, simplistic sarcastic rants about a bunch of random stuff into a series of longer, somewhat informed simplistic sarcastic rants about a bunch of random stuff (but mainly about local media).

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who read this blog on a regular basis, or follow me on Twitter (just passed the 8,000 mark recently, and I assume at least a small portion of that is real people).

But I particularly want to thank those anonymous cowards heroes who have sent me tips over the years, about personalities being fired, scandals brewing or any other developments that don’t get summarized in press releases. A lot of the scoops that have appeared here came as the result of unsolicited tips, people emailing me out of the blue saying “did you hear about this” or “you probably already know this but” followed by my attempts (sometimes frustratingly long) to confirm the news.

To celebrate, I’ll open up this blog post to questions from the audience as I work on other more important stories spend the day watching the Olympics. I’ll sometimes get random questions thrown at me in off-topic posts that I have to delete because they have no value to the next person who reads that post. So here’s your chance to throw out questions that you’ve had at the back of your head, about me, about the blog, about local media, about public transit, or anything else you might want my opinion on. I don’t want to set limits on what can be asked, but I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer everything. Despite what some people think of me, there’s a lot of stuff I just don’t know. (History, in particular, is one of my weak points.)

So, I’m Steve Faguy. I run the Fagstein blog. Ask me anything.

79 thoughts on “Fagstein turns 7: Ask me anything

  1. emdx

    Do you prefer vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

    Tea or coffee?

    Cheesecake or apple pie?

    Fries or mashed?

    Do you sleep with the beard above or below the blankets? (http://www.monblogdefille.com/blog/wp-content/themes/default/images/capitaine_haddock.jpg)

    Do you think that in Ionesco’s «La cantatrice chauve», the autor wished to express the existentialist absurdity of the meaningless life of a british fire brigade captain, or he just wanted to have some good time?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do you prefer vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

      Strawberry.

      Tea or coffee?

      No.

      Cheesecake or apple pie?

      Yes.

      Fries or mashed?

      Why would anyone pick mashed?

      Do you sleep with the beard above or below the blankets?

      My beard never gets long enough for that to be an issue.

      Do you think that in Ionesco’s «La cantatrice chauve», the autor wished to express the existentialist absurdity of the meaningless life of a british fire brigade captain, or he just wanted to have some good time?

      I love lamp.

      Reply
  2. Media Man

    Do think TTP Media will actually launch their new stations this fall and are they actually going to enter the market with a big splash, thus the reason for the perceived secrecy??

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do think TTP Media will actually launch their new stations this fall and are they actually going to enter the market with a big splash, thus the reason for the perceived secrecy??

      They’re repeatedly assured me that they’re still launching their stations, but they also don’t seem to have done a single thing in almost a year. Maybe they had their hopes set on buying CJAD or TSN 690 and so put everything on ice while waiting for a decision on that, but nothing really explains how little they’ve done since the Bell/Astral decision came down. The rumour is that the three partners aren’t as united as they once were, and that we might see a different ownership structure before the stations go on the air.

      I’ve always felt that this group has underestimated the expense and difficulty of running a radio station the way they envision. But money problems don’t explain the delay, for the simple reason that they haven’t really spent all that much money so far because they haven’t done anything.

      Unfortunately we’re just going to have to wait until something happens. Either one or more of the partners gets bought out, or they start making announcements about a launch date and programming (so far I haven’t heard of anyone even being interviewed yet), or some other information leaks out. It’s entirely possible that the stations will launch this fall and will follow the plan as originally set, and all this secrecy is just because they don’t want any information to get out early. But the longer they stay secret, the more I’m willing to believe that won’t happen.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Which party did you vote for in the last Federal election?

      When was that, 2011? Who remembers such things?

      I’m not like most voters. I tend to cast a ballot for whoever makes things more interesting. As someone who works for a newspaper, minority governments and frequent elections have a positive impact on my bottom line. Not that I’ll vote for anyone, but I like to vote strategically.

      I believe I voted for Justin Trudeau in the last election, but to tell you the truth I don’t remember clearly enough. I often make my final decision while waiting in line at the polling station, or even while I’m in the ballot booth.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      So during all these years, nobody thought of a better title?

      Nope. That tagline was something I threw in because the WordPress installation asked for one. I’ve always thought of changing it, but haven’t come up with anything better. It’s part of a broader existential question of what this blog is about.

      Really, though, Fagstein isn’t the best name in the world. It doesn’t identify this as a blog focused on Montreal or the media, a bunch of people don’t know how to pronounce it, and it leads to a lot of people calling me “Steve Fagstein”. But the domain name was available, and I didn’t know what the blog would become when I registered it. Now, it has too much brand recognition for me to change it.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Are journalists/broadcasters/etc. ever pissed at you for your #FunnyFriday caption contests ?

      If they are, they haven’t told me about it. TV journalists in particular know they’re going to see far worse of themselves on the air. That said, some have said, half-jokingly perhaps, that they try their best to avoid doing anything that will get them featured there.

      Reply
  3. Tim Wise

    Do you think an English Classic Hits or Variety Hits formatted radio station would ever come to Montreal? 105.1 Mike FM does air Adult Hits during drive times but do you think it would ever expand beyond that?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do you think an English Classic Hits or Variety Hits formatted radio station would ever come to Montreal? 105.1 Mike FM does air Adult Hits during drive times but do you think it would ever expand beyond that?

      The problem in Montreal is that there isn’t enough space available on the FM band for that kind of variety in radio stations. Mike FM does classic hits during drive times, but it’s licensed as an ethnic station which limits how much English programming it can have. Someone could start up an AM station with such a format, but it wouldn’t have the same audio quality. There are also some U.S. border stations that try to reach into Montreal, but their signal isn’t nearly as powerful as CHOM, The Beat and Virgin.

      So I’m afraid we’re stuck with them until technology changes (and in a lot of ways it already has).

      Reply
      1. Neil K.

        Montreal English radio stations also have to deal with a 50% hit/non-hit ratio, which makes a true “hits” format almost impossible. Montreal and Ottawa/Gatineau are the last remaining territories in Canada where the hit/non-hit rule still applies.

        Happy Anniversary Steve! You’re 1 in dog years.

        Reply
  4. Michael

    I remember reading about people paying to have shows on CJAD, for example Chris Dimakos. So how am I supposed to know who pays and therefore might be less objective. Dr Laurie, Dr Joe, Dr Miller, Dr Morissette ? How can I know these things ?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I remember reading about people paying to have shows on CJAD, for example Chris Dimakos. So how am I supposed to know who pays and therefore might be less objective. Dr Laurie, Dr Joe, Dr Miller, Dr Morissette ? How can I know these things ?

      Good question. This is referred to as brokered programming (essentially people doing programs for free or even paying for airtime and selling their own ads or just paying out of pocket). And there’s an argument to be made that this is the same as an infomercial and should be disclosed to listeners. I don’t believe that’s a CRTC requirement though.

      Reply
    2. Neil K.

      Doubtful if Dr. Joe falls into that “pay-to-play” category. I doubt McGill or the science department needs to shill via a radio host, and I don’t think Schwarcz would buy airtime just to sell his books.

      Usually it’s the people with a product or service to sell who buy these shows, like chiros, therapists, travel companies, lawyers, investment brokers, retirement homes, etc.

      Reply
    3. Marc

      Bona-fide infomercial programming on CJAD airs mainly 7-8pm weeknights and consists of Morrisette’s chiropractic quack show, “Money Matters” with Arnold Zwaig, “Dollars and Sense”, and “Today’s Entrepreneur” with the Fuller Landau guy and Dan Delmar.

      Not sure about Laurie Betito and Chris Dimakos, apart from them being on the station for ages.

      Joe Schwarcz’s salary comes from McGill. Proceeds from his books go to the McGill O.S.S. The only thing he’s interested in is spreading science and isn’t on any take.

      Reply
  5. Steve W

    Just your guess. What will The Montreal Gazette newspaper be like in 5 years and 10 years with the shrinking influence of newspapers everywhere? In Montreal, the rapidly shrinking Montreal English media market(I still think its pure discrimination that at Montreal news conferences(except for covering sports), English media are not allowed to ask questions until the end, when the French media are finished). Will The Gazette paper even exist in 5 years? Maybe online only & not a daily anymore?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      What will The Montreal Gazette newspaper be like in 5 years and 10 years with the shrinking influence of newspapers everywhere?

      Smaller. We’re already seeing changes, narrowing of coverage to focus on core beats. There’s no more full-time reporter covering the Impact, or tennis, or even music, though stories in those fields are covered through wire stories or features by Gazette reporters as needed.

      Technologically, the physical paper will probably still be there, though it might be thinner, come out on fewer days, and have fewer but longer stories. About the same as any other newspaper in a large (but not massive) market.

      In Montreal, the rapidly shrinking Montreal English media market(I still think its pure discrimination that at Montreal news conferences(except for covering sports), English media are not allowed to ask questions until the end, when the French media are finished).

      That really depends on the news conference. French usually goes first, but after that some will go back and forth and some will go through French questions before moving to English ones.

      Reply
  6. TCON

    In a digital world of 1000 channels, why can’t CDN’s subscribe to ESPN or Fox Sports? I don’t mean them being part of a basis cable package, but on a special buy-in plan. With all the other news and entertainment channels that compete with CDN broadcasters, what is so special about sports that ESPN and Fox are no-go’s in this country?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      In a digital world of 1000 channels, why can’t CDN’s subscribe to ESPN or Fox Sports?

      Two reasons: First of all, neither of those channels are on the CRTC’s list of non-Canadian channels approved for distribution in Canada. But more importantly, Canadian broadcasters own the Canadian rights to much of the live sports programming on those channels, which means that if those channels were approved, they would be subject to frequent blackouts.

      Keep in mind that ESPN has a minority stake in TSN and RDS. If there’s enough demand for ESPN analysis shows, TSN could probably add some to its schedule (maybe on TSN2). I think the only thing on either channel that Canadians don’t get and would like is Jay and Dan on Fox Sports Live. Hopefully TSN or Sportsnet gets a deal to make that available on some channel in Canada.

      Reply
  7. Steve

    I suspect the answer is probably demographic but sometimes it can be surprising. Do you think a 24hr all news Quebec English TV Channel will ever become a reality ?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do you think a 24hr all news Quebec English TV Channel will ever become a reality ?

      It depends on your definition. If you’re looking for something like live video of news conferences in Montreal, CTV Montreal will often have that on its website. But if you’re looking for something like CBC News Network or CP24 in Montreal, the numbers don’t support that yet.

      Right now Canada has two regional all-news channels: CP24 in Toronto and Global’s BC1. (You could argue that Hamilton’s CHCH is effectively a third during the day, and that RDI and LCN are effectively Quebec regional channels.) And the regional channels get a lot of help, CP24 from CTV Toronto and other Bell Media resources, and BC1 from Global’s Vancouver station, with which it shares programming.

      If I were to guess the next region to get a channel, I would suggest Alberta. Either Bell or Shaw could leverage their Calgary and Edmonton stations to create one, and with a population of 3.6 million, Alberta is big enough to make this possible, and its population is probably fed up enough with Toronto-centric news to tune in.

      But CTV might not want to take away too much viewership from its national news channel, and Global’s B.C. news channel hasn’t been enough of a success yet to think they’re already looking to expand.

      News channels are expensive to run and take a while to recoup costs. CityNews Channel never made it, despite all the resources of Rogers and City Toronto. If other regional channels do launch, they’re going to have to have a business model that allows them to do news very cheaply.

      Reply
  8. Andy Reid

    Where did you see that application for CBC Radio Two’s Power increase in Montreal? I regularly monitor the CRTC web site but can find nothing.

    Good job on the blog site and congrats!. I wish there was someone like you in the GTA

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Where did you see that application for CBC Radio Two’s Power increase in Montreal? I regularly monitor the CRTC web site but can find nothing.

      It’s what’s called a Part 1 application, which means that the CRTC opens it up to public comment, but doesn’t issue a notice about it. Those applications are listed here. I make it a point to check them regularly, because the CRTC’s categorizing of applications (and decisions) isn’t based on the same criteria that I judge newsworthiness.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      would you rather fight a hundred duck sized ducks or one horse sized horse?

      Depends on what weapons I have available to me. And how much leg protection I have.

      Reply
  9. Swanonsongtoo

    Do you prefer blondes or brunettes?

    Love reading your blog and get annoyed when you go longer than two days with nothing fresh :)

    Reply
  10. Frédéric

    I am a francophone and I love reading your blog and Twitter.
    My question: in your opinion, how long will last X Radio in Montreal with only 1% share?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      how long will last X Radio in Montreal with only 1% share?

      As long as RNC Média wants to keep sinking money into it. And that might be a while. It takes a long time for a radio station to get established. And Radio X isn’t entirely here yet. Because of its CRTC licence, CKLX-FM 91.9 is still required to air jazz music. If it gets permission from the CRTC to become a talk radio station, it could start really focusing on establishing itself as a Montreal version of CHOI.

      CHOI is the top station in Quebec City, and is probably RNC’s best bet to make a station here profitable. There’s only one commercial talk radio station in French, so there’s plenty of room for another. And Radio X Montreal doesn’t need to be the most popular station here to work. It would need only about a 4% share in Montreal’s francophone market to get the same amount of listening hours as CHOI has. And that’s entirely attainable here with a bit of improvement and a bit of time.

      Reply
      1. Steve W

        Are all the photos for ‘Funny Photo Fridays’ usually taken by you? It some cases the photos, are taken from the TV screen(like more recent ones with Billy Shields & Camille Ross and Tim Sargeant)?

        Of the topics you regular cover(usually covering the Montreal media) on Fagstein blog(or Fagstein Twitter account), which usually generates the most interest with the Montreal public? Radio, TV, Public Transit or something else specific?

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Are all the photos for ‘Funny Photo Fridays’ usually taken by you?

          Many are taken by me, the rest are taken from TV screenshots. I imagine it’s pretty clear which is which.

          Of the topics you regular cover(usually covering the Montreal media) on Fagstein blog(or Fagstein Twitter account), which usually generates the most interest with the Montreal public? Radio, TV, Public Transit or something else specific?

          I don’t know. It’s hard to make conclusions on interest based on quantitative measures. Posts on controversial topics (like, say, language policy in Quebec) generate a lot of comments, but I don’t think they’re more interesting. Posts that have national interest generate more page views.

          Besides April 1 posts, my most popular by page views in the past year were a post on CTV replacing Colbert with Late Night (lots of Google searches), the feature on La Presse+ (lots of social media sharing), last fall’s firings at CJAD and TSN (lots of people wondering where everyone went), and Marcel Côté’s ill-advised use of stock photos, which prompted some actual news coverage.

          Reply
  11. Marc

    Do you think Brian Lilley’s anti-franco hate fest this week was the last straw for Sun News? Will that get the attention of the CRTC to switch the station’s license from a news channel to a general entertainment channel?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do you think Brian Lilley’s anti-franco hate fest this week was the last straw for Sun News?

      Not even close.

      Will that get the attention of the CRTC to switch the station’s license from a news channel to a general entertainment channel?

      No. Lilley apologized, for one. And the CRTC hasn’t shown any indication that it cares what opinions Sun News has on things. It looks at objective criteria like the number of hours of Canadian content it airs (100%) and how much of its revenue is spent on new original programming (more than 100%).

      Reply
      1. Marc

        Lilley apologized, for one

        He blurted out the standard cop-out that someone who gets caught red-handed does. Oh yeah, I lived in Montreal […] My wife is francophone […] I got many francophone friends… And so forth.

        If there was an actual apology in there, I must have missed it.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          If there was an actual apology in there, I must have missed it.

          He said what he did was wrong. Whether you think it’s sincere or not is another issue. The CRTC isn’t going to concern itself with what it thinks people really believe in their hearts, only what actually happens on the air.

          Reply
  12. Dilbert

    Where do you see the situation between the internet, video stream, IPtv, the CRTC, CanCon, SimSub, and all that heading? 5 or 10 years down the line, what will national broadcasters look like, and for that matter, will the local affiliates wither and die, becoming nothing more than rebroadcasters?

    How do you see it all a decade (or even 2) from now?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Where do you see the situation between the internet, video stream, IPtv, the CRTC, CanCon, SimSub, and all that heading?

      That’s a big question. We’re getting to the point now where HD-quality video can be streamed to most people online, so the technology is there, it’s just a question of its application. TV is easy, but online video isn’t quite as convenient yet. Devices like smart TVs and Apple TV are making that easier, and look for that to improve. Once it becomes as convenient as cable and satellite TV, start looking for a shift from one to the other.

      Aside from that, the big thing preventing everyone from abandoning subscription-based TV and moving online is copyright. Live sports in particular is keeping a lot of people attached to their TV providers. But as mobile and tablet devices become more popular, even Canadiens games can be streamed online. When it’s no longer more expensive or complicated to get live video of sporting events online than it is through TSN or Sportsnet, that will be a big step too.

      I think we’re either at or approaching the peak of the cable TV business model. Once people start picking channels on an individual basis, and finding online alternatives to paying $2 a month for each channel, we’re going to see some of those weaker specialty channels start disappearing. And even if that doesn’t happen, there are a bunch of IPTV providers starting out that could challenge the big cable companies’ monopolies, much like we’ve seen in home phones, wireless and Internet service.

      Not that I’m worried about the big telecom providers going bankrupt. If they’re not selling you TV subscriptions, they’re still selling you Internet access and wireless.

      I don’t know about simultaneous substitution and other CRTC regulations. I think the commission knows very well that it can’t censor the Internet. But it could try other measures to promote Canadian content online. For now, though, there isn’t a compelling reason to change those regulations that support the Canadian television industry.

      5 or 10 years down the line, what will national broadcasters look like, and for that matter, will the local affiliates wither and die, becoming nothing more than rebroadcasters?

      Some would argue they’re already there. The business model for local television is not very healthy. The complete lack of applications for new conventional television stations should be clear enough evidence of that (Montreal’s ICI notwithstanding). The biggest advantages of local stations are local advertising revenue, which is generally not allowed on national specialty channels, and simultaneous substitution, which only applies to areas covered by the over-the-air transmitter. But having a transmitter is no longer necessary to reach an audience, and if it weren’t for the regulatory advantages, many stations probably wouldn’t even have them.

      If, through regulatory changes or technological change, there’s a big drop to the bottom lines of conventional television networks, we could see City or Global or V go under eventually. But I don’t think that’s very likely.

      There’s reason for hope. CHCH in Hamilton greatly expanded local news, betting that in a world of 1,000 channels showing Seinfeld reruns, being different by being the only one showing local programming would be a winning strategy. So far that seems to be working. If we see other stations start expanding local programming (without being ordered to by the CRTC) then that might be a start of a dramatic shift in the industry. But I don’t think that’s particularly likely either. It would probably take more of a dramatic increase in the cost of acquiring programming to push stations to decide that more local programming would be more profitable.

      Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I used to love the geography quizzes. Will they ever return?

      If I can ever find a decent supply of questions that can’t be answered in 10 seconds with Google.

      Reply
  13. Pefder Magfrok

    Does the cbc english radio network cover all (or what %) of rural Quebec? Should it? (This would be a great opportunity to show off one of those radio station broadcast-range infographics you are great at finding)

    Your opinion on CBC montreal not streaming daybreak morning radio show outside Canada. CBC Daybreak is being censored? Seriously? Because of Olympics and some sort of lawyers’-wet-dream digital rights restrictions? (I note here that daybreak is not a syndicated show where only regional rights are held) The CBC calls itself canada’s public broadcaster. The public seems to be getting the short end of the stick. Is this restriction right or wrong? Is this even broadcasting?

    What’s the best thing about a Montreal winter?

    Keep up the good work. (The genie gives three wishes, so I asked three questions.)

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Does the cbc english radio network cover all (or what %) of rural Quebec? Should it? (This would be a great opportunity to show off one of those radio station broadcast-range infographics you are great at finding)

      One of these days I’ll put together a proper map of CBC radio transmitters in Quebec. But you can find a list of retransmitters of CBVE-FM Quebec City here. This is the Quebec Community Network, which is all of the CBC Radio One transmitters outside Montreal, except for Cowansville (which retransmits Montreal), Maniwaki (which retransmits Ottawa) and some transmitters in northern Quebec. It certainly doesn’t cover all of rural Quebec, but it does cover a good portion of it.

      Your opinion on CBC montreal not streaming daybreak morning radio show outside Canada.

      It’s a temporary measure because of the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee is very strict about its broadcast rights, mainly because they cost so much. That’s why the local newscast of non-official broadcasters can’t use clips from events they’re reporting on and have to rely on still photos instead. The only real alternative is for CBC radio to not carry live Olympics coverage or broadcast audio from the events.

      The CBC calls itself canada’s public broadcaster. The public seems to be getting the short end of the stick.

      You mean the public that doesn’t live in Canada?

      What’s the best thing about a Montreal winter?

      I like the fact that I travel to work entirely underground (except for two minute walks on either end). Montreal also has some nice winter festivals. And being a mountain means we have some nice toboggan runs as well. I don’t have a “best” thing though.

      Reply
      1. Pefder Magfrok

        Yes, I mean the portion of the Canadian Public and Montrealers and Quebecers who live or are temporarily outside Canada. They exist. The cbc daybreak show keeps them connected to Montreal and to Canada, and it is part of their identity (and is the CBC mandate). My mother for instance, who doesn’t care about the olympics but wants her Montreal news and doesn’t think much of the IOC and it’s corrupt anything-for-money evil ways. Is CBC Daybreak show really a threat to NBC? Really? Seriously?

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          My mother for instance, who doesn’t care about the olympics but wants her Montreal news and doesn’t think much of the IOC and it’s corrupt anything-for-money evil ways.

          The IOC is a non-profit organization. So I’m not sure why they would do “evil” things to get money they can’t keep. The IOC’s revenue is distributed to the organizations that put on the games, the sports federations that manage competitions in Olympic sports (both during the Olympics and the rest of the year) and the national olympic committees, which in turn support the athletes.

          CBC podcasts are still available, including the Daybreak podcast. It’s just the live streaming they have to stop because of the Olympics. And that will return when the Games are over.

          The IOC is very strict about broadcasting rights to the Olympics, but that’s because it costs a lot of money and the rights holders pay a lot of money to get those rights.

          Reply
  14. Matt

    Hi Steve……………long time reader first time poster. Keep up the great work!
    Question: Why is Virgin Radio Mtl playing more of what is usually on the 99.9 The Buzz station?
    Lots of times I hear it first on the Buzz then Virgin starts playing it…..any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Why is Virgin Radio Mtl playing more of what is usually on the 99.9 The Buzz station?

      Why wouldn’t it? If the song fits with Virgin’s format, which is pretty broad, and it’s popular, there’s no reason it shouldn’t run. If your question is whether Virgin is copying The Buzz, I suppose that’s possible. But I haven’t seen anything to suggest that. (CHOM, on the other hand, has clearly taken on a more Buzz-like feel to it.)

      Reply
  15. Mario D.

    So you just turned 7 ! Congratulations but what are you doing up at 9 o`clock at night ? Don`t you have school tomorrow ?

    Reply
  16. mark trafford

    congrats on 7 years,now as a new enterprise..have you ever felt you may have backed the wrong horse??have you ever let personal wishes and hopes get in the way of a story, you were very big on pete marier vs chom and ttp?after all this time,would you have handled it differently??be well.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      congrats on 7 years,now as a new enterprise..have you ever felt you may have backed the wrong horse?

      I don’t know what this means. I’ve never been to the track.

      have you ever let personal wishes and hopes get in the way of a story

      I try not to. I can’t guarantee that biases don’t influence how I look at an issue, but I also very much dislike when people take radically polarized positions on issues, even when I agree with them. I like being the devil’s advocate. And over the years I think I’ve been a bit more nuanced about these things, presenting both sides of the story, or at least explaining the situation as fully as I can so people can make their own decisions.

      you were very big on pete marier vs chom and ttp

      I don’t know what “very big” means in this context, but I do report on people getting fired mainly because these things aren’t reported otherwise. And I do have a great deal of sympathy for people who lose their jobs, whether they’re veterans like Marier or up-and-comers like Merv Williams. But I also understand that decisions like these have to be made sometimes, and that there’s no way to turn firing someone into a good news story.

      As for TTP Media, I’m very skeptical of their business model, and have been from the beginning. But I wish them well, and I’ve seen the great deal of work they put into planning this project, so I can’t dismiss them outright. If their stations succeed, it will probably revolutionize local radio, but that’s a tall order.

      after all this time,would you have handled it differently?

      There’s plenty of things I do differently than I used to. I’m much more stringent about confirming rumours than I used to be, and that has sometimes cost me a scoop. But like the cliché says, it’s better to be right than to be first. I prefer to get a more solid and in-depth story than to rush to publication and roll the dice with an unverified rumour. I can’t promise that I’ll never get burned by a source or get a story wrong or make a poor judgment, but I’m getting better about it.

      Reply
  17. Paul Wong

    Hi Steve congrats on the 7th year anniversary. Do you see any of the radio stations in the Montreal area changing their format anytime soon ? I realize the demographics and the population for the english community probably make a change in format for any of the anglo stations slim to none. But surely one of the french stations on the FM dial could or should. I seriously do not notice much of a music content difference from any of them for example I could easily hear Beyonce on 105.7 FM and then 20 minutes later on 107.3 and 10 minutes later on Boom 104.1 FM etc Their is hardly if any variety . It all sounds the same . I wonder how many Montreal listeners are simply turning off FM radio and subscribing to Sirius or Internet radio ?>

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do you see any of the radio stations in the Montreal area changing their format anytime soon ?

      Not any of the big ones, besides the change that Radio X is waiting for the CRTC to approve. Smaller stations could see format changes. CJMS 1040 is being sold, which could prompt one.

      98.5 is the No. 1 station, so there won’t be any changes there. Bell and Cogeco each have one FM adult contemporary station targetting an older demographic and one FM top 40 station targetting a younger demographic. The latter stations are a bit weaker in the ratings, but I don’t think either NRJ or CKOI is willing to give up to the other.

      I wonder how many Montreal listeners are simply turning off FM radio and subscribing to Sirius or Internet radio ?

      Not enough to make a difference.

      Reply
  18. CraigM

    Does the media close ranks to protect their own?

    Recently the case of Bill Kokesh was back in the news. About a year ago he was arrested for having procured and distributed child porn. He just entered a guilty plea, negating a trial. Over the last year whenever this news story appeared on radio, print, or TV, he was always prominently described as a deacon at a West Island Roman Catholic church, which he was, as if that had some sort of bearing on his crime beyond its salacious nature. In almost every instance, however, what was omitted was that he used to be a fairly prominent Montreal journalist, having worked for The Gazette, CFCF Radio, and CTV and CBC Television news (locally). Is this curious omission a case of the Montreal media wanting to whitewash themselves of association with one of their own? And why would this seemingly major part of the man’s past be deemed irrelevant to this story when his religion affiliation is played up?

    While the media appears to have conveniently overlooked this detail, blogs haven’t:
    http://coolopolis.blogspot.ca/2012/12/local-journalists-and-child-porn.html

    I’d be curious to get your take on this angle, since this is, after all, “ask you anything” time?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      In almost every instance, however, what was omitted was that he used to be a fairly prominent Montreal journalist, having worked for The Gazette, CFCF Radio, and CTV and CBC Television news (locally). Is this curious omission a case of the Montreal media wanting to whitewash themselves of association with one of their own?

      Every story about this case in The Gazette that I’ve read, including the one posted Friday and this one in 2012, mentions that he used to work for the paper. I can’t speak for other media, but I doubt anyone would intentionally hide such a thing. If a story doesn’t mention it, it’s more likely that the reporter was unaware, or didn’t think it relevant because this was something he did 30 years ago.

      The idea of a “whitewash” is ridiculous because Kokesch isn’t “one of their own” any more than Conrad Black or Bernard Drainville is.

      he was always prominently described as a deacon at a West Island Roman Catholic church, which he was, as if that had some sort of bearing on his crime beyond its salacious nature

      Doesn’t it? He was in a position of trust, which I would certainly argue is relevant. And he was even a consultant for the parish on issues directly relevant to this.

      I’m not saying his ties to the church weren’t sensationalized, but they’re hardly irrelevant. And if evidence emerges that his activities date back to when he was a journalist, that would be relevant too.

      Reply
  19. bigic

    Will somebody in Montreal area apply for 107.9? I know for the problems that may be caused by WVPS, but I think it would still cover a big portion of Montreal metro.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Will somebody in Montreal area apply for 107.9?

      When Evanov Radio applied for a station in Hudson, 107.9 was their backup choice of frequency. There were some complaints to the CRTC that this would effectively block out Vermont Public Radio, but it shows that it’s a viable option, at least on the western side of the city. But WVPS’s signal would still mean a station on this frequency would have limited coverage.

      Reply
  20. Dilbert

    Why do you seem to disappear for extended periods with no updates on the sites, only to occassional tweet (mostly retweets) and little if anything new to say? Is it winter vacation these days?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Why do you seem to disappear for extended periods

      I don’t know if I’d qualify a week as an “extended period”. It can be for various reasons. Sometimes I’m working on a big story, or I’m writing a lot of freelance stories, or I’m just watching a lot of TV. On rare occasions I develop a social life.

      Reply
  21. Big Tween

    I was curious, taking CJAD morning show for example, the quick hits from regular featured guests like Jean Lapierre, Dan Cook, Michael Farber, John Moore, do they get paid for their content and if they do how much do you think they get paid?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Columnists on commercial radio are generally paid for their work. I don’t know how much offhand. I imagine it varies, but it’s not a huge amount. Enough to pay them for a few hours of work.

      Reply
  22. Media Man

    Steve, Congrats on 7 years, I guess I’ve been reading for about two three of those years… But in reading the above questions…I have a couple..

    1–With a new man at the helm and the Beat seriously losing ground to Virgin, would it inevitable for some change of format or well-advertised tweaking?

    2– CJAD having made wholesale changes from noon onwards recently and when they brought Aaron Rand over, should AM600 get ever on the air, do you think “AD will finally names from 6 am to noon, starting with the tired Mr. anglo angst Mr. Schnurmacher..? It seems they’re getting ready as they now have live newscast overnight during Coast to Coast?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      With a new man at the helm and the Beat seriously losing ground to Virgin, would it inevitable for some change of format or well-advertised tweaking?

      A format change is unlikely. There isn’t a format that would give it more than an 18% share. The latest ratings, which came out this morning, show The Beat ahead of Virgin overall among anglophones, though Virgin still wins the key demographics.

      should AM600 get ever on the air, do you think “AD will finally names from 6 am to noon, starting with the tired Mr. anglo angst Mr. Schnurmacher..?

      I think there’s a word missing there. If AM600 does go to air, it’ll definitely change things, either by stealing talent or by doing other things to attract listeners. I would expect some changes to happen at CJAD as a result. But I don’t think they would throw everything out and start over. CJAD is still the heritage station, and people, especially the kind that listen to CJAD, don’t like to change their habits.

      A lot of people don’t like Tommy Schnurmacher, but he has 20,000 listeners on average, and was the highest-rated show in that timeslot in the latest ratings report. The demographics aren’t great (only 3,500 of those listeners are 25-54, which puts it behind the three music stations), but the question is who would be a better choice?

      Reply
      1. Media Man

        James Mennie, for starters would be a good choice, and you hit it on the head on his demographics. seems the bulk from what you say are over 55-60…You can be that if TTP were to have some name like in his 30’s or so, and the first book or two would bring in big numbers, you can be sure that Mr.S would be the first to go.. Right now, there’s no competition..

        And will you be doing your usual good story on the latest ratings…?

        Reply

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