(Updated below with news of the relaunch)
Six weeks after Corus Entertainment acquired Ottawa’s 106.9 The Bear from Bell as part of Bell’s Astral Media takeover, and a month after Mark Dickie, the former general manager at The Beat in Montreal was put in charge of it and Corus’s three other stations in Ottawa and Cornwall, The Bear is no more.
Visitors to the station’s website on Thursday were greeted with a message from Dickie explaining that “we have decided to take FM 106.9 in a new direction.” The full statement is below.
Corus told the Ottawa Citizen that the station will air just music and ads until the end of the month, when it launches the new format.
That new direction appears to be Fresh FM, a hot adult contemporary format that Corus is using in Edmonton, Winnipeg, London and Hamilton. Rumours about the format change surfaced in January when someone noticed that Corus had registered 1069freshfm.com as a domain name. (It currently doesn’t lead anywhere, but expect that to change soon.)
On March 31, at 11am, after annoying listeners with nature sounds for a while, the station relaunched as Jump! Ottawa, promising “non-stop hits”. Its first hour features songs by Katy Perry, Pink, Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake. Corus’s press release about it is here.
You can listen to the relaunch here. It goes on forever with the nature sounds. A mission-control-themed relaunch announcement starts at six minutes in.
The change in format means a change in staff at the station. Dickie tells me that he’s had to let three people go: Scott Lear, Jay Herrington and Jon “Gonzo” Mark, whom he qualified as “great guys, great broadcasters” who just didn’t fit with the new format. (Scott McCord had already announced he got another job in Edmonton.) The others are staying on with the new format or have moved to Boom 99.7, and there will be other hires to fill announcer positions. In fact, he says, they’ve already been hired. This includes on-air people, but also people in other positions, since Astral Media put big hires on hold while the whole Bell-Astral acquisition was going through the regulatory process, which took almost two years.
Some of the on-air personalities made jokes or gave thank-yous on Twitter after the announcement:
It has been a honor and a priviledge serving Ottawa & the Bear Tribe @THEBEAR1069 for the past 5 yrs. Gonzo is a Free Agent now. Be well
— Jon Mark (@gonzo_jon) March 6, 2014
Anyone know of any decent, LOCAL sweat shops? My kids have VERY tiny hands and I'm agonna need them to start pulling their weight.
— Jay Herrington (@Herringboner) March 6, 2014
I was there for @WendyDanielsFM last break, and she was there for mine. Long live rock & roll! pic.twitter.com/g3qKWvhNOP
— AMY VOLUME (@amyvolume) March 6, 2014
Good bye, old friend. We had some wickedly fun times! http://t.co/amBIvko0so
— Wendy Daniels (@WendyDanielsFM) March 6, 2014
Change is inevitable. Thank you all for the ride over the last 20 years. Rock on, be well. KCCO. My next chapter starts now,
— Scott Lear (@ScottLearRadio) March 6, 2014
Needless to say fans of the station are hearbroken. The station’s Facebook page is getting hundreds of comments from upset listeners. There are also lots of comments on Twitter. A petition asking Corus to reverse its decision has more than 200 signatures already, but it’s highly unlikely to make a difference.
If you look at the numbers, a change makes sense. The latest BBM report from Ottawa shows The Bear (CKQB-FM) far down with only a 3.8% market share among anglophones. That’s far behind CHEZ 106, the other rock station in the city, whose share has been between 4.4 and 7.0 in the past two years.
But this isn’t the first time that someone has tried to ditch The Bear for something else. In 2009, when it was owned by Astral Media, the company replaced it with the Virgin Radio brand. Unlike other Virgin Radio stations, it kept the rock music format. By 2011, they decided to go back to the Bear brand.
That episode has some thinking that Corus is making the same mistake Astral did, and that within a couple of years Fresh FM will have failed and The Bear will be brought out of hibernation.
Many people online are questioning whether Ottawa needs yet another top 40 music station. It’s a good question to ask.
Here’s an idea of how the current English radio stations in Ottawa break down in terms of music format. The lines between them aren’t perfectly defined, but it should give you an idea:
- CILV 88.5 (modern rock)
- CIDG 101.9 Dawg FM (blues rock)
- CHEZ 106.1 FM (classic rock)
Top 40/hot adult contemporary
- CIHT Hot 89.9 (CHR)
- CISS Kiss 105.3
Adult contemporary/easy listening/soft rock
- CJWL Jewel 98.5 (adult contemporary/adult standards)
- CJMJ Majic 100.3 (adult contemporary/soft rock)
- CKKL Bob FM 93.9 (Adult hits)
- CJOT Boom 99.7 (classic hits)
- CJET Jack 92.3 (classic hits) (Smiths Falls)
There are also French stations serving the market like Capitale Rock, NRJ and Rouge FM that can be added to these lists.
Based on this breakdown, you can understand why Corus might think that it should reposition the station as a hot adult contemporary format, which has a lot of young listeners, and particularly female listeners, which is good for advertisers. Combined with the Boom FM station airing classic hits, it’s a decent combination, at least from their perspective. (Though Boom FM is an Astral and now Bell brand, so that station might also undergo a rebranding at some point, even if the format stays the same.)
But as much sense as this might make for Corus, it also doesn’t really give the market anything new. It’s still 10 stations (13 if you include the French ones) serving what is basically four music formats.
I asked Dickie whether this was his call. He noted that Corus had been looking at a format change before he came on, and that the change itself was a team effort. He agreed that there had been “some slippage” in the ratings, which led to the decision.
I also asked him about Boom FM, the other station Corus bought from Bell. Boom FM is a former Astral brand, used on three other stations — one in Toronto that’s being sold to Newcap, and two French stations in the Montérégie that Bell is keeping. Surely Corus would want to replace that brand with one of its own?
Dickie said that’s not necessary. They have a licensing agreement to use the brand “as long as we want,” and he didn’t seem to be itching to change that soon.
Here’s Dickie’s full statement as posted on the station’s website and Facebook page:
The Bear 106.9 Closure
Corus Radio Ottawa is committed to providing the best possible listening experience, therefore, we have decided to take FM 106.9 in a new direction. We thank our listeners, advertisers and community partners for supporting us the past 20 years.
We are confident the new format will be a welcome addition to the Ottawa radio landscape. Your support is important to us and we invite you to listen to the station that we are certain will become an audience favorite.
Corus Radio Ottawa / Cornwall
JUMP FM sucks…….we need to revolt and bring back the BEAR….we didn’t need a copy cat to the HOT 89 station…what do us rockers do now???? I guess its back to satellite radio???? JUMP FM SUCKS. Whoever did their market research should be fired…..People who listened to the BEAR will not listen to JUMP FM SUCKS.
Flat out, from an ex listener, like most of us, JUMP you suck and should JUMP off a bridge into the lake and the BEAR should be welcomed right back.
They don’t expect people who listened to The Bear to stay with the station. The goal is to attract people who are interested in pop music.
I totally agree the bear was one of a kind rock station LONG LIVE ROCK!! We already have enough of these stupid hip hop stations. I’ve been listening to the Bear for 20 years and never got tired of the music or the cast, rock started it all!
JR. you are right jump sucks I really want the 106.9 the bear welcome back I miss the station it better come back soon if not I will not be very happy at all
It’s very unfortunate. We did not need another tiny boper station in Ottawa. There are so many of those.
It’s sad to say that I wish you guys fail miserably.
The bear knew how to put together the coolest mix of songs.
I hope jump falls flat on its face.
Please bring back the old format. I have listened to the Bear for years. The new format is not my choice of music. I loved the morning people and the morning games and contests. I have switched to 106.1 but that is lame.
106.9 post-change over, sucks. Bad. The re-broadcast to 99.9 is pretty much a forgotten memory in the valley. Having only Star 96(country), 104.9(Crap pop), and now 99.9, peoe in the valley have turned to Other sources fr their music needs. Vendors in the Valley spending money for ad space with The Bear are rumouring to cease all spending due to a Valley wide boycott on any business who advertises on 99.9.
All this over a little rock music eh?
Also, polls don’t accuratly reflect the truth. In this poll where The Bear had ranked so low, every radio listener was not asked who they listen to. Polls can be held to target specific markets, to show specific results, but never the accurate truth.
Congratz Jump, you fucked up.
its sad that they decide to change a perfectly good station and want to copy hot 89.9 be original the Bear rocked I could never support this new station the choice sucks and so does the new station.. my dial will now be on Chez and at this point even if you do bring back the bear I wont tune back in cause I wont support your company thumbs down and hope your new station fails
What a shame! Who says we need to listen to more Rihanna…we’ve alrady got enough of that. But hey..now e get to listen to it for 90 minutes straight! Thank God there’s still Chez 106. I listened to the new garbage on 106.9 for about 20 minutes and that was enough. You’ve lost a listener here, and my friends as well. I’ve been a Bear listener for a long time….sad sad news.
Every since I moved to ottawa back in 2000 the bear was my favourite station. What a terrible idea to switch to a top 40 format. Not impressed with their decision. Thank goodness we still have chez.
BRING BACK THE REAL MUSIC………..106.9 THE BEAR THE BEST…. THANKS FOR ALL THE GREAT YEARS AND MUSIC…. Fuck this new shit
Just a shame that some sort of pole gave a wrong impression. I have worked in numbers and I can make any “thing” look good or bad with the exact same numbers. Seriously why do you think (JUMP) your station will be better then 89.9 or any other POP station? Ever been to a concert? First of all we would not have had the likes of Black Sabbath, Metallica, Soundgarden etc in concert in Ottawa if it wasn’t for The Bear…now what?!?!?!
Just what Ottawa needed more Lady Gaga…YUCK!
Black Sabbath, Metallica and Soundgarden all played Ottawa before The Bear existed (1971, 1987 and 1990, respectively, and possibly earlier).
JUMP! FM?, Listened to them for the first time today.
I’m guessing that CHUMP! FM was already taken,
Long live the BEAR.
Whatttt the f–k were they thinking this new station sucks more dance music just dandy bring back the rockkk ! Unreallll
I m in shock,i m from quebec near mont-tremblant and my daughter (she has 14 year) discover gun s & roses and since then listen to rock (old and new group).So in quebec we have one station (97,7 fm) that play rock song and on car many times we had listen the bear on car with a lot of distortion (we are far from Ottawa) but now it s a vey bad news for all of us,so i pull the plug and never listen again the 106,9,just hope that they will return to their decision in near future and hope that new formule will crash soon.
I am so disappointed by this change! I have been listening to the Bear since I was a kid growing up in the 90s. My parents’ music like Garth Brooks, The Beatles, Rita McNeil and The Eurythmics was always playing in the house, but it wasn’t until I got my own stereo for my 13th birthday that I first tuned into The Bear which introduced me to bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana, Green Day, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Smashing Pumpkins, Guns N Roses, Metallica, The Ramones and NOFX, which became MY music. It was sad when 101.1 XFM got changed into a country music station, and now Ottawa’s best rock station becomes yet another dime-a-dozen pop top 40 station?! I guess I’ll go listen to CHEZ or LIVE FM…
I’m glade there is internet radio. That way we all can turn this crap radio station off and turn on good rock stations outside of area. What a sad move turning the bear into dance music station. I hope they flop!
Bring back the bear you fools
Pathetic… Just what ottawa needs… Another station that sounds like all the others… plus getting rid of some great staff. 106.9 is no longer on my radio pre-set. Lost a listener for life… Or at least till they realize their blunder and bring it back the way it was.
I can`t handle JUMP, it`s brutal. I miss the Bear – please bring it back!
As much as i hate jump, i realise that the Bear was diing a slow death of staleness, i been rocking Octane on XM and have discored tons of new bands on the rock scene that were being ignored by our lost station. So as for getting the Bear back its a hell no stay dead big boy. Bring a real hard rock station to Ottawa, leave the classics to CHEZ, the slow rock to Majic and play some real ROCK in Ottawa, do it right or dont do it at all. to have a stable share of the market you must please a sector of it all the time. Going from GNR to VOLBEAT to IMAGINE DRAGON to PAPA ROCH to PINK FLOYD to ROB ZOMBIE to THE WHO is just anoying all listeners as it cant focus on any market. So unless Ottawa/Gatineau can get a Octane like station im just not going to listen to FM radio no more. ohh how i miss XFM 101,1… oh wait they fucked that one up too by triing to please to many type of rock fans. As far as im concerned Ottawa will always be a soft town that smacks of staleness. LADY GAGA at Blues fest… REALLY YOUR ALL FUCKED, good luck!!!!
I’m a from Brazil and even so far in the last two years I heard the bear. Now I feel the lack of a great quality radio.
Bring back the bear!
Great job ..you just killed the best rock station in the area, chez 106 is another 97.7 chom like Montreal..it sucks
I bet the bear will be back don’t worry dudes
Jump fm sucks balls. I listened to the bear everyday and enjoyed every song. Classic rock will always be original. It’s sad that there is no good rock station in Ottawa. Safe to say I will NOT be listening to jump FM. Lost me as a listener. Bring back the bear
I miss the bear!!!! I’m from US, and I had my 106.9 on my first button on my car radio for years. I’ve changed it to 97.7 chom-Montreal. This station is OK, but it’s not the bear, and the bear came in better. I miss you bad!!!!! I listen to 100.3 The Bear in Edmonton on my IPod, that’s a pretty good station, it plays a lot of what the Bear 106.9 did.
I can’t believe the bear is dead and that they brought in another pop radio station to replace it with, I hate hot 89 and I hate Jump too just from listening to it’s commercials on youtube, rock is not dead and never will be so what’s happening with music now a days? why are so many radio stations catering to young teens and kids when adult’s make up most of the listening population? thank god we still have chez 106 or else I would just be listening to my Ipod on the job site…
The bear left us now stuck with old suff chez and crapy live station you guys have to do somthing barelly no new stuff or just old crap thanks 93.9 for saturday night for that 2 hours of good tunes hey jump you sucks!!
Jesus Christ!! They still don’t haven’t killed JUMP 106.9 yet!?!?! I guess it’s going to take a collective group effort and a trip down to the station to put those bozo’s in their place!
We want our real rock music not popular stupid people who play their anoying music because they are popular, and chez is old classic rock which is ok but i want real rock like metalica acdc guns and roses and good music like that. I hope that those stupedy heads of jump fuck off and leaves us alone ! Theire is too many popular station in ottawa! To all fans we stay together and not leting go the fight. Live long my friends.
Looks like Jump 106.9 is really pumping their ‘Beats’ (or Barfs) down on Bank St. this evening! They were / are setup between Eggspectations and Shoppers Drug Mart and have attracted quite a crowd. Guess that’s ok for what the Bank St. Promenade is aiming for, but it still doesn’t change my view on wanting ‘The Bear’ back on that FM frequency.
Too bad. Just moved to Ottawa a second time and was looking forward to listening to the BEAR once again.
Wow just moved back home after being away for a year and try to tune into the bear and this is what i get? HELL NO GIMME BACK MY BEAR !! Hope you fail jump fm
I am extremely heartbroken over the death of a true rock icon, 106.9 The Bear. I have been listening to The Bear for years, and never got bored with what they played. They played real rock, whether it be classic , alternative or new rock. Now I cannot get my fix of all 3 in one day. I am constantly switching back and forth between CHEZ and LIVE, simply because they do not have enough good music to carry me through the day. Not to mention that The Bear had the best reception, and I could listen to them anywhere. I also loved the fact they always included the listeners, and were willing to take calls and comments from an everyday, loyal listener. The DJs were awesome, and always made me laugh and smile everyday, but could also be serious when it mattered. They committed themselves to being part of the community, and never turned down a chance to help out some sort of important charity. You will be missed my friend, and I can only hope that the big-wigs at 106.9 come to their senses and revive a far too long gone radio station. I will never listen to Jump, and will simply suffer and shamefully listen to the next best thing( which is nowhere close to The Bear).
1. Did they really take a poll or just start grabbing from other stations to make it easier for them to enforce the change, cause I don’t remember being asked to take a poll for The Bear. 2. I have been listening to The Bear since I was a teen (13) and have loved and been loyal all those years , loved the people that hosted it and the music and now we have another 88.9 pop station, how many more pop stations does one city need???? And for the record I HATE POP MUSIC IT ALL SOUND THE SAME!!!!!. Well I have changed my station to Live88.5 and they are playing music that I like and it’s not to bad,, and their starting to play more rock now too which is great, but I also listen to Bob 103.5 in brockville and KRock 105.7 in Kingston and their pretty good at playing the rock music. But if they brought The Bear back I would be in heaven again,, not the shit that their playin on joke 1069 oh I mean jump.
I don’t believe any public polling was done before this decision was made (other than, of course, looking at the ratings).