Radio Fierté begins testing on 980 AM

Montreal’s newest radio station, and its first new general-interest commercial AM station in just about forever, is now transmitting as it undergoes the final stage before launch.

For a couple of weeks now, radio watchers have been noticing an open carrier — silence instead of static — on 980 AM. Now that signal is starting to carry music as the station begins its on-air testing in preparation for launch.

Radio Fierté CHRF is owned by Evanov Radio Group, which also owns Proud FM in Toronto, and the two have the same purpose, to serve the local LGBT community. Fierté will be Evanov’s first French-language radio station. Evanov told me last month that the station is expected to be on air by mid-November, so it’s a bit ahead of schedule. The actual launch is expected in January.

Evanov hasn’t announced hires yet, but Marie-Noëlle (Marino) Gagnon has announced she will be the station’s music director and one of its hosts. The general sales manager is Alain Tanguay, and Yvan Ruel is the project coordinator.

The station’s application to the CRTC proposed a format of half music, half talk. The proposed program schedule was vague, but indicated mainly music on evenings and weekends. Though it would be mainly directed at the estimated 5-10% of the population that is gay (Evanov believes it could be even higher than that), its music and information is also designed to appeal to a wider audience.

Its application promises some shows “will take a deeper look at issues of a more serious nature such as relationships, sex, health, politics and current events” with invited experts and call-in shows. Other shows will be music with “light banter.” It proposes 4-6 minutes of hard news an hour, and another 3-7 minutes an hour of sports, weather and traffic.

The application shows a projected annual budget of $1 million to $1.5 million a year, based on ad rates averaging between $42 and $72 a minute.

The station is playing mainly pop music in French and English (Tegan and Sara, Coeur de Pirate, Daft Punk, and a bunch of the songs you’d hear on The Beat or Virgin), but promises a mix of pop, disco and techno. Between songs, it’s airing several recorded messages noting the testing period, and identifying the station as “the first francophone LGBT station in North America” and “radio arc-en-ciel”. People who identify issues related to the transmission are asked to email info@radiofierte980.com.

Fierté was approved by the CRTC in 2011, in the same proceeding that gave approval for CKGM (TSN Radio) to move to clear channel 690 AM. Fierté had originally been approved to take over the vacated 990 frequency and the same pattern as CKGM formerly had, but found that moving to 980 AM and adopting a less directional pattern at reduced power would result in better coverage at night. The CRTC approved a frequency and pattern change last December.

20 thoughts on “Radio Fierté begins testing on 980 AM

  1. Mimo

    I noted this began around noon today. At first there were ID’s for Pride radio in Toronto, it seemed like a simulcast, but that very quickly changed to what you describe above. I’m not sure if it’s the colder weather helping to improve AM reception but the signal in Ottawa has improved dramatically. Before the weekend the open carrier was weaker than CJAD here, and now it is much stronger. The sound is amazingly good on a limited frequency ranged AM radio and it is quite bass heavy, which I like.

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  2. Morris S.

    Yet more nothing content in Montreal. We have corruption up the wahoo and all the media does here is play some music, feed into shows about aliens, and read from press releases on the news. More roads being ripped up. More businesses going bust. And hey, how about some electro music?! I am tired of the media not doing its job – or what should be its job. Stop parroting and start investigating.

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      I am tired of the media not doing its job – or what should be its job.

      Are you criticizing Radio Fierté’s news department before it’s put out even a single newscast? Or do you believe all radio stations in Canada must broadcast only investigative news?

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      TTP may want to pay attention here… this is how you put a station on air in reasonable time :)

      Three years vs. three and a half years doesn’t seem like that big a difference. (Assuming TTP launches when they say they will.)

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      1. Dilbert

        Yes, but less than a year since what was a pretty significant change for the station (frequency and pattern), and right on time without any extensions needed. The station is on the air and testing, ready to go with full programming shortly.

        Their new transmission pattern on 980, along with it being a much clearer frequency with the moving of the station in Quebec city seems to be just the ticket as well, they would appear to have very good coverage and a very decent looking night time pattern. They look to have absolutely nothing in the way as far east as they would like to go, and only really a 5000 watt AM station in Troy New York as an issue for night time coverage. They look primed to be a real powerhouse on that frequency, as many of the US stations seem to be in the 5KW and lower class (and some with as little as a couple of hundred watts at night).

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        1. Fagstein Post author

          Yes, but less than a year since what was a pretty significant change for the station (frequency and pattern), and right on time without any extensions needed.

          It needed an extension because the first deadline was a year ago. And if technical amendments justify extensions, then it should be noted that the first TTP Media got a technical amendment two years ago to move the 940 station’s transmitter site.

          They look primed to be a real powerhouse on that frequency

          Certainly better than they would have been on 990 with its restrictive nighttime signal. But not as good as 690 and 940, which are clear channels. The fact that much of their programming will be music on AM is also not very encouraging, though they were aware of that when they applied for the license.

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          1. Dilbert

            Well, music over AM, done properly, isn’t great but isn’t horrible. Perhaps the target community will be willing to overlook a certainly part of the sound quality in order to be part of that community. I can’t help but thinking that their longer term goal may be to push for an FM frequency to be made available at least in the core of the city to give them better quality.

            I think their change of frequency wasn’t an attempt to buy more time before they had to go on air. For TTP, I am not quite so confident.

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            1. Fagstein Post author

              I think their change of frequency wasn’t an attempt to buy more time before they had to go on air. For TTP, I am not quite so confident.

              There’s no evidence that TTP’s technical change was done to buy time. For one thing, technical changes don’t buy time. And the change in the 940 transmitter site happened to put it at the same site as the 600 station. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

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              1. Dilbert

                Technical changes by themselves may not by time directly, but as an example saying “we will do this, but we cannot start the work until spring” generally leads to an extension being requested.

                “And the change in the 940 transmitter site happened to put it at the same site as the 600 station. ”

                yes, but is there any indication at all that there is actual work going on at that site? Usually someone will post up something to show new towers going up or whatever… and as per the usual for TTP, it’s radio silence. Has there been any work done over there at all?

              2. Sheldon Harvey

                Once again, I think it is important to point out that as of this moment in time there is absolutely no agreement in place to confirm that the TTP stations will be operating from the transmitter site in Kahnawake on Highway 138. The transmitter building is still there, the towers and atennas are there, but nothing else is happening on the site. The site is still held by Cogeco on a lease with Native Kahnawake land-owners. Cogeco was, for a short period of time, sub-letting the transmitter site to TTP, but that agreement was terminated. So, at this point in time, TTP does not officially have a transmitter site for their proposed 940 and 600 operations. Everyone should stop assuming things that are not based in fact.

              3. Fagstein Post author

                TTP does not officially have a transmitter site for their proposed 940 and 600 operations.

                Depends on your definition of “officially”. The stations are licensed to be broadcast from that transmitter site. If TTP Media wants to change that, it requires a technical amendment to its licenses. Until that happens, as far as the CRTC is concerned that site is where they’re broadcasting from.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      How will this affect those who enjoy listening to 960AM out of Plattsburgh

      I guess we’ll find out. It will probably depend mostly on the sensitivity of the radio doing the listening, and where the person is located.

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  3. Mimo

    All AM radios are directional. You can rotate the radio to get the best signal out of AM 960. If you’re getting it now, then you’re fine. Only the cheapest and least sensitive radio should have difficulty hearing 960 with a local 980 on the dial. The only exception would be if you’re very close to CHRF’s transmitter.

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  4. A Villa

    HI There, Was scanning my AM radio in my car the other day down here in St. Albans Vermont just about 12 miles from the border and It stop at 980 AM. I heard the music and thought that a new station like CKGM was back on the air. It was our great AM rock and roll station in the 60’s and 70’s. The signal was great but I tried it in the evening and it was very noisy and stacticy. I drove closer to the border and the reciption improved sharply. We use to get CKGM very good at night years ago. Where are the transmitters for this station the same as CKGM were? CJAD comes in down here like gang busters durning the day but drops
    alot at night. Will listen to this station and see how it goes. Alot of people down here listen to many Montreal AM and FM stations like myself they come in very good because of the flat terrain between here and Montreal. Good Luck.

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    1. Fagstein Post author

      We use to get CKGM very good at night years ago. Where are the transmitters for this station the same as CKGM were?

      The transmission pattern should be the same as CKGM was before it moved from 980 to 990. The signal is wide, but is pointed north, so it’s unsurprising that it wouldn’t be very good toward the south across the border.

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  5. Michael Friedman

    I caught today the signal of radio-fierte here in Morrisburg, ON – (Approx 90 miles west of Montreal) on a 40 year old radio. While there was static on the station it was completely audible. The signal today virtually NIL for CJAD which usually comes in quite clear here in Morrisburg. This was the first time that I was able to catch the transmitting signal of radio fierte on 980 on the dial. I can get two other Evanov Broadcast stations here in Morrisburg, but they are on the FM Band. One broadcasting from Ottawa, and the other a bilingual station broadcasting from Hawkesbury, ON.

    Reply

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