Radio Classique, which operates classical music stations in Montreal (CJPX-FM 99.5) and Quebec City (CJSQ-FM 92.7), is being sold to Groupe Musique Greg, the company owned by Quebec personality Gregory Charles.
The acquisition price is unknown (the Journal de Montréal says it’s more than $10 million), but should be made public when the CRTC publishes the application to change the ownership of the stations. (The sale can’t be final until the commission approves it.) Legally, the two stations are owned by separate companies, Radio Classique Montréal Inc. and Radio Classique Québec Inc., both of whom are controlled 90% by Jean-Pierre Coallier and 10% by Pierre Barbeau.
Radio Classique launched in Montreal in 1998, and the Quebec station in 2007. I’d been hearing rumours for a few years now that Coallier, who turned 77 last month, was looking to find a new owner for the stations. Charles heard those rumours too, and told Les Affaires that’s why he initiated talks for a purchase. This transaction would keep one of Montreal’s few independent commercial radio stations in independent (and artistic) hands.
It’s unclear what Charles and his company plan to do with the stations (he wouldn’t tell the Journal if he plans to become an on-air personality at the station), but they are unlikely to change formats, at least in the near term. Charles says he acquired the stations because of their niche format, which the major broadcasters won’t touch. Getting rid of classical music and replacing it with Katy Perry would be disastrous for its reputation, and it would likely lose more listeners than it gained.
The stations operate as specialty-format stations, and CRTC approval would be needed before they could convert to pop, rock, dance or country music formats. CJSQ has a specific condition of licence limiting 90% of its content to “concert” music, defined as classical music, opera, operetta and musical theatre.
The latest ratings information from Numeris shows CJPX-FM in Montreal had a 2.7% share among francophones and a 1.8% share among anglophones, while CJSQ-FM in Quebec City had a 4.6% share total.