Radio 9 plans all-sports format, third format change in three years

RNC Média is still trying to figure out a winning formula for its FM station in Montreal, and after failing at jazz, right-wing talk and serious news-talk, it’s moving to sports talk.

The news was first reported by La Presse after the company dismissed its star hosts Louis Lemieux, Josélito Michaud and Caroline Proulx. The news was confirmed on air and online by the station, but with only a promise of details soon.

Radio-Canada reports 15 of 28 jobs have been cut at the station.

CKLX-FM 91.9 began in 2004 as Planète Jazz, under the assumption that the city with one of the world’s biggest jazz festivals would be interested in a station devoted to that music. That didn’t work, and in 2012 the company asked the CRTC to adopt a spoken-word format. It switched the station’s brand to Radio X and adopted a format similar to the Quebec City station that has found ratings success with right-wingers complaining about things, decried by critics as “radio poubelle”.

But Radio X didn’t work here, so last fall it rebranded as Radio 9, hired former RDI host Louis Lemieux and tried to get more serious.

But that didn’t work either, and the station couldn’t climb out of the ratings basement while its direct competitor CHMP-FM 98.5 dominated.

This format change, which doesn’t require CRTC approval because it remains a spoken word station, brings a full-time sports radio station in French back to Montreal for the first time since CKAC went from all-sports to traffic information in 2011, moving some of its sports talk to 98.5.

The road will be difficult for this station in a sports format, because 98.5 has popular sports shows in the evenings and has exclusive rights to Canadiens and Alouettes games. It also recently acquired rights to some Impact games. CKLX-FM might pick up the remaining Impact games, and rights to other sports, but those won’t have nearly the same ratings draw.

There’s also another factor in play here: Two years ago the CRTC authorized the launch of a French-language all-sports station at 850 AM owned by 7954689 Canada Inc. (Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy Media). The deadline to launch that station passed 11 days ago, but the CRTC says it has received a request for an extension and is studying it. Normally stations can get a one-year extension to launch a radio station if they ask for it before the deadline.

This change for RNC Média might force TTP Media to rethink its plans for 850 AM, or even abandon the project entirely.

TTP Media has been dormant (comatose, really) since it acquired its three licences, except for its requests for extensions to launch. The last of those, nine months ago, said its stations were six to nine months to launch. The uncertainty about this company will likely end in November, when the final extension for its first licence (a French news-talk station at 940 AM) expires, and it’s either on the air or it loses its authorization for good.

10 thoughts on “Radio 9 plans all-sports format, third format change in three years

  1. Denis

    You missed one, that station was called ” Couleur jazz ” at the start and then became “Planète jazz “.

    Maybe I was one of the rare listener at that time…

  2. Lorne

    Will this station be able to get the rights to Canadiens, Alouettes, or Impact games, or any other live broadcasts?

  3. Mario D

    Do not know about this one. They pulled the trigger real fast on that format of talk radio . There is a place for another opinion radio in MTL other than trash radio but you have to give it time. Their format was not really convincing. At first you felt as if they wanted to keep part of their trash radio identity with a few remaining voices from Quebec city wich did not help them to build their reputation. They had a nice guy in Louis Lemieux in the morning but the format of the show was not clear and sometimes it was confusing as to know who had the leadership .

    Not convinced that they will get a bigger market share with an all sports radio. They do not have any broadcast rights for now and let`s admit it, you can predict that it will be an all Habs radio station. Whether they are Habs friendly or not does not change the problem ..One can only talk so much on a single game,a single trade ,a single rumor…

    That announcement in advance obviously has to do with the Tietolman project of the same type of station but that group does not seem to have the structure in place to go forward. The Tietolman familly has been in the business for a long time CKVL/CKOI but this time i am not convinced… What if they still go ahead with their project of another all sports radio and open before 91.9 ? Will not lose any sleep over it though…

    1. Fagstein Post author

      That announcement in advance obviously has to do with the Tietolman project

      Actually I’d bet it has absolutely nothing to do with TTP Media, and everything to do with wanting to get everything in place by fall.

      1. Mario D

        Of course it has to do with the fall program grid but since CKAC changed format to traffic radio the all sport format was left open and it was a matter of time before one or the other went for it. I think that it`s a much more promissing format to put in place instead of having to compete with 98.5 on their ground.

      2. Dilbert

        I think it may be a bit of both. TTP has in a sense been running a block on anyone else considering the format for the last couple of years, knowing a new player was just about to show up. But since TTP appears to be mostly a paperwork company and not seeming to do much towards actually broadcasting, it leaves an opening. Since Radio Poubelle is not going to work in Montreal, sports is as good a next stop as any.

        I don’t think it will work out, however. A lack of live sports and a lack of connection to the community is going to make it an uphill struggle. On the plus side for them, it’s likely that sports fans would be a more loyal audience than they types who listen to trash-can radio. So maybe they can manage to squeeze up to a 2 rating… one day.

        Next stop: Pure talk radio to go against 98.5 directly… and that would be a challenge!

        1. Marc

          98.5 is radio-poubelle, too. From Dutrizac comparing the PLQ to Nazis to Normand Lester’s recent bizzarre comparison of England to ISIS. There are thousands of examples.

  4. Swansongtoo

    Here’s a thought. If making a go of it either musically or spoken in French is proving to be a challenge how about looking to flip the license to English. Sure there would be the ususal voices of concern and disapproval but a new English FM would be a breath of fresh air.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      If making a go of it either musically or spoken in French is proving to be a challenge how about looking to flip the license to English.

      That’s highly unlikely for a few reasons:

      1. It would require CRTC approval. And such an application would probably draw opposition from other broadcasters arguing that it amounts to a new station and that there should be a call for competing proposals.

      2. RNC Média has no experience in English-language broadcasting.

      3. Montreal’s French-language market is still much larger than its English one, so this station would be shrinking its potential audience.

      4. The English market already has two private spoken-word radio stations.


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