Cogeco lays off The Beat program director Sam Zniber as it plans corporate reorganization

Sam Zniber, who was brought in almost two years ago to manage programming at The Beat 92.5, is no longer employed by the station.

Cogeco Media President Richard Lachance says the company (which recently changed its name from Cogeco Diffusion) is undergoing a corporate reorganization, and “Mr. Zniber did not form part of that plan.”

Staff was told about Zniber’s departure on Monday, without being given much of an explanation for it. According to one Beat staff member, he was supposed to be coming back to work after a sick leave.

Zniber could not be reached for comment.

Martin Tremblay, who used to be part of the management team at Astral/Bell Media’s Montreal radio stations, will continue in as interim program director for now, Lachance said. Though Zniber’s departure was only recently made official, Tremblay has been interim program director since early March.

Lachance rebuffed several of my attempts to explain the nature of the corporate reorganization, whether it would result in fewer managers, or whether The Beat would continue to have its own management. Lachance said he did not want to discuss the plans before they are announced to staff, which he said should be done within the next month.

Zniber was a surprise choice for PD in 2014, since he had no experience in the Montreal market or even in Canadian radio. He had worked in France, the UK, Australia, and Miami. This was his eighth job since 2000, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Zniber’s legacy at The Beat is mixed. During the 2014-2015 winter ratings period, the station jumped to a surprise 20% market share, well ahead of direct competitor Virgin Radio, which it had long trailed. Zniber told me he expected the station to continue to outperform its competitor, while the Virgin/Bell Media folks said The Beat’s ratings spike was due to running Christmas music in December and they’d come back down. The next ratings book proved Bell right, but Virgin and The Beat remain neck and neck in the ratings overall.

3 thoughts on “Cogeco lays off The Beat program director Sam Zniber as it plans corporate reorganization

  1. Dilbert

    I would say that Mr Zniber’s job in life is implementation, and not long term maintenance. His history since 2000 suggests he gets an average of 2 years at any given job, which is generally the time to change formats and get everything up and running. Somewhere along the line, he becomes expendable.

    Also, Montreal English radio is really becoming sort of a petrified forest. Everything is pretty much set in stone, and is unlikely to change any time soon. The Beat has clearly carved out a solid (and likely profitable) place in the market, and the other plays are more or less locked in by their corporate masters. Cogeco has likely spotted that they can greatly thin the ranks of program directors and station managers, save a pot of money, and still get similar results. Bell has been showing others the way in this area, and others appear to be following.

  2. Media Man

    Yes it’s too bad, but yes, Sam set it up the current programming well.

    But they’ll still need a programming manager or supervisor /music director all combined into one, something to that effect.

    It’s a formula station, a good mix of current pop and AC stuff and classic type dance oldies..

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