The Beat drops Sarah Bartok

Sarah Bartok, left, and Kim Sullivan representing The Beat at this year's St. Patrick's Parade on March 20. The station has since told both of them it no longer requires their services.

Sarah Bartok, left, and Kim Sullivan representing The Beat at this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade on March 20. The station has since told both of them it no longer requires their services.

Seems the cost-cutting at 92.5 The Beat isn’t over.

Shortly after dropping program director Sam Zniber and afternoon drive co-host Kim Sullivan, the news dropped this morning of the highest-profile dismissal yet: Sarah Bartok, co-host of the morning show, is no longer at the station.

She made the announcement on Facebook in a since-deleted post.

Sarah Bartok won't be waving this flag any more.

Sarah Bartok won’t be waving this flag any more.

Her name was being scrubbed from the station’s website on Wednesday (I’m told by a source in the know that she’s still an employee until her contract ends at the end of August), but already fans are sending messages to the station on social media, outraged at the cut, with some vowing to boycott. (It would not be the first time people have made such a threat against a Montreal radio station for firing a well-liked host, and will probably have the same effect.)

I wrote a short story about the decision for the Montreal Gazette, which has prompted more than 100 comments on Facebook.

The Toronto-born Bartok joined the morning show six years ago, when the station was still The Q and her co-host was Aaron Rand. It was also after it dropped Tasso and Suzanne from its morning show, a decision that also prompted outrage.

Bartok was profiled last year by the Montreal Gazette’s Phil Carpenter as part of his Before Dawn series:

UPDATE (June 3):

Meanwhile, this is how The Beat is responding to dozens of angry posts on its Facebook page:

I don’t know what “circumstances outside our control” is supposed to mean.

UPDATE (July 25): Another Facebook post from Bartok:

UPDATE (Aug. 2): Bartok has moved back to Toronto and now has a website as she looks for her next gig.

25 thoughts on “The Beat drops Sarah Bartok

  1. Louise

    I stopped listening to the Q when they dropped the best morning crew Montreal ever had, Aaron, Tasso and Suzanne. Miss them terribly. They have moved on and I have followed them.

  2. Sol Boxenbaum

    Your future in radio is never secure. The people that make the decisions are heartless yet they continue to survive. One day their turn will come. And the beat goes on.

  3. An Embarrassed Former Employee Of A Once Proud Industry

    It is unbelievable and despicable in my opinion, what a cut throat, backstabbing business broadcasting is. It is funny that big companies expect loyalty from their employees – no matter what capacity they work in. However, these companies in turn show little respect for them, and they toss them out like garbage.

    Let’s face it, the Montreal anglophone market is a joke. For the exception of The Beat & Virgin Radio, there really is little competition. CJAD, & CHOM really can write their own tickets. Despite both The Beat & Virgin see sawing back in forth in the ratings, one thing is for sure though, the continued instability and volatility of the broadcasting media.

    Thanks to the Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the media landscape is now at the mercy of 4 large broadcasting companies nationwide (Bell Media, Rogers, Shaw, & Corus Entertainment). As a result, when employees get their pink slips, there are very little opportunities for them to find work. It is an absolute pity that many employees have lost their jobs in the hands of absolute bumbling idiot “bean counters” who do not have any ideas on how to run an industry, which at one point, I had so much respect and excitement for when I first launched my broadcasting 30 years ago!

    I have had many debates with narrow minded people who said to me, well business has the right to make money. Yes they do, but not at the expense of terminations to the degree that this industry has done despite enormous profits for their CEO’s as well as their stockholders – period!

    Finally, to the many people like Sarah Bartok, Kim Sullivan, along with the many others whom have fallen victims of these cold hearted people in the glass office towers, my deepest sympathies go out to all of you and your families for what you are going through, and for the people responsible for making these cold, calculated decisions, you are an absolute disgrace and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Your reasons are both inexcusable and unacceptable. You will not get any sympathies not only from me, but the many other victims whom have fallen from your wielding axes!

  4. Anonymous

    It just goes to show how quickly radio is dying. The stations can barely support the staff who the listeners used to tune in for. They may as well just go to an all music format if they can’t make money selling ads. It’s pathetic.

    1. Reply to Anonymous

      Don’t forget, not all radio companies are hurting. Radio is not the problem, media convergence is the problem. Look at Newcap, for example, which owns 80+ signals across Canada. They posted something like a 2% growth in 2015. Of the 6 major Canadian markets they are in, they were the top station in 4 of them, and the 2nd best in another. Why? Because they are a radio company, pointe finale.

      Montreal needs more diversity in its media ownership. Bell and Corus are run by suits, not radio people. Radio isn’t like any other business. You can’t just “trim the fat” and expect the same results.

      Radio itself isn’t dying. It’s being horribly mismanaged to death.

  5. Alex Hankewicz

    It’s tragic that going back as your article mentionned the loss of Montreal on-air talent dating back to the Q when Aaron.Tasso and Suzanne now in the span of a week we lose Kim
    Sullivan and Sarah Bartok all popular local personalities. What is the cause is radio a dying medium? Are these just further casualties. In
    The changing demographics in Montreal anglo situation I am sorry to learn of this bad news but wish both Kim and Sarah for a soft landing too bad Sirius cannot entertain a local canadian content to have a morning show among its content

  6. Steve

    Where’s Spencer ?
    What’s with the Extended ? Holiday Hiatus ?
    Looks like wreckage.

    Is he coming back ?

      1. Steve

        And saving money by letting Sarah Bartok go is supposed to be good for ratings ?
        This isn’t over yet.

  7. Violet

    Funny how they are still using Sara’s name in the promo for ‘2 hours ad free radio’. I heard it this morning.
    So Natasha has been promoted?

  8. Chris

    Although Sarah is good at what she does, you seem to forget the Beat has
    the number 4 morning show in the city and someone ended up taking the fall. Unfortunately,
    she didn’t deserve it but they have been underperforming for many years. You keep saying the Beat
    is “neck and neck” with Virgin. That is a completely false statement. Virgin Radio beats them in every single demographic in the Morning. I’ve been following the ratings closely for years as my employer advertises on both stations.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      the Beat has the number 4 morning show in the city and someone ended up taking the fall.

      This is a good point to make. The morning show has been lagging competitors, while the daytime has done better.

      You keep saying the Beat is “neck and neck” with Virgin. That is a completely false statement. Virgin Radio beats them in every single demographic in the Morning.

      I’m speaking of overall ratings, not just morning. The Beat has (slightly) more 2+ anglo listeners than Virgin.

  9. mark trafford

    In this day and age,people listen to radio over internet music services,because there are people or company on it.Unfortunatly the bean counters running radio seem intent on competing with these services,rather than providing a quality product that the people who love radio will listen longer too.There was a time when radio was fun to listen too,somehow accountants do not understand that!

    1. Brett

      Radio is still fun to listen to. It all depends if you listen to commercial or community radio. Look at Kahnawake K103.7 they have a good team that interacts with the Community.

      89.9 Kic Country is there for the listeners. Sure it does little advertising but its enough to keep the station going.

      Stations need to go back to serving the listeners and doing what listeners like rather then what cooperate heads think listeners want

  10. Radio Purist

    There is nothing more traumatic for a broadcaster than having your voice suddenly silenced, especially since it usually comes without warning.

  11. Bruce

    We don’t listen to Montreal radio…period…nothing to listen to…that is the problem…not the people delivering the product…internet or Sirius has anything you want to listen to…like the newspaper business..local radio is a dying trade..Bell, or anyone else, could launch a Canadian radio service from one studio for the whole of Canada…that is the reality…will it happen…yes with time

  12. Mario D.

    As if the radio business wasn t cruel enough ,it gets even worse when your owners are huge empires as Bell or Rodgers are. It is not a matter of being good, doing a great job, being popular it s about profits being given to share holders. You manage to make some at the end of the year to the expense of human beings, families and loyal listeners.

    I do not agree with people saying that the business is going down the drain, au contraire with all the internet based broadcasts growing daily . Radio has always been that way. MTL s anglophone market has always been difficult to figure out to say the least…

    Easy listening music radio stations also means lazyness and lack of creativity. Someone who would aim for something else that just money… would challenge CJAD or CHOM on their own turfs . I know it sounds borderline suicidal but this is the only way you would revitalize an otherwise dwindling market interest .

  13. eddy

    I have tried for years to break into montral radio. I got some traction in the past but never got a permanent position.Believe me that hurts as well as making it and then losing the job,I only got unpaid work

  14. Anonymous

    I won’t even listen to the Beat anymore – I love Cat Spencer and stuntman Sam but the chemistry and the vibe is just not there since Sarah was dropped. Nicky is not doing it for me at all ! She has a nasal voice and has nothing interesting to add to the show !

  15. Neil K.

    I was listening to NewsTalk 1010 in Toronto online today (the Bell equivalent to CJAD) and they do a round table “Gang of Four” thing at 9:00 a.m. like Tommy does. Sarah Bartok was one of the panelists– they didn’t explain who or why she was there, but she may have found a gig with Bell Toronto.


Leave a Reply