Category Archives: Radio

Community station FM 103,3 being forced to move transmitter off Olympic Stadium tower

The government agency that runs the Olympic Stadium has been active the past few years in trying to modernize it. A new really expensive roof was approved by the Quebec government. The tower was renovated into offices for 1,300 employees of the Desjardins group.

But another plan, to open the roof of the tower as an observation deck, means having to remove several radio transmitters, and the Régie des installations olympiques has given at least one of them an eviction notice.

CHAA-FM 103,3, the community station serving the south shore of Montreal, broadcasts from the Olympic Stadium tower, with a signal directed toward Longueuil. In an application to the CRTC, it says it received a notice in 2016 that it must vacate the tower by Dec. 31, 2017. The RIO later offered a three-year lease because work to renovate the roof was delayed, but that lease contained an option to cut it short with 12 months notice.

On top of that, work currently taking place on the tower has interfered with proper operation of the transmitter, due to all the vibration and dust being created. The station, owned by Radio communautaire de la Rive-Sud inc., finally decided it had enough, and has applied to move the transmitter to the CBC/Radio-Canada tower on Mount Royal, which houses almost every commercial FM and TV transmitter in the market.

The application was published Monday by the CRTC, and is accepting comments until Feb. 19, a shortened comment period the commission agreed to so it could expedite the application process.

Current (pink) and proposed (black) transmitter locations and signal patterns for CHAA-FM 103,3

The new transmitter would be higher (284m vs 192m), and slightly more powerful, with a maximum ERP of 1700W instead of 1400W. But its signal pattern would be similar (slightly better toward Brossard and the west), and impacts on nearby stations on the same or adjacent frequencies would be minimal, its engineer asserts.

This move won’t be cheap, though. CHAA estimates a moving cost of $200,000 for new equipment on the new site, and says its rent will double. It’s seeking a loan to cover the costs.

The Mount Royal Antenna is the tallest in Montreal, and the home of transmitters for CBMT, CBFT, CFCF, CFTM and CFJP television transmitters (plus CJNT that broadcasts from a building next to the tower), and CBME, CISM, CKUT, CIRA, CKBE, CBM, CKMF, CBF, CJFM, CHOM, CHMP, CJPX, CBFX, CFGL and CITE FM transmitters, and will soon be joined by CKOI. As a result of its ideal position on top of the mountain, it’s also the most expensive place to put a transmitter, so some stations have used alternate sources, like a nearby Bell-owned tower on the other side of Remembrance Rd. But Olympic Stadium was another option.

Besides CHAA-FM, only one other broadcast transmitter remains on the stadium: CIBL-FM 101,5. And that station is in the middle of a major financial crisis. The last thing it needs is a forced transmitter relocation, even if it had been aware of it for some time.

Correction: This post originally said Télé-Québec’s CIVM-DT transmitter was operating from Mount Royal after moving from the Olympic Stadium. I don’t know where I got that from, but the Industry Canada database shows it still listed as transmitting from the Olympic Stadium tower.

Cogeco is ready for HD Radio, but isn’t eager to jump on it

Richard Lachance, president of Cogeco Media

At Cogeco’s annual general meeting recently, I managed to borrow Cogeco Media president Richard Lachance for a brief conversation about the company’s plans in radio. At an earlier meeting with Cogeco CEO Louis Audet, the focus was on the cable and telecom side, and the radio division didn’t come up until I asked at the very end if there was anything new there.

The truth is there isn’t. Cogeco hasn’t bought, sold or shut down a radio station in years, or even rebranded or reformatted. Its Rythme FM network has gained — and lost — some affiliates, but otherwise there has been little change in the past five years, following realignments that came from the Cogeco acquisition of Corus’s radio stations in Quebec.

There was discussion about Cogeco helping out community station CIBL, but here are a couple of other things I got out of him:

HD Radio: Cogeco’s FM transmitters are ready, or soon will be, to broadcast using HD Radio, a hybrid system that adds digital streams on top of the analog signal. Major broadcasters have been experimenting with it, mostly by simulcasting AM radio stations on FM HD (such as Bell is doing with CJAD and TSN 690 on their 107.3 signal). But Lachance was lukewarm on its appeal. Outside of cars, receivers are hard to come by, and demand isn’t that significant. And activating an HD signal has a negative effect on the power of the analog signal. Cogeco has experimented with an HD signal on CFGL-FM (Rythme FM 105.7), just rebroadcasting a digital version of the analog signal, but that’s no longer running.

If Cogeco followed the path of its competitors, it could rebroadcast its AM station (CKAC Circulation 730) on an FM HD transmitter like 98.5 or 105.7, but there doesn’t seem to be a huge rush to do even that.

CKOI’s current antenna atop the CIBC building

CKOI: The days of Montreal’s most powerful radio transmitter are numbered. The 307,000-watt signal, grandfathered at that power when the federal government imposed a 100kW limit on FM stations in the 1960s, is being replaced by a new transmitter on the Mount Royal Antenna, that will be higher up but lower power (147kW) so its pattern doesn’t extend beyond its current one.

Lachance said the plan is to make the move this year, probably around June. After that, the existing transmitter and antenna on the CIBC building at Peel St. and René-Lévesque Blvd. downtown will likely be torn down. CKOI’s backup transmitter, and others for Cogeco stations and some Bell stations, is in Laval’s Auteuil district.

Most people won’t notice a change. But Cogeco believes the higher antenna will mean less interference from large buildings and the mountain itself.

Other Cogeco stations have applied for and gotten permission to increase to the maximum 100kW. The transmitter for CHMP 98.5 has already been increased. The Beat 92.5 (CKBE-FM) remains at 41kW and its upgrade, though approved, isn’t scheduled in the short term.

CIBL has saviours, but it needs a business plan

Montreal community radio station CIBL-FM 101.5 is in a financial crisis. On Jan. 5, it laid off all 13 of its employees and cancelled all programming, replacing all its shows with an automated music playlist.

Its board of directors has launched a committee to try to figure out how to get the station back on track. Its now-former employees, meanwhile, are mobilizing to save the station. Their efforts can be seen on the Facebook page they’ve started. More than 200 people have signed up for memberships, and other groups have raised money or attention for their cause.

But while there’s plenty of nostalgia and compiling lists of famous people who got their start there (RBO, Marie-France Bazzo, Jean-René Dufort), and lots of talk about the importance of the station and community radio in general, there aren’t a lot of concrete proposals for how to get CIBL out of its financial mess, one that is in large part its own making.

Fortunately, CIBL still has a lot of good will, and people with the power to do something are stepping up and offering to help, like entrepreneur Alexandre Taillefer (who is on the board of directors of the Société de developpement Angus, which owns the building housing CIBL) and Cogeco Media president Richard Lachance.

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Montreal radio ratings: Virgin Radio 96 slips to fourth place

Market share among anglophone Montrealers, based on Numeris data

Numeris published its latest quarterly report for metered markets today, and the data for Montreal is about the same as it always is, with one exception: Virgin Radio 96 has its lowest overall share ever, and for the first time has dipped below CHOM to fourth place among anglophones — 12.1% to CHOM’s 12.5%. Both stations are owned by Bell Media, so it’s not a huge deal in terms of competition, but the trend line for Virgin is clearly heading down, from a high of 20% in 2012.

I have no magical explanation for this trend, and I’m sure everyone has their theories, from its use of syndicated programming like Ryan Seacrest to its loss of popular announcers to The Beat, but the most likely explanation is that The Beat has a better idea of what music anglos want to listen to.

The Beat’s press release, announcing itself as the number one radio station (among adults 25-54) is here. Virgin decided to just go with its weekly reach number without trying to rank itself.

Market share among Montreal francophones, based on Numeris data.

On the French side, CHMP-FM 98.5 remains the top-rated station by far among all ages 12+, but Radio-Canada’s ICI Première has climbed into second place, edging out Rythme FM. The trend line for Radio-Canada is impressive, taking a big jump in the fall of 2016 and continuing to improve. (Alain Gravel took over as morning show host on the station in the fall of 2015.)

Both adult contemporary stations Rythme FM (Cogeco) and Rouge (Bell) have declined significantly over the past two years, with Rouge falling from third place to fifth. Its major shakeup this fall, bringing in most of the on-air staff from sister station Énergie, hasn’t done much to help yet. (And since the top of that list was Éric Salvail, it’s not getting better soon.) CKOI and Énergie are about the same as they were two years ago in terms of share, with Énergie getting about the same number of francophone listeners as the three English-language music stations (dotted lines in the chart above).

Bell Media tried to polish the ratings turd as well as it could, crowing about how Énergie is the most improved francophone music station in Montreal, and how Rouge FM is … also the most improved? … actually how Rouge has seen the biggest gain in overall reach in the past six months, and how the drive-home show is best among women 25-54 despite “un mois d’octobre tumultueux.”

At the bottom of the chart (I’m excluding stations below 1%), RNC Media’s 91.9 Sports continues to slowly improve its numbers. This is the first time since it was a jazz station that it has kept the same format and brand for more than two years. And it looks like the city’s only French-language full-time sports station has finally found something that works.

The chart line for CJPX-FM Radio Classique stops this summer. The station was not included in the Numeris report, meaning that it has stopped subscribing to the service.

Still below 1% are Evanov’s CHRF 980 AM, Cogeco traffic station Circulation 730, and community station CIBL 101.5, which have average minute audiences of 900, 300 and 100, respectively.

Radio ratings: FM93 leads Quebec City

Numeris has released its top-line data from diary radio markets (mid-size cities that aren’t big enough to be measured by electronic meters). Here are some highlights:

Quebec City

Overall market share:

  1. FM93: 14.9%
  2. CHOI: 13.7%
  3. ICI Première: 13.5%
  4. Rouge: 9.7%
  5. WKND: 7.6%
  6. Énergie: 7.4%
  7. M: 7.3%
  8. Pop: 6.1%
  9. Blvd: 5.7%
  10. ICI Musique: 4.1%
  11. CBC: 0.4%

By owner:

  1. Cogeco: 22.2%
  2. RNC Media: 19.8%
  3. CBC/Radio-Canada: 18%
  4. Bell: 17.1%
  5. Leclerc: 13.3%

Compared to the spring, FM93 and Radio-Canada have lost some ground and CHOI has regained it to climb into second place overall. There was some shifting of the order, but the biggest change was to RNC Media’s Pop 100.9, which doubled its share. The last ratings period came just after they switched from rock to pop, which caused a dramatic decrease in ratings. Now they’re better than the 4.8% share they had a year ago as a rock station.

More coverage from the Journal de Québec and Le Soleil. Among the details noted, CHOI continues to do better in the suburbs while FM93 reigns in the central market, Jeff Fillion has the highest-rated noon show, and FM93’s move to all-talk weekends has had a negative impact on their ratings.

Sherbrooke

  1. Rouge FM: 22%
  2. Énergie: 18.5%
  3. ICI Première: 16.4%
  4. 107,7fm: 11.2%
  5. Rythme FM: 8.1%
  6. ICI Musique: 3.5%

Bell continues to dominate this market with its 40% share, double that of Cogeco, but Radio-Canada’s main network saw a bump.

Trois-Rivières

  1. Énergie: 19.7%
  2. Rouge FM: 16.8%
  3. Rythme FM: 12.2%
  4. ICI Première: 9.3%
  5. FM 90,5: 9.0%
  6. 106,9fm: 5.8%
  7. ICI Musique: 4.6%

Another Bell-dominated market. But the story here is CKBN-FM (FM 90,5), a community station on the south shore covering the Bécancour region, which has climbed above Cogeco talk station 106,9 to claim fifth place in the market.

Saguenay

  1. Rouge FM: 23.4%
  2. KYK Radio X: 21.0%
  3. Énergie: 18.7%
  4. ICI Première: 11.5%
  5. ICI Musique: 4.2%

Radio X is no longer king in blueberry country as Bell’s Rouge FM takes the lead. Énergie is also up, pushing Bell’s share from 38.5% to 42.1% since the spring.

Drummondville

  1. Rouge FM: 30.8%
  2. Énergie: 22.7%

The only two stations reporting in this market are both owned by Bell Media, so there isn’t much competition to talk about. But Rouge FM has pulled well ahead of Énergie after being a couple of points behind.

Ottawa-Gatineau

Anglo top 5:

  1. CBC Radio One: 21.3%
  2. Hot 89.9 (Newcap): 9.2%
  3. CFRA 580 (Bell): 8.7%
  4. CHEZ 106.1 (Rogers): 6.6%
  5. Majic 100.3 (Bell): 6.0%

With more than 20 stations in the region, only CBC cracks the 10% share in English. Newcap’s Hot 89.9 leads the music stations and CFRA leads the commercial talk stations, but beyond that it’s a very tight battle.

Torres Media, which owns CIDG-FM, sent me (unsolicited) some numbers showing the station’s growth since it changed frequency from 101.9 to 101.7 and increased power. An 82% increase in the adults 25-54 audience is impressive. But the station still has only a 2.9% share overall.

Franco:

  1. Rouge FM (Bell): 21.1%
  2. ICI Première: 15.4%
  3. Énergie (Bell): 8.5%
  4. 104,7fm (Cogeco): 7.8%
  5. ICI Musique: 5.1%
  6. Hot 89.9 (Newcap): 4.8%
  7. WOW (RNC): 4.5%
  8. Pop (RNC): 3.6%
  9. CHEZ 106.1 (Rogers): 3.5%
  10. Jump 106.9 (Corus): 2.5%

At least the top five stations are all French-language ones among francophones. But RNC’s one-syllable pop music stations are down with the top-rated English music stations.

Elsewhere

  • In Sydney, N.S., community station The Coast 89.7, licensed to Glace Bay, has been added, and reports a 13% share, good for fifth place out of eight stations (six plus CBC).
  • In London, Ont., CKOT-FM (Easy 101), which was purchased by Rogers a year ago, has started reporting ratings even though it’s licensed to Tillsonburg, 40km away. Numeris shows it’s the top-rated private station in the market, behind only CBC. In the spring it was behind Bell’s country station BX93 and Virgin Radio.
  • In Hamilton, CHTG-FM (92.9 The Grand) in Haldimand has begun reporting in that market after being bought by Durham Radio and switching from country to classic hits. It scores only a 1.2% share as a spill station.
  • In St. Catharines/Niagara, CIXL-FM (Giant FM) has taken the lead from Bell’s EZ Rock, gaining five share points in a year while EZ lost four. Bell’s 97.7 HTZ also saw a bump from 5.6% to 8.0% in a year, but we’ll see if that survives the recent layoffs at the station.
  • In Sudbury, Ont., which last year had four stations within 1.3 share points of the lead, KICX Country has climbed on top with a 20% share while the others fell below 15%. KICX is in the process of being purchased by Bell. Rogers’s 92.7 Rock jumped from sixth place to third by increasing its share by more than 50%. The market has six stations with shares above 10%.
  • In Winnipeg, Corus’s rebranding of Fresh Radio as Peggy 99.1 has had only a modest effect on ratings, going from 1.6% to 2.1%. ChrisD.ca and the Winnipeg Free Press have more analysis of Winnipeg ratings.
  • In Prince George, B.C., Vista’s CIRX-FM (The Goat) has climbed into a commanding lead with a 25% market share compared to second place with 19.7% a year ago. All five stations have at least a 14% share.
  • Castanet has details on ratings in Kelowna, B.C.

Tommy Schnurmacher announces retirement from CJAD

Tommy Schnurmacher, host of CJAD’s Gang of Four and a fixture on Montreal’s English-language talk radio scene for decades, announced today he’s hanging up his headphones for good. His last show will be Dec. 13:

Schnurmacher told listeners he will travel more and finish a novel, although he promises to continue to share the opinions that have earned him popularity and created debate: “I may be saying goodbye to daily radio deadlines but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will not be able to keep myself from holding court from time to time whether that’s on-air, off-air or on Twitter”.

(A video of Schnurmacher’s on-air announcement is posted on CJAD’s website.)

CJAD will replace his noon-hour show by moving the Natasha Hall show up to noon and adding a second hour to the nationally broadcast Evan Solomon Show from 2-4pm.

The move comes as Bell Media is in the process of cutting staff across the country (and some of them are billing their departures as retirements). I’m told that Schnurmacher’s leaving of his own accord here.

But it was only a year and a half ago that Schnurmacher said retirement wasn’t on the horizon. “No. I love doing this. I love the work, I don’t foresee retirement any time soon,” he told me in May 2016. In November, he cut down his hours at CJAD, leaving his late-morning show to Leslie Roberts and keeping just the Gang of Four part, which went an hour long at noon. In his on-air announcement, he said he has discovered in the past year that he enjoys travelling even more than he thought, and he wants to do more of it.

Schnurmacher’s final show will be a special broadcast in front of a live audience, with tickets being given out to CJAD listeners.

Tootall’s last day

It’ll be weird not hearing Tootall’s voice on the radio. You won’t notice it at first — after all, everyone takes vacations — but eventually, a subtle void will develop, a silence where there used to be this calm voice welcoming you to the Electric Lunch Hour and

The man who never tells you his real height or his real age said his final goodbye on the air yesterday. The video is above and the audio is posted on CHOM’s website. It features thank-yous from music director Picard and Bell Media executive and former CHOM boss Martin Spalding.

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Montreal radio ratings: The Beat crows after its best book ever

Total audience listening share percentage among anglophones in Montreal, from Numeris top-line ratings.

Numeris has released the summer ratings for Montreal radio stations, and though there isn’t much new here, it’s more good news for The Beat 92.5. Its 21.1% share of tuning hours among anglophones is the best it’s gotten since the station launched out of the ashes of The Q in 2011.

The new report widens the lead it had over direct competitor Virgin Radio 96, which appeared to narrow slightly in the spring. As the chart above shows, Virgin hasn’t been ahead of The Beat in this category by any significant margin since 2012.

For much of that time, Virgin did claim the lead among the adults 25-54 and women 25-54 demographics that appeal to advertisers. But The Beat has since won in those categories, too. Steve Kowch has some numbers compiled from Bell Media that show The Beat winning in every demographic.

Of course, The Beat can’t claim to be Montreal’s most popular radio station (that would be 98,5 fm), its most popular station among anglophones (that would be CJAD, though its lead has dropped off significantly), or its most popular music station (that would be Rythme FM).

It also can’t claim to have the most popular morning show, so it did the next best thing and claimed to be the fastest growing one:

Bell Media did something similar on the French side, claiming Rouge FM 107,3 is the most improved radio station over the summer. But among all francophones, Cogeco’s Rythme has 50% more listening hours.

Like Virgin, CHOM is also experiencing a long-term downward trend from its high in 2013.

In commentary online, it seems the station anglos want to talk about is TSN 690, predicting doom over a drop from the spring as well as last summer that is certainly rock-solid evidence that the on-air personality they don’t like is awful and should be fired. I don’t know why the ratings are down (though the P.K. Subban trade probably had people tuning in last summer), but the station’s ratings fluctuations don’t seem out of the ordinary for me.

As usual, take these numbers with a grain of salt. Summer is different from the other quarters, there’s less news and no Canadiens games, so CJAD, CBC Radio One and TSN 690 usually dip while the music stations peak.

Among francophones, talk radio actually did better during the summer, with 98,5fm still ahead at an 18.6% overall share, followed by Rythme FM (13.6%), ICI Première (12.7%), CKOI (10.4%), Rouge (8.8%), The Beat (6.3%) and Énergie (5.8%).

The new kids on the Numeris block, CHRF 980 and CIBL 101.5, are about the same, with 900 and 100 average listeners a minute, respectively.

91,9 Sports had a 2.3% overall share among francophones, its best result since launching that format, putting it just behind ICI Musique and Radio Classique in terms of listeners.

TTP Media says it’s unaffected by partner’s bankruptcy

From left: Paul Tietolman, Nicolas Tétrault and Rajiv Pancholy, partners in 7954689 Canada Inc., aka Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy Media

Nicolas Tétrault, one of three equal partners in 7954689 Canada Inc., doing business as TTP Media, declared personal bankruptcy last year, but he and company president Rajiv Pancholy insist that has no impact whatsoever on the company that owns the licenses of two AM radio stations about to launch in Montreal.

The two stations are on the air, broadcasting music (the English one at 600 just recently exited its on-air testing phase). They expect to launch some time before the end of 2017.

Because it has yet to begin operations, the company has not paid out any dividends or salary to its partners, Pancholy said.

And in any case, Tétrault said his stake in the company is protected from his creditors because he holds them through a family trust.

The trust

When it was formed in preparation of a CRTC application, 7954689 Canada Inc. had three shareholders, each with 1,000 shares. Those three shareholders were each companies entirely owned and managed by the three partners — Tétrault, Pancholy and Paul Tietolman. It’s not unusual for various legal and fiscal reasons to have an ownership structure like this, and it’s no problem for the CRTC either, just a bit more paperwork because it needs to go up the chain and determine who has effective control of the licensee.

But in 2014, Tétrault applied to the commission for a change in ownership, to sell all his shares in his company, 9225-8318 Québec Inc., to a family trust, Fiducie Familiale NT, for $100. This transaction, he told the CRTC, did not affect the effective control of TTP Media, because Tétrault is the principal trustee of the trust. The agreement of sale, filed with the commission, states that Tétrault has the power to act alone on the trust’s behalf, even though there was another trustee, Karim Dalati.

Tétrault confirms in his brief to the commission that he has 100% control over the trust. (Dalati, a fellow real estate broker, is listed as a second trustee strictly for legal reasons because Tétrault is also a beneficiary of the trust.) Tétrault said he filed the application on the advice of his lawyers.

The beneficiaries of the trust are listed as Tétrault, his wife, his father, the estate of his late mother, his sister, any of his children or grandchildren (he has two young children) and Pancholy. (Pancholy denied being a beneficiary, telling me he’s actually a trustee.)

Details about the trust itself (under what rules it can pay out benefits to beneficiaries, for example) were either not filed with the commission or not added to the public file.

The bankruptcy

On Feb. 17, 2016, Tétrault filed for personal bankruptcy. Two days later, bankruptcy trustee Litwin Boyadjian Inc. sent a notice to creditors proposing a settlement on about $2.4 million in unsecured debt. Tétrault proposed to pay $200,000 over five years, which would give creditors eight cents on the dollar. The alternative, the proposal states, would be a bankruptcy in which creditors would get an estimated 1.8 cents on the dollar.

At a meeting on March 9, the creditors rejected the offer. The Canada Revenue Agency, which together with Revenu Québec hold 70% of Tétrault’s unsecured debt, is leading the court battle over his assets.

The report of the bankruptcy trustee gives the reason for the bankruptcy as follows:

The debtor has accumulated debts, mostly resulting by the loss of an important account receivable, excessive tax assessments and the bankruptcy of his business in 2014.

The Canada Revenue Agency has been trying to get Tétrault to answer several questions about his assets and debts, including a bank account in the Cayman Islands and an investment that it estimates at between $500,000 and $700,000 in TTP Media. It says in court filings that Tétrault refused to answer those questions. It will likely be up to a court to clear all this up. The case had its last court date in March and no further one is listed.

Effective control

When I contacted him about this story, Tétrault insisted there was no story. Because his stake in TTP Media is held through his family trust, it’s protected, he said. Pancholy said the same. When I asked for further information, Tétrault suggested I talk to an accountant and abruptly ended the conversation.

So does the trust protect his stake in this company? Well, it depends.

I’ll preface this by saying I’m neither an accountant nor a lawyer, and my experience in bankruptcy law is fairly minimal. But experts on the matter, such as this one from Fasken Martineau, say that the protection in a trust comes from the structure of the trust. If you’re a beneficiary of a trust and you file for bankruptcy, your creditors can only get as much power as you have. If the trust doesn’t give you that power, your creditors can’t take it from you. So an asset protection trust should ensure that someone else that you don’t control acts as a trustee or has veto power. And bankruptcy law explicitly states that assets held in trust for someone else can’t be seized by creditors. So certainly anything held in trust for the other beneficiaries is protected.

I don’t know exactly how Fiducie Familiale NT is controlled and what the terms of the benefits are, but Tétrault has already told the CRTC that he is 100% in control of the trust.

The exercise may more academic than anything. Licensees cannot change effective control without CRTC pre-approval, for one. And TTP Media has no real value, its assets being paid for entirely out of its startup debt. Besides, Tétrault is only a minority shareholder in TTP Media.

But the whole process is undoubtedly difficult for Tétrault. As a result of the bankruptcy case, the professional order of real estate brokers restricted his licence in July, requiring him to be supervised.

CJMS

This wasn’t the first case before the OACIQ involving Tétrault. Another one also had connections to his radio venture. In 2015, the body found Tétrault guilty of violating rules governing real estate brokers because he represented the owner of land that hosted the antenna for CJMS 1040 AM while at the same time being a party interested in buying it.

Tétrault disclosed the conflict of interest to his client, but the tribunal found that this wasn’t good enough, particularly in light of the fact that he appeared to make no effort to find other buyers. It said he should have removed himself as the broker for the seller in the case. Tétrault’s licence was suspended for 30 days as a result of this.

TTP Media’s original application to the CRTC for stations at 690 and 940 AM proposed they transmit from the CJMS site in St-Constant. When TTP Media lost the 690 application and had to settle for 600 instead, it changed its plan to operate the stations from the former CINW/CINF site in nearby Kahnawake.

A separate legal case between the land owner, André Turcot, and Tétrault related to the same deal was decided against Turcot, who apparently believed he had settled a debt problem to another lender and then didn’t show up in court to defend against a suit by that lender and later tried to get a default judgment overturned. That case set the value of the real estate transaction at $1.4 million, but says Tétrault never paid the $30,000 required once the purchase deal was signed.

I hope for the sake of Tétrault, his family and the radio stations he and his partners are launching that he gets back on his feet and finds a solution to his debt problem.

Pancholy, at least, is not concerned. If he had any doubts about the viability of the radio station, he wouldn’t be carrying it on his shoulders, he told me.

TSN 690 to broadcast some Laval Rocket games

TSN Radio 690 has become the official radio broadcaster of the Laval Rocket, the Montreal Canadiens’ American Hockey League farm team, which is moving to the new Place Bell starting this season.

Okay, so that’s not so impressive, since there aren’t exactly a lot of other English-language sports talk stations desperate for the rights.

But this means TSN 690 will be broadcasting some Laval Rockets games on the air. Currently the plan is to broadcast Friday home games.

Sean Campbell has been named play-by-play man for these games. Mike Kelly, who has experience at TSN, NHL Network and Leafs TV, will do colour commentary.

The broadcasts will start with the Oct. 6 inaugural game against the Belleville Senators, and will likely end with the final home game on April 13 against the Toronto Marlies. The following matches are tentatively scheduled for TSN 690 broadcast, but that can change:

  1. Friday Oct. 6 @ 7:30pm vs Belleville
  2. Friday Oct. 13 @ 7:30pm vs Binghamton
  3. Friday Nov. 17 @ 7:30pm vs Lehigh Valley
  4. Friday Nov. 24 @ 7:30pm vs Utica
  5. Friday Dec. 8 @ 7:30pm vs Toronto
  6. Friday Jan. 12 @ 7:30pm vs Hartford
  7. Friday Jan. 26 @ 7:30pm vs Manitoba
  8. Friday Feb. 16 @ 7:30pm vs Hershey
  9. Friday March 9 @ 7:30pm vs Belleville
  10. Friday April 6 @ 7:30pm vs Springfield
  11. Friday April 13 @ 7:30pm vs Toronto

If TSN sticks to that, it’ll represent 11 of 76 regular-season games, or 14%, and 11 of 38 home games, or 29%.

Playoff games are obviously a possibility, but at least for this season might be more of a theoretical thing the way the Canadiens’ farm team has been playing lately.

Amanda Stein leaves TSN 690 for New Jersey Devils

Amanda Stein

Amanda Stein, sports reporter at TSN Radio 690, used her famously impeccable handwriting to deliver news she’s been teasing for a bit: She’s leaving the station next month, moving to New Jersey and going to work for the Devils.

Her last day on air in Montreal will be Friday, Aug. 18.

Stein writes she was honoured to have the job at TSN. “It is now time, however, to move on, challenge myself in different ways…”

Stein is one of several young women to get their broadcasting start reporting for Montreal’s all-sports station, a list that includes Andie Bennett (now at CBC), Jessica Rusnak (now filling in for Bennett’s mat leave) and Robyn Flynn. If TSN is going to hire someone to replace Stein, Rusnak would be an obvious choice.

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A list of Montreal broadcasters cut from other stations that CFQR 600 could hire

One of the consequences of a new independent English-language commercial AM station taking half a decade to launch is that it’s been brought up so many times when people get laid off or otherwise cut from other radio and TV stations.

Favourite radio personality loses their show on CJAD or The Beat? That new AM station should hire them and we’ll listen to them there instead!

TTP Media has already indicated that their on-air personalities will include names familiar to Montreal audiences. And since there haven’t been any unexplained high-profile departures from the major stations in the past month, we can assume that some of these names will probably come from the list of those who have been removed from jobs elsewhere and haven’t found better ones elsewhere.

To give you an idea of how many people we’re talking about, I made a list of the on-air personalities who have been cut (laid off, fired, constructively dismissed or otherwise left) from commercial radio and television here in the past decade or so. Some have found part-time or fill-in work, some are working in a different industry (and may or may not be willing to come back) and some may have simply decided to retire.

I’ve excluded managers (Wayne Bews, Mark Dickie, Mary-Jo Barr) and other off-air people, people who have full-time broadcasting jobs elsewhere (AJ Reynolds, Ted Bird, Tasso, Al Gravelle, David Tyler), those who left jobs at campus and community stations (Java Jacobs, Lance Delisle), and the many young interns and temporary workers who simply ran out of contracts.

The list is almost certainly missing some names, so feel free to add others in the comments.

Here’s what I got off the top of my head, in alphabetical order:

  • Tanya Armstrong, cut from The Jewel
  • Heather Backman, cut from CHOM (currently filling in at The Beat)
  • Sarah Bartok, cut from The Beat (currently filling in at Toronto’s 93.5 The Move)
  • Claude Beaulieu, cut from CJAD
  • Paul Beauregard, cut from CHOM
  • Sol Boxenbaum, cut from CJAD
  • Tom Buddo, cut from Virgin Radio
  • Patrick Charles, cut from Virgin Radio
  • Sean Coleman, cut from CTV Montreal (currently part-time at TSN 690)
  • Jim Connell, cut from AM 940/Global Montreal (currently working with TTP Media)
  • Andre Corbeil, cut from CTV Montreal
  • Brandon Craddock, cut from CHOM
  • Richard Dagenais, cut from Global Montreal/MAtv
  • Mike Dall, cut from Virgin Radio
  • Suzanne Desautels, cut from CJAD
  • Chantal Desjardins, cut from CHOM, CJAD and Sportsnet
  • Alexandre Despatie, cut from City Montreal
  • Olga Gazdovic, cut from CJAD
  • Abe Hefter, cut from TSN 690 (currently at University of Hartford)
  • Kevin Holden, cut from CJAD
  • Peter Anthony Holder, cut from CJAD
  • Dave Kaufman, left CJAD (moved to UK but has since moved back and is filling in)
  • Patrick Lejtenyi, cut from CJAD
  • Laurie Macdonald, cut from CJAD (currently in real estate)
  • Ronny Mack (Ron Mackinnon), cut from CHOM
  • Pete Marier, cut from CHOM and Ottawa’s Boom 99.7
  • Barry Morgan, cut from CJAD
  • Ric Peterson, cut from CJAD
  • Claude Rajotte, cut from MusiquePlus (currently working as a DJ)
  • Jessica Rusnak, left TSN 690 (currently filling in at CBC)
  • Murray Sherriffs, cut from Virgin, The Beat and Ottawa’s Boom 99.7
  • PJ Stock, cut from Sportsnet
  • Randy Tieman, cut from CTV Montreal
  • Dennis Trudeau, cut from AM 940
  • Wilder Weir, cut from City Montreal
  • Brian Wilde, cut from CTV Montreal
  • Sharman Yarnell, cut from CJAD

Tootall retiring from CHOM

Tootall in 2012.

Tootall is a rare animal in the radio business. One of the few living legends still on the air, a leftover from the days when DJs picked their own music, and a modest, unassuming guy who knows his music and is generally liked by everyone.

But what might make him the rarest of radio personalities is this: He’s one of the few on-air people who gets to decide when he leaves. (Well, almost. His bosses convinced him to stay a bit longer.)

And so on Wednesday morning, during what was teased as a “big announcement” on the morning show, CHOM announced Tootall’s retirement.

His last day is Sept. 29.

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CFQR 600 AM launches with hours to go before deadline

For the first time in decades, Montreal has a new full-power commercial English radio station on the air that isn’t replacing an existing one.

CFQR 600 AM, the English-language station owned by TTP Media, officially went on the air on Friday evening, the deadline the CRTC set in its final extension given to the station last fall.

Whether the station made the CRTC’s deadline hasn’t been confirmed. The station has not completed its testing phase, and is broadcasting a message asking people with reception issues to call them in. The authorization first granted in 2012 says the station must be “operational” to meet the deadline, and a licence will be issued “once the applicant has informed the Commission in writing that it is prepared to commence operations.”

But the commission probably won’t nitpick over a few days or weeks when we’ve been waiting almost five years for this station to launch on a frequency no one else has had any interest in for almost 20 years.

Like CFNV 940, CFQR is broadcasting an automated music playlist, with recorded messages promising regular programming “soon”.

Jim Connell.

The messages feature the voice of Jim Connell, the former 940 News host who appeared in front of the CRTC during TTP Media’s initial licence application in 2011 but took a job with Global Montreal while the group was getting its act together. This is a strong indication that he will be involved with the station when it launches regular programming.

The two messages, being broadcast at regular intervals, are below:

This is CFQR 600, a new English voice in Montreal. Soon, we will be offering the communities on and surrounding the island of Montreal a better blend of information and conversation on this heritage frequency. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates, and enjoy some of your favourite music as we continue building this new voice on Montreal’s airwaves.

You are listening to CFQR, a new English-language radio station serving the greater Montreal area, broadcasting at 600 kilohertz on the AM band. We are currently testing our signal and invite you to contact us toll-free at 1-833-600-1006 if you are experiencing interference because of our signal or if the signal is causing any other reception problems. Our regular programming will be starting soon. Stay tuned.

TTP Media partner Nicolas Tétrault tweeted some pictures from inside the transmission facility on Route 138 in Kahnawake, that houses the two stations.

At 10,000 watts daytime and 5,000 watts nighttime, CFQR’s signal isn’t as powerful as CFNV’s 50,000-watt clear-channel signal, but it should be good enough for Montreal and surrounding areas. The power and transmitting antennas are identical to the old CIQC, so the reception should be similar.

With the station on the air, the new focus should be programming. As I wrote previously, there are some deals in place with talent, and the group remains committed to talk programming.