Category Archives: Radio

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.

CRTC says it doubts CPAM’s commitment to licence compliance for CJWI 1410 and CJMS 1040

The CRTC isn’t happy with Jean-Ernest Pierre and the two Montreal-area AM radio stations he owns, both of which have gone through a third straight licence term where they have failed to comply with their regulatory obligations.

The commission is considering further options, up to and including revoking or refusing to renew their licences.

On Thursday, the commission issued a notice of hearing for Sept. 7, during which it will consider the licence renewals of CJWI 1410 AM (Haitian station CPAM Radio Union) and CJMS 1040 AM (the country music station based in St-Constant). Both were set to expire Aug. 31, but have been extended a year to give the commission time to consider the compliance issues.

The notice lists a series of regulations and licence conditions the station has apparently failed to meet.

For CJWI 1410:

  • Failing to file annual returns on time (CPAM blamed this on the accountant)
  • Failing to file a form relating to the National Public Alerting System (blamed on the provider of the NPAS system and lack of familiarity with the form)
  • Failing to provide audio recordings and information on licence compliance following a CRTC request (blamed on lack of clarity on the form they were asked to fill out)
  • Failing to provide a detailed music list (CPAM said it sent one when asked)
  • Failing to provide proof of payment of Canadian content development contributions (CPAM said it was paid on time, gave no explanation for failure to provide proof by deadline)
  • Failing to broadcast word-for-word a notice of non-compliance as ordered under the previous licence renewal (CPAM said it believed it was acceptable to follow the spirit of the demand rather than the letter)

For CJMS 1040:

  • Failing to file annual returns on time (CPAM blamed this on the accountant)
  • Failing to file a form relating to the National Public Alerting System (blamed on the provider of the NPAS system)
  • Failing to provide audio recordings upon request (CPAM said host Pascal Pourdier sent them in November — eight months after the CRTC’s request — but apparently the commission never received them)
  • Failing to provide proof of payment of Canadian content development contributions (CPAM said contributions prior to 2014 were the responsibility of the previous owner, but it has paid the amount owed; for contributions after the acquisition, they were paid on time, but no explanation was given for failure to provide proof by deadline)

CJMS has requested a licence amendment to relieve it of the obligation to pay $500 a year to Canadian content development. That request might have been granted (the commission has since made it a policy that stations with small incomes shouldn’t be forced to make CCD expenditures, and the $500 a year was a commitment the group chose to make when it acquired the station in 2014) except that the CRTC also has a policy not to relieve stations of licence conditions when those licence conditions have not been met. (In other words, the commission prefers you ask for permission instead of forgiveness.)

For both stations, the owner passes the buck on responsibility, blaming the accountant, the alerting system provider, an on-air host and even the commission itself for its failure to comply with its licence conditions. The CRTC won’t like that.

But it especially won’t like the fact that these stations had already been called to order on these issues. CJMS’s last licence renewal came with two mandatory orders (which can be enforced by federal court) requiring the station comply with licence conditions. That order came after a bizarre in-person hearing during which the previous owner blamed his father’s dementia for the station’s failure to comply. Though CJMS has a new owner, this is the fourth straight licence term that the station has been in non-compliance, and the third straight time that a short-term renewal has failed to bring the station into line.

For CJWI, there was no mandatory order or tense public hearing, but there were also repeated short-term renewals because of licence non-compliance — in 2008 for four years because of a failure to provide an annual return on time, 2015 for two years because of failures related to annual returns and CCD contributions. Like CJMS, CJWI doesn’t have a single licence term where it has complied with all its licence conditions.

What will the CRTC do?

The commission has a policy on how to deal with non-compliant radio stations, based on how severe the non-compliance is, whether the non-compliance has been a chronic problem, and how the owner has responded to being informed of the apparent non-compliance.

The commission could do nothing, if it determines that the non-compliance was minor or just a communication issue. The next step is usually a short-term licence renewal, which it has already done repeatedly for both stations. It could impose additional CCD contributions (a de facto fine), it could require the station broadcast a notice of its non-compliance (which it did for CJWI), issue mandatory orders (which it did for CJMS), and in the most extreme cases, it could suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the licenses.

Normally, for that extreme measure, the commission would call the licensees to an in-person hearing to give them a chance to explain themselves. That’s what it did with CJMS’s previous owner, and for Aboriginal Voices Radio before revoking its licences. But this notice says the CRTC does not expect to require the licensees’ presence in person. This makes licence revocation unlikely.

Nevertheless, for both stations, it said: “Given the recurrence of the station’s non-compliance over the past several licence terms, the Commission has concerns regarding the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner.”

That should be worrying to any radio station owner, and a strong sign that the commission’s patience is wearing thin.

Other stations in non-compliance

The hearing is also looking at three other stations that have compliance issues:

  • CICR-FM Parrsboro, N.S. The community radio station got its first licence in 2008, and was renewed for a short term in 2015. Its compliance issues relate to annual returns, program logs and requests for information from the commission.
  • CFOR-FM Maniwaki, Que. The commercial station has gone through a third licence term failing to comply with licence conditions, including a condition imposed in 2015 about broadcasting its failure to comply. The application does not include explanations for these latest failures.
  • CKFG-FM Toronto (G98.7). This commercial station owned by Intercity Broadcasting Network Inc. has so many compliance issues that the commission says it “could conclude that the licensee has demonstrated that it does not understand its regulatory obligations.”

Comments on these applications and others in the public notice are due by July 31 and can be submitted here. Note that all information provided, including contact information, becomes part of the public record. The commission could choose to invite people to the public hearing if it decides based on public comments that such an invitation is warranted.

As CFQR 600 AM begins on-air testing, TTP Media remains committed to launching talk stations in Montreal

UPDATE (June 30): The station says it has officially launched.

For the first time in 17 years, Montrealers are beginning to hear a local station at 600 on the AM dial.

TTP Media, which has been promising since 2010 to revolutionize the AM radio scene in Montreal, has been doing work at the Kahnawake transmitter site for the two AM talk radio stations it has licences to operate — CFNV 940 AM and CFQR 600 AM (no relation to Q92, which used that same callsign).

The work has resulted in CFNV going off the air, but also some sounds coming out at 600 AM. The CRTC’s last extension for that station, originally approved in 2012, gave the company until June 30, 2017, to launch, and made clear (for the second time) that this would be the final extension given them.

With nine days before that deadline, tones and music were first reported being heard at 600 AM last Wednesday.

Even if it does officially launch, the English-language talk station long promised to be a competitor to CJAD might not be what listeners expect at first. Both English and French stations have generic commercial AM licences, which gives them a lot of freedom when it comes to programming. CFNV has run an automated music playlist since it launched in November, just days before its last deadline.

My attempts to get TTP Media to explain the various delays in launching their stations have failed in the past few years, leaving only official correspondence with the CRTC as a source of information. But last week, TTP Media President Rajiv Pancholy agreed to an interview, and though he couldn’t answer every question about the group’s plans, he did clear up a lot of information. Here’s what he told me:

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Bell moves Énergie shows to Rouge FM

Here’s a head-scratcher. Bell Media has announced that Éric Salvail, Dominic Arpin, Mélanie Maynard and Patrick Langlois are moving from Énergie 94.3 to Rouge FM 107.3 starting Aug. 14.

Moving an entire show (Salvail is taking his contributors with him) from one station to another is very unusual. Moving an entire lineup, which also includes the morning show, is downright bizarre.

Rouge is keeping mid-day hosts Julie Boulanger and Eric Nolin, and Pierre-Marc Babin will host the evening show, but the rest of its weekday lineup is being replaced. Patricia Paquin and Benoît Gagnon will also remain with the station, on weekends.

Rouge FM has been struggling in the ratings recently, losing ground to adult contemporary competitor Rythme FM, owned by Cogeco. Moving more popular (and more well-known) hosts to Rouge makes sense for that station, especially if those hosts appeal more to women than men.

But the bigger question is what happens to Énergie.

More coverage from HuffPost Québec and La Presse.

UPDATE (June 14): We have a bit of an idea what’s happening to Énergie now. Though there was a rumour of Les Grandes Gueules being reunited on the station, it’s actually only half that: José Gaudet will co-host the afternoon show with Richard Turcotte and Marie-Christine Proulx, in a show that will be broadcast on all Énergie stations except Quebec City. Jonathan Roberge, who co-hosted the morning show with Arpin and Maynard, will remain on Énergie in the mornings, with more details to be announced later.

It’s definitely going to be big changes for both stations, and the mix of talk and music might still change, but the idea that 94.3 FM in Montreal will go news-talk like 98.5 is pretty dead, at least for now.

Bell has Énergie and Rouge FM stations in Montreal, Quebec City, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Drummondville and Rimouski. It has Énergie stations Rouyn and Val-d’Or in western Quebec, and a Rouge FM station in Amqui, in the Gaspé peninsula.

It’s official: Canadiens regional games move to TSN

Two weeks after rumours began spreading, TSN and the Canadiens have confirmed that the Bell-owned broadcaster has picked up the team’s regional English-language television rights from Sportsnet as of the 2017-18 season.

The team has also renewed its English-language radio deal with TSN 690. According to the station, that deal is for five years.

The press releases about TSN’s deal are intentionally vague on details. They speak of “a slate” of games, so it’s unclear if it will be broadcasting all the games it’s entitled to or if, like in the days of the “TSN Habs” channel, it will only broadcast a selection. On one hand, every other Canadian team has all 82 games a year broadcast in English, and the Sportsnet/NHL deal caused TSN to invest far more in regional broadcast rights. On the other hand, Canadiens games are also broadcast on RDS, so not every game needs to be broadcast in English.

The press releases also don’t specify how long the TV deal is for. I’ve asked TSN for specifics and will update if I hear back.

Also unanswered so far is what channel the games will air on. TSN5 is used by the Ottawa Senators, so some sort of overflow channel will need to be used when both the Senators and Canadiens are playing, at the very least. (By my count, there are 15 regular-season games that the two teams play simultaneously — but not against each other — that aren’t part of the Sportsnet national windows.) That, and on-air hirings, will be answered closer to the start of the season.

The deal will give TSN TV rights to all Canadiens preseason games, and up to 50 of the team’s regular-season games, mostly those that don’t air Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday nights. Saturday night games, special games like outdoor games, and all playoff games stay with Sportsnet.

The deal will also mean far fewer nationally-broadcast Habs games, limited to only Sportsnet’s national broadcast windows. All TSN Habs games will be blacked out outside the Canadiens broadcast region.

UPDATE: Sportsnet has released its national schedule, which includes 32 Canadiens games. That’s 10 more than TVA Sports gets for some reason. Sportsnet’s picks include:

  • 4/4 games vs. Toronto
  • 3/4 games vs. Ottawa, including the “NHL 100 Classic” game on Dec. 16
  • 1/2 games vs. Winnipeg
  • 2/2 games vs. Edmonton
  • 0/2 games vs. Calgary
  • 1/2 games vs. Vancouver
  • 4/4 games vs. Boston
  • 2/2 games vs. Nashville
  • The first ever Canadiens game in Las Vegas
  • All playoff games

That leaves TSN with:

  • All preseason games
  • The Canadiens’ season opener
  • The Canadiens’ home opener
  • A game each against Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver
  • Both games against Calgary
  • The Vegas Golden Knights’ visit to the Bell Centre

UPDATE (Sept. 15): TSN has announced its Habs broadcast schedule and broadcast team.

The power struggle tearing Radio Centre-Ville apart

A protest outside Radio Centre-Ville’s office on March 29.

Montreal’s only community ethnic radio station is in crisis. It started as a financial one, without a major source of revenue to pay expenses. But since last fall it has turned into a legal one as well, with two stubborn sides fighting it out. And each side is willing to financially bankroll their legal battle, even though that money would be put to far better use rescuing the station directly, because they’re convinced that their victory is the only way they can truly save the station.

And neither side is willing to negotiate or compromise.

The issue has been getting some media attention, with articles in Métro and Le Devoir. I wrote about it as well for the Montreal Gazette. Here, I’ll lay out the issues in more detail, based on interviews with both sides.

Continue reading

Radio ratings: Radio-Canada and FM93 tie for top in Quebec City

There are a couple of stories that can come out of the Quebec City page of the latest Numeris radio diary report released Thursday: One, that CHOI Radio X is no longer the powerhouse it once was (in large part because other stations in the market have copied its populist talk format), and two, that despite the “radio poubelle” reputation of the city’s stations, Radio-Canada’s ICI Première station is doing quite well.

Here’s how it breaks down (numbers are for 12+ listeners, 5am-1am for the whole week, Feb. 27 to April 23, 2017):

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CJMF-FM 93.3 FM93 Cogeco Media 15.7% 183,100
CBV-FM 106.3 ICI Première CBC 15.6% 154,600
CHOI-FM 98.1 Radio X RNC Media 12.7% 140,700
CITF-FM 107.5 Rouge Bell Media 10.1% 132,400
CHIK-FM 98.9 Énergie Bell Media 8.0% 132,500
CJEC-FM 91.9 WKND Leclerc 7.9% 111,100
CFEL-FM 102.1 BLVD Leclerc 6.9% 120,500
CFOM-FM 102.9 M Cogeco Media 6.8% 121,700
CJSQ-FM 92.7 Radio Classique Radio Classique 5.1% 51,900
CHXX-FM 100.9 Pop RNC Media 2.8% 44,500
CBVX-FM 95.3 ICI Musique CBC 2.3% 41,400
CBVE-FM 104.7 Radio One CBC 0.5% 10,100

As you can see, ICI Première is in a statistical tie with FM93 in terms of audience in all age groups (among advertiser-friendly demographics it’s another matter). Radio X is in third place, followed by the two Bell Media stations, and the two Leclerc Communication stations behind that.

CHXX’s change from rock-based Radio X2 to pop-based Pop has resulted in a drop in market share, but the company is optimistic it can rebound.

Le Journal de Québec breaks down the ratings for specific shows in various time slots. Le Soleil gets reaction from Radio X, which notes it does well among 25-54s, though some of their on-air personalities aren’t so diplomatic, taking shots at the competition.

Le Journal also notes that a host at Énergie wants Gilles Parent of FM93 to give him his house as promised, and Parent in turn took a swipe at BLVD’s Nathalie Normandeau. Other on-air statements are compiled here.

Here are what Quebec’s other markets look like. (Montreal is a metered market, and its next quarterly report is June 7.)

Sherbrooke

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CIMO-FM 106.9 Énergie Bell Media 21.1% 70,900
CITE-FM-1/2 102.7/94.5 Rouge FM Bell Media 20.3% 61,000
CBF-FM-10 101.1 ICI Première CBC 13.0% 42,600
CKOY-FM 107.7 107,7fm Cogeco 10.6% 33,200
CFGE-FM 93.7 Rythme FM Cogeco 8.2% 26,100
CBFX-FM-2 90.7 ICI Musique CBC 4.3% 12,700

Bell owns the Sherbrooke market pretty well, with the top two stations representing more than 40% listening share. Cogeco’s two stations combined have half that. La Tribune notes there’s a decrease in overall listening over last year.

Trois-Rivières

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CIGB-FM 102.3 Énergie Bell 16.4% 45,100
CHEY-FM 94.7 Rouge FM Bell 13.8% 29,400
CJEB-FM 100.1 Rythme FM Cogeco 12.8% 25,300
CBF-FM-8 96.5 ICI Première CBC 11.1% 20,600
CKOB-FM 106.9 106,9fm Cogeco 9.2 16,800
CKBN-FM 90.5 FM 90,5 Community 6.5% 10,100
CBFX-FM-1 104.3 ICI Musique CBC 3.8% 8,100

Bell also tops in Trois-Rivières, though the lead is not as large.

Saguenay

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CKYK-FM 95.7 Radio X RNC Media 21.2% 43,800
CFIX-FM 96.9 Rouge FM Bell 20.1% 50,300
CJAB-FM 94.5 Énergie Bell 17.3% 49,100
CBJ-FM 93.7 ICI Première CBC 10.2% 22,700
CILM-FM 98.3 Rythme FM Attraction 8.1% 18,800
CBJX-FM 100.9 ICI Musique CBC 5.0% 7,000

Radio X regains the lead in the heartland, after being in third a year ago. The Bell stations are also doing well there.

Ottawa-Gatineau (francophone)

Callsign Frequency Brand Owner Listening share Central market reach
CIMF-FM 94.9 Rouge FM Bell 16.5 79,200
CBOF-FM 90.7 ICI Première CBC 13.1% 70,000
CKTF-FM 104.1 Énergie Bell 11.7% 77,000
CKOF-FM 104.7 104,7fm Cogeco 10.0% 51,400
CIHT-FM 89.9 Hot 89.9 Newcap 5.9% 53,400
CFTX-FM 96.5 Pop 96,5 RNC Media 4.3% 27,300
CHLX-FM 97.1 Wow 97,1 RNC Media 4.2% 26,100
CBOX-FM 102.5 ICI Musique CBC 3.8% 22,200

Little change here over last year: Bell also has the two top private stations for francophone listeners in the national capital, while RNC Media’s new single-syllable music stations are more than a point behind the anglophone music station. (I’ve left out the remaining anglo stations.) Nevertheless, Le Droit notes that CFTX-FM’s change from Capitale Rock to Pop has meant a huge increase in ratings, from a 0.5% market share in September.

Bell Media radio rehires The Beat’s program director

Since 92.5 FM in Montreal became The Beat in 2011, the station has made much of its staff lineup by poaching personalities from direct competitor Virgin Radio. Cat Spencer, Vinny Barrucco and Nat Lauzon were hired directly from Virgin, and Nikki Balch and Rob Kemp also previously worked at 1717 René-Lévesque Blvd. (for Virgin and CHOM, respectively).

With The Beat’s ratings being solidly ahead of Virgin for what seems to be a sustainable period, it seemed it was only a matter of time before Bell Media hit back.

Martin Tremblay (via Facebook)

This week we learned that it has poached from the top, hiring Martin Tremblay to lead the Énergie, Rouge FM and Virgin Radio Montreal stations. Tremblay was hired as interim program director at The Beat a year ago. Before that, he spent six years in what is basically the same job he’s now going back to, leading the Montreal French music stations and Virgin at Astral and then Bell Media.

His CV also includes plenty of work for radio stations as part of his consulting company Oumf! Communications. They include:

  • Helping RNC Media create a Rythme FM affiliate in Gatineau, which lasted two and a half years until RNC decided to rebrand it as WOW FM.
  • Helping Attraction Radio turn CKRS-FM in Saguenay into another Rythme FM affiliate.
  • Helping RNC Media turn CHOA-FM in Abitibi into yet another Rythme FM affiliate.
  • Helping RNC transforming its struggling CKLX-FM into 91.9 Sports in Montreal, and later turning Capitale Rock 96.5 in Gatineau into a partial affiliate of it. While 91.9 Sports is going strong and RNC finally seems happy with that format, the Gatineau station has dropped sports programming and is now Pop 96.5.
  • Launching Groupe Puissance Média, an ad sales group that works with both RNC Media and Cogeco Media TV and radio outlets in the Outaouais region.
  • Work for Rogers’s Kiss 105.3 in Ottawa.

Tremblay starts his new job Aug. 7. Like the on-air personalities who made the jump, he’s bound by the terms of a non-compete clause in his contract that prevents him from working for Bell Media right away. “So enjoying my free time,” he tells me.

I asked Bell Media how this affects existing management at these stations. Mark Bergman is the current program director at VIrgin Radio. Will his role change?

“We have no comments to make at this time,” was the response from Bell Media communications director Simon Céré. I also asked Bergman and Martin Spalding, who heads local TV and radio in Quebec, for comment, and will update this if I hear back.

Chris Bury takes over PD role at CHOM

Chris Bury, program director of CJAD, TSN 690 and now CHOM 97.7

Meanwhile, the other three radio stations at Bell Media in Montreal will all come under the control of Chris Bury, currently the PD for CJAD and TSN 690.

“As CHOM’s Assistant Program Director and Music Director, Picard will work directly with Chris,” notes a memo to staff.

Bury’s expanded duties means that more will be delegated to CJAD/TSN 690 Assistant Program Director Mathew Wood, who takes on a larger role at TSN.

“Mathew will now handle day-to-day responsibilities at TSN 690 and Picard will continue to do that for CHOM,” Bury explains to me by email. “I’ll be involved in brainstorming, strategy, long-term planning, major decisions etc.”

I asked Bury if we should expect any changes at CHOM with this announcement. “It’s too early to get specific but, for me, the general goal is always the same: produce the most compelling content possible — as consistently as you can,” he responded. “That can mean introducing new segments or features or executing the ones we have a little more effectively.”

“I’ll add that… It’s an honour to be working on CHOM, in any way. The station carries a powerful legacy in Montreal. And the team at CHOM are as passionate about their station as anyone else. I’m excited to get going and to help however I can. And, although I do have some music programming experience, there will certainly be a learning curve. It’ll be a fun challenge.”

These management changes took effect immediately when they were announced to staff earlier this week. CHOM has been without a program director since the death of André Lallier in 2015.

Meanwhile, at The Beat, there are decisions to make. The station is led by general manager Luc Tremblay, who was also hired as head of digital strategy at Cogeco Media last June.