Category Archives: Radio

Posted in My articles, Radio

The Beat cancels Anne-Marie Withenshaw’s All Access Weekend (and she’s suing over it)

Anne-Marie Withenshaw filed a lawsuit against Cogeco Diffusion in Quebec Superior Court this week.

Anne-Marie Withenshaw filed a lawsuit against Cogeco Diffusion in Quebec Superior Court this week.

Listeners to 92.5 The Beat may have noticed that it’s no longer broadcasting its weekly All Access Weekend show with Anne-Marie Withenshaw, and that all evidence of her has been wiped from the station’s website.

Now we know that the station has decided to cancel the show as part of an apparent new direction in programming that involves on-air personalities being heard less and less. But what makes this story different from every other radio-personality-is-fired stories is that she’s responding with a lawsuit.

I explain the details of the suit in this story in the Montreal Gazette. Essentially, she and her company Killer Queen Productions are alleging that the station strung her along under false pretences after her contract expired at the end of August, making her believe they would renew her contract in order to prevent her from jumping to another station.

That allegation hasn’t been proven in court, and station owner Cogeco Diffusion will have a chance to present a defence.

Continue reading

Posted in Montreal, Radio

CFMB 1280 AM sells to Evanov Radio for $1.125 million

Control room at CFMB's main studio in the basement of its office

CFMB’s studios in Westmount

Evanov Radio hasn’t launched its first radio station in Quebec, but it’s already working on its third.

Earlier today, staff at CFMB 1280 AM were informed that the station has been sold to the Toronto-based company. The sale, for $1.125 million, has to be approved by the CRTC, for which an application was filed last Friday.

I have more details about the acquisition in this story for the Montreal Gazette, which appears in Wednesday’s paper, and this story at Cartt.ca, which gives a more national perspective about Evanov.

The sale ends a 52-year run for CFMB under the ownership of founder Casimir Stanczykowski and his family. After his death in a car accident in 1981, it was up to his widow Anne-Marie and son Stefan to manage it with business partner and minority owner Andrew Mielewczyk.

But Mielewczyk and Anne-Marie Stanczykowski are well past ready to retire, and Stefan Stanczykowski is a lawyer who wants to return to that practice. Though he describes the decision to sell as bittersweet, and it was originally turned down a couple of years ago, he said he believes it’s the best decision for the future of the station.

For its part, Evanov doesn’t plan any cuts among the station’s staff of about 50. The vision is to eventually move the station’s offices and studios to co-locate with Radio Fierté on Papineau Ave. downtown. And there could be shared programming with Evanov’s other multilingual stations, CIAO 530 in Toronto and CKJS 810 in Winnipeg (the latter was also founded by Casimir Stanczykowski, but later sold to Newcap, who sold it to Evanov).

Radio Fierté 980 AM and another station, The Jewel 106.7 (CHSV-FM) in Hudson/St-Lazare, are in on-air testing and set to launch once that’s complete, officially before Christmas but with major announcements in the new year. Both will employ about 20 people.

If approved by the CRTC, CFMB would become the 18th radio station in the Evanov group, of which 14 stations (15 including this one) were launched or acquired in the past 10 years.

I wrote more about CFMB in a feature story that appeared in 2012 for its 50th anniversary.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misidentified the frequency of CIAO AM in Toronto. It’s 530, not 540.

Posted in Radio

Tony Stark leaves Virgin Radio (again)

Tony Stark

Tony Stark, the evening host at Virgin Radio 96, surprised his listeners Thursday by announcing that that was his last show and he’s leaving the station he’s worked at for four and a half years.

Stark didn’t say why he’s leaving, saying only that he’d make an announcement in a few weeks. This almost certainly suggests that he’s moving to another station that isn’t ready to announce his hiring yet.

My guess on that would be Jump! 106.9 in Ottawa, based on some circumstantial but telling evidence I’ve seen. The station recently announced a job opening for a morning show host, which would make sense. We’ll see if that’s true. Jump, CKQB-FM, was The Bear until a relaunch this spring under the management of Mark Dickie, the former general manager at The Beat in Montreal. It’s a mainstream top 40 station, and has a style similar to Virgin.

Two years ago, Stark announced he was leaving Virgin for another job at a radio station in Halifax. But then he changed his mind and stayed in Montreal. He said the reconsideration was for “personal reasons” without elaborating.

Kelly Alexander has been shuffled over to Stark’s 6-11pm time slot at Virgin. Program Director Mark Bergman says he’ll be “searching the planet for the best possible person to fill this role” over the next few weeks.

Continue reading

Posted in Radio

Hudson radio station The Jewel 106.7 begins testing

The Jewel 106.7

Less than two months after getting CRTC approval for a new transmitter site, CHSV-FM 106.7 in Hudson has begun transmitting.

The station, owned by Evanov Radio subsidiary Dufferin Communications and carrying the brand The Jewel, is currently in its on-air testing phase, which began Nov. 4. Another Evanov station, Radio Fierté 980 AM, is also testing and will launch in January with about 10 full-time employees.

The Jewel is an easy-listening format and has six stations in Ontario and another in Winnipeg. The Hudson station at 1,420 watts ERP should easily cover the western off-island area, plus adjacent areas like Oka, the West Island and Ile Perrot. Reception in the Montreal area is complicated by co-channel interference from WIZN 106.7 in Burlington, Vt., and in eastern Ontario it should be wiped out by Jump 106.9 (CKQB-FM).

Like Fierté, The Jewel is playing music and station IDs. It asks anyone who finds problems to email signal@jewel1067.com.

UPDATE: No word on a launch date, which has more to do with when Industry Canada gives its approval than anything else. If there are no problems reported, “we should be officially on the air by Christmas,” says Evanov VP Carmela Laurignano. “For the first while we will have a music intensive program. The full format will roll out in the new year.”

The station expects to have about 20 employees. No names have been released yet.

Posted in Radio

Bell Media kills Bob FM in Ottawa, turns it into country station

Bob FM OttawaIt’s been almost eight months since the last time an Ottawa radio station suddenly abandoned its format and pissed off its listeners, so I guess it was time to do it again.

On Monday evening, Bell Media, owner of CKKL-FM (Bob FM) announced via the station’s website and Facebook page that the station is no more.

“Market conditions have changed, and it’s time for us to pursue a new opportunity,” reads the vague message, which suggests not so much a shutdown but a rebrand and format change.

Brief announcements on the station that said “something new is coming” confirmed this.

Bob FM is an “adult hits” format, meaning songs your parents remember (or you remember if you’re a parent yourself).

newcountry94On Wednesday morning, a press release announced that the new station, to be launched today, will be called New Country 94, and will be a country music station. (Its webiste is newcountry94.com, registered on Oct. 9.)

The new format puts it up against Rogers station New Country 101.1 FM (CKBY-FM) in Smiths Falls, whose 100kW signal reaches Ottawa but also places like Renfrew and Brockville.

Five on-air staff let go

The change means that five on-air personalities have lost their jobs, according to The Canadian Press. But they will be replaced with new talent.

Among those laid off is John Mielke, the owner of Milkman Unlimited, which posts job opportunities at radio stations in Canada. He posted an update to that website about his own job cut.

The Ottawa Citizen has some online reaction from fans about the disappearance of Bob FM.

Ratings information from Numeris this spring showed the station with a 2.6% share, or about the middle of the pack for English-language music stations. But the share was in decline, which might have convinced management that a change in format was the way to go.

That same data showed Country 101 having a 6.1% share in the Ottawa market.

Posted in Radio

Radio Fierté begins testing on 980 AM

Montreal’s newest radio station, and its first new general-interest commercial AM station in just about forever, is now transmitting as it undergoes the final stage before launch.

For a couple of weeks now, radio watchers have been noticing an open carrier — silence instead of static — on 980 AM. Now that signal is starting to carry music as the station begins its on-air testing in preparation for launch.

Radio Fierté CHRF is owned by Evanov Radio Group, which also owns Proud FM in Toronto, and the two have the same purpose, to serve the local LGBT community. Fierté will be Evanov’s first French-language radio station. Evanov told me last month that the station is expected to be on air by mid-November, so it’s a bit ahead of schedule. The actual launch is expected in January.

Evanov hasn’t announced hires yet, but Marie-Noëlle (Marino) Gagnon has announced she will be the station’s music director and one of its hosts. The general sales manager is Alain Tanguay, and Yvan Ruel is the project coordinator.

The station’s application to the CRTC proposed a format of half music, half talk. The proposed program schedule was vague, but indicated mainly music on evenings and weekends. Though it would be mainly directed at the estimated 5-10% of the population that is gay (Evanov believes it could be even higher than that), its music and information is also designed to appeal to a wider audience.

Its application promises some shows “will take a deeper look at issues of a more serious nature such as relationships, sex, health, politics and current events” with invited experts and call-in shows. Other shows will be music with “light banter.” It proposes 4-6 minutes of hard news an hour, and another 3-7 minutes an hour of sports, weather and traffic.

The application shows a projected annual budget of $1 million to $1.5 million a year, based on ad rates averaging between $42 and $72 a minute.

The station is playing mainly pop music in French and English (Tegan and Sara, Coeur de Pirate, Daft Punk, and a bunch of the songs you’d hear on The Beat or Virgin), but promises a mix of pop, disco and techno. Between songs, it’s airing several recorded messages noting the testing period, and identifying the station as “the first francophone LGBT station in North America” and “radio arc-en-ciel”. People who identify issues related to the transmission are asked to email info@radiofierte980.com.

Fierté was approved by the CRTC in 2011, in the same proceeding that gave approval for CKGM (TSN Radio) to move to clear channel 690 AM. Fierté had originally been approved to take over the vacated 990 frequency and the same pattern as CKGM formerly had, but found that moving to 980 AM and adopting a less directional pattern at reduced power would result in better coverage at night. The CRTC approved a frequency and pattern change last December.

Posted in Radio

CRTC denies application for FM retransmitter for CHOU 1450 AM

Realistic pattern of the new CHOU retransmitter

Realistic pattern of proposed CHOU FM retransmitter

An application from Radio Moyen-Orient (CHOU 1450 AM) to improve its reception in St-Michel and St-Léonard by adding a 50-watt FM retransmitter at 104.5 FM has been denied by the CRTC.

The reasoning didn’t relate to interference with other stations, but rather the commission finding the station did not meet the requirement of showing a compelling technical need for a second transmitter. The commission found that many of the complaints about poor coverage came from areas at the edge or outside of CHOU’s secondary service contour, which were never expected to receive the station well, and that local interference to AM signals is to be expected.

The application only had one opposing intervention, from CHCR, the owner of FM ethnic stations CKDG 105.1 and CKIN 106.3. That group warned that the new transmitter would cause interference to CKDG and would impact their advertising. Both those arguments were essentially ignored by the commission because the two stations are far enough in frequency to not have any interference problems and because CHOU is already a licensed station and market issues have already been dealt with.

Interesting, though, is that the CBC, which owns CBME-FM-1 at 104.7, did not intervene in this case, even though there was a big potential for interference. This could open the door to another application for 104.5, provided it only interferes with 104.7 in the eastern part of the island where people could hear CBC Radio One better on 88.5 anyway. (Such a transmitter would still have to protect Boom FM at 104.1 in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Espace Musique at 104.3 in Trois-Rivières.)

Posted in Canadiens, Radio

TSN 690 names Dan Robertson as new Canadiens play-by-play announcer

Bell Media announced on Monday that it has selected its new play-by-play man for Canadiens games on TSN 690: Dan Robertson, who called QMJHL games for Eastlink.

Robertson replaces John Bartlett, who is leaving to be the play-by-play guy for regional games on Sportsnet.

Sergio Momesso stays on the broadcast team, doing analysis.

Robertson was one of a few people brought in to call preseason games (he did the Sept. 25 game against the Avalanche). Program Director Chris Bury tells The Suburban’s Mike Cohen that Robertson’s demo was impressive, and that the staff seemed to be unanimous in support of him.

Robertson is on Twitter, though his handle to changed from @EastlinkDanR to @DRTSN690.

UPDATE (Oct. 25): CTV Montreal did an interview with Robertson.

Posted in Montreal, Radio

TTP Media says news-talk stations are six to nine months until launch

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

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

Every now and then people ask me about the Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy group, which has licenses for three high-power AM talk radio stations in Montreal, the first one granted in 2011, but hasn’t made any announcements in more than a year.

Rumours abounded that something was wrong. That the group had bitten off more than it could chew. That there was a problem with the three-way partnership and that one or more partners would be bought out by the others. It’s been a year since I posted a story because people were wondering what happened to them.

Now we have some more news. On Sept. 19, the CRTC approved applications from the group for extensions on the deadlines to launch its two news-talk stations, a French one at 940 AM and an English one at 600 AM, for another year.

Because the group had already asked for an extension on the 940 station last year, this extension is the last one the commission will give. If the station does not launch by Nov. 21, 2015, its license becomes void.

The English station, which was first approved in 2012, gets an extension until Nov. 9, 2015. That extension could be extended another year if needed, consistent with CRTC precedent on these matters.

The group also has a license for a French-language sports talk station at 850 AM. That licence was granted in June 2013, so they have until June 2015 to launch it or ask for a first extension.

Continue reading

Posted in Canadiens, Radio, TV

John Bartlett leaves TSN 690 to be regional voice of Habs on Sportsnet

John Bartlett, who has been the play-by-play voice of the Canadiens on TSN Radio 690 ever since the station won the rights to the team’s games in 2011, is leaving it to join Rogers as the play-by-play man on regional Canadiens games that will air on Rogers Sportsnet East and City Montreal.

TSN host Mitch Melnick confirmed Bartlett’s departure on Thursday. On Friday, Bartlett was interviewed on Melnick’s show (where a “gag order” prevented them from saying where he’s going, but it wasn’t difficult to put two and two together). Audio from that interview is posted here.

The decision to hire Bartlett, who was the voice of the Toronto Marlies AHL team before joining TSN 690 (more on his history here at YorkRegion.com), wasn’t unanimously praised at first, with all the talent at the station who would have loved to take a crack at the dream job and the bad optics of not only bringing in an import, but one who worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ farm team. But as Melnick explained on his show, Bartlett quickly earned the respect of staff and listeners who are now sad to see him go.

I met Bartlett only once. It was at a Canadian Women’s Hockey League game in Montreal. Just his presence there said a lot about how much this guy cares about hockey.

Continue reading

Posted in Radio

Two new radio stations to launch in Montreal region by end of 2014

The last regulatory hurdle to the Montreal area getting its newest commercial radio company has finally been passed. On Thursday, the CRTC approved a technical change for CHSV-FM Hudson/St-Lazare, a new English-language music station first approved two years ago.

As a result, it and a sister station, Radio Fierté (approved in 2011), will launch by the end of 2014, owner Evanov Communications says.

Former (orange line) and new (red line) pattern of CHSV-FM 106.7 Hudson, with interference zones of 106.9 Ottawa (Jump) and 106.7 Burlington, Vt. (The Wizard)

Former (orange line) and new (red line) pattern of CHSV-FM 106.7 Hudson, with interference zones of 106.9 Ottawa (Jump) and 106.7 Burlington, Vt. (The Wizard)

CHSV-FM 106.7 St-Lazare (The Jewel)

Evanov (through its subsidiary Dufferin Communications) had applied for the change to CHSV-FM because the Bell tower it had planned to use in Hudson had run out of space and would have required expensive upgrades to support another antenna.

So Evanov proposed to move to a Rogers-owned tower on Chemin Sainte-Angélique near Rue des Liserons, about 5.3 kilometres southwest of the Bell tower. In order to still cover Hudson, the change also meant a power increase, from 500W to 1420W average ERP.

Some competitors, such as CJVD Vaudreuil (a French-language station which serves the same region and wanted to use CHSV’s frequency) and Groupe CHCR (which owns CKIN-FM 106.3 in Montreal and was worried about interference), objected to this change as deviating from what was originally approved.

But the CRTC didn’t buy those objections. While the new pattern is significantly stronger toward the west and southwest, it is about the same toward Montreal, and so can’t be seen as some back-door way into getting into the Montreal market. And the situation that led to the application, and the proposed solution to it, are perfectly reasonable.

In its application, Evanov said the station, which will carry easy-listening music and the Jewel brand used at six other stations in Ontario and another in Winnipeg, would be ready to launch “within weeks of approval as all our other infrastructure and equipment are in place.”

Carmela Laurignano, vice-president and radio group manager for Evanov, said they won’t waste any time now. “It is our intention to get started on making preparations next week. It will require us to schedule installation of the transmitter, going through a testing phase to satisfy all requirements by Industry Canada and then sign-on air. We expect to be signed on by Christmas!”

When it does go on the air, for testing and then at launch, The Jewel in Hudson will cover the western off-island area, Ile Perrot, areas on the north shore around Oka, and the extreme West Island. Areas further than that may be able to pick up the station, but may experience interference from WIZN (The Wizard) from Burlington, Vt., or CKQB-FM (Jump) in Ottawa. Reception from downtown Montreal or points east of there will be very difficult because of interference from both WIZN and the Boom FM station at 106.5 in St-Hyacinthe.

CHRF 980 AM Montreal (Radio Fierté)

Evanov is also the licensee of Radio Fierté, a new French-language AM station serving Montreal’s LGBT community. The station was approved in 2011 on TSN Radio’s former frequency of 990 AM. Last December, the CRTC approved a technical change for that station, moving it to 980 AM and allowing it to have a less restrictive pattern at night.

Radio Fierté has proposed a mixed music and talk format. It’s based on Proud FM (CIRR-FM), an English-language station in downtown Toronto. Because Fierté is on AM, it will likely be more focused on talk.

Though they operate in different languages, in different cities, and have different formats, Radio Fierté and The Jewel will share overhead, including management. So this CRTC decision allows Evanov to move forward on both stations.

Laurignano said Radio Fierté should be on the air by mid-November.

Posted in Radio

CPAM owner agrees to buy CJMS 1040 for $15,000, keep it country

Almost a year after a bizarre CRTC hearing in which the owner of CJMS 1040 AM in St-Constant blamed the station’s failure to meet its regulatory obligations on his father’s dementia and announced before a surprised panel of commissioners that the station had been sold to an unnamed buyer, the details of that transaction have been published by the commission.

The CRTC has called a hearing for Nov. 12 (a technicality; the parties aren’t being asked to appear) to discuss two applications related to CJMS: Its licence renewal, which was in grave danger of not being accepted because of the repeated management failures, and a proposed sale of the station to Jean Ernest Pierre, the owner of CPAM Radio Union (CJWI 1410 AM), the Haitian community station in Montreal.

The identity of the buyer is no surprise. The two stations share an antenna in St-Constant, and after the CRTC hearing, during which CJMS’s lack of news was brought up as an issue, the station began simulcasting morning and afternoon programs from CJWI.

Documents filed with the commission show that Alexandre Azoulay, who owns CJMS, agreed on Oct. 9, 2013 (a month before the hearing) to sell it to Groupe Médias Pam Inc., a company entirely owned by Pierre, who is also the sole owner of CPAM. The purchase price is $15,000, as well as an hour a week of airtime for a year, for Michael Azoulay’s talk program connected with his family’s chiropractic business.

Continue reading

Posted in Radio

Radio X Montreal rebrands as Radio 9

Louis Lemieux, former weekend morning host at RDI, is the new morning man at "Radio 9"

Louis Lemieux, former weekend morning host at RDI, is the new morning man at “Radio 9″

Radio X is officially dead in Montreal. As of Tuesday, 9/9, the station at 91.9 FM is known as “Radio 9“.

The rebrand of the RNC Média-owned station comes with several personalities leaving and several others joining on. Dominic Maurais’s Maurais Live remains syndicated from CHOI Radio X in Quebec City. Caroline Proulx also sticks around, hosting the midday show.

The station, which finally got approval in April to become a mainly talk station and drop jazz music, follows a similar schedule from the Radio X days, with original talk programs only during the day on weekdays.

Jean-Charles Lajoie hosts the afternoon show, which is now completely focused on sports, clearly trying to fill the void left by the disappearance of CKAC Sports in 2011, a station Lajoie worked for in those days.

Evenings feature repeats of Proulx and Maurais. Overnights and weekends are rock music, according to the schedule (though I’m listening to it at 12:30am and I’m hearing repeats of talk shows).

Though management insists this isn’t a right-wing station, its programming is clearly supposed to be populist. It reminds me of what was done at 940 News after the all-news format failed. Hopefully it won’t have the same fate.

Stories about the rebrand at La Presse, Canoe and the Huffington Post.

Posted in My articles, Radio

Where to find country music on the radio in Montreal

As a sidebar to my story on Mohawk radio stations near Montreal, I included a list of country music stations that can be heard here, all of which transmit from off the island. Country music is very popular among Mohawks, and so it is as well on their radio stations. And with Montreal missing a big-name country music station, many assume it isn’t available here.

The list brought me one rebuke from the host of a country music program on a local station. And it’s true that there’s plenty of country music on other stations. So here’s a longer list, including the country music programs that appear on radio stations that can be heard in Montreal, based off those station’s posted program schedules.

Stations in bold should be relatively easy to hear, the rest are more difficult and can be heard only in certain parts of the Montreal region.

This list doesn’t include shows playing folk music, blues or other related genres. It also doesn’t include all-request shows, local artist programs or others where much of the music might be country but the show itself isn’t limited to the genre.

I’m almost certain to have missed some show or some station. If you know of another show to add to this schedule, or a correction to an existing one, leave a comment below.

Posted in My articles, Photos, Radio, Video

K103 moves into new building, and says goodbye to 30 years of history

The new main studio at K103 Kahnawake.

The new main studio at K103 Kahnawake.

For this community where tradition is so important, the move of K103 to a new building in July was bittersweet, even if it was a long time coming. Staff and supporters were excited about entering a much larger building and sitting down to state-of-the-art equipment, but it also meant leaving the building that the station had occupied since it launched in 1981, and bringing with them only small relics of the memories that were made there.

I talk about the K103 station move, as well as two other radio stations on Mohawk reserves near Montreal — KIC Country (CKKI-FM 89.9) and Kanesatake United Voices Radio (CKHQ-FM 101.7) in this story, which appears in Saturday’s Gazette.

Below are videos, photos and more about the K103 move. (I’ll have posts about the other stations soon.)

Continue reading