Category Archives: Radio

The Beat declares victory after summer ratings surge

Following today’s publication of Numeris’ Summer 2016 results, The Beat 92.5 maintains its ranking as Montreal’s #1 Music Station! The Beat is not only the number one English-language music station among radio listeners of all ages, but it is now is now the Number one RADIO station in the most important demos, Adults 25-54 and Females 25-54!

This was the beginning of a very self-congratulatory press release from 92.5 The Beat on Thursday after learning they had finally beaten competitor Virgin Radio 96 not only overall but among their key demographics.

It’s good news for the station that on Tuesday celebrated its fifth anniversary. But we’ve seen this kind of surge from The Beat before, so it’s too early to tell if the tide has really turned.

What the ratings actually say

As readers of this blog are well aware, there are a lot of ways to play with ratings numbers to claim to be number one. In the case of The Beat, it means ignoring the French market entirely, and ignoring the top-rated English station in the market, CJAD. At which point you’re down to three commercial stations.

The top-line ratings results are posted on Numeris’s website. Here’s what they show:

Montreal anglo market (797,000 people), all ages, May 30 to Aug. 28, 2016:

Callsign Brand Share AMA Daily reach AMA Change from spring AMA Change from last summer
CJAD CJAD 800 26.4% 13,400 170,800 -11% -8%
CKBE-FM The Beat 92.5 19.2% 9,800 211,200 +11% +7%
CJFM-FM Virgin Radio 96 16.3% 8,300 207,300 0 -6%
CHOM-FM CHOM 97.7 12.9% 6,600 145,800 -4% +5%
CBME-FM CBC Radio One 6.2% 3,100 43,500 -3% -6%
CFGL-FM Rythme FM 3.0% 1,500 51,800 +25% +25%
CKGM TSN Radio 690 2.9% 1,500 40,500 -25% -17%
CBM-FM CBC Radio Two 1.6% 800 19,100 0 +14%
CITE-FM Rouge FM 1.3% 700 31,200 +17% +17%
CJPX-FM Radio Classique 1.3% 700 19,200 -12% +17%
CKOI-FM CKOI 1.0% 500 37,000 +43% 0

Other stations have shares below 1%.

Montreal franco market (2,738,000 people), all ages, May 30 to Aug. 28, 2016:

Callsign Brand Share AMA Daily reach AMA Change from spring AMA Change from last summer
CFGL-FM Rythme FM 20.5% 37,300 687,000 -1% +10%
CHMP-FM 98,5 fm 17.0% 31,000 484,700 -18% -13%
CITE-FM Rouge FM 11.9% 21,700 376,400 +19% -15%
CKOI-FM CKOI 10.1% 18,400 480,600 +28% +16%
CJFM-FM Virgin Radio 96 7.0% 12,700 414,300 +44% +23%
CKBE-FM The Beat 92.5 7.0% 12,700 400,200 +14% +23%
CBF-FM ICI Première 6.6% 12,000 224,700 -19% -22%
CHOM-FM CHOM 97.7 5.7% 10,400 316,800 +32% +68%
CKMF-FM Énergie 5.3% 9,600 344,600 +8% -16%
CBFX-FM ICI Musique 2.1% 3,900 82,800 -5% -18%
CJPX-FM Radio Classique 2.0% 3,700 86,100 -33% -36%
CKLX-FM 91.9 Sport 1.3% 2,400 50,600 0 +242%
CJAD CJAD 800 0.7% 1,200 37,500 0 +50%
CKAC Radio Circulation 0.3% 500 47,200 +67% 0
CBME-FM CBC Radio One 0.3% 500 15,500 0 +67%
CBM-FM CBC Radio Two 0.2% 300 26,100 -40% -70%
CHRF AM 980 0.0% 100 3,800 0 N/A
CKGM TSN Radio 690 0.0% 0 3,400 0 -100%

AMA means average minute audience, the average number of people who will be tuning into a station during any minute of a 24-hour day.

Daily reach refers to how many listeners will tune into a station for at least one minute during the average day.

Comparisons to spring (Feb. 29-May 29) and last summer (June 1-Aug. 30, 2015) are here for reference. I’d pay more attention to the year-over-year change than the change over spring, since summer ratings tend to go down particularly for non-music stations. And don’t read too much into the percentage changes for stations lower on the chart. The higher margin for error exaggerates the amplitude of the changes.

Listener boycotts had no effect on The Beat

The Beat has reason to be happy, being higher among anglophones than it was both last spring and last summer. But the big win is in the adults 25-54 and women 25-54 demographics, which it had consistently lost to rival Virgin, even while it had a larger audience overall.

“Today’s milestone results are the product of great teamwork and proof that our audience likes the changes we made to the schedule,” GM Luc Tremblay says in the press release. This is in reference to moving Cat Spencer to afternoons and Cousin Vinny to mornings, but left unsaid is that listener anger to the dropping of Kim Sullivan and Sarah Bartok hasn’t resulted in a drop in ratings. The Beat says its 25-54 audience for the morning show went up 35%.

The news isn’t all bad for Virgin and Bell Media. Virgin’s audience is up among francophone listeners (though just like last summer it’s exactly tied with The Beat for audience among francophones), and CHOM has much more franco listeners. Plus, of course, Bell Media owns four of the five commercial stations in the market.

More importantly, we’ve seen this before. During the winter of 2014-15, The Beat and Virgin had similar numbers relative to each other. The Beat’s program director said the station expected to continue to improve. Virgin’s said it was because it covered the Christmas period when The Beat does better with its Christmas music. The next ratings period, Virgin was back on top.

The next ratings period will tell us if this was another fluke. But The Beat has been consistently higher than Virgin in the overall ratings, and this ratings period was as far from Christmas as you can get.

Franco market: Rythme, CKOI see gains

On the francophone side, Rythme FM climbed above 98.5 FM to the top spot. Expect this to be temporary as 98.5’s A team comes back to work and so do the politicians whose activities fuel news-talk stations. (And besides, both stations are owned by Cogeco, so it’s not exactly a huge competition.)

CKOI is getting more respectable numbers than it used to. Not so long ago it was in the gutter, being outperformed by the anglo music stations among francophones. Now it’s well ahead of them, even nipping at the heels of #2 music station Rouge FM. We’ll see if that keeps up.

91.9 Sport is holding its own, with more than three times the audience it had last summer before the format change and equal to what it had in the spring (when presumably there was more sports to talk about). But its market share is still low, and it might need more to be viable as a talk station.

CHRF, the station that was supposed to be Radio Fierté and is now airing easy-listening music and some miscellaneous programming, is still stuck within the margin of error.

Saroja Coelho named new host of CBC Quebec’s Breakaway

Breakaway, the afternoon drive show on CBC Radio One throughout Quebec (outside of Montreal and Gatineau), finally has a new permanent host: Saroja Coelho, a journalist who until recently was based in Germany.

Her first show is today.

The hiring of Coelho, who worked for Deutsche Welle and freelanced for several outlets including the CBC, might be a bit of a head-scratcher, considering listeners here are unfamiliar with her. But also because Rachelle Solomon, who had been hosting Breakaway since 2014, seemed to be an obvious choice for the job. She will stay with the station and contribute to Breakaway.

Jacquie Czernin, the last permanent host of Breakaway, left the show more than two years ago to be with her ailing mother in B.C. Last December, she made the departure permanent.

UPDATE: I spoke with Coelho for a short story in the Gazette. I’ll have more from her later.

CBC’s press release announcing the hire is below:

SAROJA COELHO NAMED NEW HOST OF CBC RADIO ONE’S BREAKAWAY IN QUEBEC

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 – CBC Quebec is pleased to announce Saroja Coelho as the new host of CBC Radio One’s Breakaway.

Saroja is an experienced journalist and public broadcaster. Prior to joining CBC, Saroja worked for Deutsche Welle in Germany for eight years, holding positions as a radio and television presenter, senior editor and producer, writer, event moderator and media trainer. During that time, Saroja also worked as a freelancer for CBC, BBC, NPR, Ms Magazine and other publications. She has also contributed to CBC Radio on Global Village, Outfront and Metro Morning. Saroja’s first day as host is Tuesday, September 6.

“Saroja brings strong news and broadcast experience to CBC Quebec,” said Meredith Dellandrea, Senior Program Manager, CBC Quebec. “An adventurous traveller in Quebec and around the world, she seeks to understand people and new perspectives. We’re excited to have her join our team.”

“I couldn’t be more delighted about taking over as the host of Breakaway,” said Saroja Coelho, Breakaway host. “Quebec has a rich history and a vibrant culture that is reinventing itself every day. I can’t wait to connect with people across the province and continue Breakaway’s tradition of being an on-air meeting place where people tell their stories, challenge each other with new thinking and, hopefully, have a good laugh.”

Virgin Radio brings in new talent, loses Lee Haberkorn

It was two years ago that Virgin Radio 96 had a silly idea to hold a contest to find a new on-air talent, and the winner was some bearded kid named Lee Haberkorn.

Since then, Haberkorn has become a regular at the station, most recently hosting weekend mornings but also being very active on social media, which he uses to post videos of him engaging in a prank war with afternoon host (and program director/boss) Mark Bergman.

So it was perhaps inevitable that he’d be moving on to better opportunities sooner than later. This month he left the station to join the new Virgin Radio in Kitchener, becoming their new morning man.

Haberkorn’s departure follows that of Andrea Collins, who also left the station but stays in the Bell Media family.

Collins has been replaced in late mornings by perennial schedule-hole-filler Kelly Alexander, who now finally has a solid weekday job. Alexander’s weekend shift is being filled by a new import, Shannon Brooksbank, known on the air as Brooksy, who comes from Corus’s Jump 106.9 in Ottawa (where she worked with former Virgin host Tony Stark).

No replacement for Haberkorn’s weekend morning shift has been announced yet. So far the station has been filling weekend mornings with announcerless music.

91.9 Sport adds live evening programming, including Habs postgame show

91.9 Sport schedule (click for PDF)

91.9 Sport schedule for 2016-17 (click for PDF)

The station didn’t mention this in its press release, but the best news is that for the first time since 2013 (and only the second time since 2011), CKLX-FM 91.9 in Montreal will not be starting its fall season with a new name and radical change in format.

What began in 2004 as Couleur Jazz and then became Planète Jazz, then Radio X in 2012, then Radio 9 in 2014 and finally 91.9 Sport in 2015, will stick with that last brand for a second year, as Montreal’s only full-time French-language sports talk station.

And it’s expanding its programming into the evening. No, it isn’t airing live sporting events, but it will have talk weeknights until midnight, the last two hours of which on game nights will be an open-line Canadiens postgame show, even though the Habs game airs on competitor 98.5 FM.

There’s also a pregame show on weekends, from 5-7pm.

The weeknight show is called Sports Extra, and hosted by Meeker Guerrier, who has been their soccer specialist. Soccer and Football have their focus earlier in the show (when hockey fans will be listening to the game). Perhaps the most interesting thing is that he’ll also be taking calls during intermissions. (Why not take calls during commercials why you’re at it?) That will require some juggling, since they can’t have dead air otherwise. Similar to how RDS does l’Antichambre on Saturday nights, it means finding very flexible filler programming otherwise. Fortunately that’s easier to do in radio than on TV.

The weekend show Le 5 @ 7 will also be an audience-driven show, giving people the chance to make predictions before games. Sunday’s show will include a week in review and a focus on football.

The other big addition is Pierre Houde, the RDS Canadiens play-by-play man, who will become a columnist on the morning show. Other than saying he’ll be commenting on the news, it doesn’t give much detail on what we should expect, but you can make a good guess. Houde does a similar thing on a regular basis on CHOM-FM with his friend Terry DiMonte.

So here’s what 91.9’s lineup looks like now:

Weekdays

  • 6-10am: Du sport, le matin with Michel Langevin and Enrico Ciccone. News-focused. Contributors include Michel Villeneuve (7:03), Réjean Tremblay (8:03), Pierre Houde (9:03) and more.
  • 10am-12pm: Gilbert Delorme. Call-in show.
  • 12-1pm: Du sport, le midi with Charles-André Marchand. Commentary-focused. Last half hour devoted to football.
  • 1-3pm: Laraque et Gonzalez with Georges Laraque and Stéphane Gonzalez. Debate-focused.
  • 3-7pm: Jean-Charles en liberté with Jean-Charles Lajoie. Analysis-focused. Contributors include Réjean Tremblay (3:45pm), Yvon Pedneault and Mike Bossy (4pm), Mathias Brunet (4:45pm) and Bob Hartley (5:03pm).
  • 7pm-12am: Sports Extra with Meeker Guerrier. Includes segments on soccer (7-7:30pm) and football (7:30-8pm, rebroadcasting the 12:30pm show), and call-ins after Canadiens games.

Weekends

  • 10am-5pm: Les légendes du rock with Jeff Paquet. Rock music.
  • 5pm-7pm: Le 5 @ 7 with Louis-Philippe Guy (starts Oct. 1). Lookahead and look back. More hockey focused on Saturdays and football focused on Sundays.

Outside of these hours will be mainly rebroadcasts and highlights of other shows.

The morning show interviewed general manager Yves Bombardier this morning to explain the changes and video is up on their website.

One thing he points out, and is clear from the schedule, is an attempt to structure the programs to create rendez-vous moments. Soccer and football fans will know when to tune in to hear programming related to their preferred sport. People who want to listen to Pierre Houde will know to tune in at 9am. And there are top-of-the-hour three-minute newscasts during morning and afternoon drive and at noon.

More people are listening, but is it enough?

The station is cautiously optimistic, and their ratings explain why. The station’s reach and average audience is about 1/10th that of 98.5 FM, and even among men 25-54, which should be its core demographic, its market share is stuck around 4-5% vs 30% for 98.5. (For women, it’s virtually nil.)

But its numbers are better than it used to be. If you look at overall (ages 2+ 24/7) ratings measured by BBM/Numeris in the spring of each year, you see the station was much better in 2016 than any of the previous five years.

  • 2011 (Jazz): 1.0% share, 55,900 reached each day
  • 2012 (Jazz): 1.2% share, 63,400 reached each day
  • 2013 (Radio X): 0.7% share, 42,400 reached each day
  • 2014 (Radio X): 1.2% share, 51,100 reached each day
  • 2015 (Radio 9): 0.9% share, 43,000 reached each day
  • 2016 (91.9 Sport): 2.4% share, 54,800 reached each day

A doubling of ratings isn’t that fantastic when you’re so low to begin with, but it’s enough that they’re sticking with the plan. The increase in share with a more modest increase in reach means that people are tuning in longer.

 

Dave Fisher calls it a career, is added to CJAD Wall of Fame

That’s it for Dave Fisher, the CJAD weekend morning man who retired Sunday after 32 years entertaining Montrealers on the air.

For those of you who missed it (and weren’t among the invited guests to see it in person), CJAD has posted the last hour and a half of Fisher’s final Trivia Show online:

There’s also coverage from CTV News, the Montreal Gazette and of course CJAD itself. The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein wrote a tribute to Fisher when the retirement was announced in June. Contributor Gary Beauvais writes about Fisher in the Eastern Door.

Fisher has been added as the fourth face on CJAD’s Wall of Fame, which started last December. The honour comes with a special Aislin cartoon in his honour. Fisher is the only living recipient of this honour so far.

Ken Connors takes over as CJAD’s weekend morning man starting next Saturday.

TTP Media abandons 850 AM, shows no progress on other unlaunched stations

For the past five years, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked by people in the local broadcasting industry is what’s going on with TTP Media, a group of local businessmen who won CRTC licences to launch three AM talk radio stations in the city and had promised to revolutionize the market with big investments in quality programming.

Unfortunately, for years now the answer has been “nothing that I know of.” And unfortunately that continues today.

Since getting the licence for 850 AM in 2013, the group’s only on-the-record activity has been asking for extensions and technical changes from the CRTC, each time indicating that the stations were mere months from launch.

But now there’s finally some news, even though it’s not clear what it means. In June, the authorization from the CRTC to launch a French sports-talk station at 850 AM expired. Because the decision approving the station was published in 2013, and the first extension given last year, a second request for a final one-year extension should have been a matter of formality.

But that request was never issued. So on June 19, when the deadline was reached, the authority to launch the station expired.

According to the CRTC, the frequency is now available for anyone else to apply for.

I chronicle my attempts to seek comments from the partners in Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy Media in this story published by Cartt.ca. Paul Tietolman, whose father Jack founded the station that used to be on 850 AM in Montreal, was the only one who would talk to me, but he wouldn’t answer questions about the group’s plans, wanting to defer to his partners and not act as a company spokesperson.

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Elliott Price joins Sportsnet, kinda

Elliott Price, right, with co-host Grant Robinson in the CFMB studio.

Elliott Price, right, with co-host Grant Robinson in the CFMB studio.

It was a bit of a head-scratcher of an announcement: Elliott Price is now part of the Sportsnet Network. But what’s the Sportsnet Network?

I asked the parties involved for a story that appears in Monday’s Montreal Gazette, about what Price has been up to since he was let go from TSN Radio 690 last November.

Basically, it’s an agreement for cooperation. Price gets access to Sportsnet’s branding and personalities he can interview on his show, plus Sportsnet’s website hosts his podcast. On the flip side, Sportsnet’s radio stations in Toronto and Calgary get access to Price to give a Montreal perspective on sports stories, and Sportsnet has a “presence” in the market, a benefit that is less tangible.

I could not get them to either confirm nor deny that money is changing hands as part of this deal, but Dave Cadeau, program director of Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto said the deal isn’t financial in nature. Price is not a Sportsnet employee, and he maintains his editorial independence. Price’s show (which has been renamed Sportsnet Tonight with Elliott Price) also carries some Sportsnet-related advertising, including spots for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

It was Price that got the ball moving on this deal, and he said he had been working on it since the beginning. Unlike TSN Radio, which has eight stations in five provinces (in every NHL and CFL market except Calgary and Regina), Sportsnet has only stations in Toronto and Calgary, and so needs some help to cover other major sports markets.

So does this mean we could see other deals like this in the future?

“Could I see it? Sure. Are we thinking about it? No,” Cadeau says. “This is all that is planned.”

Price’s situation is pretty unusual. CFMB is licensed as an ethnic radio station (it is required to broadcast programming in 16 languages for 16 ethnic groups, but there’s no particular limit on the amount of non-ethnic programming it can broadcast otherwise), and so is only sports for 10 hours a week.

The likelihood of Rogers starting a full-time all-sports station in Montreal is virtually zero while TSN 690 is on the air. Outside of Toronto, the market for sports-talk simply isn’t robust enough for more than one station. (Rogers did suggest it might be willing to buy TSN 690 during the Bell-Astral hearings, but it’s unclear how serious that offer was.)

So this represents the next best thing. Sportsnet gets a presence in the city that it doesn’t have to pay for, and Price gets to look a lot more professional and get lots of expert guests by associating himself with this big brand.

Price also is now a regular panelist on Sportsnet Central Montreal, the weekly sports talk show that airs on City Montreal.

Is Price’s show viable?

I asked Price whether he thinks he can get enough advertising to make his show break even. The initial response from advertisers has actually been quite impressive. Since it started as a one-day-a-week show on CFMB, the show has had several local sponsors. He said it was enough that the Sunday show paid for itself, but with the expansion to five days a week (making this a de facto full-time job for Price and co-host Grant Robinson), the advertising demands are greater. He guesses he’s about halfway there, though.

CFMB's main studio.

CFMB’s main studio.

This was my first visit to the new studios of CFMB since the Evanov Radio Group bought the station and moved it to new offices on Papineau Ave. in Rosemont. The building, which doesn’t have any exterior signage, has newly renovated offices on several floors (and half-floors). Upstairs are the studios of sister station AM 980.

The new studio is clean and reflects a the new reality of radio, and the big windows will expose hosts to a lot more natural light than the basement studios the station vacated in Westmount.

CFMB's ground-floor studio on Papineau Ave.

CFMB’s ground-floor studio on Papineau Ave.

UPDATE (Aug. 11): Price is interviewed on Breakfast Television Montreal about his new show.

The Beat swaps morning, afternoon drive hosts

 

The Beat 92.5 is continuing its summer of transformation. On Monday morning, it announced that it’s moving Cat Spencer to afternoon drive and Cousin Vinny Barrucco to mornings. The changes take effect immediately.

Vinny will be joined in the mornings by co-host Nikki Balch, who has returned to Montreal after leaving Virgin Radio two years ago, as well as Stuntman Sam and Kim Kieran on news and traffic. Kieran is also moving to mornings from afternoons, replacing the departing Natasha Hall.

Spencer seemed excited about the change, even though morning host is traditionally the most prestigious of the radio jobs. (The 9-to-5 workday shifts are The Beat’s highest rated.) Spencer’s on-air time isn’t only reduced to two hours a day, but four days a week, Mondays to Thursdays. He’s joined by Claudia Marques on traffic.

Spencer explained on the air that he had planned to do mornings for five years when he joined The Beat in 2011, and wanted to move to afternoon drive and have his mornings back.

The rest of the schedule is unchanged. Donna Saker does 9am to 1pm, Christin Jerome does 1pm to 5pm, and Jeremy White takes over at 7pm. Rob Kemp and Nat Lauzon do weekend mornings and afternoons, respectively.

The changes (which also include new headshots for everyone) come less than two months after The Beat brought in a new station manager, Luc Tremblay. Tremblay, who had been working at La Presse+ since 2012, will also act as program director, replacing interim PD Martin Tremblay.

Montreal’s radio industry mourns Merv Williams

Merv Williams, the former producer and announcer at Standard and Astral Radio in Montreal who contributed to CHOM’s morning show and CJAD’s Trivia Show until he was axed five years ago, has died.

The news was shared on social media by his former colleagues, but the official obituary notice was published Saturday in the Ottawa Citizen.

He died Sunday, July 10 at the Ottawa Heart Institute. He was only 39.

A memorial service for Williams will be held at the Yves Légaré Funeral home at 7200 Newman Blvd. in LaSalle on Saturday, July 30 at 11 am.

I never met Williams, but he appeared to be universally liked by his colleagues. I’ll let them offer tribute through their posts here:

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Ken Connors leaves The Beat to take over weekend mornings on CJAD

Ken Connors

Ken Connors

Along with the news that Natasha Hall is hanging up her microphone for another mysterious job opportunity, The Beat 92.5 is also losing assistant program director Ken Connors. He made the announcement after the fact on Facebook Friday:

Connors has been with Corus/Cogeco for 11 years, and like Hall was one of the people who worked at AM 940 before that.

UPDATE (July 18): As expected, Bell Media has announced that Connors is taking over as host of the weekend morning show on CJAD, replacing the retiring Dave Fisher. Connors will also co-host the Home Improvement Show with Jon Eakes and the CJAD 800 Trivia Show.

UPDATE (Aug. 6): Connors was interviewed on CTV Montreal about his new job.

Natasha Hall leaving The Beat

Natasha Hall, Sarah Bartok and Kim Sullivan.

Natasha Hall, Sarah Bartok and Kim Sullivan in their Beat gear at this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade.

I’m thinking this picture might be cursed. Three of The Beat’s female personalities in pretty cool-looking purple coats, and within months they all leave the station.

Unlike Sarah Bartok and Kim Sullivan, though, Natasha Hall’s departure is voluntary. She’s leaving for another job, though she wouldn’t say what it is exactly. But she seems pretty excited about it.

Hall’s job, doing news and traffic for the morning show, was posted by Cogeco Media, open for only a week and a half, suggesting they may already have someone in mind to fill it.

The station declined to comment on Hall’s departure.

Cogeco also posted the assistant program director job at The Beat, to replace the also-departing Ken Connors. The job posting doesn’t include any on-air duties. It’s interesting to be hiring a new assistant PD because the program director job is still being filled on an interim basis by Martin Tremblay.

UPDATE (July 22): Kim Kieran, currently doing afternoon traffic in addition to promotions work, has won Hall’s former job. She starts Aug. 15.

CKOI is moving its transmitter

The CBC's Mount Royal antenna tower hosts most major FM and TV transmitters in the city.

The CBC’s Mount Royal antenna tower hosts most major FM and TV transmitters in the city.

All major commercial FM radio stations in Montreal except one broadcast from antennas on a single giant transmission tower at the top of Mount Royal.

Soon, the sole holdout will be joining them.

CKOI's current antenna atop the CIBC building

CKOI’s current antenna atop the CIBC building

Last week, the CRTC approved (without any public process) an application to move CKOI-FM 96.9 from its current location atop the CIBC tower at Peel St. and René-Lévesque Blvd. to the Mount Royal tower.

Cogeco’s application explains that, with the move of television stations to digital, and the channel change of Radio-Canada and CBC TV transmitters from 2 to 19 and 6 to 21, respectively, the old VHF TV antenna used by them has become obsolete and is being removed. That will open up a space for a new antenna, and Cogeco wants to install it.

There are a few benefits to this. One, Cogeco’s other FM stations (CFGL-FM 105.7 and CHMP-FM 98.5) already broadcast from the Mount Royal tower, and moving CKOI would allow all three to be managed from one site, the company says. Also, because the antenna would be higher (277.6m instead of 220.8m above average terrain), its transmitter can reduce power but still cover the same area.

Finally, Cogeco says the new antenna will be compatible with HD Radio. It’s unclear if Cogeco has immediate plans for HD Radio or if it’s more of a long-term option, but other broadcasters are starting to use it now and CKOI would be ideal both because of its high coverage and because there are no stations close to it in frequency.

 

What makes CKOI unique in Montreal isn’t just its location, but also its power. According to the Canadian Communications Foundation, the station was authorized to use 307 kilowatts of power in 1962, when commercial FM broadcasting was just beginning in the country (at the time, the station was CKVL-FM, and was transitioning from being a mere repeater of CKVL to having its own programming). Because of grandfathered rights, it got to keep that power level even though FM stations are now limited to a maximum of 100kW. CKOI is one of only five stations in Canada allowed to go beyond 100kW, and it’s the second-most powerful transmitter in the country after Winnipeg’s CJKR-FM (310kW).

The grandfathered rights, however, don’t mean CKOI can move to the Mount Royal tower and blast out 307kW. When asked to approve the change, Industry Canada (or whatever it’s called now) said CKOI could continue exceeding the 100kW maximum provided its coverage area did not increase, that there was no increase in interference to existing stations or aircraft navigation, that the new installation respects safety regulations relating to transmission power, and that there is no objection from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

As a result, CKOI has proposed an effective radiated power of 147kW, which is as high as it can go without exceeding its previous coverage to the west. (This will drop it to fourth-highest power in Canada, after London’s CFPL-FM, 300kW, and Winnipeg’s CBW-FM, 160kW.)

Current (blue) and proposed (green) contours of CKOI-FM

Current (blue) and proposed (green) contours of CKOI-FM

The new pattern slightly reduces how far the signal goes toward the east and south, but probably won’t be too noticeable. (Cogeco estimates that 99.6% of the population in the previous coverage area will still be in the new one.) The higher antenna height will also mean the signal will face less disruption from the mountain and tall buildings.

(147kW might sound a lot higher than 100kW, but because of the way propagation works, the coverage area isn’t that much larger. Compare CKOI’s current pattern to CKBE-FM’s 100kW signal for an idea of how different it is.)

As a bonus, people going through central downtown won’t have their FM radios so overloaded by a 307kW transmission just above their heads that they hear CKOI all over the FM band.

Pete Marier loses job at Boom 99.7 in Ottawa

Less than two years after being hired at the Corus-owned classic hits station in Ottawa, Pete Marier is out of a job again. He posted on Facebook that he was given the news over the phone on Thursday, and was told “corporate restructuring” was the reason.

“I am a big boy, with decades of radio experience under my belt, so I am not angry or entirely surprised,” he writes.

The news might be surprising considering just last month the station held a party to celebrate its ratings numbers. It had a 4.7% overall share among anglophones in that ratings report, up from 3.0% a year earlier.

Marier, who left CHOM over a contract dispute in 2011, and whose bridges there were pretty scorched at the time, did some part-time work at The Beat before getting the Boom FM job. Mark Dickie was general manager of Corus’s Ottawa stations when Marier was hired and had been at The Beat before that. Dickie himself left Corus in March.

Also gone from Boom FM, according to a Facebook post, is Sandy Sharkey. Jon “Gonzo” Mark is also not listed on the station’s website, but it says he’s “on vacation.”

For now, Boom’s website doesn’t list hosts for its morning show.

Elliott Price upgrades to daily show on CFMB

Four months after Elliott Price launched his Sunday night sports talk show on CFMB 1280 AM in the aftermath of his layoff from Bell Media, he’s replaced it with a nightly two-hour talk show that begins tonight.

Price is Right will run 8-10pm weekdays, which is an awkward time for a sports talk show because, well, aren’t most people watching sports during those hours? (At least with the Stanley Cup awarded and the NBA championship about to be, the evening sports schedule gets a bit less busy.)

Price’s show replaces not much interesting. Since Evanov Radio purchased the station, the hours of 6pm to 10pm weeknights have been given to “Lounge”, a music show similar to those on Evanov’s Jewel radio stations. The station is still mainly Italian (5am-6pm weekdays), with programming for the Haitian and other ethnic communities after 10pm or on weekends.

The show has lined up several sponsors, which Price promotes during his show and podcast, including Portes Fenêtres Etc., Traiteur Mezza and real estate broker Terry Vlogiannitis. The 44 episodes of his podcast have 14,940 downloads as I write this (an average of 340 each), which isn’t too bad considering TSN 690 has about 2,000 listeners during the average minute.

Montreal radio ratings: The Beat gaining on Virgin

Numeris released its spring quarterly ratings report for metered markets this week, of which Montreal is one. The numbers for Montreal’s English market show little change from what we’ve seen for several years now: CJAD leads among all listeners, while Virgin Radio leads among adults age 25-54.

But digging a bit deeper into the numbers by Numeris and research from Bell Media Sales, there are a few things worth noting.

  • Virgin is losing young listeners. Among adults 18-34, Virgin dropped from 40% to 32%, putting it in a dead heat with The Beat.
  • CHOM is now #2 among adults 25-54. It’s tight, but CHOM edged out The Beat to take second place behind Virgin among this advertiser-friendly demographic. But only four percentage points separates Virgin (27%) from The Beat (23%)
  • Virgin is ahead because of men. Virgin and The Beat are neck and neck among women 25-54, but Virgin beats The Beat by five points among men 25-54. The Beat pulling ahead among women would be a big selling point to advertisers.
  • Mornings: Virgin dropped to third place from first in the 6am-10am time slot (adults 25-54). The Beat is well behind the three Bell Media stations, which may have been a factor in the station’s decision to drop Sarah Bartok.
  • Daytime: The Beat is still tops 9-5, but Virgin has dropped below CHOM in third place, losing between 20% and 30% of its average-minute audience since fall.
  • Afternoon drive: This was a good ratings book for Aaron Rand, who climbed CJAD into second from fourth in the 4-7pm block among adults 25-54. Not so great for Mitch Melnick and TSN 690, which lost 40% of its 25-54 audience since fall, probably at least in part because of the Canadiens’ poor season.
  • Weekends: Virgin is still way ahead here.

Naturally, both Virgin and The Beat declared victory, with The Beat boasting about its 2+ rating and high numbers from 9-to-5, and Bell Media boasting about Virgin’s 25-to-54 demo lead and the fact that it owns four of the five stations in this market.

More francophones than anglophones

Numeris’s charts split the audience into French and English markets, but Virgin, The Beat and CHOM all have more francophone listeners than anglophones. When you add up the two languages, these are the average-minute audiences for the stations in Montreal:

  • The Beat: 19,900 (8,800E + 11,100F)
  • Virgin: 17,100 (8,300E + 8,800F)
  • CJAD: 16,300 (15,100E + 1,200F)
  • CHOM: 14,800 (6,900E + 7,900F)
  • CBC Radio One: 3,700 (3,200E + 500F)
  • TSN 690: 2,000 (2,000E + 0F)
  • CBC Radio Two: 1,300 (800E + 500F)

And if you add in the French stations:

  • CHMP 98.5: 38,100 (500E + 37,600F)
  • Rythme FM: 36,500 (1,200E + 35,300F)
  • The Beat: 19,900 (8,800E + 11,100F)
  • Rouge FM: 18,900 (600E + 18,300F)
  • Virgin: 17,100 (8,300E + 8,800F)
  • CJAD: 16,300 (15,100E + 1,200F)
  • ICI Première: 15,300 (400E + 14,900F)
  • CKOI: 15,100 (700E + 14,400F)
  • CHOM: 14,800 (6,900E + 7,900F)
  • Énergie: 9,400 (500E + 8,900F)
  • CJPX Radio Classique: 5,600 (800E + 4,800F)
  • ICI Musique: 4,200 (100E + 4,100F)
  • CBC Radio One: 3,700 (3,200E + 500F)
  • 91.9 Sport: 2,400 (0E + 2,400F)
  • TSN 690: 2,000 (2,000E + 0F)
  • CBC Radio Two: 1,300 (800E + 500F)
  • CKAC Circulation: 300 (0E + 300F)
  • CHRF 980: 100 (0E + 100F)

 

Not only does The Beat have more listeners on average than any other anglophone station, it has more listeners on average than all but one of the francophone music stations as well. (Virgin can crow about its larger reach, breaking 2 million, but someone tuning in a minute or two a month isn’t very valuable, I’d think. And besides, The Beat has a slightly higher reach on a weekly basis among anglophones.)

CHMP 98.5 is still at the top, and its average minute audience of 38,100 continues to make it the most popular radio station not only in Montreal but in Canada. The highest-rated station in Toronto, CHFI-FM, has an overall AMA of 27,400. Most other markets don’t have a station above 10,000.

La Presse and the Journal de Montréal focused on drops for Radio-Canada’s ICI Première and morning man Alain Gravel, while Le Devoir picks a few highlights. La Presse notes that Paul Arcand at 98.5 has an average minute audience of 83,440 (and that’s down significantly), and that all 10 of the most listened-to shows on radio in Montreal are either at 98.5 or Rythme FM.

The news isn’t all bad for Radio-Canada, though. Its weekend evening show La soirée est encore jeune is its most popular among adults 25-54, beating even its weekday morning show.

At the bottom of the ratings, CKLX-FM, now 91.9 Sport, seems to be slowly finding its footing, going up from a 0.9% share to a 1.4% share in the past year. Radio Circulation CKAC is still down in the dumps, mainly because of its repetitive format that no one will listen to for more than a few minutes. But even if you judge it by its daily reach (how many people tune in for at least a minute a day), it’s pretty poor. More francophones will check in with CJAD once a day than this station.

And dead last again is CHRF 980 AM, which abandoned Radio Fierté last year after barely trying it out, and now seems to have adopted a French version of owner Evanov Radio’s Jewel easy-listening format. Its schedule shows it’s bringing back live morning and afternoon programming, and has a weekly show for the LGBT community on Saturday evenings. They’ll need more than that, and some serious marketing, if they hope to make a dent in the ratings.