Category Archives: Radio

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

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.

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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.

 

CRTC radio licence renewal applications: Radio Ville-Marie has several compliance issues

There was a dump of licence renewal applications posted online March 1, March 6 and March 30 for radio stations. Most were found to be compliant with their licence conditions, while some had issues. Here are stations up for renewal in Montreal and surrounding markets. For those still open for comment, you can find their applications here.

CIRA-FM 91.3 Montreal (Radio Ville-Marie) plus retransmitters in Trois-Rivières, Victoriaville and Rimouski: Several compliance issues — Financial statements using the calendar year instead of the broadcast year, financial statements reported late, annual report missing (blamed on a move and the absence of their director of finance), noisy recordings (which the station blamed on a power failure and faulty equipment), failure to properly categorize songs (which they say they actually did), failure to respond to requests for information (lost in the shuffle of other demands, they say),

One other thing they’re accused of is being “alarmist” in fundraising requests. According to CRTC policy, it is considered unethical for solicitation announcements to be unduly coercive or to suggest that a show or station would disappear from the air if enough money wasn’t received. Radio Ville-Marie (like just about every non-profit on the planet) did exactly that, saying on air that “without your financial support, we can’t continue our mission”, which sounds accurate but is apparently against the rules.

For most of the compliance issues, the station gave identical answers on how they would be solved: the creation of a committee to ensure compliance. Asked about the possibility of a short-term licence renewal or other sanctions, the station downplayed the problems as “administrative” and not affecting programming or their mission. This is the kind of statement that will likely irk people at the commission.

CKIN-FM 106.3 Montreal: Despite the station’s troubled compliance history, and controversy about its very Arabic-centric programming schedule, the commission found only one issue in reviewing compliance for its first renewal under new owner Neeti P. Ray: A programming log failed to list the start times of each song broadcast. But even then, Ray notes that the regulations don’t require listing start times, but merely listing the songs played in order. Nevertheless, Ray responded with a revised list that included exact start times for each song played on air. The commission appears satisfied with this response and believes the station is in compliance with its licence conditions.

CKLX-FM 91.9 Montreal: No apparent compliance issues. RNC Media notes it appears to have found a winning formula with an all-sports format.

CJRS 1650 AM Montreal: Radio Shalom failed to install an alerting system by the March 31, 2015 deadline, but instead only installed it in September 2016. The station’s owner blamed a lack of funds. Similarly, there was an issue with payments to Musicaction in 2014, which the owner said were solved.

CJSO-FM 101.7 Sorel-Tracy: After two straight short-term licence renewals because of failure to meet licence conditions, the station is once again in apparent non-compliance at renewal time. The CRTC’s main issues are the lack of a public alerting system and incomplete records of music broadcast, which means classification issues that put them in non-compliance with Canadian and French-language music quotas. The station’s replies were brief, noting that the new owner took control 12 days before the deadline to install the public alerting system (“I had other priorities”) and there was confusion on how some songs should be classified in terms of popular versus specialty.

CFOU-FM 89.1 Trois-Rivières: The UQTR campus station failed to provide financial reports for the years 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, because the financial reports they filed correspond to their fiscal year instead of the CRTC-mandated broadcast year of Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.

CITE-FM-1 102.7 Sherbrooke plus retransmitter CITE-FM-2 94.5: No apparent compliance issues.

CFAK-FM 88.3 Sherbrooke: No apparent compliance issues for the Sherbrooke campus station.

CHXX-FM 100.9 Donnacona (Quebec City) and retransmitter CHXX-FM-1 105.5 Ste-Croix-De-Lotbinière: Radio X2 failed to comply with its 65% francophone music quota, reaching only 63.5% during a sampled week in February. It blames this on certain songs it believed were French but were actually more than 50% English. This would be its second straight non-compliance finding. The commission suggested it may impose additional contributions to Canadian content development funds (a de facto fine) as a result of non-compliance. The station also says it wants to once again rid itself of conditions of licence requiring it to maintain a presence in Donnacona, but it looks like that request will be treated separately.

CITF-FM 107.5 Quebec City: No apparent compliance issues. But ADISQ wrote in to demand access to reports Bell Media promised to file when it acquired Astral Media on its program to promote independent artists.

CJLL-FM 97.9 Ottawa: No apparent compliance issues for this ethnic station.

Tributes flood in to former CHOM/CKOI announcer Denis Grondin

Denis Grondin, a former announcer at CHOM, CKOI and 98,5fm (or, as some media described him, he’s the father of actor Marc-André Grondin), died suddenly of an apparent heart attack the night of Tuesday to Wednesday. He was 66.

So sudden was his death that it came mere hours after he recorded his weekly show Samedi soir sur la terre for Radio Ville-Marie. The show aired Saturday night as planned, complete with the promise to return next week. You can listen to the final show here: Hour 1, Hour 2.

There weren’t much in the way of formal obituaries in the media, but the French-language news outlets generally offered briefs with tributes that were made on social media:

I’ll do the same below. I’ll also link to this interview in Urbania from last year, where Grondin looks with a critical eye at the state of the industry today.

On Friday, Grondin’s family responded with this:

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Montreal radio ratings: Another win for The Beat

Numeris, the company that measures radio and TV ratings, came out with their quarterly report this week, and once again it was Cogeco’s 92.5 The Beat that had the most good news to announce on the anglo side.

Among anglophone listeners, CKBE-FM had a 17.2% audience share, second only to CJAD’s 28.2% among all listeners. Virgin Radio was well back at 13.5%.

The shares were mostly stable among the anglophone audience, but the exception was Virgin, which was down for the second straight quarter and by almost three points compared to the same time last year. (I’ll compare year-over-year because two years ago when The Beat had a surge in the winter book Virgin claimed it was because of Christmas music that aired on The Beat during the holidays.)

CHOM recovered a bit after hitting a new low in the last quarter. It’s still fourth among anglophone stations, but it regained its position as first among men 25-54.

Despite this being a good report, The Beat couldn’t resist getting cute with spin, saying it’s the “number one radio station”, which only works if you (a) exclude the francophone market and (b) exclude people outside the 25-54 demographic. It also called its morning show the “fastest growing” one in the market with new hosts Vinny and Nikki. Which is kind of like saying your kid is “most improved.” The Beat’s morning show has been historically weak while its daytime has been strong.

Bell’s press release stressed its combined market share (which is, of course, because it owns most of the stations). CJAD still has the highest share by far, and 8 of the 10 most listened-to shows among anglophones. TSN 690 is stable at a 4% share, and CBC Radio One climbed more than one and a half points, its total audience up about 25% among anglophones.

Here are the top-line numbers (average minute audience and listening share) among anglophone listeners:

Station Average minute audience Share Daily reach
CJAD 800 16,600 28.2% 191,400
The Beat 92.5 10,100 17.2% 216,100
Virgin Radio 96 7,900 13.5% 196,200
CHOM 97.7 6,400 11.0% 135,000
CBC Radio One 88.5 4,700 8.1% 51,200
TSN Radio 690 2,400 4.0% 65,100
Rythme FM 105,7 1,200 2.1% 50,700
Radio Classique 1,100 1.9% 26,000
CBC Radio Two 93.5 900 1.6% 21,800
98.5fm 800 1.4% 26,600
Rouge FM 107,3 700 1.1% 29,100
Énergie 94,3 700 1.2% 22,400
CKOI 96,9 500 0.9% 33,600
ICI Radio-Canada Première 95,1 400 0.6% 10,400
ICI Musique 100,7 200 0.3% 5,500
AM 980 100 0.2% 2,500
Radio circulation 730 100 0.1% 5,600
91.9 Sports 100 0.1% 4,900
CIBL 101,5 0 0.0% 900

Among Montreal francophone listeners:

Station Average minute audience Share Daily reach
98.5fm 36,500 21.0% 584,000
Rythme FM 105,7 28,400 16.3% 620,200
ICI Radio-Canada Première 95,1 23,400 13.4% 309,900
Rouge FM 107,3 14,600 8.4% 389,900
CKOI 96,9 14,200 8.2% 436,200
Énergie 94,3 10,300 5.9% 348,100
Virgin Radio 96 9,400 5.4% 350,400
The Beat 92.5 8,000 4.6% 336,100
CHOM 97.7 7,400 4.2% 255,800
ICI Musique 100,7 4,300 2.5% 107,100
91.9 Sports 3,700 2.1% 68,100
Radio Classique 3,600 2.1% 91,800
CJAD 800 2,100 1.2% 40,800
AM 980 1,300 0.7% 18,200
CBC Radio One 88.5 1,000 0.6% 23,800
CBC Radio Two 93.5 700 0.4% 32,700
Radio circulation 730 400 0.2% 36,200
CIBL 101,5 200 0.1% 14,600
TSN Radio 690 100 0.1% 5,300

Combined:

Station Average minute audience Daily reach
98.5fm 37,300 610,600
Rythme FM 105,7 29,600 670,900
ICI Radio-Canada Première 95,1 23,800 320,300
CJAD 800 18,700 232,200
The Beat 92.5 18,100 552,200
Virgin Radio 96 17,300 546,600
Rouge FM 107,3 15,300 419,000
CKOI 96,9 14,700 469,800
CHOM 97.7 13,800 390,800
Énergie 94,3 11,000 370,500
CBC Radio One 88.5 5,700 75,000
Radio Classique 4,700 117,800
ICI Musique 100,7 4,500 112,600
91.9 Sports 3,800 73,000
TSN Radio 690 2,500 70,400
CBC Radio Two 93.5 1,600 54,500
AM 980 1,400 20,700
Radio circulation 730 500 41,800
CIBL 101,5 200 15,500

Victory for 98,5fm, Radio-Canada and 91,9 Sports, loss for Rythme and Rouge

On the franco side, unsurprisingly it was another win for 98,5fm, which once again declared itself the most listened-to radio station in all of Canada. Though its average minute audience of 37,300 (in its central market) is beat by Toronto’s CHFI-FM with 42,400.

Bell Media’s press release couldn’t dig up much to say about Rouge FM, so it led with Énergie instead, noting its improvement. Rouge FM dropped 2.5 percentage points in market share from a year ago.

Not that Rythme FM was much better. Though it’s still ahead of Rouge FM in the ratings, its share dropped to 16.3% from a high of 20.5% in the summer.

Great news for Radio-Canada’s Première station, which after hitting a low of 6.6% this summer has hit a high of 13.4%, putting it third in the market. Radio-Canada’s press release notes that morning show Gravel le matin is second in the market, behind 98,5fm’s Paul Arcand.

There were some winners on the low end of the ratings board as well.

RNC Media’s 91.9 Sports, which went through a series of format changes — from jazz to right-wing talk to news talk and finally to sports — in an attempt to find an audience, seems to be happy with the sports talk format. It had a 2.1% share, which is 50% higher than the last ratings book, and an average-minute audience of 3,700 which just slightly edges Radio Classique. The boost was enough to warrant an article in the Journal de Montréal.

Good news as well for CHRF AM 980, which more than doubled its share to 0.7%. Still dead last among music stations, but it’s an improvement.

Community station CIBL, which started reporting for the first time last quarter, is still the lowest-rated station overall, with an average of 200 listeners in French and an English number within the margin of error of zero. The station looks like it’s going to stay here for the time being. Its new manager explained during a recent general assembly that they discovered Numeris offers lower prices for community stations.

Other reporting

  • InfoPresse (25-54 numbers)
  • La Presse (highlights of francophone stations, plus top 10 shows)

Elliott Price to host morning show on The Fan 590 in Toronto

Elliott Price

Well, now we know the real reason why Elliott Price canned his daily show on CFMB 1280: He’s moving to Toronto.

Sportsnet announced today that Price takes over as morning co-host at 590 The Fan starting Feb. 27, along with Greg Brady and Hugh Burrill. Their show will be called Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup with Brady & Price, weekdays from 5:30-9am.

I spoke with Price for a story in the Montreal Gazette that appears in Thursday’s paper.

The new show replaces Dean Blundell & Co., which was terminated effective immediately. Blundell said it was a mutual decision.

In Twitter posts (his account is now protected), Blundell gave thanks to Sportsnet:

Thanks to all at Rogers and Sportsnet. Owe a great deal of gratitude. Mutual and in both our best interest to not renew….Everyone at the Fan was super kind to me. Sports deserves people that live it and breathe it. I can’t wait to swim with both arms….and look forward to what’s next.

Because Blundell was such a controversial figure in the biggest market in the country, there’s a lot of coverage of this story from that angle in Toronto: Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Toronto Sports Media, Barrett Sports Media and The Canadian Press, each with different details and quotes.

Price developed a relationship with Sportsnet, and in particular 590 The Fan program director Dave Cadeau, with his CFMB show, even rebranding it as Sportsnet Tonight.

This change will mean leaving the market he’s worked in for decades, but entering the largest one in the country, and in a prestigious position on top of that. Toronto has both a Sportsnet and TSN radio station, with the Sportsnet station having a 4% overall market share and the TSN station a 0.5% share. But following the popular (though controversial) Blundell won’t be easy.

Price also hasn’t forgotten his former co-host, and sent a public note to his former home suggesting they hire him:

“This is good”

I spoke with Price on Wednesday. He confirmed the obvious, that he knew of his new job when he ended the CFMB show. “They made it clear that they were interested in my services for a couple of months,” he said. “They phoned and said we’re interested in bringing you down here.”

I asked him how long it took for him to say yes.

“Shorter than it took to answer this question,” he said.

Price has spent almost all his broadcasting career in Montreal, at CJAD, CFCF/CIQC, and CKGM (Team 990/TSN 690). Before that he spent three years in New Brunswick and three days in Regina. (“I was out covering a press conference and CJAD called me,” he said of the decision to leave that job so quickly.)

But moving to Toronto wasn’t a difficult decision. “The day the Expos left we were ready to go anywhere and we’ve been in that mood for 12 years,” he said.

Not only is the new job a big step up from CFMB and even a step up from his old one at CKGM — it’s in Canada’s largest sports market, and at a higher-rated sports station — but it gives him a chance to talk less about hockey.

“I’m a baseball fan. I love to talk baseball. I’m glad I get to talk about baseball again. (Montreal is) a one-horse town. There’s the Alouettes and Impact, but people want to hear you talk Habs. I have more interests. I love baseball, I love basketball.”

In Toronto, the Leafs are king, but there are also the Blue Jays and the Raptors.

“There’s no better job (in Montreal) than where I’m going. It would have been easier to just stay in my hometown, but this is good.”

So he’s looking for a place to stay in Toronto. Or, well, his family is looking. “I’m not the boss,” he said. “The boss is scouting.”

What about leaving Montreal? Having to talk about the Leafs instead of the Habs? No problem for Price, since he’s kind of indifferent about either team.

“The Canadiens and the Leafs there’s no difference for me,” he said. “When things go bad, I like to see them go really bad. When they’re good I like to see them go good.”

But he hates the Bruins. And that won’t change in Toronto.

Even talking about the Jays gets him to talk about baseball. The Expos don’t exist anymore, so that rivalry isn’t an issue.

And if the Expos came back?

“We’ll worry about that when the time comes,” he said. “The Expos have been gone for 12 years now, that’s a long time.”

So what will he miss about Montreal?

“Smoked meat and bagels,” he said. He definitely won’t be the first Montreal ex-pat in Toronto who misses Schwartz’s and St-Viateur Bagel.

I also asked him about what he posted to Facebook when he ended the CFMB show, about the English radio market in Montreal and lack of advertisers.

“The problem with the market here is the dwindling language demographic,” he said. He asked me how big Montreal’s English-language market is, and I said it was about the size of Winnipeg. He didn’t really believe it. (Numeris, the company that measures radio ratings, gives Greater Montreal’s anglo market a size of 805,000, and WInnipeg 705,460 in its latest reports.)

But while he said he thought his show was viable, mainly because he didn’t have to worry about covering a lot of overhead in his show’s budget, he put a lot of the blame on himself.

“I did everything, but I’m not a salesman, and I really didn’t do a good job. I did well because I built up a cachet in this town,” he said, noting that a lot of advertisers came to him after he left TSN 690. “I didn’t get out there and sell, and I need to and I didn’t.”

Price is the second former Montreal radio personality to get a job in Toronto this month. Sarah Bartok announced last week she’s joining 93.5 The Move.

UPDATE (Feb. 9): Brady has a long, honest Facebook post today talking about his career, what it’s like to have gotten pushed aside for Blundell, and his new team including Price.

Sarah Bartok hired by Toronto’s 93.5 The Move

Sarah Bartok is back on the air (93.5 The Move)

Those hoping that Sarah Bartok would find another on-air job after being let go from The Beat 92.5 last spring (chiefly among them Bartok herself) had their wish granted this week, though those hoping it would be in Montreal will be left disappointed.

Instead, Bartok’s new job is as a swing announcer on Toronto’s CFXJ-FM (93.5 The Move), owned by Newcap Radio. Her first shift was Saturday, and she’ll be filling in on the schedule where needed, including on the morning show Monday to Wednesday this week.

Bartok made the announcement on her Facebook page on Friday.

The Move (formerly Flow 93.5) has a pop music format similar to the station she left (not to mention the purple colour on the website). The 16-year-old station, which was owned by CHUM, sold to Bell and then offloaded to Newcap when Bell bought Astral and hit ownership limits in Toronto, has a 3.7kW signal and a 2.2% market share in the latest Numeris ratings report, which is low even in a market so saturated that not a single station has a double-digit share. But Toronto’s a much bigger market than Montreal, so she’ll still have plenty of listeners.