Category Archives: Radio

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CRTC approves Attraction’s acquisition of CJLM 103.5 Joliette

M103.5, the “coeur de Lanaudière”, will soon have a new owner.

On Wednesday, the CRTC approved the acquisition of CJLM-FM 103.5 Joliette by Attraction Radio, a company controlled by Richard Speer.

CJLM, which can be heard on the air from the eastern half of Montreal, becomes Attraction’s sixth station. Others include CKRS-FM in Saguenay (a former Corus station which it’s trying to turn into a Rythme FM affiliate), CKGS-FM (Kool 105.5) in nearby La Baie, CHEQ-FM 101.5 in Sainte-Marie, CKYQ-FM in Plessisville/Victoriaville, and CJIT-FM in Lac-Mégantic.

Formerly an AM station whose history dates back to 1960, CJLM moved to FM in 1992 hoping that it would turn its financial situation around. It didn’t, and in 1995 the station went bankrupt. It was bought out by a cooperative of its employees and went back on the air. It’s this cooperative that is selling the station to Attraction.

The purchase price is $750,000, which includes the studio’s building and equipment, the transmission tower and the land it sits on. It does not include any debt. The deal was reached in October 2012 and announced in January 2013. It includes a two-year non-compete agreement preventing employees and investors from starting a competing radio station or luring away advertisers.

Since CJLM has lost money in the past three years, the CRTC has allowed the purchase without imposing a requirement for tangible benefits to the broadcasting system. The station’s licence remains unchanged.

Attraction says its business model is based on running these stations not as a network but as individual brands. “The stations run by Attraction Radio continue to offer essentially local programming produced by the resources of the station, programming that specifically responds to the needs of each of the markets that they serve,” the company says in its CRTC application. “These stations can also count on the support in terms of programming, sales, administration and regulatory affairs.”

The deal is expected to close shortly.

Posted in Radio, TV

CBC Montreal ends sports reporter rotation; Doug Gelevan, Andie Bennett get stable gigs

Douglas Gelevan will work full-time as sports anchor on CBC Montreal's evening newscast and as sports columnist for Homerun

Douglas Gelevan will work full-time as sports anchor on CBC Montreal’s evening newscast and as sports columnist for Homerun

Three years after creating a two-person sports unit and rotating them regularly between morning and afternoon jobs, CBC Montreal has finally come to its senses and is giving them more stable schedules.

Douglas Gelevan announced on Friday that he’s moving to a full-time job as TV sports anchor and afternoon radio sports columnist as of Monday.

“We’re going to experiment with exactly how the daily work flow will work with me over the next month,” Gelevan tells me. “By fall the permanent structure should be in place. I know the plan is to create a workflow that will get sports more involved in the 6 to 6:30 part of the program in addition to a sportscast in the 5. A back and forth scenario between the TV and Homerun studio is likely, but I can’t say for sure.”

Since Homerun airs from 3 to 6pm and the TV newscast is from 5 to 6:30pm, there’s some overlap, meaning the schedule has to be figured out (especially because it takes a couple of minutes to run from one studio to the other). But the team had been doing radio hits at 5:50pm after anchoring a sportscast during the 5pm block, so it should be manageable.

I asked Gelevan if he’ll enjoy the fact that he won’t have to get up as early for Daybreak. For a sports reporter especially, those kinds of hours can be very difficult.

But “it’s never been a issue for me,” he said. “Working on Daybreak is feels like getting fired out of canon as soon as you wake up. I’ll miss that aspect of being on the show for sure. And working side by side Mike, Monique, Jeanette and Brendan… They’re awesome.”

Andie Bennett remains on Daybreak full-time

Andie Bennett remains on Daybreak full-time

It’s been three years since Andie Bennett left what was then Team 990 to join CBC, prompting the creation of the sports unit. The move meant going on TV regularly, which clearly took some time getting used to, though viewers have seen her get more comfortable in the role as time has passed.

“I’m a radio girl at heart and we were all in agreement that it is better to have consistency on the airwaves,” Bennett said. “The TV work has been a great experience and I will still be doing some TV from time to time, ideally doing maybe one item a month that will be a bit more in-depth, thought-out, creative type of story.”

Aside from giving these two broadcasters more stable schedules, the change solves some practical problems. Promotions for either Daybreak or the TV newscast would either have to include both of them or neither. Now, Gelevan can stand next to Debra Arbec and Frank Cavallaro on those TV posters and Bennett can be more prominent in the B-roll they shoot for those tomorrow-on-Daybreak TV commercials.

“With Andrew Chang’s departure, we wanted to create a consistent on-air team for CBC News at 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00,” said CBC Quebec content manager Meredith Dellandrea (who’s filling in for other managers on vacation). “Doug Gelevan is great in the TV sports role and we’re so happy he agreed to this change. We are also pleased that Andie Bennett — also great on TV and radio — has agreed to be the Daybreak sports reporter on a daily basis.”

Both Bennett and Gelevan describe this as a win-win.

“It’s good news for everyone I think,” Bennett said. “I wanted to return to radio full-time and Doug does great work in the scripted TV format.”

And they insist they’re still a team. Their “sports unit” stories, where they go out together and try out new sports for our amusement, will continue.

With all the common sense that went into this, it makes you wonder why it took three years to get here.

Posted in Radio, TV

CBC work forces overnight shutdown of FM, TV transmitters

UPDATE: More work will shut down transmitters from July 16 to 19, and July 21 to 25, and July 28-Aug. 1. See below.

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.

If you tuned in to FM radio at 4am on Monday and noticed that your favourite Montreal station is either noisy or missing completely, it wasn’t your imagination. CBC is doing work on the Mount Royal antenna tower and that has forced overnight shutdown of transmitting antennas on the city’s busiest transmission tower.

Stations were notified that the tower would be interrupting transmitters from 12am to 5am on July 7 and 8, though as far as I can tell only CKUT at McGill passed that message along to listeners.

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Posted in Radio

Former CBC journalist Ange-Aimee Woods dies suddenly

UPDATED July 9 with details of memorial service at the end, and July 28 with slideshow link.

Ange-Aimee Woods at a save-the-CBC union rally in 2009.

Ange-Aimee Woods at a save-the-CBC union rally in 2009.

Ange-Aimee Woods, who worked for CBC radio in Montreal for 10 years as a researcher, producer, journalist and occasional fill-in host before leaving for a “dream job” at Colorado Public Radio last year and then recently came back to the city, died suddenly on Wednesday of apparent heart failure. She was 41.

Obituaries have been published by CBC, The Gazette and CPR, and a more personal one from a friend. The CBC obit includes some clips from Woods, including her goodbye interview before leaving for CPR. The CBC radio show Homerun aired a tribute to her on Thursday afternoon.

CBC colleagues are shocked at the news. There was no indication that Woods had any health problems, and she was one of the nicest people you could ever meet.

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Posted in Radio, TV

CBC TV can (but shouldn’t) deny ads from commercial radio stations: CRTC

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission speaks through its decisions, and for the most part those decisions are straightforward. They’re written by a special team who ensure they’re as consistent, dry and clear as possible.

But a decision issued last week by the CRTC, while a victory for Canada’s public broadcaster, also takes a shot across its bow that almost seems snarky.

The decision responds to a complaint filed by Leclerc Communication, owner of radio stations CKOI and WKND in Quebec City. Leclerc argued that Radio-Canada was unfairly discriminating against it by refusing to air television ads for its radio stations, while running ads for Radio-Canada’s Première and Espace musique networks.

The CBC didn’t deny this. Instead, it argued that it is justified in having a policy that prevents running “advertisements for services considered competitive with CBC/Radio-Canada services.”

It also argued that Leclerc could easily advertise elsewhere, an argument Leclerc said was “as irrational as it is desperate.” And it invoked the idea of commercial freedom to argue that it shouldn’t be forced to run ads from anyone.

In the decision issued June 27, the CRTC sided with Radio-Canada. It determined that the public broadcaster did indeed put Leclerc’s radio stations at a disadvantage, but that this disadvantage was not “undue” and so did not break the commission’s rules.

It writes:

“The Commission is of the view that the CBC is not subjecting Leclerc to a material adverse impact by refusing to offer advertising opportunities since Leclerc has access to 72% of the local television advertising inventory by advertising on TVA and V and that it can therefore reach 93% of the television viewers in the market.”

This reasoning baffles me. Leclerc argued that it needed access to Radio-Canada TV because it wanted to reach a demographic of mature, affluent and well-educated listeners, which it felt would fit WKND. The CRTC argues that’s not necessary because there are other ways to get advertising (not including radio, of course, because those are direct competitors).

And if those other advertisers were to also refuse Leclerc’s ads for competitive reasons? The CRTC’s decision doesn’t address that rather obvious hypothetical. (Thankfully it’s not necessary. TVA, which owns no radio stations, was only too happy to take Leclerc’s money.)

Since return on investment is so hard to determine when it comes to traditional advertising, it’s nearly impossible for Leclerc to prove that the CBC’s policy has a material adverse impact on its business. And the commission seems to have given the benefit of the doubt to the CBC.

“The Commission questions the true motives of the CBC”

But the decision includes a paragraph that, while not binding, might force the broadcaster to rethink its policy:

“However, the Commission questions the true motives of the CBC, which continues to turn away a client that does not belong to a vertically integrated group on the grounds that it is in competition with its operations. The Commission takes this opportunity to suggest that the CBC focus less on viewing other players in Canada’s communications ecosystem as competitors and put more effort into fulfilling its public service mandate.”

Considering the drastic cuts facing the broadcaster in the years ahead, even the CRTC is wondering why it’s saying no to money from a small broadcaster in order to protect the market share of a network that doesn’t carry any advertising and should have nothing to fear from commercial radio.

Posted in Radio

CRTC approves new licence for CKHQ-FM Kanesatake

CKHQ-FM, the Kanesatake Native radio station that became defunct and lost its CRTC licence 10 years ago, has gotten that licence back. The CRTC approved a new seven-year licence for the station on Tuesday, to be given to a yet-to-be-incorporated non-profit corporation set up by James Nelson.

The station’s technical parameters are identical to what it had previously: 101.7 MHz with 27 watts of power (11 watts average) from an antenna on the reserve 30 metres above the average terrain. That setup gives the station a signal that reaches into Oka and across the river into Hudson, but not much further.

The application, published in December, received only one comment, from someone in favour of bringing the station back.

The situation for CKHQ is very similar to that of CKKI-FM, KIC Country 89.9 in Kahnawake, in that it was a station that went on the air without a licence, and people from the CRTC and Industry Canada walked the station through the application process rather than trying to force it off the air.

At the moment, the station is running with a live DJ during business hours, and raises money through fundraisers and radio bingo. Its programming is mainly country music, with some community announcements and other spoken word in English.

If you can’t hear it on the air, the station streams online here. It also has a Facebook page.

Posted in Radio

CBC cuts first half-hour of Quebec AM

Susan Campbell's morning show on CBC Radio One will start at 6am instead of 5:30

Susan Campbell’s morning show on CBC Radio One will start at 6am instead of 5:30

Quebec AM, the CBC Radio One morning show heard throughout Quebec outside of Montreal and Gatineau, will be starting later in the morning, at 5:57am instead of 5:30am, starting Monday.

The change, which is permanent, is based not so much on saving money, though CBC is in the middle of some deep cuts, but rather on audience.

“Morning radio listenership dramatically increases at 6am,” explains Debbie Hynes, CBC Quebec’s communications director.

The move makes sense. The number of people listening to CBC Radio One in English outside of Montreal before 6am is pretty low. You don’t have the people in Montreal suburbs who have to get up that early because of the long commute. You don’t have early-morning joggers getting up before civilization to take advantage of quiet roads and parks. Though you might have some farmers getting up with the sun who now have half an hour less of regional information on the radio.

Montreal’s Daybreak, hosted by Mike Finnerty, retains its 5:30am start time.

“Quebec AM made this choice in order to better serve its audience with stories that run in peak listening times,” Hynes said. And people wanting local news will still get that at 5:30. “Shawn Lyons will still do a hit at 5:30am with a local newscast. From 5:30-5:57am, listeners will hear the overnight service.”

As Hynes points out, 6am start times are common for CBC Radio One local morning shows in Canada. Most stations either carry regional programming from 5:30 to 6am before starting a local show or carry the overnight service, which broadcasts best-of-CBC and public radio shows from the BBC and other international broadcasters.

Posted in Radio

CJAD’s Aaron Rand Show wins national RTDNA Award for Lac-Mégantic coverage

Aaron Rand

Aaron Rand has cemented his reputation as a reformed music DJ/morning funny man turned serious talk radio host after his show won the national Peter Gzowski Award for a news information radio program from RTDNA Canada (formerly the Radio and Television News Directors’ Association) for its coverage of the Lac-Mégantic disaster last year. It’s among the highest honours that a show like this can receive from peers.

The Peter Gzowski Award goes to a radio station “which, in the opinion of the judges, displays overall excellence in the content and presentation of a regularly scheduled news information program which is not a daily newscast.”

CJAD is the only Montreal winner in either the radio or television category to bring home a national RTDNA Canada award from the ceremony giving them out this weekend.

Aaron Rand was sent to Lac-Mégantic after the disaster, in which a runaway train derailed in the city and killed 47 people. The broadcast of July 9, from the Polyvalente Montignac school, was submitted for the award.

Needless to say the station is very proud of the award. “We worked very hard to tell the story the way it needed to be told,” Program Director Chris Bury is quoted as eloquently saying in the Bell Media press release. “The Lac-Mégantic broadcasts were challenging from every point of view, but we were convinced our hosts, producers, and reporters needed to be there.”

The station plans to send Rand back to Lac-Mégantic for the first anniversary of the disaster, probably for a week of shows.

Posted in Radio

Radio ratings: Best book ever for TSN Radio 690

We're number one! ... Well, number five, but who's counting?

We’re number one! … Well, number five, but who’s counting?

The ratings for March, April and May in Montreal were released by BBM Canada last week. And in general they show no real difference from the previous report that came out in March. On the English side, CJAD remains the most popular station by share of listening hours, followed by The Beat, Virgin, CHOM, CBC Radio One, TSN Radio 690 and everyone else.

But while TSN 690 remains in last place among the five commercial stations, its ratings are the best it’s ever seen with 364,000 listeners a week, a 5.2% market share overall (up from 3.6% in the spring) and a 7.7% market share among adults 25-54, up 36% from last winter.

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Radio ratings: CHOI still #1 in Quebec City; Jeff Fillion boosts NRJ Québec by 447%

Radio ratings for mid-size markets across Canada were released this week by BBM Canada. Unlike big markets like Montreal and Toronto, these markets are measured twice a year by written diaries, which are less accurate than electronic meters.

Here’s what they show (updated with notes from Bell Media Radio’s analysis):

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Shawn Apel named host of Radio Noon

Shawn Apel

Shawn Apel

Shawn Apel, the soft-spoken CBC Montreal radio veteran with the driest of wits, has been named the permanent host of Radio Noon, he weekly radio show broadcast throughout Quebec on CBC Radio One.

Apel replaces Bernard St-Laurent, who leaves that job to focus full-time on his role as chief political correspondent in Quebec. It’s a move that comes concurrently with various cuts to local staff, though not directly related to it.

Last day for three staffers

Speaking of those cuts, Friday is the last day on the job for three others at CBC Montreal. Andrew Chang does his last show as anchor before leaving on paternity leave and coming back to some other job at CBC outside of Montreal. You can watch his last show here, or just the career retrospective here.

Web editor Corinne Smith is leaving the corporation to lecture at Concordia University.

And Pierre Landry does his last episode of Homerun as its arts reporter. He’ll be a fill-in on All in a Weekend over the summer, but there’s no guarantee of any work after that.

Here’s 11 minutes of excerpts from Landry’s last hour at Homerun:

 

Posted in Radio

CKRS-FM Saguenay wants to become a Rythme FM station

CKRS logoA week after the Journal de Montréal reported that CKRS-FM in Saguenay wants to become a Rythme FM, the CRTC has published an application from the station that confirms the news.

CKRS is owned by Richard Speer’s Attraction Radio, a growing new player in the Quebec radio scene. It officially owns five radio stations, including CJIT-FM in Lac-Mégantic. It currently has an application in front fo the CRTC to purchase CJLM-FM (M 103.5) in Joliette from a cooperative for $750,000, a deal announced in January 2013. (The deadline for comments on that was last week, and there were no comments filed on that application. A hearing is scheduled June 26, but that’s a formality. The parties aren’t being asked to attend.) And it recently announced a deal to buy the Réseau des Appalaches, owner of Passion Rock and O97,3 stations in the region of Victoriaville/Thetford-Mines.

La Presse’s Nathalie Collard profiles the group in a recent story.

History of losing money

CKRS, whose AM predecessor dates back to 1947, was once part of the Corus Quebec radio network. It was left off the list of radio stations sold to Cogeco in 2011, and was slated for closure. It was picked up by Radio Saguenay Inc., a group whose owners included Guy Carbonneau. But losing about $400,000 a year (less than the $1 million a year that it lost under Corus), Radio Saguenay gave it away to Attraction for $300,000, a purchase approved by the CRTC in 2012. CKRS and became Attraction’s third station, all of them acquired mere months apart.

Though CKRS’s licence was renewed just a few months ago, Attraction says it feels it can’t continue operating the station in its current format.

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Posted in Montreal, My articles, Radio

Q&A: CJLO vs. VPR

Since the announcement last month that Concordia’s CJLO radio station has applied for an FM retransmitter downtown to allow listeners at the downtown campus to hear it, but would block out Vermont Public Radio for many more, there’s been a lot of questions, debate and differences of opinion about this proposal.

The CRTC has already received 645 interventions, almost all of whom are radio listeners who support one side or the other. The majority are VPR listeners responding to the organization’s public call-out on its website. Others are CJLO fans who want to be able to hear the station on the downtown campus and say this is the only practical way to do so.

In most (but not all) cases, the interveners don’t have bad things to say about the other side. The VPR fans hope for an alternative solution to the reception problem. Both CJLO and VPR say they support the other and don’t want to prevent anyone from being able to listen to the other.

I look a bit deeper into this application in this story for The Gazette, which appears in Friday’s paper. Below, I’ll tackle some of the questions and perceptions that people have and try to come up with some unbiased answers to them.

A map of potential interference between VPR and CJLO on 107.9 FM, based on terrain data, created by Yves R. Hamel and Associates (click for larger)

A map of potential interference between VPR and CJLO on 107.9 FM, based on terrain data, created by Yves R. Hamel and Associates (click for larger)

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Posted in My articles, Radio

CRTC approves two new ethnic radio stations in Montreal serving south Asian community

UPDATE (May 22): See also a story about this in The Gazette.

Last year, the CRTC received two apparently competing applications for new radio stations serving Montreal’s south Asian community. Today, it approved both of them.

ITR, 102.9 FM

Broadcast contours and interference zones for proposed new FM station (click for larger)

Broadcast contours and interference zones for proposed new FM station at 102.9 FM (click for larger)

The first, by AGNI Communications, would broadcast at 102.9 FM with a weak 50-watt transmitter on Chabanel St. near Highway 15, which would allow it to reach Ahuntsic and surrounding boroughs, but no farther than that because of interference from stations in Sherbrooke, St-Jérôme, Valleyfield and St-Jacques-le-Mineur on the same or adjacent frequencies.

The service already exists as on a subcarrier of CISM-FM on 89.3. It specifically targets the Tamil community, and the location of its transmitter will, it believes, cover the majority of Montreal’s Tamil-speaking community.

Radio Humsafar, 1610 AM

Projected broadcast pattern of Radio Humsafar on 1610AM

Projected broadcast pattern of Radio Humsafar on 1610AM

The second station is Radio Humsafar, which exists as an online, subcarrier and phone-in audio service. Its programming would be in English, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati and Pashto.

The station would operate with a 1kW transmitter sharing the transmission site of CJLO 1690 AM on Norman St. in St-Pierre. Because the two would have the same antenna and operate at the same power, their patterns should be similar, so if you can hear CJLO you should be able to hear this station.

Humsafar has been trying for years to get a radio station on the air in Montreal, where it’s based. It had originally applied for 1400 AM, but the long-delayed move of CJWI (CPAM Radio Union) from 1610 to 1410 delayed that application and changed its frequency to 1610. Humsafar also owns CJLV 1570 in Laval and had tried to convert that into an ethnic station, an application the CRTC denied in 2012.

Radio Humsafar’s president, Jasvir Singh Sandhu, tells me he’ll begin discussions with engineers about quickly getting the station on the air, which should happen in the coming months. He projects hiring a handful of people as Humsafar expands the number of languages it broadcasts in. The phone-in and online streaming services will continue after the station is on the air, but the SCMO subcarrier it rents on CKUT will be discontinued after a few months of simulcasting. Sandhu also issued a press release which is republished below.

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Nikki Balch leaves Virgin Radio for Hot 89.9 in Ottawa

Nikki Balch at Virgin's old Fort St. studio.

Nikki Balch at Virgin’s old Fort St. studio.

Virgin Radio 96 is looking for a new weekend personality. That’s because Nikki Balch is leaving the station, having accepted a job doing evenings at Hot 89.9 FM in Ottawa, a radio station owned by Newcap. There, she replaces David Cruise, who left to join the morning team at the relaunched Z95.3 in Vancouver (formerly Virgin Radio, but rebranded after Bell sold it to Newcap).

Balch’s first shift is Monday in Ottawa. Her last shift at Virgin was last Sunday. Until a replacement is found, Virgin’s schedule doesn’t list a host for the weekend morning show and Kelly Alexander is doing weekend afternoons.

“It’s just time for my next adventure,” Balch tells me. “I’ve had an amazing time in Montreal and at Virgin Radio and I love the station and the people! I’m going to be doing evenings on Hot 89.9 which I’m super excited about, I’ve always been a huge fan of the station! Plus I’m close enough to come back and enjoy the night life here. What more can a girl ask for?”

Balch has been at Virgin Radio in Montreal since 2011. Before that she was at what was then called Z103.5 in Halifax, where she grew up. She also worked briefly at K94.5 in Moncton.

At Virgin, she was a daytime host, doing early afternoons, then late mornings. But she got shuffled into a weekend job when Mark Bergman decided to put himself back on the air. Bergman tried to put a spin on the change, saying she remained full-time and would be doing interviews and web videos and stuff for the station, but it was hard to see it as an upward career move.

The move to Ottawa is definitely a step up, not only moving to a higher-profile position but to a top-rated radio station in a very competitive market about the same size as this one (about 800,000 anglos in each, though far fewer francophones). Hot 89.9 is beaten only by CBC Radio One in total anglo market share in Ottawa/Gatineau. She’ll have her work cut out for her keeping it that way.