The new logo keeps the badge outline, but replaces the grey and orange design that went overkill on the gradients with a simpler black-and-white one that’s literally rougher around the edges.
But the formula isn’t being toyed with. CHOM remains “the spirit of rock” and the music will sound the same.
“We thought the logo was a bit dated even though it’s not that old,” program director André Lallier told me on Friday. “The timing was good also, because over the past two years, the music has evolved. We’re playing a lot of newer stuff.”
The new logo, and the ad campaign that goes with it, are the work of ad agency Bleublancrouge, whose clients include The Gazette. (It did their Words Matter campaign in 2006.)
Lallier said it was the agency that approached them about three months ago asking if they could pitch an idea. “They said we’ll work on something and present something to you in three to six weeks.” After giving the agency a full briefing on how CHOM sees itself and what it’s looking for, Bleublancrouge returned with this campaign, which is focused on CHOM’s music: a mix of classic rock and new rock.
Mike FM (CKDG-FM 105.1), the station that is trying to make money by pairing popular English music during rush hour with multicultural programming for the rest of the schedule, is getting a break from the broadcast regulator to allow it to have 12 more hours a week of English programming.
On Friday, the CRTC approved licence renewals for CKDG and sister station CKIN-FM (which airs French programs during rush hour). Both are getting short-term three-year renewals, which indicate important non-compliance with their licences.
Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio, which owns both stations, requested changes to the licences for both stations, dropping the amount of ethnic programming a week from 70% to 60%, the amount of third-language programs from 60% to 50%, and to be allowed to broadcast in fewer languages (six instead of eight) but to more cultural groups (eight instead of six). The requested changes would have put both stations on par with standard conditions for ethnic radio stations.
Because the broadcast day is 6am to midnight, there are 126 hours in the broadcast week, which means English non-ethnic programming on CKDG could go up from 50 hours a week to 63 hours a week, or from 10 to 12.6 hours each weekday if there’s no such programming on the weekend. English-language ethnic programming would stay at a maximum of 10% of the schedule if the English non-ethnic hours are used to their maximum.
CHCR said it planned to offer more programming in Spanish and Russian, bring its Mandarin programming to a daily show on CKIN, and introduce monthly shows for other communities not currently represented.
The CRTC approved the licence changes for CKDG to give it more flexibility. But CKIN is finishing its first licence term and has only been on the air for three years, and it got its licence in a competitive process, beating other stations applying for licences in part because of these promises to go beyond the standard conditions of licence. The CRTC denied its licence amendments for that reason.
The CRTC found issues with both stations complying with their licence obligations. In the case of CKDG, it found the station had not properly shown proof of payment for Canadian content development contributions, that it failed to meet a 2011 deadline to repay CCD contribution shortfalls dating as far back as 2003, and that it failed to provide annual financial returns on time. For CKIN, it also found it failed to meet deadlines for CCD payments.
CHCR blamed administrative errors for its bookkeeping failures, and has promised to rectify that. It has since paid back its financial shortfalls.
Nevertheless, because of the seriousness of the errors, and the fact that CKDG’s last licence renewal in 2010 was also short-term for similar reasons, the CRTC decided to give only a three-year renewal.
The new licence, and the flexibility to air more English non-ethnic programming on CKDG, takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. We don’t know what will be done as far as the schedule is concerned, but expect the afternoon drive show to be extended from 6pm to 7pm, or maybe more English programming during the work day.
In that story, I report that the company, officially 7954689 Canada Inc., asked for a one-year extension on their first radio station (a French-language news-talk station at 940 AM), whose deadline to launch had been Nov. 21, 2013, and that it was granted.
The application consists of a single document, a form requesting an extension. The document is undated, but the filename carries a timestamp of Sept. 16. The decision approving the request is dated Sept. 30.
Though it’s brief, the document provides reasons for requesting the extension. It specifically cites the Bell-Astral acquisition process, which caused uncertainty in the market and it says stopped the company from going forward with its plans. It also cites the licence granted to it in November 2012 for an English-language news-talk station at 600 AM, and its desire to launch both stations simultaneously. (It makes no mention of its third licence for a French-language sports talk station at 850 AM, approved in June.) And it says changes are needed to the transmitter site to make it work at 600 AM, and that can only be done in the spring.
Citing the Bell-Astral situation as reason for a delay seems a bit odd, until you remember that the group had expressed an interest in buying CKGM if Bell was forced to sell it as a result of the deal. (Buying CJAD was also something they would have been interested in.) Had they bought one of the stations, their plans would have changed dramatically.
But the Bell-Astral deal was approved in June, and it’s not clear what’s keeping them beyond that, other than the technical changes to the transmission site (the former CINF/CINW site in Kahnawake, which is currently run by Cogeco).
With this extension, the deadlines to launch both stations are now November 2014, which all points to both stations launching some time next fall.
Unless they don’t.
Here is the full text of the reasoning TTP Media gave to the CRTC in asking for the extension (I’ve added links for context):
Fall ratings for markets including Montreal came out on Thursday, and like they usually do, they showed nothing earth-shattering. Everything is pretty well where you expect them to be.
For the past few quarters, after the ratings report comes out, both Virgin Radio and The Beat make a big deal about how they did better than the other. This time, it was just Virgin crowing. And with good reason: by almost every metric, they have more listeners than their competitor.
Of course, with only five commercial stations, the English-language market in Montreal has plenty to go around. In any other large market, a 15% share would be enough to send champagne corks popping. But here, that’s fourth place out of five.
Ratings period is always a penis-measuring contest, so let’s go ahead and whip ‘em out.
Christin Jerome is now the early-afternoon host at The Beat
Radio is a tough business, and sometimes it doesn’t matter how many hours you put in or how much experience you have or how eager you are when it comes to choosing who gets the big jobs.
But sometimes it does. And so Christin Jerome, better known to The Beat’s listeners as CJ, is getting a more high-profile role, becoming the host of the early afternoon show on the station. She takes over for Donna Saker, whose shift is being shortened to just mid-mornings.
“When we launched the station (as The Beat), we didn’t have the intention of her doing 2.5 years at that shift,” program director Leo Da Estrela tells me. “At the back of our minds we knew it wasn’t going to last forever. We were really stretching her to the limit.”
“We always got good feedback with her on the air,” Da Estrela said. “You could see her doing better and better every day.”
Jerome has been a fixture at the station for many years. Her previous role was side-kick to Vinny on the afternoon drive show, doing traffic. That role is now being taken up by Shaun McMahon. “It gave us an opportunity to give Shaun space, a good opportunity to elevate everybody’s game,” Da Estrela said.
The move was made on Nov. 25, about two weeks before the latest ratings report came out showing The Beat’s daytime shows losing a significant chunk of its audience among young adults and losing ground to competitor Virgin Radio.
Needless to say, Jerome is thrilled about the new status. “It’s been a great experience so far,” she said. “I think we all give (Da Estrela) credit for recognizing our versatility and believing in us. Too often, radio PDs typecast their team. The traffic reporter never gets a crack at anything else. The swing or overnight announcer never gets a shot at working days. Leo isn’t that program director.”
Just be careful with that chance, because it can be fleeting. This is radio, after all.
But as I reported in July, 990 isn’t that great of a frequency for a radio station (which is why CKGM applied for the change in the first place). So Dufferin asked that it change frequency to 980 AM (ironically itself a former frequency for CKGM), reducing power but replacing a highly directional nighttime signal with a much less directional one.
5 mV/m day signal patterns: existing 990 (green) and proposed 980 (yellow)
5 mV/m night signal patterns: existing 990 (blue) and proposed 980 (red)
The move made sense because another station at 980 AM, CBV in Quebec City, was no longer on the air. That station has since moved to FM. The 990 frequency, meanwhile, has to protect two distant Canadian stations overnight, which severely restricts the signal’s pattern.
With no one opposing the proposed change, the CRTC gave its okay.
Dufferin also applied for an extension of the deadline to launch the new station, which passed on Nov. 21. Wednesday’s decision notes that it must file a separate application for this. It did on Aug. 15, and that was approved without a public comment period. Dufferin now has until Nov. 21, 2014 to launch Radio Fierté.
Dufferin Communications and parent Evanov Radio own Jewel FM stations in various Ontario cities, plus stations branded The Breeze and Energey. It also owns Proud FM in Toronto, which Radio Fierté is based on.
Dufferin also has a licence for an FM station serving Hudson/St-Lazare, to be branded Jewel 106.7. It has also applied for a technical amendment for that station, to move its antenna location due to lack of space on the originally proposed tower. If approved, it says that station could launch within weeks. The application received some opposition from competing stations who feel it is trying to extend its coverage beyond its licensed area. It is still awaiting a decision from the commission.
Existing (purple lines) and approved (black lines) coverage areas of CKBE-FM 92.5, as prepared by SpectrumExpert. The map for CHMP-FM 98.5 is identical.
More than a year and a half after they were first published, the CRTC has approved applications from Cogeco Diffusion to increase the power of two of its stations on Mount Royal: CHMP 98.5 FM and CKBE 92.5 FM (The Beat). Both will now be allowed to increase power to the maximum 100 kW allowed by their class, and others could follow.
As the CRTC explains in its decision, a moratorium had been placed by Industry Canada on power increases for transmitters on the CBC tower on Mount Royal, concerned about the effects of high-power radiofrequency fields in the area around the site (in Mount Royal Park). When analog television transmitters were replaced by digital ones that required a lot less power, that moratorium was lifted, leading to Cogeco’s applications.
The CRTC said it then asked the CBC to conduct a study to see if other FM stations operating from the tower would also be able to increase to their maximum allowable power. The report said that they could, so the CRTC approved the applications. This means that stations like CHOM, CJFM (Virgin Radio), CFGL (Rythme FM), CKMF (NRJ), CITE (Rouge FM) and CIRA (Radio Ville-Marie) could apply to increase their power to 100 kW (they’re all around 40 kW right now), and it would likely be approved if it didn’t cause interference to other stations’ protected contours. Radio-Canada’s CBF-FM and CBFX-FM are already at 100 kW, and other stations that broadcast from that tower are of a different class.
CKOI-FM is the only station in Montreal that operates at more than 100 kW. One of Montreal’s first FM stations, it was licensed at 307 kW, and grandfathered in at that level. It broadcasts from the top of the CIBC building downtown.
The application for The Beat’s power increase hit a bit of a snag because of an application by Dufferin Communications (Evanov Radio, the same people behind the yet-to-launch Radio Fierté 990AM and Jewel 106.7 in Hudson) for a new station in Clarence-Rockland, Ont., on the same frequency. That station’s parameters would not have caused problems with The Beat’s current protected zone, but both stations would encroach on each other’s protected contours if The Beat increased to 100 kW. At first, the CRTC decided to treat these as competing applications. But the two came to a deal and decided they would accept interference from each other. The Clarence-Rockland station was approved by the CRTC in February. Branded “The Jewel 92.5“, it has yet to launch it launched in September.
The application also caused worry for CKLX-FM (Radio X 91.9), which operates on a nearby frequency. A power increase for The Beat would mean more interference, though because Radio X is three channels away, that interference would be only in an area very close to the transmitter. The CRTC notes that CKLX accepted this potential interference when it first applied for a licence.
For 98.5, there was an intervention by CIAX-FM, the community station in Windsor, Quebec, at 98.3FM, worried about interference. Because Windsor is more than 100 km away from Montreal and its transmitter is less than 500 W, there’s no actual interference problem there.
There’s no word yet on when the transmitter power increase will happen. I’ll update this if I hear back from Cogeco on the matter. Though the radiated power will be more than double what it currently is, the actual effect on reception will be modest. Some listeners on the fringe who pick up the station with some noise will see that noise diminish, but for most people the change will be imperceptible.
New K103 morning show team, from left: Zack Rath, Lance Delisle, Paul Graif (Photo: K103)
When Java Jacobs wasn’t heard on the air on K103 recently, some had wondered if there was a problem or if he’d left the station.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. Starting Monday, the Kahnawake community radio station has a new morning team, with Lance Delisle taking Jacob’s place on the show.
Delisle is a veteran of the station, having started there in 1988. Jacobs had been there for about as long, and on the morning show for four. He and co-host Paul Graif were part of the morning team that made headlines in 2010 by adding former CHOM morning man Ted Bird. Their show has continued, though with less media attention, since Bird left to join TSN 690 in the spring of 2012.
So why did Jacobs leave?
“All I can say that it’s a personnel issue and not public information,” was the response from K103′s program director Al Gravelle. This leads me to believe it was the station’s decision to let him go.
Jacobs has locked down both his Facebook page and his Twitter account. I’ll update this if I hear back from him.
$80,000 for new equipment
In more uplifting news, the radiothon that the station held two weeks ago was a “huge success,” Gravelle said, raising more than $80,000, just above its $75,000 goal.
The station is moving into a new building, the groundbreaking for which occurred in September and should be built by July. The building itself, which will be shared with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s Culture and Language Program, is being paid for by grant money, but the station has to pay for new equipment and furniture to put into it.
K103′s current building would have been cordoned off as condemned in any other jurisdiction, so the new one will be more than welcome.
When CBC/Radio-Canada asked the CRTC for permission to air advertising on radio, one of the things it promised is that it would only solicit national advertisers, not local ones, to limit how much it competes with local commercial radio stations.
Well, less than a month after ads started airing, one of those commercial stations has complained that the public broadcaster is soliciting local advertising.
On Thursday, the CRTC published a two-page complaint (.zip) dated Oct. 29 from Jean-Pierre Coallier, owner of CJPX Radio Classique in Montreal. In it, Coallier complains that one of its local advertisers, the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, took out ads on Espace Musique. Because it’s a local organization that only wants to attract a local or regional audience, Coallier argues, it doesn’t fit the definition of national advertising.
Radio-Canada disagrees with Coallier’s interpretation. Spokesperson Marie Tétreault told me that there was an agency here, Groupe Force Radio (which is owned by Cogeco and represents Espace Musique in Quebec).
Tétreault said the ads for the MCA aired on Espace Musique stations in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Rimouski, Saguenay and Ottawa. Basically, throughout Quebec and the national capital region but not elsewhere in the country.
“These ads fully respect the conditions of licence of Espace Musique,” Tétreault said.
It’s worth noting that the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, in its filing in the CBC case, pointed out that its definition of national advertising was vague, and worried that it might allow some local advertising. This would seem to be a good example, regardless of how the commission rules.
Comments on the complaint are due by Dec. 16. Tétreault said that Radio-Canada would give details of its position in its submission, which will be filed on that date.
If you want to file your own submission, you can do so by clicking here.
LCN stuck between the Charbonneau Commission and Remembrance Day ceremonies
It’s easy to offend people around Remembrance Day. In the days and weeks preceding, the media gives lots of attention to stories about stores and malls who are unwelcoming to veterans selling poppies (and the follow-up stories in which the owners of those stores or malls inevitably backtrack, blaming miscommunication or rogue employees).
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it’s expected that most people will take a moment, even if just that, to remember the sacrifices of war. Remembrance Day remembers those whose lives were lost, and those who survived and live with the horrible memories. Critics, like those of the white poppy movement, pretend that this is some glorification of war, while others use clichés like “you fought for my freedom.”
For broadcasters, there are generally three ways to approach Remembrance Day: Go all out with a special broadcast from a local or national ceremony, pause for a minute or two for a reading of In Flanders Fields, or ignore it completely.
The latter option has gotten broadcasters into trouble before as viewers and listeners complained about a lack of respect for veterans. Hell, even not having a long enough moment of silence has angered some. So you can imagine how sensitive some have gotten to what airs at 11am on Nov. 11.
Here’s how local Montreal broadcasters and news networks handled Remembrance Day today:
So we knew this was going to be serious, and the explanations given for non-compliance with its licence were going to have to be big. But still, the commissioners were taken aback by two bombshells that owner Alexandre Azoulay presented to them on Wednesday.
First, Azoulay blamed non-compliance on his father, who was diagnosed with dementia this summer. He said responses and filings with the CRTC were given to him, and then “disappeared,” with the station’s staff assuming that they had been mailed to the commission. Compliance issues began a year ago, but it was only a few months ago, after the dementia was diagnosed, that the younger Azoulay realized what was going on and took active control over the station’s operation.
Second, Azoulay announced that he has come to an agreement to sell the station. He wouldn’t say who has agreed to buy it, but did say that the other party is the licensee of one other station in the area (he used the singular, implying it owns only one station) and that synergies between the two would make it easier for the station to be viable financially. He said the new owner would be able to ensure the station continues, though he did not say (and was not asked) whether it would be in its current country music format.
The hearing was tense, as you can tell from the audio below, taken from the CRTC livestream. Azoulay did not come with a written statement, and presented a slow-paced, monotonous statement about the status of the station.
On the commission’s side, the mood was equally tense, with commissioners stressing how serious these issues of non-compliance are.
“I want to stress upon you the difficult position you’ve placed the commission in,” Commissioner Raj Shoan told Azoulay, saying that the sale of a station that has been in non-compliance with its licence obligations “calls into question the integrity of our licensing process.”
Normally, the CRTC doesn’t accept requests to transfer or amend licences that are in non-compliance. Or it would like to, at least. But if a station’s owner no longer wants to have a licence, they can’t force them to keep one. The decision then becomes whether to accept the transfer or to force the outgoing owner to turn in the licence and the incoming one to apply for a new one.
CJMS 1040 is a medium-powered radio station, licensed to operate at 10,000 watts daytime and 5,000 watts nighttime (Azoulay said during the hearing that upgrades necessary to improve to that power, approved in 2002, had started in the past two years but not yet been completed). Even as an AM station, that frequency would probably be in demand should the licence be revoked or surrendered.
Azoulay said he would supply documentation confirming the sale within 24 hours. It’s unclear whether the agreement would be on the public record. He also said an application for transfer of ownership would be filed by the end of the month. At the CRTC’s request, Azoulay also committed to filing, confidentially, documentation proving his father’s medical diagnosis.
As Shoan said, the CRTC is in a difficult position here. This hearing is about CJMS’s compliance issues, and a sale of the station would have to be dealt with in its own process. The commissioners also didn’t seem absolutely convinced that this licence non-compliance was an isolated incident. The station’s three previous licence renewals were all for short terms because of issues of compliance. CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais expressed frustration that this is recurring every time.
Azoulay assured the commission that the sale of the station would not benefit him financially, presumably because the sale price would be less than the amount of money he invested in the station during his ownership. He was also very apologetic for the compliance issues, and assured them that he has taken direct control of the station and would remain in charge personally until the sale is approved.
The commissioners also asked Azoulay about the station’s programming, and its recent transmission outages. Azoulay said the station has two full-time staff, both on-air hosts, and that it broadcasts 18 hours a day of live programming during weekdays, though after 6pm that programming is done remotely. And he assured them that the station is broadcasting regular newscasts during the mornings and middays on weekdays.
CRTC decisions usually come within a month or two of a hearing, so expect one by Christmas on whether CJMS can keep its licence.
Graphics that will be used on Global Montreal’s News Final election results special.
When the polls close at 8pm on Sunday, Montrealers will be turning to their televisions to watch the results come in. And many will be disappointed.
Though there are municipal elections happening throughout Quebec, and Montreal’s election in particular has been getting a lot of attention, none of the broadcast television stations in Montreal is carrying election coverage before 10pm. Most are keeping the lucrative Sunday primetime schedule as is, and holding live election coverage until the late evening.
For the all-news networks, meanwhile, it will depend on your preferred language (just like with every other story, Montreal/Quebec news is national news in French but not in English). RDI and LCN will have election coverage starting at 6:30pm (presumably covering cities across Quebec, not just Montreal), while the three English networks have no election specials planned.
Here’s what’s going on for each network:
Radio-Canada: Tout le monde en parle until 10:18pm, followed by Le Téléjournal (presumably leading with election news), then simulcasting RDI’s election special starting at 10:42pm going until about 1am
TVA: Regular Sunday night primetime (a special Le Banquier with Céline Dion, On connaît la chanson), followed by TVA Nouvelles at 10pm, then a movie at 11pm
V: No live election coverage (the network only airs newscasts in the morning now)
Télé-Québec: No live election coverage (Télé-Québec stopped having live news long ago)
MAtv Montréal: No live election coverage
CBC Television: Local news as usual at 11pm, focused on election results, hosted by Thomas Daigle. Prime time (Battle of the Blades) is untouched. Results throughout the night online.
CTV Montreal: Regular late local news at 11:30pm, focused on election results. Five field reporters, plus political panel. Hosted by Paul Karwatsky and Caroline Van Vlaardingen. Prime time remains untouched, but results are promised during “extended news breaks”, with an on-screen crawl when the winner is named, says news director Jed Kahane. Results throughout the night online.
Global Montreal: News Final is extended from half an hour to an hour, starting at 11pm. It will also be streamed online. Jamie Orchard hosts, with live reports from Tim Sargeant (Pointe-Claire), Elysia Bryan-Baynes (Beaconsfield) and Billy Shields (CDN/NDG). “We’re also working with the best election graphics in the industry,” says station manager Karen Macdonald. Former city councillor Karim Boulos will be in studio as an analyst. Online, election results and a live blog will be posted as of 8pm. Like its Focus Montreal mini debates, Global plans to focus on demerged on-island suburbs in results and analysis.
City Montreal: No live election coverage
On cable, we can expect extensive coverage from the French networks, but not so much from the English networks:
RDI: Election special from 6:30pm to at least 1am. Hosted by Patrice Roy, with Véronique Darveau providing results and Carole Aoun following social media. Reporters are promised at the four Montreal party HQs, plus Laval, the South Shore, Quebec City, Gatineau, Trois-Rivières, Estrie, Saguenay, Abitibi and eastern Quebec. Analysts include former mayor Jean Doré, former Quebec municipal affairs minister Rémy Trudel, former Baie St-Paul mayor Jacinthe Simard, and former CBC Montreal anchor Dennis Trudeau.
CBC News Network: Nothing special scheduled. It will run The National from 9 to 10pm as usual, presumably with news from Quebec. Otherwise the primetime schedule is documentaries on Julian Assange, Princess Diana and a chimpanzee.
CTV News Channel: No election special, but CTV News Weekend with Scott Laurie is expected to check in regularly with Montreal reporters covering the election here from 6 to 10pm. After 10, it’s the usual plan of simulcasting CTV National News for the first half of each hour.
Sun News Network: Schedule lists the usual repeats of opinion shows from earlier in the week. There normally isn’t live programming after 5pm on Sundays.
On radio, things are much better, with news talk stations carrying live election coverage after polls close:
CBC Radio One (88.5 FM): Live coverage as of 8pm, hosted by Mike Finnerty, with analyst Bernard St-Laurent and results from Joanne Bayly.
CJAD 800: Live coverage as of 8pm (end time will depend on results, but probably at least midnight), hosted by Aaron Rand and Tommy Schnurmacher. “We will have a full complement of newscasters and reporters scattered on and off-island. We will also be providing a live feed of the victory speech of the next Mayor of Montreal,” says program director Chris Bury.
ICI Radio-Canada Première (95.1 FM): Live coverage from 8pm to 11pm, hosted by Michel C. Auger, with journalists Frank Desoer, Jean-Sébastien Bernatchez, Benoit Chapdelaine, Francine Plourde, Dominic Brassard and Alexandre Touchette. Bernard Généreux, president of the Quebec Federation of Municipalities and mayor of Saint-Prime, will be an analyst. Coverage is promised from all regions of Quebec with Radio-Canada staff. Quebec City and Gatineau will have their own local election night specials from 8pm to 10pm, the rest of the network will carry Auger’s show.
CHMP 98.5 FM: Election special from 8pm to midnight hosted by Paul Houde. Panelists Marie Grégoire, Liza Frulla and Jean Fortier, guests Pierre Curzi, Jean Lapierre and Mario Dumont, and journalists Philippe Bonneville, Chantal Leblond, Catherine Brisson, Any Guillemette, Julie-Christine Gagnon and Geneviève Ruel. Other Cogeco Nouvelles stations will also have election specials from 8pm to midnight:
Jean-François Gilbert in Quebec City at 93.3 FM (starts at 8:30pm)
Martin Pelletier in Sherbooke at 107.7 FM (starts at 8:30pm)
Roch Cholette and Louis-Philippe Brûlé in Gatineau at 104.7 FM (8pm to 11:30pm or midnight, depending on results)
Claude Boucher in Trois-Rivières at 106.9 FM, which will also be presented on local community channels Cogeco TV and MaTV.
And of course there’s online, where almost everyone is promising extensive coverage and live results.
I’ll be spending election night on the Gazette news desk, which has all reporting, editing and managing hands on deck, and will be feeding its website throughout the night.
The four main candidates for mayor were in what seemed like different debates every day, as just about everyone organize their own. If you missed them, here they are again (links to videos where I could find them):
From left: Paul Tietolman, Nicolas Tétrault and Rajiv Pancholy, partners in 7954689 Canada Inc., aka Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy Media
Over the past few months, one of the questions I’ve been asked a lot is what is going on with the group known as TTP Media. The group, composed of businessmen Paul Tietolman, Nicolas Tétrault and Rajiv Pancholy, has licences for three AM radio stations in Montreal, none of which has launched yet. And none of them has said anything publicly for months.
Some of those inquiries have come from people looking for jobs at these new stations, which have promised to invest heavily in local programming and local news. Others have come from radio watchers excited about having something else to listen to. And some are from people who have a beef with CJAD and want to see competition as soon as possible.
Since May, I have been trying to get answers from all three of them. And it has been proving strangely difficult. Tietolman, who had previously been very talkative about the new station, without giving away any secrets, clammed up, asking me to speak with Pancholy, who is the managing partner.
Pancholy told me he didn’t have anything to say at the moment, but that I could expect an announcement in the next four to six weeks that would answer most of my questions.
That was May 23. Despite repeated phone calls, I haven’t spoken to Pancholy since. (That’s 20 weeks ago, in case you’re counting.)
Tétrault, for his part, has at least been getting back to me. “Our group is very much alive and hard at work,” he wrote me in an email on Aug. 20. “However, we do not want to announce anything till we are fully ready. I hope you understand. We will contact you when the time comes.”
On Oct. 3, in response to another request for information as the deadline to launch the first of those three stations approaches, Tétrault said “we do not like to talk about our plans” but that he’d make an exception to tell me this:
In the current business environment, it makes business sense to launch multiple radio stations as close to each other as possible. Consequently, we had requested that our implementation deadline be extended. The CRTC has recently responded favorably to our request.
We do not have any other comments at the moment.
Tietolman had told me something similar the last time I saw him in person, during the Bell/Astral CRTC merger hearings in May. The group wants to launch its English and French news-talk stations at the same time. (The three have gone back and forth on this plan a bit, first saying they would launch simultaneously, then saying they wouldn’t have to do that, and now saying they want to do that again.)
News of this extension will no doubt fuel more rumours out there about why this group has disappeared from the public radar.
“It was a good two-year run,” Zakaib told me on the phone. He described his departure as the end of an experiment that failed to meet the station’s hopes. Mike FM owner Marie Griffiths offered him a different job that he wasn’t crazy about, so he left. His last day was Sept. 30.
Griffiths didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. I’ll update this post if I hear from her.
James Foster, who was Zakaib’s producer and news anchor, has taken over the job of afternoon drive host.
Zakaib isn’t bitter about the departure, but seemed resigned to the fact that things just wouldn’t work at the low-budget station. Its equipment is basic and outdated, and didn’t afford him the flexibility needed to produce a complex show filled with humorous skits. This was particularly true after co-host Patrick Charles left the station a year ago.
CKDG-FM and its sister station CKIN-FM are commercial ethnic stations operating out of a tiny studio space on Parc Ave. in Mile End. CKDG tries to make money for the station with English-language morning and afternoon drive shows. The hiring of Tasso and Patrick was supposed to spark a boost in audience and advertising. It now seems evident that that didn’t happen.
(CKDG-FM doesn’t subscribe to BBM’s ratings measurement system, so it’s impossible to know beyond anecdotal evidence whether the show did indeed have more listeners and if so how long that increased listenership lasted.)
So now Zakaib joins people like Ted Bird and Ric Peterson and Patrick Charles and Chantal Desjardins who are without jobs in radio despite being veteran broadcasters. And that’s not counting all of those who are underemployed or not being used to their full potential.
Zakaib told me he wants to go back to something he did a while ago: freelance, doing voice work for animation and commercials. As a man with many voices, it’s what he does best.
“I’m trying to get back into that field,” he said, lamenting how much has changed with technology since the good ol’ days.
What about an Aaron and Tasso reunion? Well, Zakaib called up Aaron Rand’s show on CJAD recently, just for fun. He said he might do so again, out of nostalgia.
If there’s any justice in the world, CJAD will free up a few dollars to get him to contribute to Rand’s show on a regular basis.
But nobody’s holding their breath waiting for that to happen.
During the summer, when CJMS’s website went down and it experienced transmission problems, I was informed by its owner Alexandre Azoulay that it we should not be worried about its future and it would continue as normal.
Then last month the station was ordered by the CRTC to appear at a public hearing to respond to a series of serious licence compliance issues. And the station has been off the air for almost two weeks now. And nobody knows when it’s coming back.