The Midnight Poutine podcast crew last summer. From left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle LeFort, Greg Bouchard
Midnight Poutine, the local culture/lifestyle/other stuff blog, has been shut down. But it’s coming back, someday. Hopefully.
The website stopped posting updates just before new year’s, and its homepage has been replaced by a page announcing a “new and improved” version launching “soon”.
The website, whose archives go back to September 2005, is owned by Toronto-based Fresh Daily, and is published by Tim Shore. Its sister site is the more popular Blogto, which continues running as normal. (A third Fresh Daily blog, Vancouver’s Beyond Robson, went dark in 2011.)
“We’re planning some big changes to the site — both in respect to the site design and content strategy — so we thought it would be best to put it on hiatus for a short time period,” Shore told me.
He wouldn’t elaborate on what those changes would be or what the focus of the new site would be. He also wouldn’t say when it’s coming back. “We’re not releasing either of these details to the public just yet,” he said. “Sorry.”
One thing that definitely won’t be back is the Midnight Poutine Weekend Playlist podcast, which passed the 300-episode mark in June. The last episode posted to Midnight Poutine’s website, No. 318, was dated Dec. 19, and featured the hosts saying goodbye and alerting listeners that they would be moving to a new site.
Greg Bouchard, who managed the podcast and acted as Midnight Poutine’s main editor, stepped down last month because he moved to Toronto for work. He insists there’s no animosity either way in his departure, but the podcast is being moved.
The new site is called Radio Cannon, and it’s owned by Bouchard. He describes it as a website devoted to helping people discover music through personal recommendations, and a complement to more automatic ways of recommending music used by sites like Rdio or Pandora.
“It was never the intention for the site to focus primarily on music,” Bouchard said of Midnight Poutine. “It was supposed to be a more balanced culture blog.”
But as a site that didn’t offer much (if any) money to contributors, it was a slave to what those people wished to contribute. More newsy elements of the site would come and go in waves, as new eager contributors came in and eventually got bored and stopped. In Bouchard’s case, his interest was mainly music, which meant the site had a strong music focus.
Bouchard wouldn’t get into much detail about his reasons for leaving, beyond the obvious one of having moved to Toronto. But he said he wanted to focus on music, and expand the podcast’s concept nationally, and Midnight Poutine did not seem to be the proper outlet for it.
Joining Bouchard at Radio Cannon are his podcast co-hosts Theo Mathien, Amie Watson and Emily Hill (Gabrielle LeFort, who was one of the podcast co-hosts last summer, left in September to take on a job with Evenko).
The Radio Cannon Montreal Podcast is basically identical to the Midnight Poutine one, right down to the “Hello Internet, salut cyberspace” introduction (though now enhanced with the sound of a cannon firing). Still about an hour a week of indie or underground music from bands that are playing at smaller venues in the city over the coming week, interspersed with some chatter about them (and details of their upcoming concerts) by the hosts.
Bouchard says he plans to start a similar one for Toronto in the next couple of weeks (he’s looking for a co-host) and eventually Vancouver as well. ”As long as we can find the personnel, we’ll expand to other cities,” he said during the last Midnight Poutine podcast.
He notes that there’s a romanticized notion that Montreal’s music scene is more diverse or bigger than other cities, but at least in the case of Toronto “it’s just not true.”
He also wants to set up streaming music channels (some playlists are already up).
Will this turn into a business?
“It’s still a hobby, but we’d like to try to make a go at making it bigger,” Bouchard said. They’d be looking at getting sponsors, having audio ads incorporated into the podcasts, or finding other ways to generate revenue.
As for Midnight Poutine, its future is unclear. The rumour is that the relaunch would be more focused on food than music, but officially we don’t know anything. Will it be days, weeks, months? Who knows.
One thing is for sure: Without the podcast and its associated talent, it’s going to have to work much harder to build an audience. And to be successful, that work won’t come free.