Media News Digest: Michel Villeneuve fired, Terry Milewski retires, Kevin Gallagher moves to Ottawa

At the CRTC

News about news

News about people


  • Télé-Québec decided to make this year the year of Quebec music by replacing the theme songs of 23 of its series with Quebec songs. It has posted most of those online, along with links to buy the songs and the artists’ websites. Some of these work better than others. (Also, the inclusion of artists like Radio Radio and Lisa Leblanc is interesting, since Radio Radio are from Nova Scotia and Leblanc is from New Brunswick, though they’re now based in Montreal.)
  • CBC/Radio-Canada hosted the Public Broadcasters International conference last week in Montreal, and had two days of discussions about how broadcasters can attract younger audiences. I reported on it for (subscribers only, sorry), but if you want to watch all 14 hours of panel discussions and speeches, CBC streamed them on YouTube: Day 1, Day 2.
  • During the conference, CBC/Radio-Canada talked about, a project where it and fellow public broadcasters (Australia’s ABC and France Télévisions are on board) plan to create a marketplace where TV content can be bought and sold more easily by smaller players. Rather than giving up on a deal because the closing costs are too much compared to the purchase price, this website can streamline, standardize and automate the process. I wrote about that for as well. The first phase is expected to be up some time in 2017.
  • While anglos were watching the Emmys (or the World Cup of Hockey) on Sunday, Quebec francophones were watching the Gémeaux awards, honouring the best in television here. No big storylines coming out of the show, though the reviews are pretty good. Winners are listed here.
  • Speaking of Canadian TV: More Anne of Green Gables!
  • TV eh? is auctioning off a signed pilot script of the series X Company for charity.
  • Le Grand Costumier, the costume shop set up as a non-profit after Radio-Canada shut its costume shop down, has a website now.
  • Véronique Cloutier unveiled the programming for her branded channel on Radio-Canada’s Tou.TV. They include a documentary series produced by her husband’s company in which they talk about their careers.
  • Speaking of Louis Morissette, he told Eric Salvail on the air Monday night he’s working on a documentary about P.K. Subban’s summer off-season.
  • C’est Juste de la TV has a story that explains how the Vrak series Code F. is made.
  • It’s still very early, but Viceland UK didn’t explode out of the gate with the ratings on its first night.
  • The Hollywood Suite channels now have a streaming GO app.
  • Stingray announced on Friday it has closed the purchase of MuchRetro from Bell Media, completing its purchase of the Much sister channels. It had earlier acquired MuchLoud, MuchVibe and Juicebox because they had fewer than 200,000 subscribers and no longer required a CRTC licence, and without a licence the CRTC does not need to approve a change in ownership. MuchRetro had more than 200,000 subscribers, but dropped below that level after Videotron dropped it last month. The four channels have all been rebranded and won’t use the word “Much”.
  • CPAC changed its logo.


Good reads

Upcoming events


Global Montreal picks Laura Casella, Kim Sullivan as morning news team

Laura Casella (right, with Derick Fage) is leaving Breakfast Television for Global Montreal's Morning News.

Laura Casella (right, with Derick Fage) is leaving Breakfast Television for Global Montreal’s Morning News.

Global Montreal has picked its new host and weather presenter for Morning News. The latter is no surprise — Kim Sullivan has been filling in there during the summer — but the host job is a bit of a head-turner: Laura Casella, the news reporter and temporary co-host at Breakfast Television.

Casella announced the news to her colleagues last week, which led to the news getting out to Mike Cohen at the Suburban. Global officially announced the two hires on Tuesday.

Poaching from a direct competitor isn’t that unusual. But what is unusual is that Casella hasn’t left BT yet. She still has another week there and is being allowed to continue co-hosting the show during that time.

Casella herself didn’t seem surprised by that when I talked to her, saying there’s “no animosity” between the two competitors. “I don’t think about it too much,” she said. “Everybody kind of knows everybody (in this market). I’ll still remain friends with everyone at BT.”

After she leaves the show, Casella goes into training at Global Montreal starting Sept. 26. Global tells me she’ll officially begin on Oct. 2.

Casella said it was Global Montreal station manager Karen Macdonald who approached her, asking if she’d be interested in the position. “So I said sure, and went in for a little screen test with Kim.” After that, she said, Global made her an offer and she accepted.

“It was a tough decision,” she said. “It’s hard to leave people you know. Even announcing it to the team last week…”

Finding Casella’s replacement won’t be hard: They don’t need to. Joanne Vrakas, who Casella has been replacing on the anchor desk at BT, returns from maternity leave on Sept. 26, the same day Casella starts her new job. (Casella says that’s a “complete random coincidence”.) Casella probably would have gone back to her former job as news reporter, but Domenic Fazioli (who BT picked up after he left Global Montreal) has been doing that job even though he was hired as a news producer.

Rogers Media tells me there are no plans at this time to replace Casella’s former position.

The departure means of the six personalities that started with Breakfast Television three years ago, only three are still there: Vrakas, weather presenter Catherine Verdon Diamond, and new media host Elias Makos.

Sullivan has two jobs

Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan, who was let go from The Beat earlier this year but already had another project going with a show on MAtv, has eased into the weather presenter job at Global. Probably the biggest difference between her and her predecessor Jessica Laventure is height, which has already prompted a joke that the box that Laventure would sometimes have to stand on to interview guests will now need to be used by those guests.

“I never expected to love weather,” Sullivan told me. Her dream when she was younger was to host a TV travel show, but she’s quickly started nerding out on her new role, and because she’ll be out in the field three days a week, she’s excited to talk to people from community organizations in the city and in particular the West Island.

This won’t be Sullivan’s only job on local TV, though. MAtv announced on Wednesday that she’ll be taking over as host of Montreal Billboard, a talk show featuring local community organizations, non-profits and volunteers. She replaces Richard Dagenais, who moves over to host current affairs show CityLife, replacing Tina Tenneriello, who moves into a new role producing both shows. (Tenneriello will also contribute regularly to Montreal Billboard on air.)

Sullivan told me she put an inspirational message on her phone earlier this year saying “2016 is going to be your year.” It’s certainly been a transformational one for her, but the past few weeks have come together to make that message come true.

She said she’ll have no problem juggling both jobs (reminding me that when she started her career, she was doing radio overnight and teaching during the day). But it does mean she’ll have “one crazy day a week” where she starts at Global in the morning and spends her afternoon at MAtv shooting Montreal Billboard.

On Global Montreal’s Morning News, Casella and Sullivan will be joined on air by morning reporter Kelly Greig (who was one of several fill-in anchors this summer). They replace Camille Ross, who left to move to London, Ont. (she’s started up a media consulting business) and Laventure, who moved to Punta Cana to work at Club Med. (You can follow her adventures on her blog.)

(This story is also a brief that will appear in Thursday’s Gazette.)

Media news digest: CRTC lawsuits, hockey schedules and RIP Bob McDevitt

Every day I come across lots of news stories about the media, and tidbits of information that don’t justify their own separate blog post here. Most of these I’ve been sharing on Twitter (which can be seen on the sidebar), but not everyone will catch stuff there, and sometimes it helps to have just a bit more than 140 characters to give context.

So I’m going to try something new: Once a week (I’m trying Wednesdays at noon for now), I’ll round up all the stuff I’ve seen in one post. That way you can be relatively sure you didn’t miss anything unless I did too.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of every media story out there, but it’s most of what I’ve seen and found interesting. Let me know what you think, and of course if you see anything, let me know by email or on Twitter.

At the CRTC

  • The Globe and Mail has a good feature story on Jean-Pierre Blais, the chair of the CRTC (for subscribers only). It interviews him and discusses his controversial leadership style, which has rubbed many the wrong way (and resulted in one fellow commissioner being fired and filing lawsuits) but also earned him praise as someone willing to stand up for consumers and ensure the commission’s integrity and relevance.
  • Meanwhile, the Raj Shoan saga continues. The dismissed CRTC commissioner, who won a legal case challenging a biased report that accuses him of harassing a member of the CRTC staff, has lost a bid at an injunction to force him back to work. (The judge said there is not enough evidence of irreparable harm if Shoan has to wait until the case is decided.) Meanwhile, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and Community Media Advocacy Centre have written an open letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly to demand she rescind her decision to unappoint Shoan.
  • In other suing-the-CRTC news, Bell has lost a case appealing the commission’s decision over ad substitution during the Super Bowl. But only because the policy had not been official yet and so the court ruled the case was premature. The official policy change is now official, so Bell will file another case.
  • And CRTC commissioner Linda Vennard got her knuckles rapped for accepting flowers and chocolate from a group that’s part of a competitive process for a new radio station licence in Edmonton.
  • MuchRetro, the only channel that needed CRTC approval for its sale to Stingray because it had enough subscribers to require a licence, now no longer needs that approval. It dropped below 200,000 subscribers (mainly, I believe, because it was dropped by Videotron) and can now be exempt from licensing and sold at will. The CRTC has consequently revoked its licence. Stingray has already acquired MuchLoud, MuchVibe and Juicebox, which it has rebranded. M3, formerly MuchMoreMusic, has been shut down and its place on TV systems replaced with Gusto, the food channel brand that Bell Media recently acquired. (See below.)
  • The CRTC has officially changed its policy to say that CTV Two Atlantic, which is a satellite-to-cable station and not a conventional television station, can be carried on basic cable under its new “skinny basic” regime.

News about news

News about people

TV and radio

Good reads

Upcoming events


Finally, I was on Canadaland Short Cuts last week. You can listen to me talk about Peter Mansbridge, CanCon and the CRTC here. And the edited-out clip where I make fun of his sponsor’s ad here. During that show, I note this Huffington Post story about Sophie Grégoire Trudeau “recycling” an outfit.

The Beat declares victory after summer ratings surge

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

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

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

What the ratings actually say

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

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

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

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

Other stations have shares below 1%.

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

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

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

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

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

Listener boycotts had no effect on The Beat

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

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

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

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

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

Franco market: Rythme, CKOI see gains

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

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

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

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

Saroja Coelho named new host of CBC Quebec’s Breakaway

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

Her first show is today.

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

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

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

CBC’s press release announcing the hire is below:


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

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

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

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

The entirely predictable result of Quebec’s gambling-website-blocking law is coming

Only minutes after it was spotted at the very end of Quebec’s 2015 budget document, the proposal to force Internet service providers to block illegal gambling websites was criticized as being unconstitutional.

In the months that followed, the bill to implement the measure was criticized, by opposition parties, by Internet providers, by public interest groups, by Michael Geist, and by anyone with even a basic understanding of constitutional law in Canada. (Though, strangely, not by some actual independent gambling sites.)

And yet, the government kept pushing the legislation along. During parliamentary committee hearings, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão assured everyone that they had their lawyers look into it and it would pass a challenge. This isn’t a telecommunications bill, he argued, it’s about gambling, consumer protection and health, which are provincial jurisdictions.

When Bill 74 was finally adopted at the National Assembly in May 2016, it was with both opposition parties noting the potential issues (which also included worries about the impact this would have on small ISPs).

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre wasted little time, applying to the CRTC to ask it to declare the bill’s website blocking elements unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association launched a challenge in Quebec Superior Court.

On Thursday, the CRTC responded to PIAC’s application, arguing that on the one hand the court case should settle the matter of whether the bill is constitutional, while on the other hand saying that blocking websites is against the federal Telecommunications Act and complying with a provincial law is not justification for doing so.

The CRTC has given parties 15 days to respond to its preliminary findings, and if it doesn’t change its mind, it will suspend the PIAC application until the court case is settled.

The law won’t be implemented until probably 2018 at the earliest because it will take a while for Loto-Québec to set up its end of the system. That should be enough time for the court to decide on this issue, assuming it doesn’t end up being appealed.

In the meantime, we can sit here and shake our heads at all the energy, time and money being wasted by the Quebec government, the CRTC, the court system, Internet providers, PIAC, Loto-Québec and others over provisions of a law that is obviously unconstitutional and probably wouldn’t work even if it wasn’t.

Global expands network after CBC abandons affiliates

More Canadians are being exposed to Global Television’s brand this fall as small stations are dealing with the fallout of CBC dropping all its private television affiliates.

Starting today, CKSA-DT in Lloydminster (Alberta/Saskatchewan) changes affiliation from CBC to Global. The Newcap-owned station had been the last privately-owned affiliate carrying CBC programming, but the public broadcaster terminated its agreement with the station, forcing it to seek an alternative source. Its sister station CITL-DT is already a CTV affiliate, so Global was the next logical option. It now carries the entire Global morning, daytime, primetime, evening and late-night lineup, with the exception of the Newcap News local news show at 5pm weekdays.

Meanwhile, three Corus-owned affiliates in eastern Ontario are taking on Global’s news programming while maintaining their program supply agreement with CTV.

Starting next week, CHEX-DT in Peterborough, CKWS-DT in Kingston and CHEX-TV-2 in Oshawa will also carry Global National at 5:30pm. And the Kingston and Peterborough stations will get local morning newscasts from 6-9am weekdays starting in October (Oct. 17 in Kingston and Oct. 24 in Peterborough). Corus television boss Troy Reeb says they will remain under their branding (which consists of their call letters).

These three stations were owned by Corus before Corus bought Shaw Media this year. They had been CBC affiliates as well until CBC dropped them a year ago. Since then they have entered into program supply agreements with CTV, without becoming official affiliates. Besides their local news shows and the Global morning show and Global National, they will still air CTV’s daytime, primetime and late-night lineup, including CTV National News.

The Global Television Network now has 12 stations, plus seven independently-owned stations carrying Global programming:

  • CKSA-DT Lloydminster, a full Global affiliate owned by Newcap
  • CFHD-DT Thunder Bay, a full Global affiliate owned by Dougall Media
  • CJBN-TV Kenora, a full Global affiliate owned by Shaw (not sold to Corus)
  • CKWS-DT Kingston, a de facto CTV affiliate owned by Corus carrying Global News programs
  • CHEX-DT Peterborough, a de facto CTV affiliate owned by Corus carrying Global News programs
  • CHEX-TV-2 Oshawa, a de facto CTV affiliate owned by Corus carrying Global News programs
  • CJON-DT St. John’s, a station owned by Stirling Communications which carries both CTV and Global programming

UPDATE (Oct. 19): Corus has announced that CHEX-TV-2 in Oshawa will rebrand its local newscast as Global Durham and rebroadcast Global Toronto’s local newscast at 5:30 and 6. The schedule also shows it’s dropping CTV National News at 11.

Jay Walker crosses the language barrier with TV show Resto Mundo on Zeste

This isn’t Jay Walker’s dream job. Nor are his other broadcasting gigs, hosting the weekly Montreal Rocks show on CHOM, or contributing to Global Montreal’s Morning News, or contributing music picks this summer to the Radio-Canada radio show Tandem. Nor is his actual day job, working as a real estate broker. Or his unpaid job of being a parent to three-year-old Emma Rose.

No, Jay Walker’s dream job is to be the next George Stroumboulopoulos. (Cool MuchMusic VJ George, not fired-from-Hockey-Night-in-Canada George.)

“I wanted to be on MuchMusic so bad,” he told me this week in an interview. He built a career designed to slowly move him toward that goal. He interned with CHOM when Andrew Carter and Steve Anthony were the morning men. He produced Expos games for The Team 990. He worked as a researcher on the TQS entertainment show Flash. And for the past six years he’s been hosting a show in one of the most ratings-unfriendly time slots (10pm to midnight on Sundays) in which he features Montreal artists on the radio.

But like the Expos and TQS, MuchMusic doesn’t exist anymore. The channel that replaced it, Much, has all but abandoned its focus on music, just as its French-language counterpart MusiquePlus has.

But Walker’s not complaining. He enjoys everything he does right now, including selling real estate, and he’s thrilled about his latest gig, hosting a new culinary lifestyle show on the TV channel Zeste.

Resto Mundo, which debuts Wednesday on the food channel owned by Groupe Serdy, could best be described as the reverse of a food travel show. Instead of heading to different countries and sampling their cuisine, he heads to local restaurants that feature people who have brought culinary culture from all over the world and promise an authentic experience.

Some of the nationalities are more common, like Brazilian, Portuguese and Japanese. Some are less so, like Tibetan, Senegalese and Afghan.

But while the food is all different, Walker says there are a lot more commonalities than differences.

“What I learned personally is that we are all truly the same. Every recipe starts with butter or oil, onion, garlic or ginger, and fresh ingredients.”

Each half-hour episode starts with an interview with the guest, talking about the food and the culture, and the particular dish being showcased. It’s about the food, but also about the person making it and the culture of where both come from.

“I’m not a chef, I’m in no way shape or form a culinary expert,” Walker warns. “For me it’s always about meeting and talking to the people.”

Talking might seem to be an issue for this anglophone who speaks quite well in French but with a slight anglo accent (sounding a little like Sugar Sammy in the process). Walker didn’t quite understand himself at first why he was picked. He said Olivier Tétreault, who directed the Guide Restos Voir show starring Walker’s wife, Anne-Marie Withenshaw, thought of Walker for this new project and proposed that he audition for it. He did, and was offered the job.

He still didn’t quite believe it. “I said ‘you know I’m an anglo right?’ He said ‘you’re the guy, I want you’.”

Walker happened to not have any real estate brokerage contracts, so he took advantage of the opportunity and shot 13 half-hour episodes.

Now he has to get people to watch. Which might be difficult for a show hosted by someone unfamiliar to francophone audiences on a channel not many people get.

Which is probably why even a post on some crappy media blog might help.

Resto Mundo airs Wednesdays at 6pm on Zeste starting Aug. 31.

Virgin Radio brings in new talent, loses Lee Haberkorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

91.9 Sport adds live evening programming, including Habs postgame show

91.9 Sport schedule (click for PDF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


  • 6am-noon: Les faits saillants, a best-of from the week.
  • Noon-5pm: Les légendes du rock with Jeff Paquet. Rock music.
  • 5pm-7pm: Le 5 @ 7 with Louis-Philippe Guy (starts Oct. 1). Lookahead and look back. More hockey focused on Saturdays and football focused on Sundays.
  • 7pm-midnight: 100% Rock, with francophone rock music from the 70s to 2000s.

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

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

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

More people are listening, but is it enough?

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

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

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

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

UPDATE (Oct. 9): The weekend lineup has been tweaked. I’ve updated it above.

CTV’s Your Morning: A formulaic morning show that misses chances to inform

Your Morning cast, from left: Kelsey McEwen, Melissa Grelo, Ben Mulroney, Anne-Marie Mediwake, Lindsey Deluce. (photo: Bell Media)

Your Morning cast, from left: Kelsey McEwen, Melissa Grelo, Ben Mulroney, Anne-Marie Mediwake, Lindsey Deluce. (photo: Bell Media)

YOUR MORNING is a new approach to morning television. The series will deliver an original perspective and unique insight into the stories of the day, while showcasing lifestyle topics of interests to Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

That’s how CTV announced, in June, the show that would replace the long-running Canada AM morning show.

On Monday, the show finally debuted. I watched the first three episodes of this new show, curious how it would take this “new approach” and offer “original perspective and unique insight”, but mostly how it would make morning television relevant to a generation of people who turn to Twitter and Facebook before turning on the TV.

I was disappointed.

Despite the long preparation time, the show is still in its infancy, so I won’t judge it for the kind of opening-day jitters that affect any new show. A few awkward handovers as the hosts figure out their timing, some confusion over what videos to show during discussions, or not knowing what camera to look into. Though technically it has actually been very smooth.

I’ll also preface my review by noting that I’m not the target audience for a morning TV show. I wake up well after 9am, and I don’t have the TV on in the background while I’m making lunch for my kids.

But I’m trying to keep that audience in mind. People who won’t tune in for the full three hours, but maybe some half-hour block. People who aren’t paying full attention, and mainly want the basics: knowing what’s in the news, what the weather is going to be like, and maybe a little bit of entertainment in between.

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The missing nuance of the Mike Ward debate

An unelected quasi-judicial board of PC police with no respect for fundamental freedoms is trying to force a comedian to pay thousands of dollars because someone didn’t like one of his jokes about a public figure.

A bigot who makes a career out of vulgarities and insults is finally being brought to minor justice after bullying a young boy by mocking his disability and expressing a desire for him to be murdered.

Either one of those sentences could describe the much-discussed legal battle between comedian Mike Ward and Jérémy Gabriel, the boy born with Treacher Collins syndrome who made headlines a decade ago when his wish to become a singer led to him singing in front of Céline Dion and the pope.

Just before he began a week of hosting the Nasty Show at Just For Laughs, Ward was ordered by Quebec’s human rights tribunal to pay a total of $42,000 in moral and punitive damages to Gabriel and his mother for comments he made during a one-man comedy show.

If you’re unfamiliar with the case, pat yourself on the back, because it seems like everyone has been talking about it. Even visiting American comedians were asked about the case during JFL.

Since the decision was announced, and even before while we were waiting for it, just about every communications medium that exists has hosted discussions on it. On one side, comedians and free speech absolutists who say this is a slippery slope toward government censorship of comedy. On the other side, social justice warriors who say comedy is no excuse for bullying a disabled child.

I’ve been thinking about the case for the past couple of weeks, trying to decide which side I’m on. I believe in protecting the vulnerable people of society from hate speech and children from bullying, but I also like Ward’s comedy.

And I saw the comedy bit in question, and I laughed. I still do.

So unlike most people who have commented on this case publicly, my position is more nuanced.

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

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

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

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

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

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