Tag Archives: CJAD

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.

Montreal’s radio industry mourns Merv Williams

Merv Williams, the former producer and announcer at Standard and Astral Radio in Montreal who contributed to CHOM’s morning show and CJAD’s Trivia Show until he was axed five years ago, has died.

The news was shared on social media by his former colleagues, but the official obituary notice was published Saturday in the Ottawa Citizen.

He died Sunday, July 10 at the Ottawa Heart Institute. He was only 39.

A memorial service for Williams will be held at the Yves Légaré Funeral home at 7200 Newman Blvd. in LaSalle on Saturday, July 30 at 11 am.

I never met Williams, but he appeared to be universally liked by his colleagues. I’ll let them offer tribute through their posts here:

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CJAD’s Dave Fisher announces retirement

In the few years I’ve been writing about local media, I’ve met and talked to a lot of broadcasters and personalities. Change being a constant in this industry, there was always a hiring, firing, resignation or other major change that would make someone newsworthy and prompt a story.

I’ve never spoken with Dave Fisher. And that’s mainly because he’s been the weekend morning host at CJAD for 32 years now, which is a pretty incredible run. He’s just been there, reliably hosting some of he most popular station’s most popular shows, without much fanfare, without TV ads, without billboards showing his face, without being considered a major celebrity.

Now, finally, change is coming to him. This morning, it was announced on the air and in the Montreal Gazette that Fisher is retiring from the station this August.

The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein does a much better career obituary than I ever could, so I encourage you to read that. CJAD also has a short story, and CTV is covering it.

You can also watch, thanks to CTV, Fisher explain his retirement on the air this morning. And read Bell Media’s press release on the subject.

Fisher’s replacement on weekend mornings hasn’t been announced yet.

Tommy Schnurmacher marks 20 years on CJAD, and has no plans to retire

tommy-smile

Tommy Schnurmacher came into the studio this morning a bit disappointed. Today marked 20 years since he started at CJAD 800, but it seemed nobody but him had noticed. Maybe, he thought, they just didn’t care.

In other words, the plan went perfectly.

Schnurmacher was surprised when, at the top of his show, it was suddenly hijacked by a montage of about a dozen of his coworkers’ recorded tributes to him, and a parade of well-wishers crowding into the studio with cake and wine (both kosher) and a martini.

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With Jean Lapierre’s death, Quebec media loses its chief political analyst

There wasn’t anyone as omnipresent in Quebec news media over the past decade as Jean Lapierre.

The former federal MP, who died with his wife, three siblings and two pilots as their plane crashed on approach to an airport Tuesday in les Îles de la Madeleine, parlayed his political experience into various roles as a political analyst.

While people covering all sorts of beats misuse the term “insider” to describe themselves, Lapierre was about the closest thing Quebec media had to one who had the freedom to speak his mind on political issues. And he had the sense to never claim to be a journalist, even though most of the time he was engaging in journalism.

Lapierre had a busy schedule and many clients. Daily appearances on Montreal’s 98.5 FM, Quebec City’s FM93 and 106.9 FM in Trois-Rivières, columns on several shows on TVA and LCN (Mario Dumont had a segment with him that came to an end with a tribute), a twice daily segment on CJAD (Program Director Chris Bury explains how the station kept adding his segments because of demand) and a weekly appearance on CTV Montreal. Cogeco, Quebecor and Bell Media were all sending him regular paycheques for his insight.

So it’s unsurprising that many of his media colleagues were emotional as they relayed the news of his death, from Denis Lévesque to Paul Larocque to Pierre Bruneau to Paul Arcand to Aaron Rand and Andrew Carter. There are so many tributes from media people and politicians it would be impossible to compile them all. TVA/LCN and CJAD have put together entire dossiers on Lapierre, and there are enough obituaries and written tributes to keep you reading for days.

I didn’t know Lapierre personally, and I’m starting to think I’m one of the few people in Quebec media not to be in his ever-expanding circle of friends. I have no personal anecdotes to share, beyond that one time I stood outside the Quebecor office at the National Assembly press gallery and listened to him do a segment for LCN about a budget announcement.

But I know enough about him to know that there isn’t anyone quite like him. Sure, there are other former politicians giving analysis on TV. (RDI has an entire show devoted to it.) But how many of them will give you a colourful seven-minute description of how a politician should shake hands at a campaign event? How many of them will call out BS when he sees it, even if it’s from a politician he knows as a friend?

Lapierre wasn’t perfect, and we should resist the temptation to sugar-coat his life as we summarize it. But even if he wasn’t the most objective source of information about politics, he built this air of trustworthiness because he wasn’t afraid to tell it as he saw it. Perhaps because of that more than anything else, he had a unique ability to clearly explain the political process, and political thinking, to Quebecers in both languages. One that will be surely missed.

And he was someone who enjoyed what he did, who was very successful at it, and made a lot of friends doing it.

We should all be so lucky.

 

CJAD honours Balcan, Sinclair and Blackman as it opens a “hall of fame”

cjad-cartoons

Framed Aislin cartoons of George Balcan, left, Gord Sinclair and Ted Blackman.

This morning, on its 70th anniversary, CJAD 800 inaugurated what it officially calls a “hall of fame” but program director Chris Bury admitted would probably be more accurately described as a wall of fame. Its first three inductees, unveiled during the Andrew Carter morning show, are of no surprise: George Balcan, Gord Sinclair and Ted Blackman.

The three Montreal broadcasting icons, who all died between 2002 and 2004, were immortalized with caricatures produced by cartoonist Terry Mosher (Aislin), actually taken from cartoons he had already drawn of the three. “We had a few versions” for each of the three, Bury explained, and they decided to go that way rather than use old publicity photos, many of which were not in great condition, were poorly lit or seemed too serious.

The framed cartoons will be hung in the CJAD studio, where people who work at the station “can get a sense of the history of the radio station,” Bury said.

More CJAD personalities will join these three over the coming years. Bury said the plan is to induct one every six months or so until the 75th anniversary in 2020. “Nothing is set in stone” about who else will be inducted, though there are some obvious picks. Simple math would suggest about a dozen inductees in all, though that too hasn’t been set in stone.

“I don’t know how many other stations could do this,” Bury said after the ceremony.

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Tributes for CJAD’s Tom Armour

Over the past few months I’ve gotten occasional queries about Tom Armour, the weekend morning news anchor at CJAD. He disappeared from the air, and no one outside the station seemed to know why.

Last week came official news that Armour has retired. The career retrospective by Shuyee Lee interviews people who worked with Armour, but notably doesn’t include any clips or quotes from the man himself.

I never met Armour, and have nothing personal to add, so I’ll just compile some comments posted on social media by people who do know him.

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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.

Radio ratings: The Beat back above Virgin (but…)

Radio ratings March 2014

Total audience share for major ownership groups, winter 2013-14 (ages 2+). Cogeco Diffusion: 98.5 + Rythme FM + CKOI + The Beat + Radio Circulation; Bell Media: NRJ + Rouge FM + CJAD + CHOM + Virgin + TSN 690; CBC/Radio-Canada: CBC Radio One + CBC Radio Two + ICI Première + Espace musique; Other: CJPX Radio Classique + Radio X + non-reporting stations

One year after The Beat took a surprising lead over Virgin among all anglophone listeners, it has done so again. The latest BBM quarterly ratings report, released last week, shows The Beat with an 18.4% share among anglophones, slightly less than its record 18.6% in March 2013. That’s ahead of Virgin Radio at 15.1%.

When you factor in the francophone audience, where Virgin has a slight lead (4.1% vs. 3.9%), The Beat is still ahead overall, though just by a bit. This differs from last year, where Virgin had the lead among all listeners because it was stronger among francophones. The Beat last year had a 2.1% share among francophones, so there’s some significant improvement there.

What’s interesting about this jump back to number one (well, actually number two, behind CJAD) for The Beat is that it happened during the same time of the year last year, suggesting that there may be some seasonal aspect to it. Maybe The Beat has better Christmas music?

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Impact games move back to TSN 690

In news that will surprise precisely nobody, TSN and the Impact announced today that TSN Radio 690 will pick up English-language radio broadcast rights to Montreal Impact games for the next three years.

For the past two seasons, Impact games have aired on CJAD 800, which picked up the rights to home games to help fill the gap left by the loss of the Canadiens to TSN 690 in 2011. Now that CJAD and TSN are sister stations with the Bell purchase of Astral, the two don’t need to fight over such rights, and sports is being consolidated on TSN.

The new deal calls for all regular season and playoff games to air on the radio, which marks the first time that we have all away games on radio.

Rick Moffat, the former CJAD sports guy who has since moved to TSN, and Brian Wilde, CTV Montreal reporter who sidelines as an Impact fan, will “share play-by-play duties”, and former Impact player Grant Needham will do colour commentary during the broadcasts. Program director Chris Bury confirms to me that the broadcast team will travel with the Impact.

The press release says that TSN and CJAD will share broadcasts of the games, which likely means that when an Impact game conflicts with a Canadiens or Alouettes game, it’ll move to CJAD. The Alouettes haven’t released their 2014 schedule yet, and the Impact schedule is incomplete, but we already know that the first two Impact games of the season, on March 8 and 15, will conflict with Canadiens games, so expect those two Impact games to be on CJAD.

Alouettes broadcast rights in English still belong to CJAD, but it’s a formality at this point that most of the games will move back as well to TSN, with only those that conflict with Canadiens games airing on CJAD.

In the unlikely event of a three-way schedule conflict, there’s always CHOM, which has been used during CJAD’s conflicts in the past.

The announcement is good news for Impact fans, who will now be able to access all the games on the radio instead of just the home games and a few marquee away ones. The fact that Bell is sending a broadcast team to those away games — no small expense — is also a strong indication that it believes it’s worth investing in this franchise.

This news has already annoyed some francophone Impact fans because the team does not have a French-language radio partner. CKAC Sports used to air some Impact games before it became an all-traffic station. News-talk station 98.5 FM, which carries Canadiens and Alouettes games, doesn’t seem to be as interested in Impact broadcasts.

Fall radio ratings: Any way you slice it, Virgin beats The Beat

Virgin Radio ad on its website thanking listeners

Virgin Radio ad on its website thanking listeners

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.

The numbers

Ratings period is always a penis-measuring contest, so let’s go ahead and whip ’em out.

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Axe falls at Bell Media: TSN 690’s Ted Bird, CJAD’s Ric Peterson, Chantal Desjardins and Claude Beaulieu fired

Ric Peterson, who hosted early afternoons, is out at CJAD.

Ric Peterson, who hosted early afternoons, is out at CJAD.

A month after Chris Bury was named program director at TSN 690, in addition to the same role at CJAD, some veteran broadcasters are losing their jobs: Morning man Ted Bird has been fired from TSN 690, and mid-day hosts Ric Peterson and Suzanne Desautels have had their faces scrubbed from CJAD’s website.

My Gazette story on the changes is posted here.

“I wasn’t given a reason, only told that my services were being terminated. That’s all I can say for the record,” Bird writes me in an email. His Twitter account has disappeared as well, but he says he’ll be back “after the trolls finish their feeding frenzy.”

Desautels, who four years ago was let go from the Q92 morning show, sparking outrage from listeners, addressed her job change indirectly on Twitter Wednesday morning:

She then clarified:

She told me she will continue doing the weather for Andrew Carter’s morning show, and is taking over the Saturday morning travel show as well. That move means Sharman Yarnell is off that show and the station. “And this couldn’t have happened at a better time for me,” she tells me. “I am pursuing my travel writing career, as well as my new PR company A.C.E. (Arts, Culture & Entertainment) with Tracey Hill. This does not mean I won’t be back on radio, though!”

After a day of radio silence, Peterson posted this to his Facebook page on Thursday morning:

After more than 30 years of broadcasting in Montreal I thought my first day off the air would be one without much talking on my part. I was mistaken. I am very touched by the many phone calls and moved by the texts, emails, comments as well as the posts to my social pages. Your kind words are very much appreciated. It pleases me to know how many lives I’ve touched, thank you for listening. Some wise soul once said, “man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward” I am looking forward to sharing my future adventures with you all.

Barry Morgan, who’s filling in for everyone these days, it seems, hosted the noon to 3pm show Wednesday on CJAD.

The cuts and changes also mean CJAD sports reporter Chantal Desjardins is out of a job. She made light of the news on Twitter and Facebook:

Bell confirmed with me this afternoon that CJAD reporter Claude Beaulieu has also been terminated. Spokesperson Olivier Racette wouldn’t confirm how many jobs have been cut.

I’ve also heard from multiple sources that assistant CJAD program director Teri-Lee Walters is gone. But because she’s not on-air staff, Bell did not confirm that name. An email sent to her at work prompted an automated response saying it had been forwarded to Bury.

Bury wasn’t allowed to comment directly about the changes. All comment from the employer was filtered through Racette. Here is what he wrote to me in an email:

We are consolidating our Montréal-based radio stations in one location at 1717 René-Lévesque [E.] this week to improve operating efficiencies. We have made reductions in a number of positions that would have become redundant as a result of the move.

Additionally, the move provided the opportunity to make some programming changes, which will see the departure of TSN Radio 690’s Ted Bird and CJAD 800’s Ric Peterson, Sharman Yarnell, Chantal Desjardins and Claude Beaulieu. They are all highly-respected figures in Montreal radio and we thank them for their contribution to the success of both TSN Radio 690 and CJAD.

TSN’s move from its Greene Ave. office to the one at the corner of Papineau Ave. housing the former Astral stations took place Thursday morning at 10am. Shaun Starr and Elliott Price were the last people to broadcast from 1310 Greene.

UPDATE (Sept. 12): Word has come out that TSN has cancelled The Franchise, the weekend morning show. Host Nick Murdocco says the show will continue, broadcast 8-10am weekends on MontrealHockeyTalk.com.

His co-host, Gary Whittaker, had this to say on Facebook:

Had a great 4 year run at TSN Radio working the weekend mornings, which has now officially come to an end. I want to thank everyone for their support since we started at CJLO. Definitely not over for The Franchise…sometimes you need to be pushed out of the nest in order to fly, and this is exactly what we plan on doing…taking off to bigger and better opportunities for us to make a full time career out of it.

Racette confirmed the news, saying “the TSN Radio 690 [weekend] morning show is headed in a new direction. Details will be announced at a later date.”

UPDATE (Sept. 30): Producer Sheldon Fried is also reportedly among those let go.

Chris Bury appointed program director at TSN 690, remains PD at CJAD

Chris Bury

Chris Bury

Everyone’s wondering about what kind of changes we’re going to see at Montreal’s two English-language AM talk stations now that they’re owned by the same company. The first step in the transformation happened on Tuesday when Martin Spalding, now vice-president of operations and local sales for Quebec radio for Bell Media, appointed Chris Bury as program director for TSN 690.

Bury is the program director at CJAD, and will retain this role, meaning he’ll be programming both stations.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon to staff at both stations, and Spalding confirmed it to me.

“His nomination came out today so it is a little early to start talking change but knowing him, without a doubt, he will work hard to make the best of TSN and CJAD,” Spalding told me. “It’s great that the station will have a dedicated program director, it will only pay dividends.”

Wayne Bews

Wayne Bews

TSN 690’s station manager, Wayne Bews, who was performing the duties of program director before the merger, remains in his role. “For the time being, it’s business as usual and Wayne continues to assume his current role,” Spalding said, which certainly doesn’t sound like anyone should bet on Bews’s job staying the same for long. CJAD, CHOM and Virgin Radio have their own program directors but not individual station managers, which would make it odd for TSN 690 to retain one after the merger is complete.

Bury also said it was “too early” to talk about programming changes.

UPDATE (Sept. 4): Bews has been named retail sales manager for CTV Montreal.

The third option for TSN Radio 690

If you don’t want to read this really long post, you can get the short version in this story and this followup in The Gazette, and this story at Cartt.ca.

CRTC Quebec regional commissioner Suzanne Lamarre grills Bell on its plans for Montreal radio on Monday.

CRTC Quebec regional commissioner Suzanne Lamarre grills Bell on its plans for Montreal radio on Monday.

I’d thought about it. Some people had asked me about it. Others suggested it to the CRTC in their written submissions. And the CRTC asked Bell about it in a letter after it filed its application. But until Monday afternoon I didn’t think it was seriously an option that the commission might consider imposing.

Could the CRTC force Bell to keep CKGM (TSN Radio 690) and sell one of the other English-language Astral radio stations in Montreal, as a condition of approving the larger Bell-Astral deal?

Learning from the very negative public reaction from its initial proposal last year to turn CKGM into a French-language radio station, this time Bell is asking for an exception to the CRTC’s radio common ownership policy so it can keep it in English while still owning three other stations in the (currently) five-station market. This puts the commission in an awkward position if it accepts the purchase deal. Does it give the exception, giving one company control of four of five commercial stations and 75% of the commercial audience share? Or does it deny the exception, forcing Bell to sell the money-losing station to someone else who would most likely change its format? Bell convinced thousands of listeners that the former is better, putting together a Save TSN 690 petition and getting the same fans who were cursing its name months earlier to be suddenly singing its praises.

A background in common ownership

The CRTC’s common ownership policy, often incorrectly or incompletely explained, has two rules for radio:

  1. One company can’t own more than two AM stations and two FM stations in a single market
  2. One company can’t own more than three stations total in a market with fewer than eight commercial stations

French and English stations are considered in separate markets even if they share the same geographical area. Montreal’s English market, with only five commercial stations (though soon to be six) meets that second criteria, while the French market, with 11 commercial stations (soon to be 13 or even 14), doesn’t.

The policy is just that, a policy, and exceptions have been granted before. The most on-point one is one that was granted to Cogeco in 2010 that allowed it to keep three French FM stations in Montreal after it acquired most of the Corus Quebec network. This was allowed in exchange for Cogeco setting up the Cogeco Nouvelles radio news service, with CHMP 98.5 FM in Montreal as its flagship station. That station is now the highest-rated in Quebec. The second-highest-rated, CFGL (Rythme FM) 105.7, is also owned by Cogeco.

The irony here is that this request was strongly opposed by Astral Media (it even threatened legal action to stop it), it was supported by third parties because it would put Cogeco in a position to better compete with Astral, and Cogeco is a fierce opponent of the Bell/Astral deal because of increased concentration of ownership. (Cogeco hasn’t said much about the request for an exception, perhaps seeing how hypocritical it would look.)

Now Bell/Astral is using the Cogeco decision as a precedent to get the same treatment in English. Astral argues this should be an easier decision because unlike CHMP, CKGM is a money-losing station, its audience is tiny, and it’s on AM.

And Cogeco, the one company that you’d think would be most against allowing Bell to own four of the five stations in this market, is silent on the matter. Cogeco CEO Louis Audet told me on Wednesday after the company’s appearance before the CRTC that “we’ve kept away from that” and “it’s up to the commission to decide.”

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CJAD launches new sound

CJAD listeners will notice the station sounds a bit different now, particularly during its newscasts. Montreal’s news-talk leader launched a new imaging profile on Monday morning. “Imaging” is a radio industry term for “sound” and reflects things like news themes, promo ads and other stuff that give a station its unique sound.

I’ve excerpted some elements of this from a newscast Monday afternoon. Give it a listen. The new sound comes with new pacing for the radio station as well as an advertising campaign, brand director Chris Bury told me (while asking me to wait a day before I evaluate it all).

These kind of things come down to personal taste, so I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you like it or not.

UPDATE: In case you want to compare, Brendan Peterson has put the current CJAD news theme together with the CFRB theme and old CJAD themes here.