As The Beat’s staff and selected guests were celebrating the station’s first anniversary under its new brand, I chatted with its general manager, Mark Dickie, and its program director Leo Da Estrela. Among the topics we discussed over the loud music was this guy, Jeremy White, an enthusiastic young personality out of Kahnawake who impressed his bosses with his work ethic.
If The Beat’s competitor had any sense, they told me, they’d have stolen White away from them and given him a job at CHOM.
They asked me to keep that to myself, since they didn’t want Astral to actually steal White away from them.
But now Dickie has moved on to another job, Da Estrela is preparing for his own departure, and White has finally been stolen by Bell Media.
The only catch is he won’t be working in Montreal.
— Jeremy White (@OnAirWithJeremy) March 20, 2014
Virgin Radio Edmonton announced on Wednesday that White has been hired as their evening host starting March 31. White relayed the news via social media early Thursday while he was still on the air at The Beat. He’s already overhauled his Twitter account with the new job info.
White has another week at The Beat before moving west.
The new job is a step up from his current one doing overnights at The Beat. (He briefly got bumped up to doing the evening job at the Beat after Paul Hayes left, to “give him some prime-time exposure,” and got bumped back when they hired Kim Sullivan. White also hosts the Saturday Party Jam on Saturday evenings.)
CFMG-FM bills itself as “Edmonton’s #1 Hit Music Station,” but it actually has just a 3.9% overall share, behind The Bear (rock), CFCW (country), The Bounce (CHR), Sonic (hot AC), K97 (classic rock), CISN (country), Up 99.3 (AC), Hot 107 (top 40), Cruz FM (adult hits), Fresh FM (hot AC), Now (hot AC) and Capital FM (classic hits), plus talk station CHED and CBC Radio One.
In short, it has a lot of work to do.
As you would expect, White says he’s excited about the new job, but will find it hard to leave Montreal.
Just add his address to the monthly shipment of smoked meat, bagels and poutine to Montreal expats in Alberta.
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?
Wayne Bews, the long-time general manager at Team 990 (then TSN Radio 690), until he was moved into a sales job at CTV Montreal, has been hired to become the new general manager and general sales manager at 92.5 The Beat.
The news was announced on Wednesday to the staff at CTV Montreal and The Beat. Bews replaces Mark Dickie, who left the station a month ago to work for Corus as general manager of its Cornwall and newly-acquired Ottawa stations.
Bews, who by all accounts was well-liked by the staff at CKGM, guided the struggling station as it finally made one format stick. By the time he left last fall, it was still struggling, but had a loyal audience and solid footing, and secured a guaranteed lifeline thanks to parent company Bell’s acquisition of Astral Media.
But it was that same acquisition that pushed Bews out of that job. Last August, Chris Bury was made program director for both CJAD and TSN Radio, and within weeks Bews had found another job within the company as the retail sales manager at CTV Montreal.
Bews started his career as a sales representative for CHOM and CKGM, back when both were owned by CHUM. He’s spent 20 years in this market selling radio advertising and managing radio stations.
He’ll start in his new job in early March. The exact date hasn’t been set yet. CTV Montreal staff were told that he would be helping general manager Louis Douville transition to a replacement, which is interesting since he’s moving to one of Bell’s chief competitors.
When word started to spread that the top two people at The Beat had resigned, many came to a quick conclusion: Cogeco is cleaning house, maybe in response to unsatisfactory ratings, or because, one rumour went, they were planning to sell the station.
As it turns out, everyone involved says it’s just a coincidence. Really bad timing.
Last Friday, general manager and general sales manager Mark Dickie informed his bosses that he was resigning in order to accept a position as a manager of multiple radio stations at Corus Entertainment. Because he was leaving for a competitor, even though it wasn’t in the same city, his three weeks’ notice was waived and he was asked (politely) to leave the building, though neither he nor Cogeco Diffusion have any hard feelings. Staff were informed of his departure on Monday.
Leo Da Estrela, the program director, has been named interim general manager. But he, too, is leaving. He actually informed his bosses in September that he wanted to leave, but he was asked to stay on until December. With Dickie’s departure, he’s been asked (and accepted) to stay on until April to ensure a smooth transition to new managers.
At the same time, promotions director Linda Fraraccio is also leaving The Beat. This Friday was her last day at the station, and she starts a new job at CTV Montreal as manager of creative services, marketing and community relations, on Monday.
I write about the three departures in this story, which appears in Saturday’s Gazette. It includes comments from Dickie, Da Estrela and Cogeco Diffusion President Richard Lachance.
Here’s some more detail about what’s going on:
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.
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.”
Jerome filled in on the afternoon drive show as the station waited for Cousin Vinny’s contractual obligations to Virgin Radio to expire last year. She also filled in for Saker while she was away.
“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.
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.
In what it described as an addition to its “already amazing weekend lineup,” 92.5 The Beat has added Carson Daly, whose Daly Download top 30 show will air Saturdays from 9am to noon.
The show, which launched in July, airs on dozens of CBS and Cumulus radio stations in the U.S., but this appears to be its first Canadian pickup. It’s distributed here by Spark Networks, comes in three-hour and four-hour versions, and contemporary hit radio and hot adult contemporary formats.
On The Beat, the show mainly replaces All Access Weekends with Anne-Marie Withenshaw, which had a long run on the station from 10am to noon on Saturdays. Withenshaw just had her first child and is taking maternity leave. So I asked The Beat’s program director Leo Da Estrela what will happen when she’s ready to come back.
“Anne-Marie is definitely part of the weekend line-up when she returns form her maternity leave,” he said. “Without saying too much about our future scheduling, Carson Daly and Anne-Marie will be an integral part of our weekend line-up.”
The rest of The Beat’s schedule remains local, even overnights. Daly’s show follows Weekend Breakfast with Ken Connors and leads into Feel Good Weekends with Nat Lauzon.
Here’s the press release:
Montreal, August 30, 2013 – Carson Daly, host of NBC’s “The Voice” has a new weekly countdown show called “The Daly Download with Carson Daly – This Week’s Top 30”.
THE BEAT WELCOMES CARSON DALY TO ITS ALREADY AMAZING WEEKEND LINEUP
The Daly Show will be part of The Beat’s Saturday schedule, premiering August 31 from 9 a.m. until Noon. The show features three hours of great music, and exclusive interviews with the biggest and brightest names in music. The show brings a new twist to radio by taking listener interactivity to another level. With the biggest hits and the biggest stars while showcasing one the most influential music personalities, Carson Daly’s “The Daly Countdown” is now part of your “Feel Good Weekends” on 92.5 The Beat of Montreal.
The Beat has grabbed yet another personality from Virgin Radio. Although this one had a few in-between steps first.
Kim Sullivan, who was part of CJFM when it rebranded to Virgin Radio in 2009, took a job nine months later at CHIQ-FM in Winnipeg (then Curve 94.3, now Fab 94.3), then went to Ottawa’s CJOT-FM (Boom 99.7) in 2010. She also hosted a show on Rogers TV in Ottawa. Since moving away she’s made no attempt to hide her love for her home town and openly mused about coming back here someday.
Now she gets her chance. The Beat announced the hiring Monday morning, and her first show (called the Sulli Show) is Monday evening. She takes over the Monday to Thursday 8pm to midnight slot formerly occupied by Paul Hayes before he moved back to the U.K., and then Jeremy White after that.
White is back on overnights with Thom Drew. “Jeremy was there for the summer so that we can give him some prime-time exposure,” The Beat’s program director Leo Da Estrela tells me. “At a tender age of 19 we’re going to continue to give him full-time mic-time overnights and allow him to continue to gain experience in the various duties of an announcer. You’ll be hearing him all over the programming schedule this fall.”
Here’s the press release:
KIM SULLIVAN JOINS 92.5 THE BEAT Monday to Thursday 8pm to midnight
Montreal, August 26, 2013 – 92.5 The Beat’s Program Director Leo Da Estrela is thrilled to announce the return of Kim Sullivan to the Montreal airwaves.
WE HAVE AN EERIE FEELING THAT KIM IS 3 TIMES LUCKY…
Born and raised in Montreal, Kim obtained 3 degrees, traveled to over 30 countries and lived on 3 continents before becoming a teacher for the deaf. Too quiet for her, 3 years in, she threw herself into Montreal’s radio scene! After enjoying broadcasting stints in Winnipeg and Ottawa, where she also had her own bucket-list-accomplishing TV show, move #3 brings Kim back to Montreal! It’s been 9 years since she first started her career in the city; she now comes back with 3 tattoos but only 2 puppies… maybe she’ll steal one of Nat Lauzon’s! 92.5 The Beat is happy to have Kim back home where she’ll entertain Montrealers weekday evenings from 8p – midnight with “The Sulli Show”…you might even hear dogs barking in the background.
UPDATE: Audio of Sullivan’s breaks from her first hour on The Beat:
“Hey class clowns, comedians, comics, funny people! Listen up… looking for a gig where you can perform to a larger audience every day? 92.5 The Beat, in Montreal may have the new thing you are looking for.”
That’s how a recent job posting starts. In an apparent effort to pump up the Beat morning show’s not-so-fantastic ratings, it’s seeking a “stunt person” who will “deliver ambitious and innovative content that is creative, fun and engaging, and should relate to a 25-44 female audience.”
The position’s roles aren’t too clearly defined, but social media is a big part of it. The job also involves being out in the city.
Program director Leo da Estrela says he’s been getting a “large number of applicants” since news of the job posting spread on social media.
The vague description is intentional: “It’s a white canvas for us,” he wrote to me in an email. “We’re seeing what’s out there with regards to talents and what can be good for radio.”
*He did specify that “stunt person” won’t be doing anything dangerous like jumping off cliffs or being in high-speed car chases.
People interested in the job have until July 19 to apply.
While the public and the media was hyperfocused on René Homier-Roy’s final morning as host of C’est bien meilleur le matin on Radio-Canada (see audio, photos, video, Gazette story, HuffPost Québec story), there was another emotional goodbye on Montreal radio just a few hours earlier.
Paul Hayes, who we learned last month was leaving 92.5 The Beat to return to the U.K., hosted his final show on Thursday night. He had been the host of Heartbeats, from 8pm to midnight, since shortly after the station launched in 2011.
If you missed it, no worries. He recorded his final message on air and posted it online. He says it’s the first time he’s ever cried on air.
“Over the last few years, I can honestly say that I’ve had the biggest career high of my life. It simply won’t get any better than this for me,” Hayes said, struggling through tears as he thanked his bosses and coworkers and listeners, and promising to come back to visit often.
“Who knows, maybe I’ll be back on the radio here one day too. I’d like to think it’s a possibility,” he said.
He also posted a note to his Facebook page thanking Montreal listeners:
CKBE FM – 92.5 The Beat – OK, so tonight is my last show on 92.5 and on Sunday I return to the UK to live after 3 years of being away.
It was the most impossible decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.
I cannot put into words how totally incredible this experience has been – It’s the biggest highlight of my career to date. To be broadcasting in North America and to have felt so welcomed by the people of Montreal has been amazing.
The Beat is the most fun and enjoyable place I’ve ever worked, full of talented people – a creative, relaxed, encouraging environment, and the best bosses anybody could EVER wish to have, in Leo Da Estrela Mark Dickie and Andre St-Amand.
I will always have a place in my heart for this city and the radio station, and I take away some of the most incredible memories. I don’t know if it could ever be better than it’s been here.
I felt the need to re-connect with the UK, friends, family, and have some time to catch up with myself a bit, as the last 3 years have been a total whirlwind.
I will be back to visit (probably in the summer months) and I know I’ll keep in touch with a lot of people from here, who have become very important friends in my life.
Thank you everyone in MTL! Much love. XX
Jeremy White takes over
About the same time Hayes was saying his goodbyes, Jeremy White announced on social media that he’s taking over Hayes’s former timeslot. White, a Kahnawake native, started working at K103 while he was still in high school, and has been at The Beat for a little more than a year, doing those thankless overnight shifts.
White’s enthusiasm for music quickly earned him high praise from his bosses at The Beat, who see a lot of potential in him, so this promotion makes a lot of sense.
Paul Hayes, who has been doing the evening Heartbeats show on The Beat since the station rebranded in September 2011, is leaving the station at the end of June to go back to the U.K.
The news came out yesterday as people noticed two ads for announcers at The Beat on MilkmanUnlimited and elsewhere.
“I’ve been away for over three years (with Dubai before here) and it just felt like the right time to re-connect with home – for a while anyway,” Hayes tells me. “I’ve absolutely loved it here, you couldn’t work for a better company, they’ve been genuinely amazing. I’ll be back to visit without doubt, and who knows… I’d consider a move back again at some point too.”
Leo Da Estrela, The Beat’s program director (and the guy who will be taking applications for Hayes’s replacement) confirms Hayes will be leaving at the end of June, and that the station will be announcing that fact on air.
The station has also posted an ad for a temporary part-time announcer. Da Estrela says that’s for vacation relief this summer and isn’t replacing anyone else.
Applications for both positions are due May 22.
|Station||Winter 2011||Winter 2012||Fall 2012||Winter 2013|
BBM ratings, anglo 2+ audience
I don’t normally pay that much attention to the quarterly BBM ratings of Montreal radio stations. Not because I don’t care, but just because there’s rarely anything in them that’s newsworthy. A share point up here, a share point down there. Some stations do better in some time periods, others do better in others. There isn’t usually much movement.
Lately, CJAD has been first overall among all audiences, while the three music stations have been fighting for audience in key demographics: men for CHOM, young women for Virgin and somewhat older women for The Beat. CBC falls significantly behind, and TSN Radio even further. Other stations don’t even register. Things have been a bit more interesting on the French side with the rise of CHMP 98.5, which is now Quebec’s most-listened-to radio station.
But today’s numbers (PDF) showed a significant change for once: In overall audience (ages 2+), The Beat has leaped ahead of Virgin Radio for the first time, getting an 18.6% share versus 15.9%. That prompted The Beat to send out a press release calling itself “Montreal’s #1 Music Station”.
That was enough for a Gazette story on the matter.
But as the story shows, The Beat’s claim to be ahead of Virgin comes with a caveat: Virgin still outperforms in key demographics (among them, adults 25-54, adults 18-34 and women 25-54) and in key time periods.
In Astral’s press release, in which Virgin also calls itself “Montreal’s number one music station”, it focuses on the key advertising demographic of adults 25-54, in which Virgin still leads.
We could play with demographics all day, but if we stick to adults 25-54, the results show a three-way tie among the music stations: Virgin 21.9%, The Beat 20.1% and CHOM 20.0%, with CJAD behind at 13.1%. This represents an upward trend for The Beat and CHOM, but is down from last year for Virgin.
Needless to say everyone’s happy and everyone is number one. Here’s how the numbers break down for each station:
On the list of jobs everyone wants but nobody can get, radio DJ ranks pretty high. Right there with TV anchor and newspaper staff columnist. Those privileged enough to get these coveted positions seem like the luckiest people in the world, especially because the job sounds like it’s so simple.
In Montreal, the three big music stations all have announcers or hosts (what they call the DJs now) in the afternoon drive periods under the age of 35. Why is that? Shouldn’t such a prestigious position (second only to the morning drive slot) go to people who worked in the medium for decades, toiling at some obscure community station in a tiny town working as the overnight traffic announcer? What do these people have that’s so special?
For profiles that appear in Saturday’s Gazette, I met with these three announcers, all of whom got their current jobs in 2012, and asked them about their career paths. As you’ll learn, it’s a combination of good timing, talent, a lot of determination, and a bit of luck.
(These stories took a surprisingly long time to do. Astral was a bit nervous in light of the whole Bell thing, and even after I managed to do all the interviews, the story stayed in the bank for a month so it could work as a feature story in the first week of January when the local arts scene is pretty uneventful. To give you an idea, the photos of Bilal Butt and Andrea Collins, which I took during their interviews, were taken while CHOM and Virgin were still at their old studios on Fort St.)
“Cousin” Vinny Barrucco, 28, started at The Beat in May, after being poached from the same job at Virgin Radio. The Beat’s management apparently found him good enough to fire their existing drive guy and convince Vinny to stay off the radio for three months to comply with a non-compete clause in his Virgin contract.
A guy this young getting poached like this (Cat Spencer and Nat Lauzon were also lured to The Beat from Virgin, though they have much more experience) has got to get to a guy’s ego.
Vinny might seem like a goofball, and to a certain extent he is, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t work hard. He started by doing those right-of-passage jobs, interning for Mitch Melnick on Team 990 and then working at Kahnawake’s K103. He had his eyes set on Virgin, and as he tells it pestered management there for months to get noticed. Finally he was offered an overnight shift in 2009, but quickly moved up to afternoon drive, replacing Mark Bergman who became the station’s brand director.
Vinny’s story includes other tidbits, like his rejections from Concordia’s communications studies program, or the untimely death of his father that set his career back a year but also helped to get it started.
It’s the story of a man who is living his dream because he followed his passion and never gave it up. Yeah, it sounds like a cliché, but there were a few Oprah-like moments when I interviewed him at The Beat, so it seems a propos.
Bilal Butt, 33, is a more familiar name among Montreal radio listeners. He’s been at CHOM since 2005, and worked at CHOM and Mix 96 before that. He was mainly doing evenings until the unceremonious departure of Pete Marier led him to be upgraded to the afternoon drive slot.
When I talked to him last summer and again in the fall, he apologized for leading such a boring life. He’s just a guy with a job on the radio and a musician in his spare time.
To Butt’s boss, André Lallier, that’s what makes him so relatable to listeners: he’s just a regular guy.
Not that his life has been entirely vanilla. His home didn’t have music in it when he was growing up, and his parents didn’t approve of his career goals at first. But he loved radio too much. After interning for Cat and Nat at Mix 96, he began working for CHOM, then took a job in Fort McMurray, Alta., before coming back to CHOM in 2005. And though maybe someday when he’s older he might make the jump to mornings, he’s more than happy where he is right now, with a schedule that lets him both sleep in and go out at night, and a job that lets him play rock music and sit behind a microphone.
Andrea Collins, 28, is the newbie to Montreal radio. She started here in 2011, taking over Virgin’s daytime shift after Nat Lauzon left to focus more on her other projects and do weekends at what would become The Beat. In April, after Barrucco also left for The Beat, Collins was bumped up to afternoon drive.
So I guess Collins owes a lot of her career here to The Beat, even though she’s never worked there.
Collins came to Montreal after a career that led to her working at stations in Winnipeg and Victoria at stations called Kool, Curve, Bob and Q. It involved a lot of moving, but that helped her get so far in such a short time.
As I spoke to her, it had become clear that she’s embracing this city. She’s fallen in love with the Plateau (yeah, she’s become one of those people), and is working on improving her French.
One thing noteworthy about Collins is that she’s the first female solo drive-time announcer at a major commercial English station in Montreal, at least as far as anyone knows (correct me if I’m wrong here). Not that there haven’t been other women in strong positions in Montreal radio, with Sue Smith, Nancy Wood, Nat Lauzon and Donna Saker among them. But the afternoon drive post has been a pretty male-oriented slot, or with a male-female team (conversely, the workday has been mainly female-oriented for music stations like this).
What’s perhaps most remarkable is that this isn’t a big deal, either for Collins or Virgin. It may be a historical footnote, but gender wasn’t really a consideration in choosing Collins for this job, and there hasn’t been some huge feminist revolution that has opened the door to this. It just happened.
There are still some aspects of radio that are sexist in nature. Morning shows, like TV newscasts, are paired male-female, even when some of the most popular teams have been of the same gender (see: Aaron and Tasso, Terry and Ted). But it’s nice to see that another glass ceiling has disappeared, even if Collins didn’t feel it smash as she passed through.
Five things you didn’t know about professional music radio announcers
1. They listen to themselves. You might think these people just show up to work, talk about random stuff they have in their head and then go home. But they actually review a lot of what they say, and so do their bosses. It’s the best way to improve how they sound, and constant improvement is necessary in a world where success is measured by ratings. So these announcers will listen back to recordings of their breaks (in music radio, a “break” is the part where the announcer talks live into the microphone, which sounds like the exact opposite of what a break should be).
2. They’re not rich or famous. Collins and Butt drive old beat-up cars. Barrucco takes the commuter train. Though they can’t claim to be poor, radio announcers in their kinds of jobs have pretty middle-class salaries. Add to that the complete lack of job security and it’s less glamorous than you might think. As for fame, these characters walk the streets undisturbed pretty often. Butt recounts the one time someone recognized him at a Subway. Being recognized in public is the exception rather than the rule.
3. They spend a lot of time at fundraisers. It’s even written into contracts now that radio personalities have to participate in certain events to help promote the station. Add to that events that they’re asked to participate in outside of work. Part of it is because they’re perceived to be locally well-known, and part of it is that radio announcers like these tend to make good emcees.
4. Many of them work alone. Morning shows still have a concept of team, with multiple hosts, a news announcer, a traffic announcer and a technician. But most other shifts at these music stations consist of a single person, who hosts and operates the boards, cueing songs and taking calls. There’s enough time to do it with all the music that plays, but it’s quite a bit of multitasking, and it takes a while to get it all down without screwing things up. Adding social media communication to the mix only adds to that workload.
5. They plan what they say. A good deal of research goes into these shifts. Music announcers have to keep up on the latest news and get everything from celebrity gossip to concert announcements to relay that information to listeners. Even finding little bits of trivial information to send out between two songs requires going out and finding it. It’s not exactly like putting together a Master’s thesis every day, but it’s still a lot of work.