TSN 690 is shuffling its lineup after two high-profile and somewhat mysterious departures of midday hosts.
In February, the station was forced to let go of Chris Nilan after the former Canadiens player refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, in violation of a Bell Media policy. Then on May 27, Tony Marinaro resigned from his job as host of The Montreal Forum, later saying it was to focus his attention on a new sports podcast.
To fill both those holes, TSN has taken two hard-working veteran supporting characters — Sean Campbell and Mitch Gallo — and put them in the spotlight as a duo. The show, called Campbell vs. Gallo, debuts Monday, June 20. It will run from 10am to 2pm, with Mitch Melnick’s afternoon show shifted an hour earlier to run 2-6.
It was 12 years ago that the group that would become TTP Media first came on the scene.
It was a little less than 10 years ago that the group was given its second licence by the CRTC, for an English-language station at 600 AM that it promised would be a news-talk station to rival CJAD.
It was five years ago this month that CFQR 600 went on the air from its restored transmission site in Kahnawake (formerly used by Cogeco for 940 News and Info 690).
But finally, on June 13, 2022, the station CJAD’s critics have been waiting for is on the air. Sort of.
Late last week, Mike Cohen at the Suburban broke the news that the station would be launching its first program, a weekday morning show hosted by Jim Connell, on Monday. The station also promised a website at the same time, and one is now active at cfqr600.com. The station also has a Facebook page.
From what’s published so far, here’s what we know about CFQR 600 (no relation to the former CFQR-FM, which is now The Beat 92.5):
The morning show, called “Mornings Matter”, will run 6-9am weekdays.
The station’s programming will feature “regular news updates” and music from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
… That’s about it. Though an on-air teaser promises “much more in the weeks ahead.”
Connell’s involvement is not surprising. A former on-air star of 940 News (and the various ways it was rebranded until it was shut down in 2010), he was part of TTP Media’s presentation to the CRTC a decade ago about their plans for a station. When they took forever to get it off the ground, he took a job at Global Montreal helping it launch its morning show. He stayed for three years, and it’s been seven years since then, just to give you an idea how long this has taken.
CFQR’s website, while active, is pretty bare-bones, with a listen link and a contact form. The station has a phone number, 514-470-0600, and promises apps to listen on iOS and Android devices. An address listed on the website is the address of co-owner Nicholas Tétreault’s real estate office on Highway 520 in St-Laurent.
Partner Rajiv Pancholy tells me there aren’t elaborate plans for Day 1.
The first show
“This is Day 1 of a grand experiment,” Connell said as he began Monday’s show. He didn’t do much else in terms of introducing himself or the station, instead talking about what’s going on in the news.
About 15 minutes later, the first talk break, which focused mainly on sports headlines:
The newscasts are running every half hour, with a shorter break between them. Otherwise it’s music, mainly from the 1980s, with artists like Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper and Gloria Estefan.
It’s Day 1, so this is far from the final product. But if this is what people were hoping for as an alternative to CJAD, it’s not there yet, unless what they really wanted was a low-budget throwback hits music station.
Besides Connell’s show, there isn’t much content on the station yet. I haven’t heard a single ad, and newscasts during the rest of the day come from The Canadian Press.
On the English side, CJAD remains the #1 station, but for the first time since the meter rating system came into place, it has dropped below 10,000 average minute listeners. This seems to be continuing a downward trend for CJAD over the past five years.
Is this because fewer people are interested in news-talk radio? Maybe not, because CBC’s audience has grown slightly on average over that time, and French station 98.5 FM is once again boasting that it’s not only the most popular station in Montreal but in Canada as well.
Among the other stations, not that much has changed. The Beat remains number 2, followed by CBC Radio One (though it has come down a bit from that spike in fall 2021), CHOM and then Virgin Radio. It’s been almost three years since Virgin blew up its morning show and installed Vinny and Shannon as the new hosts, and despite Bell-owned billboards all over the city with their faces on them, the station’s overall ratings remain below what they were before they were brought on board.
TSN 690, meanwhile, continues to hold its own despite the poor showing of the Canadiens this season and lukewarm interest in the city’s other sports teams. Notably, it still has an overall audience above French-language sports station 91.9 Sports, which makes some recent decisions even more of a head-scratcher.
Among other French stations, not much to note, except at Énergie, which must be happy with its best audience in years. Its 8.7% share among francophones was the highest since 2013.
In Quebec City, Radio-Canada takes top spot over the populist talk stations with a 22.9% share at ICI Première. It’s followed by CHOI Radio X (17%), FM93 (15.9%), Rythme 102,9 (7.6%), WKND 91,9 (7.5%) and Rouge 107,5 (6.4%). CBC Radio One trails the pack with a 0.3% share.
In Sherbrooke, Radio-Canada again leads the pack with a 21.4% share, followed by Rouge (15.9%), Énergie (14.2%), 107,7 (13.3%) and Rythme (7.8%).
In Trois-Rivières, again Radio-Canada leads with a 14.4% share, with Bell’s Rouge and Énergie neck and neck for second place and Rythme in third.
In Ottawa-Gatineau, among francophones, Radio-Canada is well ahead with a 21% share, followed by Rouge, Wow, talk station 104,7, Énergie and ICI Musique.
In what he called a “very difficult but necessary decision,” Canadian regime leader Justin Trudeau announced on Friday he has unilaterally agreed to sell the Labrador territory to U.S. billionaire George Soros to pay a secret debt to the World Economic Forum.
Under the terms of the agreement made public on Friday, Soros will approve a new constitution for Labrador and install its first government. Those who wish to leave the territory and remain Canadian citizens will be permitted to do so until Dec. 31, and those who remain will become subjects of Soros.
Canadian laws will remain in place, but all references to Her Majesty the Queen will be replaced by Dear Leader George Soros.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay will become the capital of this new quasi-independent nation.
Trudeau said his failed vaccine procurement racked up huge debts with the WEF, especially as the prices of semiconductors skyrocketed during the pandemic, making it much more difficult to acquire the 5G microchips from Bill Gates that were needed to make the vaccines work.
“George and I determined that the best option for him and Canada was to negotiate this sale, along with all natural resources rights, and a non-compete clause that would ensure Canada does not do any oil extraction east of Manitoba for the next 50 years.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “We will invite you to file an access to information request if you want to find out how much Soros paid us. Good luck with that,” Trudeau said.
“But at least we can go back to just calling the province of Newfoundland Newfoundland again.”
The World Economic Forum said it was happy that Canada had finally paid its debt, avoiding an “unfortunate” default that might have led to the entire country being sold off. But it said the suspension of Canadians’ fundamental rights to breathe germs on each other would need to continue for at least another six months, and would be re-evaluated thereafter.
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin said he was disturbed by what is going on in Canada and said his government was looking into sending a peacekeeping mission to Labrador to protect its citizens.
CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel, is broadening its horizons. Starting Monday, it’s launching a new daily sports betting show.
Hosted by Peter Van Dusen, Beat the House will explore all aspects of sports betting, previewing upcoming games, giving picks from Van Dusen and a panel of experts, and offering tips on how to get maximum value from your wagers.
“Our team and our sponsors are very excited to get into this space,” said CPAC spokesperson Avril Pescado. “We know demand for sports betting has been very high, and we think we have the best team of sports betting analysts ready to go.”
Once Beat the House gets settled in, CPAC says it will be looking at a political betting companion show, which will accompany viewers as they place wagers on things like who will form the next government and what politician will be the next one ejected from their party.
Pierre Bruneau, who anchored newscasts on TVA for decades before recently announcing his retirement, has announced what his next project will be: TikTok content creator.
“I loved my time at TVA, but I’ve been wanting for a long time to explore my more creative side,” Bruneau said in an interview. “Now I’ll have the time to really focus on my new TikTok career.”
Among the content he’s toying around with these days, there’s morning chats, random trivia, story times from his career as a journalist, cycling time lapses, stitches with fellow creators and fans, and live Q&As.
“I really want to get into fun transitions,” Bruneau said, mimicking the moves of some of his favourite fashion creators. “But, to be honest, I suspect most of my videos will just me of me dancing to my favourite songs. As they say in the industry: sueur, sueur, sueur.”
A new report just released by a consulting firm may have an innovative new solution to the political deadlock over a proposed third link between Quebec City and Lévis.
Published earlier this week on an obscure part of the Quebec government website, the report calls for the establishment of a “mobile water surface travel conveyance” (“moyen de transport mobile à la surface de l’eau”) that could connect a fixed point in the national capital (a spot in Basse-Ville has been suggested) with a point near downtown Lévis.
Quebecor is doing its part to help the Ukrainian people by offering $5,000 worth of free advertising space for Ukrainian advertisements on its AddikTV specialty channel.
“Our hearts are broken for the people of Ukraine, and we hope this gesture will help,” the company said in a statement.
Den Smikhu of Ukraine’s tourism office said while he doesn’t know exactly what they will do with all that free advertising time, he’s grateful for Quebecor’s offer.
“We’re not in a position to shoot new ads right now promoting Ukrainian tourism, but hopefully when things get better we’ll have all sorts of ads promoting this beautiful country to all the Quebecers watching old dubbed episodes of The Rookie at 7pm.”
Calling it an industry first, CityNews announced today it will begin producing its local and national newscasts in portrait mode — 9×16 instead of 16×9.
The switch to portrait mode will allow the news segments to more easily be ported to platforms of the future — Facebook video and TikTok in particular, the company said in a statement.
But what about those of us who still like to watch the news on our big-screen HDTV?
Citytv recommends those people rotate their television screens 90 degrees for the duration of the local newscast.
“We considered doing a pillarbox format for broadcast, but you lose more than two thirds of the screen real estate that way,” said Citytv spokesperson Ngay Cathangtu.
Mathematically, a vertical HD image on a horizontal 16×9 screen would use up 607×1080 pixels, or a third of the 1920×1080 screen, so City’s suggestion makes sense. Unlike cellphones and tablets, televisions and cable boxes don’t come with automatic orientation detection that allows it to adjust video accordingly.
With a newscast that does pretty poorly in the ratings here, there’s not much for City to lose by trying this.
They call them “driveway moments”, the segments so compelling that drivers will stay in their cars after they’ve parked because they have to hear the end of them.
For Ziua Pacalelii, who goes by “Zoo” on The Beat 92.5, one of those moments came earlier this week.
During a seven-second break between songs from 3:43:06 to 3:43:10 pm on Tuesday, Zoo gave the station ID, made a pun about Will Smith at the Oscars, asked people for their thoughts on Smith’s apology and teased music coming up from Doja Cat and Shawn Mendes when he felt an almost out-of-body experience. “It just felt like poetry pouring out of my mouth,” he said. “I could tell this segment was something special.”
Some of the text messages that came across after a particularly touching seven-second on-air segment this week.
“The part where I asked people what they thought really resonated with a lot of listeners,” Zoo told me the next day. “People were like ‘wow, no one has ever cared this much about what I thought before.’ That’s the best thing to hear.”
Zoo says he’s looking forward to a shift in a few weeks when the program director thinks he can allow up to 20 seconds of chat between songs. “I’m spending every waking moment preparing what I’m going to say. If I’m going to keep someone in their driveway for 20 whole seconds, I gotta make it worth it.”
Montreal’s police department said on Friday it feels vindicated after officers savagely beat an affluent white man and kept him in jail for a week after mistaking him for a criminal suspect.
“I think this proves quite clearly that this department doesn’t engage in racial profiling,” said Capt. Manuel Di Adosbobos. “We treat everyone equally here.”
Richard Marc Lebanc was arrested on March 22nd while standing next to his car in an Outremont parking lot. Police said they were searching for a man fitting his description who was suspected of engaging in acts of fraud in the area.
“We didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt just because he was white,” Di Adosbobos said. “We said someone said it was him, we physically restrained him to protect ourselves, and we sent him to jail without a second thought.”
The actual suspect in the string of crimes, Mark R. White, was arrested a few days later and confessed to the crimes after a 37-hour interrogation. Two days after that, Leblanc was let go.
The police department said they were sorry that, for reasons beyond their control, Leblanc was the tragic victim of circumstance.
Introducing what it calls “new blood” into the online streaming space, Corus announced today the launch of RACKTV, a companion service to its existing STACKTV service, but with adult content.
“We’re combining the trusted quality behind STACKTV with Canadians’ insatiable thirst for the naughty stuff with our new RACKTV,” the announcement reads. “With thousands of hours of professional, tasteful, titillating and verified consensual content, we expect demand for this service to drive up … hard.”
RACKTV starts at $6.69/month, but with a free 30-day trial. Its content will be mostly exclusive to the service, not the kind of low-grade stuff you find on free websites. … Or so I’m guessing. I don’t watch porn, so I don’t know how it works.
Corus gave a long list of porn stars and services that are joining RACKTV on launch, none of which I recognize but I don’t watch porn, but at least three are misspelled.
I’ve been invited to review Corus’s new offering, which is available on Amazon Prime Video and Roku. I see it as a duty to try it out even though I don’t watch porn.
We’ll see how well it does, but then I’ll stop because I don’t watch porn.
Janet Possendevrille says she feels a little embarrassed that her post-pandemic return to the office didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of finding her desk with a layer of dust and maybe a rotting apple she forgot in a drawer, she found a notice on her desk telling her she was being laid off effective March 1, 2021.
The long-time Bell Media administrative assistant said she should probably have paid more attention a year ago when she lost access to her work email and didn’t have much work to do every day. “I just figured I’d get a notice when IT fixed the email problem, and without anyone working in the office I guess I thought there wasn’t much for me to do.”
After checking the voicemail on her office desk phone, she found several messages, including one reminding her of a mandatory virtual meeting on Feb. 28, and another from HR about her severance.
“I guess that’s why my bank account has less money than usual,” she quipped.
She said she holds no ill will toward her previous employer. “They wished me well in my future endeavours. How could I be mad at that? It’s so thoughtful.”
A Montreal man was arrested on Thursday after repeatedly refusing to watch a video that he was told multiple times was “must see”.
Police have charged Mel Agi? Diena with two counts of failure to watch a mandatory video and one count of resisting arrest. She is expected to appear in court Friday.
In a Facebook post recounting his ordeal, Diena said she wasn’t interested in some video of a dog doing something cute and had better things to do with her time. “Who cares about some stupid dog?” she wrote.
That explanation didn’t do much to assuage Facebook users, even some close friends, who insisted that she had to watch the video even if she didn’t like it.
“They said it was must-see Mel! They don’t joke about that,” one comment read.
The Crown prosecutor’s office said it will be asking the judge to order Diena to watch the video because “it’s just so adorable, you have to see it.”
One of the lesser-known items in the provincial budget announced in March is a new source of revenue for the province: Quebec plans to sell non-fungible tokens for all 243,837 named cities, lakes, roads, parks, rivers, bridges and other places tracked by the toponymy commission.
Details are still to be worked out. Quebec plans to sell the NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain, and hold a public auction for the sales starting in a few months. But no estimate has been made on potential sale prices or the potential windfall for the government.
Quebec’s digital and cybersecurity department stresses that the NFTs are symbolic and that owning the NFT for say, the city of Laval does not confer ownership of that city.
Among the NFTs expected to fetch the highest prices are large cities like Montreal and Quebec City, geologic features like the St. Lawrence River and Île-d’Orléans, and for-the-lulz places like Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!