CFQR announcement a whole lot of nothing

Q92 logo

It was billed as a big announcement. Huge. Multiple full-page ads in the paper, lots of announcements on the radio. Everything was going to change at Montreal’s Q92 at 8:45am this morning.

And nothing did. Which makes me kind of cranky because I’m not used to waking up before noon and I’m low on sleep for nothing.

But with parent company Corus Entertainment seeing a 30% drop in profits from its radio division (pdf), it’s clear some management types decided major changes were in order.

Here’s what is changing:

  • The name and logo. They’ve added the indefinite article “the” before the Q. This gives them a new, edgy and unique name (if you don’t count that station in Victoria)
  • The website. From to, which seems more complicated to me, but I’m not an online marketing expert.
  • The on-air talent. Despite some rumours, the morning team remains the same, but some of the afternoon and weekend people are leaving. Details below.
  • The programming (maybe).They’re promising “more music” as if it’s somehow possible to cram more songs into an hour and still have advertising, traffic and weather. They also say they’ll have more variety, but having listened for a few hours I haven’t heard a single song that screams variety to me.
  • The jingles. Still in the same style, but with a new annoying catchphrase.

The moves

Lots of talent is moving over to new time slots. Here’s the skinny. You can see the full schedule (PDF) on their website.

  • Aaron, Tasso and Suzanne are still together, prolonging Aaron & Tasso’s seemingly endless tenure at the helm of Montreal morning radio. The only change there is that the show ends at 8:45am instead of 9.
  • Donna Saker moves from doing late morning/early afternoon to a six-hour shift in the afternoons (1pm-7pm), including a seat at the table of the afternoon drive show.
  • Tammy Moyer takes over the late morning shift from 9am to noon weekdays.
  • Terry DiMonte continues his home-away-from-home noon-hour program
  • My favourite new radio personality Natasha Hall survived a broadcast station makeover (she had some bad luck at previous jobs), and moves from Sunday evenings to do the graveyard shift, midnight to 5am Monday to Thursday.
  • Taking its cue from other radio stations, the Q now has a best-of show of Aaron, Tasso and Suzanne on Saturday mornings. It runs from 9am to noon. Similarly, there’s a “best of John Tesh” show (isn’t that an oxymoron?) from 6pm to 9pm Sundays.
  • Leta Polson has a more sane schedule, doing noon to 6pm on weekends. Previously she did the morning shift on Saturdays and the afternoon/evening shift on Sundays.
  • Weekends feature shows with no hosts listed:
    • Studio 92: 6pm to midnight Saturdays
    • Montreal’s Greatest Hits: 9am to noon Sundays
    • Chill: 9pm to midnight Sundays

The cuts

Not mentioned in any of this, of course, are the people whose shows are getting cut in the shuffle. Sonia Benezra and Judy Croon both get booted off the drive-time show in favour of Saker. Ron E. MacKinnon loses his 7-9pm show to an ealier start to the John Tesh show, and Jeremy Zafran loses his weekend gig from 9am to 2pm on Saturdays.

Sonia Benezra

Sonia Benezra

Judy Croon

Judy Croon

Jeremy Zafran

Jeremy Zafran

Ron E. MacKinnon

Ron E. MacKinnon

Leo Da Estrela, the other half of Patrick and Leo (Patrick jumped to CJFM for its Virgin Radio remake), also gets cut from his Saturday morning show. (UPDATE: He says he’s sticking around though, as Assistant Program Director for CFQR and CINW 940)

The website

The new website is kind of startlingly bland, with a “listen live” link, some pictures of famous singers, and a link to the now-updated Facebook group, but not much else. I’m assuming more stuff will come later, much like it did on the Virgin Radio 96 site a few weeks after its launch.

Oh, and if the lady holding the headphones there looks familiar, it’s probably because it’s a stock photo available on a bunch of cheap stock photo websites. It was taken by a British photographer named Cathy Yeulet. I guess it would have been too difficult to have a photo of a Montrealer holding a pair of headphones and smiling.

The announcement

The new era began with a two-and-a-half minute announcement read over a rather ominous-sounding background sound. You can listen to it here (with bonus bumbers and jingles).

This is the text read over the air in its entirety:

Good morning, and thanks for being here for our special announcement.

Over the past few months, we’ve been working on something new for you. We didn’t want to guess what you wanted, so it all began with hundreds of conversations with Q listeners just like you. You told us overwhelmingly that you loved your Q92, but it was time for a change, for something fresh and completely new.

Well, we took all of your suggestions and went to work. You said you wanted us to play more music, not just more songs but a bigger variety. We’re going to do that for you. Every hour during the work day, we’ll feature 10 great Q songs in a row, and you’re going to hear more of your favourite songs too.

You told us you wanted a fresh new sound, something that would be just right for you. We’re going to do that too, with a whole new listening environment we know you’re going to enjoy.

You told us you wanted fun weekends, fun prizes, and a perfect way to de-stress every evening. We’ve got it all for you. Coming this weekend we have special new shows that are just right for you. And today marks the kickoff of our famous Dream Home Makeover, where one of you will win over $125,000 worth of dream improvements to the most important place in your world: your home.

It doesn’t stop there, but let’s get to the music. So thanks for all your listening and loyalty over the years. Today marks the start of something fresh and new. It starts with our new name. As of today, we’re calling ourselves Ninety-two-five, the Q. We’ve got a great new website, revamped shows, great music, and it’s all been built with one thing in mind: that it’s just right for you. Welcome to the all-new Q.

[Jingle: “Montreal’s Montreal’s music … the Q’s just right for you”]

My take

The announcement reads like what you’d expect from a station that brought in a bunch of focus groups and couldn’t really tell what they wanted. The answers are conflicting: They like the station but want to change everything. They want more music but also more prizes and fun stuff.

The announcement is devoid of any specifics, and there’s no corresponding press release yet, but I’m guessing it’s not going to include a whole lot of numbers. Other than the schedule shuffle, the changes seem mostly cosmetic and more about marketing than programming.

So tell me again what I got up early for?

Your take

The CFQR makeover is:

  • Epic marketing fail
  • Total listener fraud
  • Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic
  • Irrelevant
  • The Q is The Win!

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

UPDATE: Mike Cohen of The Suburban is the only journalist to talk about this non-change so far. He also mentions changes at 940 AM.

14 thoughts on “CFQR announcement a whole lot of nothing

  1. Marc

    I posted this on another blog, so I figure I’ll post it here, too.

    Nothing more than a hyped-up, fresh coat of paint. Not even a new
    color, just new paint. I’m annoyed that they got rid of Ron MacKinnon and
    replaced him with more John Tesh reading “advice” out of magazines. Budget
    cuts, I guess?

    “Montreal’s Greatest Hits” on Sunday mornings – what are they going to simulcast
    940 now?

    I would like to think that Natasha Hall will be live (and not voice-tracked). They could really use a
    live overnight show.

    It is: somewhat irrelevant, a crappy way of covering up budget cuts, and a marketing FAIL.

    I wonder what this new “Chill” thing is going to be…?

  2. Vahan

    92.5 is still on the air? Did CFCF not close it down like a million years ago? People tune into this station? Is that the station where the guy pretends he is Greek and they laugh and laugh and laugh without saying a word? What a waste of frequency? Pablum has more to it than the 92.

  3. Erin

    My mother-in-law listens to this station pretty much all day every day, so even though I’m not a big radio person I have a fairly good sense of what they play. We were over there all weekend this weekend, and I have to say – that monkey was a WAY better DJ than whoever they usually had. They played oldies, and great ’90s stuff, and bizarre power-ballads…it was great! Weird, totally incoherent, and confusing perhaps, but at least every one in ten songs or so was something that didn’t make me feel like I was at the dentist.

    In conclusion- they should forget this revamp and keep the monkey.

  4. Chris

    I don’t think this was the result of focus groups. I think these were just budget cuts (staff cuts, more repeats), spun as a format change. It’s good marketing: maybe a few people, like you, tuned in out of curiosity, while hopefully their listeners won’t infer a drop in quality (as most CBC listeners do after budget cuts).

  5. Anonymous

    I do a lot of driving around 4:00pm since I work in Montreal and live in the Laurentians, I used to listen to french radio but when I heard that Sonia Benezra was part of a radio show at Q92 (still for me), I started to listen to it and that combination of Ken, Sonia and Judy made my drive a lot more fun since they made me laught a lot.

    I am so sorry that Sonia and Judy are gone that I stopped listening to the Q (as it was renamed, which is nonsense to me).

    Even for budget reasons, I think it will do more bad than good.


  6. Lisa

    Q92 was in need of some tweaking–they’d been using the same jingles and music beds for way too long. Corus has been desperately cutting, cutting, cutting for a while now, and the ones who were axed this time around were casualties of a big corporation’s insatiable appetite for profit. The playlist has not changed whatsoever, they’ve shuffled around the remaining announcers a wee bit, and changed the already crap logo to an even worse one. None of this is going to change the fact that ratings have been dropping consistently over the past few years. Take it from someone who knows; Q’s management is the biggest problem that station has. Until that can change, it’ll just keep sinking like the damaged ship it is.

  7. Kahn

    @ Erin, agreed… keep the monkey!!!

    I never listened to this lousy station to begin with… sounds like I will continue to not listen.

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