“New CHOM” is hemorrhaging listeners

CHOM has gone through a pretty big change over the last year, and particularly since the beginning of 2010. The morning team has gone through a complete turnover since Pete Marier joined in August. Chantal Desjardins joined in January, and PJ Stock was brought in to replace the departing Ted Bird.

On Feb. 1, the station rebranded itself, promising more and better music, though without being too specific about it.

Whatever they did, it isn’t working. According to the latest ratings numbers, CHOM is losing listeners just about everywhere.

The ratings cover the period from Nov. 30 to Feb. 28, which means only about a third of the latest ratings period covers the “new CHOM”, but it gives the first indications of how listeners reacted to the format change, and that reaction isn’t good.

Astral Media, which compiles ratings information into boring webcasts, has created charts showing numbers for the Montreal region. They’re not complete (and, for those interested, they don’t give very useful information about non-commercial stations like CBC), but for the commercial market, it gives a good perspective of what’s going on.

CHOM, like CJFM and CJAD, is an Astral Media radio station, though the numbers come from BBM.

The chart above shows adults 18-49, a key demographic for advertisers. You can see that CHOM has dropped from second to third, and now sits behind Corus’s CFQR in the ratings (this will be a common theme in the numbers below). In the slightly older 25-54 bracket, it’s the same story, although there CFQR, CHOM and CJAD are neck-and-neck-and-neck with 21% market share each. CJFM holds a commanding lead with 33%.

CHOM is still #1 among men 25-54, but CJFM has virtually eliminated its lead over the past six months, and sits at an uncomfortably close second. Among women 25-54, it’s fourth, and the only station among the big four to lose listeners in the last ratings period.

In the mornings, we see that CHOM has dropped from being a close third to fourth, behind CFQR. While the other stations are gaining listeners or stable, CHOM is clearly losing listeners in large numbers.

This is significant because Ted Bird left at the beginning of January, and Chantal Desjardins came on at the same time. So two thirds of that blue bar represent the new morning team.

It’s not just the mornings. For every time block Astral’s report included (all of them for age 25-54), CHOM has lost listeners, and in most cases has dropped below CFQR in the ratings game:

  • Late mornings: CHOM has dropped from second to third, behind CJFM and now CFQR.
  • Lunch hour: CHOM has dropped from second to third, behind CJFM and now CFQR. CJFM now has almost twice as many listeners as CHOM during this time slot.
  • Early afternoons: CHOM has dropped from second to third, behind CJFM and now CFQR.
  • Drive home: While still holding on to second place, it has lost a lot of ground to leader CJFM, which is the only anglo commercial station to show marked improvement.
  • Weekends: CHOM has dropped from third to fourth, behind CJFM, CJAD and now CFQR, losing 20% of its listeners) in only three months.

CHOM program director Daniel Tremblay didn’t respond to a request for comment about what this might mean for the future of programming on the station.

21 thoughts on ““New CHOM” is hemorrhaging listeners

  1. Jim P

    PJ Stock is difficult to follow, erratic and not that interesting. The programs I have listen too are all about his take on things, his opinion and his dislike for the Habs. It has made me change to another station when I drive to work.

  2. Alex H

    Considering the mish-mash of programming on CJAD on the weekends, I would have to think that the people over at CHOM would be more than a little concerned. It appears clear that CHOM is losing it’s main supporting market (males 18-49), and have done even worse in losing the female listeners. It is interesting to see that both the Virgin Radio format and the Q formats (including the Rand morning show) are doing fairly well.

    I have a more interesting take on the whole thing though: As a whole, Astral stations have ended up with about the same (if not more) of the market. With AM940 gone (a 2% or so of the market to move around), they have come out net even or ahead. Considering they own 75% of the main anglo radio market, they are doing nothing more than arranging the deck chairs. Remember, if CHOM gains and Virgin loses, Astral is still even. There are few real effects.

    More than anything, this is a clear indication that until the main Anglo radio stations are owned by different companies, there will be little true competition in the market place.

    I am also not surprised to see in the french market a move away from 98.5. This is the station that was support to pick up the slack from the closing of Info690, but instead it appears that listeners were lost to the Corus french network in Montreal. I don’t want to say “serves them right”, but rather just to point and say that perhaps people are choosing to avoid the Corus brand.

  3. Paul W

    I enjoy the new expanded CHOM play list however the other cosmetic changes (ie the new logo , station ID announcers etc) leave a lot to be desired. I don’t like the DJ’s trying to sound edgy. The morning show is trying too hard to be edgy for the sake of being edgy. Plus I think the key to success in Montreal radio appears to be the “like ability ” factor of the Dj’s and to be quite frank the morning show has a zero like able feel. The team of Bad Pete , PJ and Chantal has zero chemistry I don’t know if they need more time to gel or it is just not their.

    I guess since the ratings have dropped Big time their will be change on air and off air…

  4. Bill

    They should put PJ over at CJAD during Tommy’s show……switch one blithering fool for another.

    Well done again Astral!

  5. Homer

    I don’t know but listening to a guy shit on my Habs every morning on a Montreal radio station really drives me nuts. The sports reporter job on Morning radio isn’t supposed to be about being ‘fair and balanced’. Nearly everyone listening is a Habs fan, just play the part and get over with it. The show isn’t about you, it’s about the listener.

    I had only switched to CHOM because Nancy Wood was literally putting me to sleep (i got the nods TWICE in traffic) on CBC Daybreak, then PJ is unbearable. Honestly he could use a lesson or two from Sonali Karnik on CBC when it comes to sports reporting on a morning show.

    While it’s too bad how Nancy Wood was treated, she was dreadfully boring in the morning.

  6. lr

    looks like all stations are losing listeners. It is what it is – people are going to Sirius.

    I’m liking the new CHOM. Guess I’m one of the few.

    1. Andre

      Since the newer CHOM, I am thinking more and more about going to satellite radio myself to get the classic rock I love and used to have on CHOM. I agree about the comment that if listeners move from one Astral station to another to another, Astral doesn’t loose, but the real danger for them is Sirius (hope they realize that).

  7. Matthew DeMauro

    I Don’t mind the new morning show but what i really hate about the new CHOM Is the crap modern rock like Linkin Park,Nickelback and Theory of a deadman.

  8. Marky mark

    Seems i`m not alone in my disdain for the new morning show. While Pete Marier and Chantal Desjardins each have their own shortfalls
    the least of which being totally incompatible, the addition of PJ Stock is an insult to the intelligence of the listener. Besides his slurred and un-intelligible babel his addition to the show smacks of desperation. What is the intent of his “Stock Options”segment? Should be called “Chicken Stock”
    He clearly does zero research on anything, and has absolutely no point to make. Anything he does offer is over exagerated clap trap with no basis in fact. He sounds like he just thought of it on the drive in.
    For heavens sake, last Fridays rivetting monologue was about how he stepped in dog crap while walking downtown. I wouldnt mind if there was at least a point being made. And someone sponsors this????
    Mr Stock is clearly out of his depth He should stick to what he does well……whatever that is.
    Trying to articulate a co-herent and subjective commentary is certainly not one of those things.
    One of his monotonal spewing of the weekends sports didnt even feature references to F1 or the PGA events of the weekend. Abyssmal

    And a Bruins Fan??? A blatant Habs hating Bruins fan??? I thought CHOM was the “spirit of Montreal”?? We want to hear about Montreal,
    especially our sports teams. Especially the Habs. Not through clenched teeth, but with proffessional and informative impartiality that other radio stations seem to be able to offer.
    Get rid of this guy. You have nowhere to go but up.

  9. Montreal Guy

    Like the new rock and wish they’d play more. Still too much crap we’ve been hearing for too long playing on Chom. Not sure they fully understand The Evolution of Rock implies they should evolve to 2010.

  10. lynns

    I have stopped listening to CHOM in the morning since they’ve changed…
    Quite frankly I miss Ted Bird!!! He was ALWAYS good for a laugh in the morning, whether it was Bird droppings or the calls to his wife…Too bad he’s gone…

  11. Jay

    When I think of CHOM, the old saying “What goes around, comes around” and it’s coming around in spades! Since Ted’s departure I pretty much listen to XM but make a point to tune in a few time to hear the news and sometimes end up sticking around for a little more. All I can say is that if CHOM ever decided they want to try and regain listeners they need to get rid of Pete, his condescending attitude and the way he treats listeners when they call in is horendous and makes montrealer’s look bad. Chantal I’m on the fence, when she was on afternoons, she was funny and witty in her little segments and in the morning she makes me think of Kim Rossi her first year, “out of place” but Kim eventually found her niche with Ted and Rob and was great, so I think she has possibility. If PJ wants to stay part of the show “Get your a$$ out of bed with the rest of the group, 7am starts, who do you think you are?” other than that as other have said, hard to follow..

    So the morning show has lots of room for improvement, get Rob back to mornings and Pete off the air and already I garantee, listeners will come back. I love Ted but I think he’s moved on and to go back would be a step back for him, we’ll miss you Ted.

    It’s time Astral realize that running a radio station is more then about the bottom dollar, that putting GOOD people together to interact with those who pay your bills comes first, the rest should pretty much fall into place. Unfortunately, most big companies only realize that after the damage is done or when it’s too late, hopefully that time has not yet arrived for CHOM.

    1. Chris H.

      Hear Hear Jay! I think you have summoned up the situation, very accurately. Pete was an excellent afternoon drive man and Chantal was fanatastic in her role in that time slot as well but as a 30 year DEVOTED CHOM listener, I can say with all sincerity that the lost of Ted, Kim, Ted and the movement of Rob from the morning time slot, has caused me to waiver heavily. There is no chemistry left, even Merv being given the boot shocks me as he was the only bright spot in the show in the mornings. Whenever Pete is away and the likes of Rob or Sharon are taking over, the show is infinitely better. Pete’s style of hosting is quite frankly a turn off and I had my doubts from the start, over a year later and I have not had a positive thing to say yet. It saddens me to see what Astral has done to my beloved CHOM but I too am at the point where I simply can not take it anymore. I enjoy Sharon, Rob and Bilal but I am looking for a new place to start my day. You can not put garbage on the air and expect people to be loyal to it and as far as I am concerned, the morning show – is garbage. Thank you Astral for slowly but effectively destroying something that used to be highly prized in this city.

  12. jasemtl

    Listeners notice the vibes and overall feeling of CHOM on an hourly basis. Remember that a Classic Rock station is a special format that only CHOM used in Montreal. By the way, selling advertising is important but a few errors were made. Listeners know that if you play an ad for two competing mattress companies in the same commercial break, money dictates. P.S, is you advertise Satellite Radio, some people may buy it and never listen to CHOM again..

  13. josee & andre

    Good news!!

    When I’ve changed my car in Feb 2010 I’ve been ”plugged” to Sirius XM and WOW I could not belived that I can hear some classic rock like CLASSIC VINYL and NO MORE PETE BORING in the Morning.
    Sorry Mr.Tremblay one of Astral ”Humble Server” Sirius XM is doing a real good job and even at my office we are now listening on line witch is ”Broadcasting live from the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame”in Cleaveland Ohio,
    Classic rock like we USED TO HAVE BEFORE YOU MIXED IT UP.

  14. Marilyn

    Couldn’t agree more! I have NEVER been able to stand Pete Marier and his codescending attitude and voice..and as for that horrendous pirate persona…YUK!!! He has zero charisma..as for P.J. Stock…first word that comes to mind is “buffoon”…second word is “ignorant”….Chantal is ok..but she’s fighting an uphill battle working with those 2 morons. I have switched to Radio Khanawake in the mornings as I miss Ted Bird..I only tune in to CHOM when Rob Kemp is standing in for that Captain Hook wannabe…now THERE’S someone worth listening to.. Rob Kemp!!! Bring him back in the mornings..he’s up early anyway..he has a young baby!!

  15. Terry

    As a CHOM listener since 1970 I first tuned off in the 1990s when Classic went south, but I returned in Feb2002 with the return of Classic. How refreshing it was to hear Traffic or the White Album once again. But the morons at Astral have now killed it. Besides the crap today that passes as rock (3 chord guitars and yelping singers), I can’t take listening to a 200 song playlist they pass as classic. Is it me or do they all sound the same? Like Nickelback? No thanks.

    First they canned The Deep End, which was playing music I hadn’t heard in years. I’ve now reduced my listening to Tootall’s Sunday Brunch, Black Cat Alley and Little Stevie’s, but now I’m dropping Stevie as well since changing the time slot from 9PM to 11PM doesn’t cut it for me, if I can listen to it on another station’s website.. the most loyal of CHOM fans that I know are dropping out. Why even bother to celebrate 40 years since The Spirit no longer exists at CHOM. I’ve heard many decades of music but the last 10 years has to be the worst and most uncreative. It seems like U2 all the time is as classic as you can get.

    At least the WWW offers so much more and I now listen to Stevie and The Deep End elsewhere. I have found the REAL Spirit of Rock resides in Chicago at WDRV http://www.wdrv.com/home.php . It much more savier than CHOM website, has very informative DJs who actually talk about the music, it has a massive play list that doesn’r repeat every 6 hours, and offers listeners special programing, such a:

    – Vinyl Thursday where they play an entire album…scratches and all,

    – two hours of an artist (tonight its Paul McCartney

    – one hour of 1970, or 1988, or any other year

    – Long One at 9 (featuring a theme)

    See their schedule and you’ll see what I’m talking about…and download their basic playlist (2100 songs), which does not include more obscure tracks that they always play.

    Best of all their music search engine gives an entire listing of a given song and all the artists who performed it, along with a 30 sec. sample, a direct Youtube link, and if you want to buy it, a click download from iTunes or Amazon. For example, a search of The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows” comes up with 35 versions!!!. I even found The Sugarcubes (with Bjork) that Claude Rajotte featured in New Music Foundations on CHOM in the late 1980s.


  16. AP

    I listened to CHOM for over 35 years…discovered them in 1973 in Vermont, started listening via chom.com when WGMT in Vermont moved from 98.3 to 97.7 and stayed in touch right up until Ted Bird left over the now well-documented reasons. Being a morning show host myself, I haven’t had the chance to listen to Ted on K103 but am about as disgusted as Ted is with the changes Astral has made there — isn’t it fascinating when people who’ve never done your job or have any clue how you’ve been doing it for 25 years suddenly start telling you how you need to do it? Even more fascinating, someone who’s bragged to others that he’s a programming department that’s never been behind a microphone…it’s like putting town planners into government who’ve never dealt with town issues or talked with any of the residents…clueless…completely clueless. Wish I had an archive of old CHOM airchecks to listen to…at least someone knew how it was supposed to be done back then.


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