The two announced last Saturday on the air that that show would be their last. Starting Jan. 1, country music will be returning to the weekend airwaves on the station.
According to acting station manager Kenneth Deer, the decision was strictly a matter of financing: A contract with The Bar B Barn, which sponsored Laurie and Olga, ends on Dec. 31, and the station has found sponsors for their country and western music weekend programming.
“Our community has a large country and western music following,” Deer explained in an email. “We ran C&W Weekend for about 28 years up until recently. The station was in financial trouble so a decision was made to cut loose our country DJs and go to automation on the weekend. In all the years we ran the C&W Weekend, we never were able to sell advertising or get a sponsor to cover our costs. It became a drag on our bottom line. So we dropped the country and western show and played contemporary music instead. Mostly on automation.”
Shortly after bringing in Laurie and Olga and cutting country music, K103 even “passed the torch” for country to KKIC 106.7, a Kahnawake station that unlike CKRK operates without a license from the CRTC.
So I guess this means they’re stealing that torch back.
While cutting costs, the change was a wakeup call to the Kahnawake community.
“We got very bad public reaction for cutting the C&W Weekend,” Deer said. “The feedback was we were abandoning the community for other audiences. There were other events related to the station like our financial situation that added to the negative reaction.”
The hiring of Ted Bird as a morning man, while not universally condemned in the community, also contributed to the impression that K103 was putting its quest for a Montreal audience ahead of its commitment to Kahnawake.
“Since we are a publicly owned institution, and not a private enterprise, we had to listen to our community and make some changes,” Deer said. “We found sponsors who would cover the costs if we brought back the C&W Weekend. In 28 years this has never happened before. I suppose we were just taken for granted all these years.”
Macdonald was brief and resigned when asked about the cancellation: “From what I understand, the ‘community’ missed their country music, and change is difficult for some,” she write in an email. “Olga and I had a great experience and were sorry to learn of the programming change but all good things must come to an end.”
Deer also wasn’t overjoyed at the idea that Laurie and Olga had to go.
“We understand that Laurie and Olga have a loyal following and if there was something else we could do to accommodate them, we would. Perhaps some day, our Sunday programming may change and there could be space for them if they are still interested. But right now this is the direction we are going in.
“We hope that Laurie and Olga find a place somewhere on the airways in the Montreal area. They have been very professional in their performance and have a loyal following. Somebody should pick them up.”