RNC wants to turn Planète Jazz into Radio X

Update (March 14, 2013): The application has been denied.

If owner RNC Media gets its way with the CRTC, Montreal could soon be getting its own “radio poubelle” station by next fall.

CKLX-FM 91.9 has applied to the CRTC for permission to change its format from jazz to talk radio, citing its poor financial situation and the lack of francophone talk radio options in Montreal.

You can download and read the application here (ZIP).

Planète Jazz, which launched Dec. 14, 2004, is the last commercial jazz radio station in Canada, its owner says, after similar formats in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton and Winnipeg abandoned it for other more popular formats. Though it won’t release full details to the public, RNC says CKLX has revenues “well below” $1 million a year, about 18% of what was forecast in the station’s business plan.

It has come to the conclusion that the format does not work, and it must either change formats or consider shutting down the station.

Though it’s not stated explicitly in the application, it’s hinted that the new format would be similar to that of CHOI-FM in Quebec City, a station also owned by RNC Media that has controversial opinionators who talk more than they think (people like Stéphane Dupont). It’s been dubbed “radio poubelle” and compared to right-wing talk-radio stations in the United States, but it’s popular, with more than 200,000 listeners.

RNC Media also owns the similarly-styled CKYK-FM in the Saguenay region, as well as music stations Capitale Rock in Gatineau, Planète-branded stations and other Radio X and Radio X2 stations across Quebec.*

CHOI is so controversial, in fact, that the CRTC ordered it be shut down because of its comments. Only the sale of the station from Genex Communications to RNC Media (and the issuing of a new license) saved it from going dark.

RNC conducted a survey of Montreal listeners to gauge their interest in a new station “that would have a style that discusses subjects in the news, that asks real questions and isn’t afraid of its opinions”. Based on that, it predicts a new talk-radio station would have a 10% market share, and 20% among the key demographic of men 25-49. It also sees its revenues going from $2.6 million in the first year to $8.2 million in the seventh year of its license, far above what they could have hoped for Planète Jazz.

The market for French-language talk radio has been open for opportunity, particularly since CKAC turned into all-traffic last September. Other than Radio-Canada and community/campus stations, the only talk radio station is CHMP 98.5, which has shot to the top of the ratings. It also has to do double-duty as a sports station in the evenings.

The application, survey and other documents curiously make no mention of the license for a talk-radio station recently given to the Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy media group. That station is also expected to launch next fall. It’s unclear if they’re unaware of the license or if they’re just ignoring it in their projections.

RNC Media President Raynald Brière declined to comment on the application, saying “le dossier n’est pas complet.”

The application, which would see the license changed from requiring 75% jazz to requiring 50% talk, is a Part 1 application, which means the CRTC has not called a hearing to discuss it, and if there’s no significant opposition it could be approved without the owners having to appear in front of the commission.

The deadline for interventions is 8pm on Feb. 13. You can file an intervention or comment here, by clicking “submit” next to the item about RNC Media.

*UPDATE: This move is strangely the opposite of one being done in Abitibi, where RNC Media is abandoning the Radio X format in favour of Capitale Rock, replacing talk radio with music. (Thanks Psychodork for pointing this out.)


UPDATE (Jan. 20): The Journal de Québec reports about this move, getting the manager of its Quebec City stations to comment. The company wants to export the CHOI format to Montreal, but adapting to the market. Less talk of bringing back the Nordiques, more talk about traffic. (Is this really what separates Montreal from Quebec City?) The paper also talks to André Arthur, who thinks they should put Stéphane Dupont (the guy who told Haiti “fuck you” after the earthquake) in Montreal.

There was also a discussion on Tuesday on CHOI itself about the application, with an interview with Patrice Demers. They even discuss potential hosts, saying Patrick Lagacé is unlikely and Jeff Fillion is very doubtful, but nothing is set in stone.

The proposal also was discussed on Radio-Canada’s Les Lionnes, which prompted not one but two discussions on CHOI. You can imagine how Radio Poubelle and a public broadcaster TV show hosted by three women think about each other.

La Presse covers this in the form of a column from Marc Cassivi. There are also blog posts at Voir from Sportnographe’s Olivier Niquet and journalist Fabien Loszach. Each of these got criticized on CHOI, which blasted Cassivi for being uninformed about what can be heard on CHOI, and said Voir’s complaints that CHOI’s programming is sexist, racist or homophobic are simply false.

Stéphane Gendron reacted to the news on Radio X, in which he said he would be interested in an on-air position at the station, because he’s more of a radio guy than a TV personality.

Jeff Fillion himself also comments the news on his Radio Pirate.

At least one blogger has called for people to rise up against this move, and another defends the sophistication of Radio-Canada against its Radio X-supporting critics.

Quebec’s FM93 wants to go mostly-talk

Coincidentally, the application from RNC Media comes about the same time as one from Cogeco Diffusion to change the license of CJMF-FM (FM 93.3) in Quebec City to allow for more talk. Currently the station offers a hybrid format of talk and music, but its survey numbers show more than 60% of its listeners tune in only for talk programming.

The new schedule would see talk programming in the mornings and evenings on weekends (noon to 4pm would remain music) and weekday evenings. Weekday mornings and afternoons are already all-talk.

As an added bonus to Quebec City listeners, the change would mean the station broadcasts all Montreal Canadiens games. Currently it offers only a selection. This will be welcome news to Canadiens fans in the region who may have been able to tune in to the bleu-blanc-rouge on AM station CKAC but have no hope of listening to 98.5.

The deadline for interventions or comments in the CJMF-FM application is Feb. 6. It is also a Part 1 application and can be seen on this page.

52 thoughts on “RNC wants to turn Planète Jazz into Radio X

    1. Pefder Magfrok

      Radio Canada’s espace musique 100.7 has excellent supper hour jazz show, in fact the best music on radio is found here.

      Or you can build up your own jazz musique collection and have your mp3 player shuffle through 1000s of songs (admittedly, this might take a while, but jazz CDs are available for free 3-at-a-time from the BANQ grande bibliotheque, rip to mp3 and enjoy.)

      A frank zappa quote if you’ll indulge me: Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.

  1. AlexH

    I personally think that if the station isn’t making money, and they want to give it up, they should put it up for sale and let someone else take a crack at it.

    We don’t need any more talk radio on FM. Quite simply, because of the language issue in Quebec, we have a shortage of space for stations on the air (because we do everything twice… the Quebec way!). 91.9 is a music station, and should remain a music station. The license was granted in part because there was no existing jazz station in Montreal area.

    If the business model isn’t working for them, they should let someone else give it a try. If they want to do talk radio, there are plenty of AM stations available.

  2. ATSC

    More useless talk radio. Not a fan. But, it’s up to RNC Media which owns CKLX-FM.

    According to Wikipedia, CKLX-FM 91.9 is broadcasting about 4.6 kw. If RNC Media shuts it down, if they don’t get the format change they want, I think somebody else will jump at the chance to get the 91.9 position.

    I do think that this move will probably hurt the new 940 AM if this change happens before that station goes on the air. By the way, has a call sign been assigned to this new 940 AM station yet?

    I’m not against the format change. Jazz now, Talk later, three years from now perhaps it’ll change to something else. Nothing lasts forever.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      it’s up to RNC Media which owns CKLX-FM.

      Actually it’s up to the CRTC, because CKLX is licensed as a specialty radio station.

      By the way, has a call sign been assigned to this new 940 AM station yet?

      Industry Canada assigns callsigns. There is an entry in the database allocating 940AM under its old CINW callsign, but no approval for a new station on that frequency yet.

      1. ATSC

        Actually, RNC Media gets the final say about the format change. If the CRTC doesn’t approve it’s demand, they can pull the plug on the station. Therefore, they get the final say. The CRTC can imagine whatever it wants.

        1. Fagstein Post author

          Actually, RNC Media gets the final say about the format change. If the CRTC doesn’t approve it’s demand, they can pull the plug on the station.

          That’s kind of silly logic in my book. It’s like saying I get the final say on my salary because I can always just quit.

      2. Here

        I hope I’m doing the reply right, but if not, I’m replying to Fagstein’s comment on Industry Canada assigning the call-signs.

        Just a general question to this, but don’t the broadcasters (owners of the station) have a say in what the call-sign will be? Pretty much all the call-signs in Canada (as far as I know) are given some sort of meaning, like CFCF-TV (which stand’s for Canada’s First Canada’s Finest). I’m sure Industry Canada doesn’t come up with those meanings. So, what’s going on here? Does Industry Canada give a call-sign and the broadcaster make up a meaning for it with what they’re given or does Industry Canada assign a call-sign at the request of the broadcaster if it’s available and allowable?

        1. Fagstein Post author

          don’t the broadcasters (owners of the station) have a say in what the call-sign will be?

          Yes. There’s a list of available callsigns published by Industry Canada (generally four-letter combinations starting with CF, CH, CI, CJ or CK), and the broadcaster chooses one when it applies for technical permission to broadcast.

    2. Apple IIGS

      More useless talk radio. Not a fan.

      My sentiments exactly. :) Who actually listens to the radio these days? It’s like talking about the telegraph. Even satellite radio is a useless technology to me. I haven’t been a regular radio listener for close to 20 years now (back then I’d listen to music and talk shows on my cassette walkman).

      These days the only time I use the radio, is to wake me up (CJAD is SO annoying it forces me to get out of bed and hit the off or snooze button). Apart from that, I cannot think of any other reason to turn on the radio, except perhaps during emergencies or power outages.

      1. Vahan

        Yeah I switch my radio “on” too during power failures. When sound comes out of it I figure the power is back on. Then I go back to watching T.V. :)

  3. Michel Ducas

    I also find it rather strange to see RNC Media try and install trash radio in Montreal, when you see how much of a flop André Arthur has been in Montreal. Furthermore, I was hosting the morning show at Abitibi’s RadioX up until December 20. They ended my contract, saying talk radio did not work in Abitibi. Now they want to try their luck in Montreal…Another eloquent example of their lack of vision…

    1. Paul Tremblay

      It is highly misleading to claim that André Arthur was a flop in Montreal.

      When CKAC hired him to replace René Lévesque (PM drive) his ratings were virtually identical to those obtained by Lévesque.

      When CKVL hired him as their morningman he tied Paul Arcand in his fifth ratings book.

      Admittedly few people listened when he was on CJMS, but that clearly had something to do with the fact that almost no one knew he was there.

  4. Michael Black

    “under” the jazz station is the New York NPR station, I think they were labelled “North Country Radio”. Reception wasn’t great, but it was there most of the time, unlike some of the US stations that varied with propagation. And it kept a different schedule from VPR, “Fresh Air” at a a different time, and I thought a more varied jazz schedule. I thin it was jazz overnight, I remember thinking at the time that it was a loss.

    The local jazz station came along, and that was the start of losing US stations, 105.1 and 106.7 following soon after.

    I thought 91.9 was supposed to be an extension, even a “loss leader” for the Jazz Festival. Thr trick is to go back and read what was said at the time, see what they expected. It sounds a bit like they’ve changed their mind, not just that listernship isn’t what they expected.

    I’ve randomly tuned in, and not stayed. I’m no expert, but it seemed like they did air fairly middle of the road jazz, though maybe it depended on what time of day. And I’ve actually bought jazz CDs, so my tastes may be more esoteric.


    1. AlexH

      I think to some extent they may have been playing the old “incumbent” game with the CRTC. They figured out what it is the CRTC wanted in a station to get the frequency, and now that they have it, they are trying to change the programming and go more mainstream with it, which is pretty much against what the CRTC intended to start with. But being that they are already have the facilities, already have the transmitter, and are already on the air, it’s much harder to the CRTC to turn them down.

      I personally would love to see the CRTC say “no, you cannot have a format change, and since you apparently aren’t willing to operate as what you are, we will pull the license and put it up for application again for those who wish to actually use it as indicated”.

      1. Fagstein Post author

        I personally would love to see the CRTC say “no, you cannot have a format change, and since you apparently aren’t willing to operate as what you are, we will pull the license and put it up for application again for those who wish to actually use it as indicated”.

        You are, of course, free to submit an intervention requesting exactly that. Other broadcasters looking for a new FM station in Montreal may do the same.

        1. Sheldon

          When I appeared at the CRTC hearings on the 690 and 940 kHz applications, once it was over, all three CRTC commissioners personally thanked me for my participation. They also stated that they wished that more people from the general public, the consumers of the stations that they license, would come forward at hearings, by filing interventions and making their feelings known. The opportunity is there and it’s not that difficult to do, yet few individuals ever step up to the plate.

    2. Fagstein Post author

      I thought 91.9 was supposed to be an extension, even a “loss leader” for the Jazz Festival. Thr trick is to go back and read what was said at the time, see what they expected.

      The decision approving the station is here. It doesn’t mention any specific deal between the station and the festival, and even raises concerns about an unfair advantage because of the shared corporate interests.

  5. soupdragon

    Not sure about planète being the last jazz station in Canada. I believe there’s cjrt (jazz fm) in Toronto.
    Still, very sad news indeed if RMC is planning to pull the plug. Yes, Espace Musique has some very good jazz programming but it’ only a couple of hours a day. Hard to beleive that a cirt with one of the biggest jazz fests in the world cannot support a fulltime jazz station.

  6. Douglas L

    The old “incumbent” game – as AlexH says above – of figuring out what the CRTC wants in a station in order to secure the frequency, then going with the format for a few years before crying poverty and switching to a more mass-appeal format, has been going on for awhile now.

    Here in Vancouver, beginning in 1980, we had CJAZ (“Now you has C-JAZ!”) which eventually became adult contemporary 97KISS-FM, and is now classic hits JACK-FM.

    I’m sure there’s plenty more examples across Canada.

    I can think of at least two more in Vancouver:
    CFBT/The Beat [urban contemporary to top 40 hits within three years], and
    CHHR/Shore104 [AAA to a yet-to-be-determined format after being bought by Astral barely two years after signing on].
    First they were denied, accused of negotiating in secret,
    then a month and a half later, approved.

    CKLX’s jazz format couldn’t help but remind me of C-JAZ’s history.

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  8. Jeremy

    I have mixed feelings about this. I’m all for diversity of choices and I like jazz. It will be sad to lose Planete Jazz, especially in a city that’s so proud of its Jazz fest. At the same time, I’m really curious about a Radio-X clone in Montreal. It could be a big failure (if they import non-local hosts who don’t know what they’re talking about when discussing the local news) but it could also shake things up. I lived in Quebec City for a short while in the mid-90s, when RadioX was still struggling and trying to succeed, and it was not as bad as it later became. They had nothing to lose, so they were more daring than other radios. But with big money to be made, who wants to try new things? Planete Jazz did for music, offering something that was not mainstream, and they struggle now. Same thing could happen for talk radio.
    I’m curious for a talk radio experiment like this, but 2 questions: 1) We had ours version of Andre Arthur: Gilles Proulx, Pierre Pascau. Is that type of radio, who would probably be labeled as “thrash’ today, can still succeed or did we have enough? 2) What’s the future of radio anyway? Is it so sad to lose (maybe) Planete Jazz when all the jazz in the world can be found online and be accessed on our mobile phones?

  9. Pingback: CHOI Radio X launches in Montreal – Fagstein

  10. Guichet

    wow…HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT….CHOI is here. What junk. Sounds like its targeting the under 25 crowd.
    Planete Jazz by far was the best station playing the most variety in styles of music plus their “Soiree Loungy” friday and saturday nights were really good if you were sticking around the house!

    how could we bring it back?!!!

    1. Fagstein Post author

      how could we bring it back?!!!

      Finance it. Planète Jazz never came close to bringing in money because poor ratings meant little advertising.

      The station still plays jazz music in off-hours, including weekend evenings. And there are jazz shows on other stations. That’s about the best you can do for now unless you somehow make jazz popular enough to make a radio station work.

  11. Lorraine

    All that I have heard so far is garbage. What a waste of air time .Give me back the jazz. Good understandable music, not the diarrhea that has been played or spoken lately. I will not be subjected too your drivel.

    1. Marc

      Give me back the jazz.

      Then send RNC Media a cheque to finance it. Hamilton/Toronto had a jazz station at 94.7 and it folded. If it didn’t work there in a market several times the size, no way it’ll work here.

      I will not be subjected too your drivel.

      Why would you be? They aren’t forcing you against your will to tune in to the station. Change the frequency.

  12. chirac

    Comment qualifier l’arrêt brutal de planète jazz par une radio qui diffuse de la pub et du bruit.
    Mais que font les citoyens, pays de la délation et de la plainte ?
    tout le monde s’en fou !
    En tout cas je me fous que planète jazz faisait 18 % de ses résultats es contés.
    Mais c’est ça la radio et pas une machine à sous où les marques payent de la pub que personne n’écoute.
    Devenez grand, adulte!

    Bon on va écouter des radios françaises de FRANCE sans pub et en plus du Jazz heureusement qu’il y a internet

    vive le Québec…….

  13. Jacques St.Amant

    I am very sad to lose the Jazz Music. This is terrible news for our household. All our radios, in home and in the cars have been switched to 91.9 for years.

    We will greatly miss the nice and varied Jazz, the Frankie, Pink Martinis and the rest of them.

    Very bad news.

  14. Richard

    This is horrible. And having it replaced with a piece of trash adds insult to injury.

    The best thing would be to have a non profit organization or some type of coop radio take over. It might be possible to reduce operation costs with volunteer participation, and once you cover the costs not generating enough profits would not be an issue. Coop radios already exists, I would add online tools to match task requirements with volunteer time scheduling, to optimize participation.

  15. Hélène

    I AM HAVING PLANETE JAZZ WITHDRAWAL!!! Now I work in silence. What a loss – Merci a tout les animateurs, je vous comptais parmis mes amis!

  16. Chancorm

    Je suis encore sous le shock.. meme pas un aurevoir, un adieu… Au moins il nous reste CBC R2… pour l’instant…

  17. Jimmy Z.

    C’est pas croyable, la ststion la plus integre, et avec la meilleur music , qui change pour une guinille. J’en reviens pas,,moi je travail avec des jeunes et ils ecoutais tous planete Jazz. Et oublier pas messieux ,dames que la population veillie,,J’espere que nous, on se souviendra de ce coup que vous nous avez fait.Si je veut un vrais talk show je vais aller a 98.5 et pas radio X avec tous ces annonces distortionee et repetitives.Meme la musique fit pas,,,Vous ete dans l’champ avec votre programation,en fait vous aller bien voir.Merci a tous qui on poster leur mecontentment Francais et Anglais avon eut la meme radio a coeur,,,vraiment pas content.

  18. Nancy

    I’m very disappointed that Planete Jazz is no longer.

    I don’t think we need any more talk radio!! We need music that we can sing with, swing with and relax with – Planete Jazz was that radio station.

    Thank you to the hosts for bringing the music into our households for many years.
    You will be missed, but hopefully we will hear you all again soon.

  19. Muriel

    Très déÇu dela décision. Nous avions un poste radio agréable à écouter. Le monde est rempli de fous. On n’en a pas besoin à la radio. La musique calme les moeurs.Rien de tel qu’and vous êtes en voiture pris dans le traffic. Urgence redonnez-nous notre bon poste. Chapeau a tous les animateurs qu’on appréciait beaucoup. Urgence de ramener ce bon poste.

  20. Helene

    Je veux ravoir ma Planète Jazz!! Sans blabla, le moins possible!!
    J’ai écouté ce poste sur internet un peu partout sur la planète!!
    Maintenant on va me dire qu’on le remplace par du BlaBLaBla ASSOMMANT ET PLATE!!!
    Je suis frustrée pas à peu près!

    Avant le BLABLA PLATE c’était sur le AM puis c’était bien assez!!
    Quand j’écoute la radio, je veux de la musique et juste de la musique!!
    Vive les chaînes internet et les lecteurs mp3 car la radio bientôt ne jouera plus de musique.

  21. Michelle Boulet

    I was shocked as I tuned in to 91.9 and to not hear the fabulous jazz music anymore.
    Now it’s total trash……..totally trash talk.

    Incroyable, Radio X terrible terrible……je te manqué Planete Jazz.

  22. Pauline Rushworth

    We are now without a unique station that offered a specialized mix.There is no alternative..it was unique and we miss it every day. What a colossal loss to all of us, the die hard jazz affiaciandos .
    Boo on you , the new owners do not recognize how special Planete Jazz was.. So ..okay . just become like every other station out there


    1. Sheldon

      I read your comments about the jazz station and thought I could at least provide you with this. Of course, it’s not all-jazz but at least it offers up some alternatives for you. This is a list of jazz music programs that are currently airing on various Montreal and area radio stations. I like to encourage people to listen to the alternatives and give them a chance. Often the shows are rough around the edges but, in most cases, the presenters of these shows are doing it for free and mostly because they love the music. The love, passion and understanding of the music they play usually shines through. This doesn’t only go for jazz programming, but for all the different types of programming that these sorts of stations offer. I hope you find it helpful

      Jazz programming on Montreal Radio

      Station: CKUT-FM 90.3
      Jazz Amuck – Friday 9 to 11 am
      Jazz Euphorium – Wednesday 8 to 10 pm

      Station: CIBL-FM 101.5
      Jazz Encore – Monday 7 to 8 pm
      Escales – Monday 8 to 9:30 pm
      Jazzologie – Monday 9:30 to 11 pm

      Station: CISM-FM 89.3
      Jazz a Credit – Tuesday 10:30 pm to Midnight
      Jazz de Nuit – Friday 2 am to 4 am

      Station: CHAA-FM 103.3 (Longueuil)
      Soirees Jazz, Blues, World – Monday to Thursday 7 to 9 pm

      Station: CHAI-FM 101.9 (Chateauguay)
      Swing to Jazz – Sunday 8 pm to Midnight

      Station: CJLO-AM 1690
      Good Morning Jazz – Friday 6 to 8 am

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