Cogeco Diffusion announced Wednesday that it is converting three of its regional stations from music to talk starting Aug. 20.
The word isn’t mentioned in the press release, but all three stations – CKOY-FM 107.7 in Sherbrooke, CKOF-FM 104.7 in Gatineau and CKOB 106.9 in Trois-Rivières – are part of the CKOI brand.
CFEL-FM 102.1 in Quebec City also uses the CKOI brand, but isn’t owned by Cogeco. It was sold to Leclerc Communication as part of the conditions of sale of Corus Quebec stations.
CKOI-FM in Montreal, the flagship station, is not included in the list of stations undergoing a format change.
For the three regional stations, the move is kind of a step backward. All three used to be talk stations until Corus changed their vocation in 2009: CJRC/CJRC-FM in Gatineau, CHLT/CHLT-FM in Sherbrooke and CHLN/CHLN-FM in Trois Rivières. All three were AM stations that converted to FM about five years ago. In 2009, Corus converted them from music to talk to become Souvenirs Garantis stations, and then they became CKOI after Cogeco took over.
The full schedule still has yet to be set, but Cogeco assured journalists on a conference call Wednesday that there would be no reduction of local programming, that morning shows, afternoon drive shows and weekend shows would stay local. One show we know will be carried across the network is Isabelle Maréchal from 10am to noon. Jacques Fabi’s overnight show will also be carried across the network.
Sports programming will remain unchanged from what’s there now. All three stations carry Les amateurs des sports with Michel Villeneuve and Bonsoir les sportifs with Ron Fournier/Mario Langlois, as well as hockey games (Canadiens in Sherbrooke and Trois Rivières, Senators in Outaouais).
A handful of jobs will be affected by the change, but most of those will be given other duties, the stations’ managers said. There isn’t expected to be a net change in the number of jobs, though Cogeco Diffusion head Richard Lachance said he is “not closing the door” to new jobs as new programming is developed.
Branding wasn’t discussed during the conference call, but it’s expected to be something similar to what’s used in Montreal and Quebec City, namely the frequency and the letters “FM”. On May 1, Cogeco Diffusion registered the domain names fm1069.ca, fm1077.ca and fm1047.ca. It already owned 1077fm.ca, but 1069fm.ca and 1047fm.ca are owned by others.
- La Tribune (Sherbrooke)
- Le Journal de Sherbrooke
- CKOI Estrie
- CKOI Mauricie
- CKOI Outaouais
- La Revue (Outaouais)
- Projet J
- Cartt.ca (subscription required, written by yours truly)
They should reinstate their hertitage call signs CHLT, CHLN, CJRC.
That’s definitely a possibility. Cogeco likes to play with callsigns. But for on-air branding, it looks like they’ll replicate the formula of the other stations: FM 107,7, FM 104,7 and FM 106,9.
How much time it will take to Cogeco to convert those station back to musical … once again !
That is a great question! Because this is the real story behind these changes, not the fact that ”listeners requested more talk shows” or that ”Talk programming is important more than ever”. These last quotes are from Cogeco regional station managers and it is only BS. The truth is that these stations have poor ratings. Their CKOI branding was confusing, for sure, but it is more than that. And I am not sure the full talk programming will really change something. Metromedia/Corus/Cogeco have never been succesful in doing news/talk programming in the regions of Quebec. Montreal is their only success. NRJ is the king of the Quebec regions. How to change that ? I do have a few ideas…but it will be for an other time…