CFRA Ottawa gets power boost toward Montreal

Comparative map of existing (red) and proposed (black) night contours of CFRA Ottawa. (Click for larger image)

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission today approved a nighttime power increase and pattern change for CFRA 580AM in Ottawa. The change will significantly improve the station’s signal, particularly toward the East, putting Montreal inside its 0.5mV/m contours at night.

Like most AM radio stations, CFRA is required to protect other stations on the same frequency at night, when AM radio signals carry much further. Specifically, it was required to protect the following 580AM stations, all of which have now moved to FM (and all of which are private commercial music stations):

  • CJFX in Antigonish, N.S. (at 98.9 and 102.5 FM exclusively since 2003)
  • CKPR in Thunder Bay, Ont. (at 91.5 and 93.5 FM since 2007)
  • CHLC in Baie-Comeau, Que. (at 97.1 FM since 1996)

The result is a speech-bubble-shaped pattern pointed heavily toward the north, northeast and northwest (the transmitter site is due south of Ottawa).

With these stations gone from this frequency, and no expectation that anyone would try to reactivate them in these small markets where there are still FM frequencies available, Bell Media Radio successfully convinced the CRTC that it should allow CFRA to increase its nighttime pattern to have better coverage toward eastern and western Ottawa suburbs at night. The fact that no one objected to the application also convinced the CRTC that this was a good idea.

Under the approved technical parameters, CFRA will drop from 50kW to 30kW at night (instead of from 50 to 10). The pattern shape will also change slightly, still speech-bubble-shaped but a bit less directional toward the north, improving its signal toward the southeast and southwest.

According to the broadcast engineer’s contour map, the 0.5mV/m contour, which under the current signal goes through Deux Montagnes, Rigaud and Alexandria, will now cover all of Montreal, Laval, the north shore and Châteauguay and Valleyfield regions. It’s hard to translate that into actual receiving abilities (which are dependent on the type of radio and local interference sources), but it will be an improvement.

According to a story on CFRA’s website, “CFRA Chief Engineer Harrie Jones says the technical work will begin soon, and he’s hopeful the affected listeners should hear a difference within a month.”

9 thoughts on “CFRA Ottawa gets power boost toward Montreal

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I wonder how many more AM frequencies won’t be usable in Montreal as a result… will 600 still be open?

      The CRTC apparently doesn’t consider the CFRA application to be mutually exclusive to the 600AM one here.

    2. Marc

      Their daytime signal has been the same for ages and won’t change; and 600 was fine. I doubt the nighttime signal will be all that strong here.

      I’m sure 600 will be fine; it never made it past Baie d’Ufré at night, anyhow. It was *very* directional.

  1. Mimo

    I don’t see how the power increase would affect 600’s application. 600 is far enough away from 580 that it wouldn’t bleed over onto it. Most (especially analogue tuners) spread out the lower end of the dial more so than the upper. Here in Ottawa, CFRA doesn’t even affect reception of stations on 560 or 600 unless you’re in the south side where you could suffer from overload and the radio desenses somewhat. You don’t hear CFRA at either frequency at all.

    Counter that with the distance between Montreal and Ottawa, and by the time the signal does reach Montreal, there’s been enough signal loss to not make it a factor for any station wishing to use 600.

  2. Arnold The Pig

    Great, listen to CFRA all the time. Know many anglos in Montreal that do the same. A good counter balance to the left wing BS on CJAD. Steve Maddely or Andrew Carter? 580 for me.

  3. Radio fan

    CFRA and CJAD were once exciting stations with full newsrooms and impact in their communities. Now it’s just rip and read

  4. mike mccarthy

    Since youtr retrofit, the signal to north gower and kemptville is totally corupted from 7pm to 7am.
    Do you ever intend to fix that?
    It would be nice to hear news and weather agsin

  5. Mike

    I live in Carleton Place, your signal die’s out at Dwyer Hill road and highway 7. It was better before you turned up the power. Very disappointed.


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