Four years after CKAC abandoned its all-sports format, leaving Canada’s largest French-language market without an all-sports radio station in that language, RNC Media’s 91.9 FM officially became 91.9 Sport this morning at 6am. And it made clear that it sees itself as a natural successor to the former CKAC Sports, even though CKAC is owned by its competitor Cogeco Diffusion.
Here’s what the first couple of minutes sounded like today:
RNC announced the format change two months ago, after concluding that talk format “Radio 9” had done about as well as its predecessor “Radio X”.
With the launch, we get some more details about programming. The basics:
- Live talk shows from 6am to 7pm
- Repeats (highlights) of the day’s shows from 7pm to midnight
- Rock music on weekends, 10am to 6pm
The schedule is very similar to what Radio X/9 had before it, and shows that they’re really focusing on daytime audience right now.
No announcements have been made concerning live sports programming. Rights to Canadiens and Alouettes games are held exclusively by Cogeco’s 98.5 FM, which also airs select Impact games. 91.9 Sport could pick up other Impact games, similar to what TVA Sports did when it first started, as well as non-local sports like NFL games. But it doesn’t look like this is a priority for the station.
Some people have been asking how you can have an all-sports radio station without broadcasting rights to live sports, as if this spells immediate doom. But 91.9 isn’t trying to compete during the evenings or weekends, it’s going after daytime audiences that used to listen to CKAC, and daytime at all-sports stations is about talk.
Sure, being the official broadcaster brings prestige and access, but it’s not a dealbreaker. TTP Media, which still plans to launch its own French all-sports station at 850 AM someday, came to the same conclusion: it’s the discussion that matters, not the play-by-play.
The host lineup is as follows:
- 6-10am: Du sport … le matin! (Michel Langevin and Enrico Ciccone): The return of Langevin to morning radio is probably the clearest link with the old CKAC. He’s joined by former NHLer Ciccone, who like Langevin has been a frequent panelist on shows like 110%.
- 10am-noon: Langevin en prolongation (Michel Langevin): More Langevin. This guy is going to be on air for six straight hours a day.
- noon-1pm: Jean-Charles le midi (Jean-Charles Lajoie): One of the Radio 9 personalities to keep his job, Lajoie hosts both the noon show and the drive-home show, but gets a break in between at least.
- 1-3pm: Laraque et Gonzalez (Georges Laraque and Stéphane Gonzalez): Pairing the former Canadiens enforcer with a numbers guy could be interesting, or could end up as an awkward failure.
- 3-7pm: Jean-Charles en liberté (Jean-Charles Lajoie): The second half of the Lajoie shift. Langevin and Lajoie alone cover 11 of the 13 hours of daily broadcasts on this station.
- 7pm-midnight: Les faits saillants: The best moments from the day, condensed, the station’s website promises
- Weekends, 10am-6pm: Le garage (Jeff Paquet): Like 98.5, 91.9 mainly puts music on weekends.
Add to the list of hosts several regular collaborators, including Michel Villeneuve, Réjean Tremblay, Yvon Pedneault, Daniel Brière, plus non-hockey contributors Étienne Boulay (football), Valérie Tétrault (tennis), Serge Touchette (baseball) and Olivier Brett (soccer).
If you want to get a better idea of 91.9’s on-air team, there’s a half-hour montage posted here, and a “mot du producteur” posted here.
Without the actual sports, sports radio may or may not really work out for them. I suspect it will be at least marginally better than what they had before, audience wise but even that is not a given. Certainly you cannot fault them for being willing to try formats until they find one that they can build an audience with.
Bigger problem for them is that they are unlikely to be able to outbid their competitors for radio coverage in the future.
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