Bell Media radio rehires The Beat’s program director

Since 92.5 FM in Montreal became The Beat in 2011, the station has made much of its staff lineup by poaching personalities from direct competitor Virgin Radio. Cat Spencer, Vinny Barrucco and Nat Lauzon were hired directly from Virgin, and Nikki Balch and Rob Kemp also previously worked at 1717 René-Lévesque Blvd. (for Virgin and CHOM, respectively).

With The Beat’s ratings being solidly ahead of Virgin for what seems to be a sustainable period, it seemed it was only a matter of time before Bell Media hit back.

Martin Tremblay (via Facebook)

This week we learned that it has poached from the top, hiring Martin Tremblay to lead the Énergie, Rouge FM and Virgin Radio Montreal stations. Tremblay was hired as interim program director at The Beat a year ago. Before that, he spent six years in what is basically the same job he’s now going back to, leading the Montreal French music stations and Virgin at Astral and then Bell Media.

His CV also includes plenty of work for radio stations as part of his consulting company Oumf! Communications. They include:

  • Helping RNC Media create a Rythme FM affiliate in Gatineau, which lasted two and a half years until RNC decided to rebrand it as WOW FM.
  • Helping Attraction Radio turn CKRS-FM in Saguenay into another Rythme FM affiliate.
  • Helping RNC Media turn CHOA-FM in Abitibi into yet another Rythme FM affiliate.
  • Helping RNC transforming its struggling CKLX-FM into 91.9 Sports in Montreal, and later turning Capitale Rock 96.5 in Gatineau into a partial affiliate of it. While 91.9 Sports is going strong and RNC finally seems happy with that format, the Gatineau station has dropped sports programming and is now Pop 96.5.
  • Launching Groupe Puissance Média, an ad sales group that works with both RNC Media and Cogeco Media TV and radio outlets in the Outaouais region.
  • Work for Rogers’s Kiss 105.3 in Ottawa.

Tremblay starts his new job Aug. 7. Like the on-air personalities who made the jump, he’s bound by the terms of a non-compete clause in his contract that prevents him from working for Bell Media right away. “So enjoying my free time,” he tells me.

I asked Bell Media how this affects existing management at these stations. Mark Bergman is the current program director at VIrgin Radio. Will his role change?

“We have no comments to make at this time,” was the response from Bell Media communications director Simon Céré. I also asked Bergman and Martin Spalding, who heads local TV and radio in Quebec, for comment, and will update this if I hear back.

Chris Bury takes over PD role at CHOM

Chris Bury, program director of CJAD, TSN 690 and now CHOM 97.7

Meanwhile, the other three radio stations at Bell Media in Montreal will all come under the control of Chris Bury, currently the PD for CJAD and TSN 690.

“As CHOM’s Assistant Program Director and Music Director, Picard will work directly with Chris,” notes a memo to staff.

Bury’s expanded duties means that more will be delegated to CJAD/TSN 690 Assistant Program Director Mathew Wood, who takes on a larger role at TSN.

“Mathew will now handle day-to-day responsibilities at TSN 690 and Picard will continue to do that for CHOM,” Bury explains to me by email. “I’ll be involved in brainstorming, strategy, long-term planning, major decisions etc.”

I asked Bury if we should expect any changes at CHOM with this announcement. “It’s too early to get specific but, for me, the general goal is always the same: produce the most compelling content possible — as consistently as you can,” he responded. “That can mean introducing new segments or features or executing the ones we have a little more effectively.”

“I’ll add that… It’s an honour to be working on CHOM, in any way. The station carries a powerful legacy in Montreal. And the team at CHOM are as passionate about their station as anyone else. I’m excited to get going and to help however I can. And, although I do have some music programming experience, there will certainly be a learning curve. It’ll be a fun challenge.”

These management changes took effect immediately when they were announced to staff earlier this week. CHOM has been without a program director since the death of André Lallier in 2015.

Meanwhile, at The Beat, there are decisions to make. The station is led by general manager Luc Tremblay, who was also hired as head of digital strategy at Cogeco Media last June.


9 thoughts on “Bell Media radio rehires The Beat’s program director

  1. Media Man

    Well, the chickens, it seems , are coming home to roost,,,not surprised, since Martin Tremblay was probably the one that put The Beat over the top… And he’s probably gong to get a pretty penny to take over the reins…

    As for Mark Bergman, who could be one of the reasons why those Beat personalities left in the first place, one would think his days might be numbered as a PD at least….Tremblay will make changes, and will Bergman like them ?
    Clearly, Mark Bergman has lost the confidence of Martin Spalding and Bell Media radio…It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

    As for Chris Bury and CHOM..I still can’t figure this one out yet. Bury is not a music-type PD. TSN doesn’t need much help since Mitch Melnick literally runs that station or has a lot of pull..

    Picard should have been promoted to be PD of CHOM after Andre Lallier passed away..since he was already assistant PD anyways and knows the format like the bck of his hand, Now he’ll be answering to someone who probably doesn’t have more than one or two AC/DC records in his collection and been backstage with any rock acts..

    But to digress for a moment, I had to listen to the Habs playoff game on TSN Radio last night and was shocked to hear Mr. Delmar with a post-game show..Isn’t that crazy, ? Also, I can’t figure this one out as well, His condescending attitude won’t jive with the sports listeners..Since some people already think he’s a CJAD PD, maybe he’s trying his luck at TSN..

    1. Fagstein Post author

      not surprised, since Martin Tremblay was probably the one that put The Beat over the top

      He wasn’t. Mark Dickie and Leo Da Estrela probably deserve most of the credit for that (though it had as much to do with the format change as it did anything else). But Tremblay can take credit (whether or not it’s deserved) for keeping the station above Virgin over the past year.

      As for Mark Bergman, who could be one of the reasons why those Beat personalities left in the first place

      He’s not. Most left because they got a better offer at The Beat. And Bergman doesn’t have an unlimited budget for talent.

      Clearly, Mark Bergman has lost the confidence of Martin Spalding and Bell Media radio

      If that was the case (and it isn’t), Bergman wouldn’t have a job at all.

      TSN doesn’t need much help since Mitch Melnick literally runs that station or has a lot of pull..

      Melnick is definitely influential, but he doesn’t run the station.

      1. Anonymous

        All due respect, Melnick has been there from Day 1 when he and the late Ted Blackman started at this station. I would think he more or less runs the station (indirectly).

      2. dilbert

        “He’s not. Most left because they got a better offer at The Beat. And Bergman doesn’t have an unlimited budget for talent.”

        It’s a Bell run station, so he has no real budget for talent. For that matter, he should be concerned because Bell also has a limited budget for middle management, and with Tremblay re-hired at likely a premium rate, guys like Bergman become very expendable. Any overlap of jobs means, well, goodbye.

        Bell has made it really clear that their route to profitability is by eliminating any and all expenses they don’t need. Bergman appears to be getting very close to being redundant.

        1. Media Man

          Awesome, somebody that finally agrees with me. It’ll also be interesting who COGECO gets to run The Beat and to keep it on a roll.

    2. Keith Rowe

      TSN690 must have lost their mind so what else is new BUT Delmar doing the post game show?? He knows as about as much about sports as he knows regarding anything else- would u expect anything of the JCM in Montreal radio???! I think not…

  2. Media Man

    While we’re on more Bell Media changes, and CHOM staff reductions, will staff be upset, especially the older announcers be upset at Bury being named PD?

    More importantly will Bury not interfere with Terry DiMonte? And with DiMonte’s nearing it’s five year contract run, what will happen there, could he be moved to take over Andrew Carter at AD? I’m curious.

    1. dilbert

      You are unlikely to see DiMonte move at this point for a bunch of reasons. The biggest reason is that CHOM has had a terrible time trying to find someone to replace him in the past. Moving him to AD (which happened in the past) only works if there is a net positive for Bell.

      We know they like to save money. So if they feel that the total listenership between CHOM and CJAD Morning shows would remain about the same if they turf Carter, move DiMonte, and add a cheaper “lesser” name for the CHOM morning show, then they have an upside.

      If they can do this and improve their overall listener ship, perhaps by having someone under 40 hosting the morning show to go for a younger demographic at CHOM, they might want to do it.

      They would also have to consider the effects on CJAD morning listenership. How many people tune in solely for Andrew Carter (Does anyone really)? Would some of the blue rinse set tune out as a result? Would DiMonte help to move CJAD’s demographics favorably with some younger listeners tuning in to the morning show and perhaps sticking around?

      Remember, Terry was moved from CJAD to CHOM the first time around because there was more ad revenue on the FM side. CJAD is a pretty rare duck these days as a city leading AM station, perhaps one of the last, and only because of the unique radio market in Montreal. Moving back to CJAD may be a bit of a longer term dead end.

      You never know. Terry may want to get back to talking politics and all some more, and the recent cuts on the CHOM morning show have not been kind to anyone.


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