It’s the height of the Just For Laughs comedy festival, and I’m having a great time burning two weeks of vacation from work. Not to humblebrag, but I got to sit in an aisle seat in row F for the Colin Jost and Michael Che gala last night, laughing enthusiastically as the audience-reaction camera guy pointed his camera at seemingly everyone just above, below and across from me in the aisle. (Note to self: Next time bring pretty lady to sit next to me.) The best seat I’ve ever had for a JFL gala, and probably ever will until I start making Anne-France Goldwater money.
But the highlight of the night for me didn’t come from the gala seat, which would have cost about $100 had I not gotten them on the JFL pass (insane value, folks). No, it came from an under-attended Off-JFL show that I only went to because there was nothing else available at that hour.
Would you pay $4 a month to hear Brian Wilde talk about the Canadiens?
That’s the question Wilde put to his Twitter followers today, proposing to become an independent hockey reporter supported directly by his audience through subscriptions. He’ll go ahead if he has enough interest, with a launch in August/September.
Habs Website-COTW & COTW:Uncensored/Podcasts/Habs Rocket clips/Call in show for subs/Top 200 scorers to win your pool/4$ month or $30 year.
One of the consequences of a new independent English-language commercial AM station taking half a decade to launch is that it’s been brought up so many times when people get laid off or otherwise cut from other radio and TV stations.
TTP Media has already indicated that their on-air personalities will include names familiar to Montreal audiences. And since there haven’t been any unexplained high-profile departures from the major stations in the past month, we can assume that some of these names will probably come from the list of those who have been removed from jobs elsewhere and haven’t found better ones elsewhere.
To give you an idea of how many people we’re talking about, I made a list of the on-air personalities who have been cut (laid off, fired, constructively dismissed or otherwise left) from commercial radio and television here in the past decade or so. Some have found part-time or fill-in work, some are working in a different industry (and may or may not be willing to come back) and some may have simply decided to retire.
I’ve excluded managers (Wayne Bews, Mark Dickie, Mary-Jo Barr) and other off-air people, people who have full-time broadcasting jobs elsewhere (AJ Reynolds, Ted Bird, Tasso, Al Gravelle, David Tyler), those who left jobs at campus and community stations (Java Jacobs, Lance Delisle), and the many young interns and temporary workers who simply ran out of contracts.
The list is almost certainly missing some names, so feel free to add others in the comments.
Here’s what I got off the top of my head, in alphabetical order:
Tanya Armstrong, cut from The Jewel
Heather Backman, cut from CHOM (currently filling in at The Beat)
Sarah Bartok, cut from The Beat (currently filling in at Toronto’s 93.5 The Move)
Claude Beaulieu, cut from CJAD
Paul Beauregard, cut from CHOM
Sol Boxenbaum, cut from CJAD
Tom Buddo, cut from Virgin Radio
Patrick Charles, cut from Virgin Radio
Sean Coleman, cut from CTV Montreal (currently part-time at TSN 690)
Jim Connell, cut from AM 940/Global Montreal (currently working with TTP Media)
Andre Corbeil, cut from CTV Montreal
Brandon Craddock, cut from CHOM
Richard Dagenais, cut from Global Montreal/MAtv
Mike Dall, cut from Virgin Radio
Suzanne Desautels, cut from CJAD
Chantal Desjardins, cut from CHOM, CJAD and Sportsnet
Alexandre Despatie, cut from City Montreal
Olga Gazdovic, cut from CJAD
Abe Hefter, cut from TSN 690 (currently at University of Hartford)
Kevin Holden, cut from CJAD
Peter Anthony Holder, cut from CJAD
Dave Kaufman, left CJAD (moved to UK but has since moved back and is filling in)
Patrick Lejtenyi, cut from CJAD
Laurie Macdonald, cut from CJAD (currently in real estate)
Chair: Ian Scott, a former executive at Telesat Canada and Telus and a former CRTC staff member (starts Sept. 5, five-year term)
Vice-chair broadcasting: Caroline Simard, a lawyer for the Canadian government and formerly of the International Telecommunication Union (starts Sept. 11, five-year term)
Vice-chair telecom (interim): Christianne Laizner, a lawyer in the CRTC’s legal department
The commission was embarrassed a bit when a decision related to production funds had incorrect dates on it. In the English version of the decision, the date was July 17, 2017 in the introduction and July 17, 2019 in the body. Turns out both were wrong, and it’s actually July 17, 2018. The decision was edited to correct the errors without issuing any correction notice.
Bell Media radio stations have become unavailable in the popular streaming app TuneIn, with app users on mobile getting messages that the stations are no longer available. Bell Media tells me “the removal of Bell Media Radio stations from the TuneIn app was not initiated by Bell Media,” so it’s unclear why this happened. TuneIn is the leading app for radio station streaming, but Bell has its own iHeartRadio app. Just about every other Canadian radio station owner joined forces to launch RadioPlayer.
The Toronto Star’s new app was published this week, and former Star Touch users who downloaded it were not impressed, putting out negative reviews on the App Store. Most of those reviews related to the crosswords, Sudoku and other puzzles, which once again reminds journalists what readers really care about.
A new affidavit from Raj Shoan appealing (again) his firing as commissioner has been published. The most interesting revelation (at least to me) in the document is that the Shoan case was brought up with Mélanie Joly’s predecessor, Shelly Glover, who eventually decided not to take any action against Shoan.
A month and a half after it was approved, I asked the CRTC if it was going to publish the application by Rogers to buy CISL 650 AM Vancouver from Newcap, which it’s turning into a Sportsnet radio station. The commission finally posted the application, which shows a purchase price of $5.25 million for the station (for context, Newcap bought CISL and two FM stations in each of Vancouver and Toronto out of the Bell/Astral deal for $112 million in 2014, so CISL is well undervalued compared to its FM sisters). Rogers is also assuming $750,000 in “assumed liabilities”, the nature of which is redacted from the public documents but appears to be a lease of some sort.
Newcap Radio has rebranded nine stations in small-town Alberta, eight of them to the Boom FM brand. Boom FM is a strange network in that it has stations from three ownership groups, Bell, Corus and Newcap.
Joanne Vrakas is pregnant with her second child. That means a new mat leave replacement will be needed (Laura Casella filled in last time, but she hosts Global’s morning show now, so that’s not an option.) Tina Tenneriello, formerly of CJAD and MAtv, is filling in for Vrakas on vacation, which would make her a top candidate for the more long-term replacement.
The Canadian Press has pushed through two style changes related to capitalization: Making Indigenous and Aboriginal uppercase in all uses (effectively treating them the same way as national descriptors like English and French), and making internet a lowercase common noun. Expect most Canadian journalism institutions that rely on CP style to follow suit (Postmedia has already done so).
Tootall is a rare animal in the radio business. One of the few living legends still on the air, a leftover from the days when DJs picked their own music, and a modest, unassuming guy who knows his music and is generally liked by everyone.
But what might make him the rarest of radio personalities is this: He’s one of the few on-air people who gets to decide when he leaves. (Well, almost. His bosses convinced him to stay a bit longer.)
And so on Wednesday morning, during what was teased as a “big announcement” on the morning show, CHOM announced Tootall’s retirement.
For the first time in decades, Montreal has a new full-power commercial English radio station on the air that isn’t replacing an existing one.
CFQR 600 AM, the English-language station owned by TTP Media, officially went on the air on Friday evening, the deadline the CRTC set in its final extension given to the station last fall.
Whether the station made the CRTC’s deadline hasn’t been confirmed. The station has not completed its testing phase, and is broadcasting a message asking people with reception issues to call them in. The authorization first granted in 2012 says the station must be “operational” to meet the deadline, and a licence will be issued “once the applicant has informed the Commission in writing that it is prepared to commence operations.”
But the commission probably won’t nitpick over a few days or weeks when we’ve been waiting almost five years for this station to launch on a frequency no one else has had any interest in for almost 20 years.
Like CFNV 940, CFQR is broadcasting an automated music playlist, with recorded messages promising regular programming “soon”.
The messages feature the voice of Jim Connell, the former 940 News host who appeared in front of the CRTC during TTP Media’s initial licence application in 2011 but took a job with Global Montreal while the group was getting its act together. This is a strong indication that he will be involved with the station when it launches regular programming.
The two messages, being broadcast at regular intervals, are below:
This is CFQR 600, a new English voice in Montreal. Soon, we will be offering the communities on and surrounding the island of Montreal a better blend of information and conversation on this heritage frequency. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates, and enjoy some of your favourite music as we continue building this new voice on Montreal’s airwaves.
You are listening to CFQR, a new English-language radio station serving the greater Montreal area, broadcasting at 600 kilohertz on the AM band. We are currently testing our signal and invite you to contact us toll-free at 1-833-600-1006 if you are experiencing interference because of our signal or if the signal is causing any other reception problems. Our regular programming will be starting soon. Stay tuned.
TTP Media partner Nicolas Tétrault tweeted some pictures from inside the transmission facility on Route 138 in Kahnawake, that houses the two stations.
At 10,000 watts daytime and 5,000 watts nighttime, CFQR’s signal isn’t as powerful as CFNV’s 50,000-watt clear-channel signal, but it should be good enough for Montreal and surrounding areas. The power and transmitting antennas are identical to the old CIQC, so the reception should be similar.
With the station on the air, the new focus should be programming. As I wrote previously, there are some deals in place with talent, and the group remains committed to talk programming.