Evanov Radio shuts down CHRF 980 AM

Evanov Radio’s CHRF 980 AM in Montreal announced it has shut down effective midnight Sunday.

Host Serge Plaisance announced on the station’s website that he’s moving to its sister station, CFMB 1280 AM:

Ici Serge Plaisance,

Chers amis auditrices et auditeurs du AM980, CHRF, c’est avec regret que nous vous annonçons la fermeture définitive du AM980, ce dimanche, 31 mai 2020, à minuit.

Un énorme merci de votre écoute, mais heureusement, nous avons une autre station du groupe de Radio Evanov à Montréal, soit le AM 1280, CFMB, une station multilingue, aussi d’une puissance de 50,000 Watts, 24 heures sur 24.

Je vous reverrai, j’espère à cette antenne, avec une nouvelle émission, LES AIIRS DE PLAISANCE , diffusée tous les dimanches de 16 à 18 heures. Prenez note que Johanne Verdon Naturopathe aura son émission tous les lundis de 14 à 15 heures, SANTÉ 360 DEGRÉ et Mario Lipari pour ARCOBALENO MUSICALE, y sera les jeudis de 14 à 15 heures.

C’est un nouveau rendez-vous sur AM 1280 CFMB,

À très bientôt

Serge Plaisance pour Evanov Radio

The news was met with some disappointment from fans on the station’s Facebook page.

Carmela Laurignano, vice-president of Evanov, confirmed to me the company was giving up the licence for the station. Shortly thereafter, the CRTC published a notice that it has revoked the licence at the licensee’s request.

At the end, because of previous cutbacks and COVID-related ones, CHRF was only employing two people, Laurignano said. Both remain with the company, working for CFMB and Evanov’s other Quebec station, CHSV-FM (Jewel 106.7 Hudson).

As I explain in this story for Cartt.ca, Evanov had several reasons for shutting the station down, from the COVID-19 pandemic to a miscalculation of market demand for music on AM and even an obligation to subscribe to Numeris ratings (Numeris policy is all-or-nothing for large broadcasters, with some exceptions that didn’t apply to CHRF). Evanov also puts some blame at the foot of the CRTC for rejecting applications to improve its signals in Toronto that would have given it access to more ad revenue.

CHRF was Evanov’s only French-language radio station. It was awarded the licence as part of a surprisingly competitive CRTC proceeding in 2011 that also saw TSN Radio awarded the 690 frequency (Evanov was given its old 990 frequency and then changed to 980) and TTP Media given a licence for 940 AM.

The plan was for a station called “Radio Fierté” which would target Montreal’s LGBTQ+ community, modelled after the “Pride FM” format in downtown Toronto. But the format lasted less than a year and by the holidays it dropped the brand and moved to a format of Christmas music and Jewel-like easy listening.

“The biggest challenge for the station was that it had to be operated almost as a standalone,” Laurignano said. “There were no programming synergies with our other stations. The news could not be shared in terms of language production. Station imaging, even the sales force for that matter. It requires a dedicated sales force. It just became a situation of the station being subsidized for a long time.”

She didn’t have an exact cumulative figure, but said the losses are in the millions.

Laurignano stressed that the move is in part to protect Evanov’s other Quebec stations. CFMB will remain at the Papineau Ave. studio, and “we’re very dedicated” to it and The Jewel.

The shutdown means a vacancy at 980 (or 990) in Montreal. But even though there were five applicants for two (or three) frequencies in that 2011 hearing, there isn’t much demand for a new full-power AM station here. TTP Media got a licence for its second station at 600 AM (plus a French-language sports station at 850 AM, which it gave up for technical reasons), and Cogeco abandoned plans for an English-language traffic station.

14 thoughts on “Evanov Radio shuts down CHRF 980 AM

  1. Brett

    When I would listen it was decent at best. I liked it but at times found their host not as interesting as other Montreal stations. Sad to see s station go because of Covid-19 related advertising issues.

    Reply
  2. Ian Howarth

    A once great position on the AM dial (if you’re old enough to remember CKGM-AM 980), it seems to have finally run out of runway.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    This is probably a better solution for the parent company. When it’s bleeding red on the balance sheet, with no real potential of turning it around, time to cut your loses.

    Better that they focus on CFMB-AM 1280, and CHSV-FM 106.7 instead.

    Reply
  4. kv

    quelle surprise ! the crtc ( creating really terrible channels ? ) strikes again. how could a radio station broadcasting music on the am band in mono fail ?! many american am stations do well playing music on the am band in stereo thanx to hd radio and even motorola c-quam analog am stereo but in canada … ? no am station that intends to play music in mono should even be given a license to broadcast. it’s engineered to fail or planned obsolescence. the crtc would have been wise in pointing this out to chrf and denied the license. maybe it was done as a tax write-off ? who knows.

    /my opinion

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      how could a radio station broadcasting music on the am band in mono fail ?

      Because it doesn’t have enough advertising revenue to pay for its expenses.

      many american am stations do well playing music on the am band in stereo thanx to hd radio and even motorola c-quam analog am stereo

      HD Radio has not been used on AM stations in Canada because of technical limitations and the lack of receivers. There is no evidence that switching from mono to AM stereo would have magically solved the station’s financial problems.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        A HD Radio solution might have helped CHRF-AM

        Option 1 – Would have been to have a Analog / HD Radio signal on 980 AM.
        Though I have read articles that HD Radio in that mode does have some
        issues.

        Option 2 – Would have been shut down the analog signal, and have a
        HD Radio digital signal only. Some reports indicate that this is working for
        WWFD-AM 820. And that the FCC is allowing this option to expand.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWFD

        Option 3 – Would have had CHSV-FM 106.7 activate a HD Radio signal, and place
        CHRF-AM on the 106.7-HD2 position.
        This option would have probably been the most reasonable solution, and
        workable option. Though, that signal would be mainly accessible to the West
        Island market, Western Laval, and Hudson.

        The past problem of lack of radios (home units) that also had the AM HD Radio on them has changed. Currently all the Sangean HD Radios (5 units – over at amazon.ca) all have AM and FM HD Radio. The vast majority of Car radios with HD Radio units have both the AM & FM HD Radio function. I have read a few articles that the AM band is missing on some electric cars due to technical issue of the AM band on electrical cars.

        Reply
    2. Keith

      The only music AM stations in the US that do well have FM translators, and even then their listenership mostly comes from the latter. I am one of a handful that will listen to music on AM.

      I wonder if they even tried to sell the license before pulling the plug.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        As I mentioned below, I think the only potential buyers for the station would have been one or more of the ethnic community stations on lower power / poorer frequencies. Since 1280AM is sort of in that marketplace, I doubt they wanted to create more competition for themselves at this point.

        My thought is this: They know in giving back the frequency to the CRTC to work with, it will take probably years before they even start the process of trying to find someone else to take it, and will likely require public hearings and whatnot. Considering how long it took TTP to go from idea to license to actually on the air, it’s likely the frequency will stay vacant for years. Even if someone just wants to shift frequency, it’s likely to take quite a long time before anyone will be allowed to and technically able to get there.

        Selling the station would create near immediate competition. Returning the license gives them probably 5 years without competition. It’s pretty simple math.

        Reply
  5. Anonymous

    I would to listen to this station at work and I enjoyed the music specifically when they aired 60’s and 70’s tunes … And this is coming from a Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock fan!

    Reply
  6. Dilbert

    Simply put, it’s an all around fail.

    It’s pretty shocking to see them just take it off the air. Honestly, TTP has kept stations on the air automated with nothing more than a PC automated play list. I have to assume that the rent for wherever they had their transmitter was just too high. Otherwise, keeping it on the air even with little or no advertising maintains value. Taking it off the air and shutting down takes away almost any resale value for the station.

    Then again, there isn’t a lineup of people looking to buy AM stations in Montreal. Most of the players already are over stocked in TV and radio in the city.

    What surprises me more is that they didn’t try to sell the station off to one or more of the ethnic stations on the AM band. I would have thought of one or more of them willing to take it over. Then again, the CRTC would likely poop all over that idea, they don’t like fuller power stations for ethnic stuff.

    It says a ton when the biggest station in Montreal is a french talk station (on FM, wow), and there is apparently no market for anything like it on AM.

    Reply
  7. Blair Ronzel

    980 was a dinosaur station…AM oldies in the States is played at barbershops headed by 70 plus year olds. The French market has a lot of options in Montreal. It was not like Zoomer 740 ..a Toronto oldies station that mixes music with community service and talk. .

    Reply
  8. Jeffrey Wiseblatt

    After digesting the news that 980 CHRF has been shut down, something tells me (and I am not the only one openly predicting this) that COGECO is about to going to start taking the chopping block by laying off personnel at its French language stations province wide.The staff at both CKOI & Circulation 730 in particular have been no doubt on edge lately & IMHO, its only now a matter of timing as to when such cuts will be made.

    Reply

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