For the first time since it launched in 2014, Evanov’s radio station in Hudson/St-Lazare west of Montreal has gone through a rebrand.
Starting Monday at midnight, Jewel 106.7 (CHSV-FM) is Lite 106.7 Hudson’s Lite Favourites (its first song under the new format, for the record, was Baby Baby by Amy Grant). The change coincides with an identical one at The Jewel in Ottawa, which also becomes Lite 98.5, kicking off with Lionel Richie’s All Night Long.
The midnight brand switch was a bit anticlimactic, with just the new station ID:
A press release was issued overnight and a more formal announcement of the change happened just after the 8am news:
Recorded by Gary Gamble, Director of Operations for Evanov Communications, the announcement said that after reviewing comments from listeners who wanted “a vibrant radio station in touch with today, playing the best music from timeless artists past and present” (I’m sure they phrased it like that, too), it was rebranding “to build on the success of Jewel 106.7 and maintain our lite sound.”
Two other Jewel stations in eastern Ontario, CKHK-FM 107.7 in Hawkesbury and CHRC-FM 92.5 in Clarence-Rockland, switched to Hot Country at 9am after the morning show. (Their social media pages have already changed, leading to some comments from confused fans.)
It sounded like this:
The announcement on the Clarence-Rockland station noted that people who still wanted to listen to the Jewel-style light pop can still tune in to the Ottawa station on 98.5. Steven Lee Olsen’s Hello Country kicked off the new brand.
As I explain in this story for Cartt.ca, there are minimal changes to staffing as a result of this rebranding. All four stations keep their morning teams, including Ted Bird and Tom Whelan at Jewel 106.7. The biggest programming change is that the country stations will bring in nationally syndicated Casey Clark at midday and Bobby Bones in the evening.
I spoke with Ted Silver, Evanov’s program director for the four stations, about the change, and he explained that for Jewel/Lite, it was a matter of “following the curve” so the stations can better target the core audience of adults 45-54. “The audience we were appealing to 10 years ago is 10 years older,” he said, and have aged out of the demographic that can be sold to advertisers effectively.
Silver, a former PD at Montreal’s Q92, says Lite should be similar to what people listened to at Q92 before it became The Beat. Jewel listeners won’t feel alienated, it’s more of an evolution than a drastic change. But there will be less focus on the 70s and more on the 80s, because it wants to attract people who were in high school in the 80s.
Jewel’s remaining stations in Toronto, Brantford and Meaford will keep that brand, which is more entrenched in southern Ontario, Silver said. Evanov also has a Jewel station in Halifax, but the CRTC just approved its sale (along with its Hot Country sister station) to Acadia Broadcasting.
The Hudson station doesn’t subscribe to Numeris ratings, but does get some data from a company called StatsRadio. It estimates the station’s audience at 140,000 listeners, “not bad for a little suburban radio station,” Silver said. (That number is probably exaggerated — Jewel 98.5’s weekly reach in Ottawa as measured by Numeris was less than half that.)
I like the music of this station, I hope the quality will remain just as high with the new format.
This is the little radio network that could. Not of interest to behemoths like Bell or Rogers which owns anything on the media spectrum not nailed down. I’ve aged out of remembering the ‘80s, so no radio station except for CHOM gives a shit about former longhairs. And of course there’s the CBC who continue dumb ass moves like bringing back more classical music on Radio Two or whatever they call it. They used to play good music after 3 pm, but the DJ Rich Tirfry seems to have gone on an extended leave and the music now skews more toward hip hop/rap for a younger listenership I presume. As for Radio One, if you want to hear sometimes droning interviews and conversations, this is for you. They do have a great comedy show they have on. Which is refreshing amongst the covid conversations.
The change in format for two of the stations is very evolutionary, you can almost pencil in the move in another few years to focus more on the 90s than the 80s, and so on. It feels pretty normal and natural. I think the name change is (a) to differentiate from the stations that will retain the Jewel branding in other markets, and (b) to get news, blogs, and whatnot to talk about the station. All publicity is good publicity, right?
I do think that if the Hudson station had more coverage in Montreal, they would be quite disruptive in the market place. If Bell are paying attention, they may want to consider de-Virginizing their station back to being FM96 and work a play list more down this market. I have a feeling that Lite is going to be the station of choice for office listeners in the West Island at least.
I agree Lite will be all over offices in the West Island. I’m on the south shore where we can only catch it in the car. Will definitely have to check it out and stream online.
That’s what I’ve been thinking for about 3 years now. CJFM as Virgin has had several bad books of late and it’s time for a change. I would even bring back the ’80s rainbow logo.
But no, Bell neither cares nor is paying attention. So long as its still attracting advertisers they could care less about the product on-air.
I agree. FM96, logo, branding, the whole 9 yards. I would even venture to say a playlist similar to what they were playing in the day, aimed exactly at the teens to 20 somethings of the era who are now sitting exactly in the coveted demographic.
Bell however has proven not to be so brilliant or inclined to take any risk. All they want to do is cut, gut, reduce, and ignore what the books say. Much like other big, ignorant companies, they think they can somehow shrink to success.
This part of your comment : “But no, Bell neither cares nor is paying attention. So long as its still attracting advertisers they could care less about the product on-air.” pretty much sums it up!
They say listeners in Clarence Rockland can switch to 98.5, but unless you have a high end receiver with a great antenna, good luck. The station barely makes Orleans and is gone right afterwards.
Sorry but very disappointed with the format change in Hawkesbury. Listened to the Jewel since day 1 as I love the older music. I guess it’s safe to say that the oldies with Roger Ashby is also terminated .
It would not be safe to say that. The Roger Ashby Show airs Sundays at 9am.
It’s only a matter of time. Roger Ashby used to be on on Saturdays starting at 4 p.m. — no longer. Now some of us will have to play hooky from church (where we have responsibilities) just to catch even a part of the show. It’s a really boneheaded move because it’s such a great show and deserves a prime Saturday time slot, especially since it doesn’t have a Sunday morning vibe to it at all. However, I guess Lite is after the soccer mom demographic, so, as I’ve said, it’s probably only a matter of time before the show gets dropped on Sundays, too. Good luck with the change, guys. I’m now in your demographic, and even I’m considering tuning out because it was the ’70s pop stuff that I loved hearing.
It’s too bad, I guess I will have to go back to my cd listening. The Jewel had a personal feeling, now it’s just like all the rest. I also liked the fact that I could here the traffic report, this morning nothing… Nope don’t like the new format. Sad :(
There are still traffic reports. Ted Silver
I tend to agree with Carla. There’s nothing like the good old 60s and 70s music. It had that soul feeling. A true time machine.
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I loved the music on the JEWEL now it has gone over to the other side too bad Ted and Tom were terrific.
Why mess with an oldies station. The oldies are better than the what passes for music now.
Too bad so sad
Wish they would get rid of all the nonsense. Revisionist History for one.
The music is good but do they have to play the same songs day in and day out. With hundreds of thousands of songs available you would think they could change to more of a variety.
The music is good but the songs are too repetative.Too much of the same artist with the same songs Please vary your format…Thankyou
I’m with everyone else. I went to high school in the early 80’s and don’t like the change at all. Especially the pop stuff. I really liked the 60’s and 70’s. I’m heading back to CHOM. I instantly noticed the difference without even knowing the politics of the change. Sorry guys. I am not liking the song choices.