New Bounce brand continues Bell Media’s consolidation of music radio stations

Bell Media took another step toward putting its 109 radio stations into neat little brand packages this week with the announcement of a new brand: Bounce, which has been applied to 25 of those stations, including all the EZ Rock stations in B.C., the Bob FM stations in Winnipeg and elsewhere, and 102.9 K-Lite in Hamilton. (The full list of stations is below.)

The format bills itself as favourites from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, with an apparent focus on more pop and rock songs, with artists like Aerosmith, The Tragically Hip, Bon Jovi, INXS, Elton John, Michael Jackson and Oasis. It seems to be a way to bring the adult contemporary focus of EZ Rock, the nostalgia of Bob and the harder rock formats of 100.9 Big Dog or 105.3 The Fox into the same family.

This move makes Bounce the largest of the Bell Media brands by number of stations, though most of them are in smaller markets. It also, along with previously announced Move and Pure Country brands, reduces to just a handful the number of Bell stations that haven’t been tied to a national brand.

I’ve written about brand consolidation recently, but this just further underscores how much cleaning up Bell in particular is doing with its brands, with 85 of its music stations now belonging to just 7 brands.

Bell Media national radio brands

English

  • Bounce (adult hits): 25 stations
  • Pure Country (country): 16 stations
  • Virgin (contemporary hits): 12 stations
  • Move (adult contemporary): 11 stations
  • Funny (comedy): 4 stations
  • TSN Radio (sports talk): 4 stations
  • Bloomberg Radio (business news): 2 stations

French

  • Énergie (CHR/rock): 10 stations
  • Rouge (adult contemporary): 9 stations
  • Boom FM (adult hits): 2 stations

What’s left

The 14 stations left can be separated into two groups: 8 news-talk stations and 6 other music stations

The news-talk stations, including CJAD 800 in Montreal, seem pretty ripe for a national brand, and I’m a bit surprised one hasn’t been imposed already. Bell has already replaced their newscasts’ branding with CTV News, so why not just call them CTV News Radio like Corus did with Global News Radio?

There’s definitely a listener brand loyalty issue. It’s a bit more sensitive on talk radio than it is with music, and some of those brands (like CJAD or NewsTalk 1010) go way back, even though they’re largely just call letters, or the words “News Talk”.

These are the six remaining music stations that still have their own brand at Bell Media:

  • CHOM 97.7 Montreal (rock)
  • 100.3 The Bear Edmonton (rock)
  • CJAY 92 Calgary (rock)
  • HTZ 97.7 St. Catharines (rock)
  • CHUM 104.5 Toronto (hot AC)
  • AM580 Windsor (oldies)

You could make the case that these are special situations where an individual brand is warranted:

  • CHUM is a highly-rated station in Canada’s largest market and has been known as CHUM FM since it launched in 1963
  • AM580 is a de facto Detroit station and doesn’t have much wiggle room, and Bell doesn’t have a national oldies brand.
  • CFBR-FM in Edmonton has been known as The Bear since 1992
  • HTZ has been playing rock since 1995
  • CJAY has never changed its callsign
  • CHOM is … well, CHOM.

That said, Bell has killed legacy brands like Majic 100, QMFM in Vancouver, Capital FM and KHJ in Fredericton, C100 in Halifax, FLY FM in Kingston and 89X in Windsor as part of these recent rebranding efforts, so I wouldn’t put it past them to create a common rock brand for those last four stations.

Stations rebranding as Bounce

BOB FM

  • CFWM-FM 99.9 Winnipeg
  • CKX-FM 96.1 Brandon, Man.
  • CKLY-FM 91.9 Lindsay, Ont.
  • CJPT-FM 103.7 Brockville, Ont.

The Dock

  • CJOS-FM 92.3 Owen Sound, Ont.
  • CICZ-FM 104.1 Simcoe, Ont.

The Bear

  • CKNL-FM 101.5 Fort St. John, B.C.
  • CKRX-FM 102.3 Fort Nelson, B.C.

EZ ROCK

  • CFTK 590 AM Terrace, B.C.
  • CKOR 800 AM Penticton, B.C.
  • CJOR 1240 AM Osoyoos, B.C.
  • CHOR-FM 98.5 Summerland, B.C.
  • CJAT-FM 95.7 Trail, B.C.
  • CKKC-FM 106.9 Nelson, B.C.
  • CKXR-FM 91.5 Salmon Arm, B.C.
  • CKCR-FM 106.1 Revelstoke, B.C.
  • CKGR-FM 106.3 Golden, B.C.
  • CKTK-FM 97.7 Kitimat, B.C.
  • CHTK-FM 99.1 Prince Rupert, B.C.

“K”

  • CKLH-FM K-Lite 102.9 Hamilton, Ont.
  • CKKW-FM KFUN 99.5 Kitchener, Ont.
  • CIKX-FM K93 93.5 Grand Falls, N.B.

Others

  • CFXY-FM The Fox 105.3 Fredericton
  • CKTO-FM Big Dog 100.9 Truro, N.S.
  • CKBC-FM MAX 104.9 Bathurst, N.B.

At the same time, Bell Media also rebranded CHRX-FM 98.5 Fort St. John, B.C. and CHRX-FM-1 95.1 Dawson Creek, B.C., from Sunfm to Move.

14 thoughts on “New Bounce brand continues Bell Media’s consolidation of music radio stations

  1. Dilbert

    Aside from the very transparent excuse of saving money on branding (ie, cheaper to produce the same promotional and on air ID material to many stations). I think Bell is working towards a much more complex, much more “money saving” solution.

    When you have a lot of stations under a single brand, you can have it run by a single brand manager. You can structure a team around a national approach to everything from musical selection and programming to advertising. Having 25 stations on Bounce branding at the same time is something that Bell can sell to national advertisers. Selling large amounts of national advertising with a single account person is an accountants wet dream.

    More importantly, it opens up Bell for national automation, especially after hours. It would not be hard for these stations to all run off of a single programming source with a single announcer and a single producer generating all of the content for 25 stations from say 7PM to midnight, and then FULL automation until 6AM. Use local inserts for weather, IDs, and it’s all done.

    That would mean stations with very little local management, maybe 1 local sales person, and a handful of on air / production staff. That’s it, that’s all. No PDs, local programming maybe only for drive times, and everything else handled centrally.

    This is the model that Pure Country is already working with, and I can only imagine that Bell is making these moves because Pure Country is financially a big win for the company.

    My guess is the next move will be to lose the Virgin brand and bring Move to the combined 21 stations. That would get them away from the connection back to the Virgin mothership, and get them a brand they totally control. It would also make it easier to rebrand all 21 stations in a block in the future.

    Rock will be the hardest (no pun intended) because all of the stations involved are unique legacy stations, and are also programmed more against local tastes. News Talk has some of the same issues, including that talk radio has a large local issue factor to deal with. National is much harder to do. That said, a good national talk radio program could do well, but it’s more work.

    Reply
    1. Dan Shields

      I concur. That, combined with the non competive nature of Canuck radio [excepting Calgary and Ed] makes this a money spinner. It is also another nail in the coffin of terrestial radio in Canada. I am a big radio listener but I am sick of the bland leading the bland. I use radiogarden, google it, is awesome, in place of local radio. Makes me sad but it is what it is.

      Reply
    2. Marc

      When you have a lot of stations under a single brand, you can have it run by a single brand manager. […] Having 25 stations on Bounce branding at the same time is something that Bell can sell to national advertisers.

      That’s what it’s all about. The product on-air? Meh.

      More importantly, it opens up Bell for national automation, especially after hours.

      It’s already happening. Whether it’s Bell Media’s own programming (e.g. Jamil Jivani) or foreign syndicated filler (e.g. TED Radio Hour), these shows air nationally at the same local time slot.

      You’re probably right that the Virgin brand is not long for the world. We discussed on an earlier topic what should happen to CJFM and agreed it should go mainstream AC like 98 CHFI Toronto simply branded as FM96 (with the old rainbow logo revived). Oh, and CHFI happens to be the highest rated station in Toronto. Funny, that?

      And you can be damn sure they’re hard at work concocting a national brand for their rock stations as well as CTV News Radio. Local heritage be damned – it’s bad for national advertiser dollars. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both of those rolled out as the pandemic winds down.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        I do think that radio and TV companies are going to roll in front of the CRTC over the next few years for renewals or changes and push the idea that they “lost so much in the pandemic”. They will ultimately try to use that to get the sorts of cutbacks that would otherwise have met stiffer opposition.

        heritage be damned indeed. We are talking bottom line results here!

        Bell has reduces CTV local tv stations to little more than local ENG operations that feed the national maw. They are now clearly working on the same thing in radio. Forget “branding” and think “network” and it all sort of makes sense. It makes perfect sense of a country that is entirely dulled by Tim Horton’s blandness and the repeating McDonalds FKC Wendys landscape.

        Reply
      2. Brett

        It’s all possible Bell could go to CTV News Radio. Just look at Corus, they have national branding with Global News Radio . If they can do it so can Bell. So it’s not out of the possibility.

        Reply
  2. Rich ard

    I’ve got and listen to Stingray, Spotify and Sirius . When I want local ,I’ll listen to CJAD , Chom and CBC 1 . There will be less and less reason to listen to the first two stations as they consolidate .

    Reply
  3. Michel

    Bob would have been the obvious brand to use for an 80s to 00s variety hits brand. Bounce sounds like it would play hip hop (remember that brand?)

    Interesting to see Canada taking inspiration from the UK for its national radio consolidation (at a cost of some locality), hopefully this results in quality syndicated homegrown programming.

    The next step for the news talkers is obvious: maybe prepare for CTV News Radio?

    Reply
  4. Steve M.

    “Bounce” or “Boom” or reverting to Mix96 would be the only thing that could possibly save CJFM from being blinked out of existence.

    Reply
  5. TV Guy

    I suspect CHOM will be rebranded as BOUNCE later this year.

    One of the daytime hosts will be offered the morning slot, and everyone else will be thrown out.

    Ratings may slump, but it’s irrelevant if costs have been drastically reduced (and by throwing out Terry, they just reduced their costs substantially).

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I suspect CHOM will be rebranded as BOUNCE later this year.

      If they were going to rebrand it, they probably would have done it when they did all the other stations.

      Reply
      1. Steve M.

        agreed. if anything Bell will come up with a national “rock” brand name and change it then. likewise i think back to my previous comment about rebranding CJFM to save it… if it was going to happen, it probably would have already changed. one has to wonder if the suits in toronto are content to just let CJFM die a slow death. (their choices in morning shows over the past ten years certainly indicate that they don’t care or want to win the ratings war.)

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          (their choices in morning shows over the past ten years certainly indicate that they don’t care or want to win the ratings war.)

          They let Freeway and Natasha go to bring back Vinny. That wasn’t a cheap thing to do. That said, it seems clear there’s something missing. Maybe the Virgin brand is just getting a bit stale, or the younger audience they’re going for isn’t there because they’re on Spotify instead.

          Reply
    2. Dan Shields

      It is insane. I am not a Terry DiMonte fan but he is a legend that makes beaucoup for the station for relatively little money. Raise the ad rates and pay him. But, no. Too easy. Btw I am not a TDM fan because I get up at the crack of noon every day.

      Reply

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