It was 12 years ago that the group that would become TTP Media first came on the scene.
It was a little less than 10 years ago that the group was given its second licence by the CRTC, for an English-language station at 600 AM that it promised would be a news-talk station to rival CJAD.
It was five years ago this month that CFQR 600 went on the air from its restored transmission site in Kahnawake (formerly used by Cogeco for 940 News and Info 690).
But finally, on June 13, 2022, the station CJAD’s critics have been waiting for is on the air. Sort of.
Late last week, Mike Cohen at the Suburban broke the news that the station would be launching its first program, a weekday morning show hosted by Jim Connell, on Monday. The station also promised a website at the same time, and one is now active at cfqr600.com. The station also has a Facebook page.
From what’s published so far, here’s what we know about CFQR 600 (no relation to the former CFQR-FM, which is now The Beat 92.5):
The morning show, called “Mornings Matter”, will run 6-9am weekdays.
The station’s programming will feature “regular news updates” and music from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
… That’s about it. Though an on-air teaser promises “much more in the weeks ahead.”
Connell’s involvement is not surprising. A former on-air star of 940 News (and the various ways it was rebranded until it was shut down in 2010), he was part of TTP Media’s presentation to the CRTC a decade ago about their plans for a station. When they took forever to get it off the ground, he took a job at Global Montreal helping it launch its morning show. He stayed for three years, and it’s been seven years since then, just to give you an idea how long this has taken.
CFQR’s website, while active, is pretty bare-bones, with a listen link and a contact form. The station has a phone number, 514-470-0600, and promises apps to listen on iOS and Android devices. An address listed on the website is the address of co-owner Nicholas Tétreault’s real estate office on Highway 520 in St-Laurent.
Partner Rajiv Pancholy tells me there aren’t elaborate plans for Day 1.
The first show
“This is Day 1 of a grand experiment,” Connell said as he began Monday’s show. He didn’t do much else in terms of introducing himself or the station, instead talking about what’s going on in the news.
The first newscast aired shortly after 6am, and included Connell talking about stories in the news (backyard pool drownings, gas prices, an exhibition on the French language, Dollar Cinema closing), plus traffic and weather. It lasted five minutes. No other voices were heard, and if CFQR plans on hiring any journalists to work with Connell, there was no evidence of them on Day 1.
About 15 minutes later, the first talk break, which focused mainly on sports headlines:
The newscasts are running every half hour, with a shorter break between them. Otherwise it’s music, mainly from the 1980s, with artists like Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper and Gloria Estefan.
It’s Day 1, so this is far from the final product. But if this is what people were hoping for as an alternative to CJAD, it’s not there yet, unless what they really wanted was a low-budget throwback hits music station.
Besides Connell’s show, there isn’t much content on the station yet. I haven’t heard a single ad, and newscasts during the rest of the day come from The Canadian Press.
If they really want to get talk radio off the ground, they need advertising. How can they have proper show host of they don’t advertise. I get maybe the first week of shows could be commercial free. I don’t see them expanding beyond what they did this morning, if they don’t have commercial breaks.
Hopefully they will add advertising to the station. I don’t see them expanding beyond what they are now. That’s if they can’t generate a steady flow of income for future host.
I liked the morning show but was hoping for a little but more news/talk. Other then that the music was good but reminded me of 105.1 Mike FM morning show.
I honestly think they are hoping to get free publicity from word of mouth, via Facebook.. hopefully they do get advertisers.. I’m assuming content will come with time, but an effort must be made to find talent.. Rome wasn’t built in a day.. but waiting 10 years to break ground isn’t avoid sign either..
My biggest concern is their broadcasting range.. I travel alot in southern Quebec for work and have noticed that the signal dies in certain locations where English communities outside of Montreal reside.. namely with the border of the Eastern Townships. Once you hit there , the signal is met with some sort of interference and Peter’s out.. not a good sign if you’re trying to reach the English market outside Montreal. And for the record, you can get CJAD all the way down to the Vermont border..
TTP Media’s original plan was an English station at 940 and French at 690, using two clear channel frequencies. But the CRTC gave 690 to TSN, and TTP eventually chose 600 as a Plan B, knowing its signal would not be as good outside Montreal. Right now there’s not much they can do to improve the signal, and in any case programming should be their more pressing concern right now.
I’m glad that they’re actually starting to do something with the station. And since it’s an election year in the province, they’ll have plenty of chances to talk to the party leaders. Which should add to their attempt to a full News Talk format.
My only major problem with them is that it’s on the analog AM band. Sound quality is awful.
I’ve been listening to CJAD-AM on their HD Radio signal on 107.3-HD2 on the FM Band, and now find it very difficult going back to analog AM Band.
But never the less, glad to see something is happening over at CFQR-AM 600.
BTW, their Twitter page seems to have no new posts on it. Still stuff going back several years.
They seem to be focusing on the Facebook listeners. I think they gave up on Twitter. Would love them to be back in Twitter. I use it more then Facebook.
The idea is sort of good. Talk radio though needs a lot of voices and a lot of talking, neither of which this station has outside of the morning run. Even then, the morning is sort of more FM morning show than AM talk radio for now.
That said, perhaps a few other voices will join in. It would be great to have the station at least cover the same times as AD does, so until 6PM. To pull it off they need to have at least 3 or 4 people on air during the day, and that might take a bit.
Considering all the people kicked off of the other stations in the last while, they have plenty of choice. They just need some cash.
Maybe do what a station I once heard in Orlando does. During major parts of the day it’s talk radio. Overnights and weekends they play Alternative Rock. Maybe that’s something that could work for CFQR. I wouldn’t mind something like that. If it works in other markets across North American, they should look into trying that.
That’s basically the model for 98.5 FM.
Patience, people. It’s going to be baby steps for now. The last two+ years of COVID haven’t helped either. It’s already taken this long. Taking a little more time to get the right pieces in place is best than to just throw whatever you can on the air. As seems to be human nature, we are more likely to complain about things from the get-go, rather than to give it the time they need. We’ve waited this long. A little while longer won’t make a difference. But wait, it might make a difference, especially if they are able to get themselves established, brick by brick.
There are a lot of very good, quality radio people out there, currently not working anywhere. There’s plenty to choose from in the pool, as long as they don’t expect to be rewarded from the start with “big-time radio announcer” salaries. Anyone willing to get in at the ground level, and grow with the station, has a good opportunity. It’s better than sitting at home waiting for Bell or Corus to call, because they won’t!
I know that morning shows are the most listened to, but the way to compete with cjad would be to run local live talk from 10-2 and after 6 when that tired old station plays lame national shows, toronto programming, or repeats of the only three local shows they already played today.
Thank for the update, it’s been like a mystery wrapped in a enigma to follow this saga.
This is off the subject matter, but I thought I would share it.
Is CFMB-AM 1280 going to activate HD Radio?
See article link.