A few years after failing to sell the station, RNC Media is doubling — nay, tripling — down on its sports-talk station 91.9 Sports and expanding its content to two other stations: CFTX-FM 96.5/107.5 in Ottawa-Gatineau, and CHXX-FM 100.9 in Donnacona (Quebec City). Both are currently pop music stations branded as “Vibe” and will switch on Aug. 29, when all three stations become “BPM Sports”.
I spoke with Yves Bombardier, BPM’s program director, about the change, for this story at Cartt.ca. In short, he wants to expand the audience to those who wouldn’t normally listen to sports-talk radio. Bringing in people like former mayor Denis Coderre and former TSN 690 host Tony Marinaro as regular contributors will help with that.
The change has some challenges, beyond the usual ones involving staffing, scheduling and branding.
For one, CFTX and CHXX are both licensed as music stations, which means they must ensure at least 50% of their content is music. Bombardier tells me they will only run the morning, noon, afternoon drive and weekend morning shows from the network and be music the rest of the time, at least for now. An application to the CRTC will be forthcoming, either to allow an exception for game broadcasts to not count toward that 50%, or to switch the stations to a primarily talk format.
The other challenge is the lack of local content for either Gatineau or Quebec City. On evenings when there is no live event broadcast like a CF Montréal or Laval Rocket game, Jordan Boivin will host “La Tribune Capitale” from Quebec City on the network. Otherwise, all programming is coming from Montreal. There are no distinct local shows for Quebec City or Gatineau, and no journalists yet to cover their sports news (Bombardier wants to hire some, but there’s no date for when that would happen).
Until then, Boivin will cover Quebec City and contribute to other shows, while Gatineau will be covered by the teams at RNC-owned TVA affiliate CHOT and WOW Gatineau.
RNC’s announcement is here, and lists some of the new hires, including Paul Houde, fresh off losing his show at 98.5 FM (he said Wednesday he’s looking into getting his brother Pierre Houde to collaborate as well). He will host the weekend morning show.
As for Vibe, the two stations shared programming and had only four hosts. Patrice Nadeau announced he is moving to Quebec City sister station CHOI Radio X. I haven’t seen any public statements by the others, Camille Felton, Me?ghan Labrecque and Catherine (Peach) Paquin.
- Video of the launch event
- La Presse
- Dans les coulisses
- Métro Québec on the change in Quebec City
- Le Droit on the lack of local content for Gatineau
- TVA Gatineau (which glosses over that stuff)
- CHOI Radio X, talking to Paul Houde
Talk radio on FM is unavoidable. The consolidation of broadcasting onto FM only is inevitable, as more and more new cars are coming without AM radios or with such poor AM reception that it’s not worth the bother. FM is also much easier to setup and maintain.
Of course, broadcast as a whole is slowly heading for the abyss. it won’t be long before we can all have enough data to out cars and such to enjoy whatever the heck we want without having to let someone else program it for us.
For the current market, RNC is pretty smart to move away from the generally over saturated pop / R&B / lite rap formats that are fading in many markets. Sports coverage isn’t something that can be as easily duplicated online, it is a format with plenty of long term potential. 98.5 in Montreal is proving that talk radio on FM works and works well. You could imaging RNC slowly shifting to allow more general talk radio subjects over time, slowly sliding towards the market leader, which keeping the sports angle for much of their stuff.
Merci de couvrir le marché québécois des media. Ironie du sort car vous le faites en anglais mais toujours très bien.