Category Archives: Radio

CRTC approves new country music station in Joliette on 107.9 FM

Arsenal Media is still growing. On Monday, the CRTC approved its application for a new French-language country music station in Joliette, which will act as a sister station to its O103.5 there.

The new station will be branded Hit Country, using a format Arsenal has used in stations in Lac-Mégantic, Beauce, Saguenay and Plessisville.

The transmitter will be at 107.9 MHz, and 25kW. According to one document in its application, Arsenal is looking at using the callsign CJOL-FM for the station.

Theoretical listening area of Arsenal Media’s new FM station in Joliette. Areas in purple would expect interference from WVPS in Vermont.

The frequency chosen, effectively the only one remaining suitable for the station, might be frustrating for some listeners of Vermont Public’s radio station WVPS, broadcasting from the top of Mount Mansfield and getting a decent signal into the Montreal area.

For listeners in and around Joliette, the new country station will effectively replace Vermont Public on that frequency. For those further south, including in Montreal, it might depend on which direction you or your antenna is facing, and you could find yourself listening to both.

Because WVPS is an American station, it does not have any protection north of the border. A Canadian station can stomp all over its signal, provided it does not interfere with reception in the U.S.

Also on Monday, the CRTC approved an application by Radio Nord-Joli, owner of French-language community station CFNJ-FM in nearby St-Gabriel-de-Brandon. They proposed to replace the St-Gabriel station with one in Joliette, on the same 99.1 FM frequency, while keeping a retransmitter in St-Zénon. This follows the denial of an application to extend the St-Gabriel transmitter’s coverage area to include Joliette, which the commission found to be a back door to setting up a Joliette station.

Lite 106.7 drops Ted Bird

People who tuned in to 106.7 in Hudson/St-Lazare this morning to listen to the Terry and Ted show were disappointed and possibly confused that the show wasn’t on today.

Ted Bird confirmed to me today he is no longer employed by the station, and said it was the decision of owner Evanov Communications. The weekday morning show is listed on the station’s website without a host, and the Saturday morning Terry and Ted show has also been removed from the schedule. DiMonte also confirmed on social media that show is not returning.

The news of Bird’s departure is a bit surprising as it was only in January that Evanov began carrying Bird’s show on its Ottawa station at 98.5.

Bird joined CHSV-FM, then Jewel 106.7 when it launched in 2015 as the first English-language radio station serving the western off-island region. That ended five years of bouncing around local radio stations after Bird left CHOM-FM in a dispute with management. He worked at K103 in Kahnawake, TSN 690 and KIC 89.9 before landing at the Hudson station.

The Terry and Ted podcast Standing By is a separate venture and will go on. Bird says they’re recording Season 7 in April.

As for a new job, there are always options out there, but “I think I’m done with radio,” he says.

Natasha Hall, Mose Persico, Lise McAuley among Bell Media cuts in Montreal

Updated March 24 with more details.

Two weeks after BCE announced it was abolishing 4,800 jobs, we’re starting to learn how those losses are trickling down to the local level.

In Montreal, CTV News was hit hard. The station’s website confirms weather presenter Lise McAuley, assignment editor Derek Conlon and production assistant and movie reviewer Mosé Persico no longer work for the company. That’s decades of experience with CFCF gone.

Director Yves Marion and producer Helen Michailidis have also left the organization.

This doesn’t mean they were all let go. In fact, a source within CTV Montreal tells me most of them took voluntary retirement packages instead. (Persico confirms this was the case for him.)

CTV News also lost Montreal-based national reporter Vanessa Lee. There’s no official list nationally, but correspondent Judy Trinh notes some names gone at CTV National News. It includes Kevin Gallagher, who was formerly a local reporter with CTV Montreal.

On the radio side, CJAD cut afternoon co-host Natasha Hall and Trivia Show co-host Dan Laxer is also gone. The loss of Hall isn’t entirely unexpected — a schedule shuffle in 2021 to incorporate more unoriginal programming on the schedule meant merging her show with Aaron Rand’s and making them co-hosts. This made one of them an easier cut in the next round of layoffs.

Rand, no stranger to having to carry on after his co-hosts get fired, paid tribute to Hall in a Facebook post, calling her “a smart, talented, and a consummate radio professional who didn’t deserve this outcome.”

With Laxer’s departure, Ken Connors is listed as the sole host of the Sunday morning Trivia Show.

I haven’t seen any cuts at CHOM, Virgin Radio or TSN Radio in Montreal. Despite the sword of Damocles seeming to dangle above TSN 690’s head, the station itself seems to have survived the latest round of cuts.

As announced with the news of the layoffs, CTV has cancelled noon newscasts at local stations outside Toronto, as well as news on holidays. CTV Montreal’s weekend newscasts survived the cut, along with Ottawa and Toronto, but other CTV stations have seen those newscasts cut as well.

UPDATE: Persico has already announced a new gig to keep him busy: Host of the afternoon drive show on ethnic station Mike FM 105.1 starting April 1. The announcement confirms his Mose at the Movies segments will move to Mike FM’s platforms.

Rogers blames CRTC bureaucracy for decision to shut down CityNews Ottawa

This week, the CRTC published a decision officially confirming that Rogers Media Inc. has surrendered the broadcasting licence of CIWW 1310 AM in Ottawa, the city’s oldest radio station.

The letter from Rogers requesting the revocation of its licence is dated Oct. 26, the same day the company announced the shutdown of CityNews Ottawa, which at the time was being simulcast on both CIWW 1310 and CJET-FM 101.1 in nearby Smiths Falls.

While normally these letters are short and to the point, Rogers took the opportunity to lay out the reasonings for its decision, and complaining that the CRTC’s processes played a major role in it.

Saying the radio broadcasting industry is “subject to stringent and outdated regulations that offer little to no flexibility for allowing broadcasters to pivot and adjust accordingly to their new competitive reality,” Rogers explained that the issue was with its decision in 2020 to simulcast programming on both AM and FM stations without prior CRTC approval.

While the CRTC doesn’t regulate content or formats on radio stations generally, the regulations require approval before an FM station can switch to or from a specialty format, and spoken word programming, when it represents more than 50% of programming on a station, is considered a specialty format. (This rule does not apply to AM stations like CIWW.)

Before it became a CityNews station, 101.1 was a country music station (as CKBY-FM), so it would have needed approval to switch to a talk format.

What’s more, the CRTC also requires approval before a transmitter can be converted from a station to a retransmitter of another station.

“Rogers received a request for information from the Commission in February 2023 regarding the simulcast of the news/talk programming originating from CIWW on CJET-FM (101.1). In subsequent correspondence between the Commission and Rogers, Commission staff shared its view that both stations were in apparent non- compliance with the Radio Regulations, 1986 (Regulations),” Rogers writes in its letter.

Rogers says it “did not believe that its stations were in non-compliance” (it doesn’t explain why it felt this way), but it filed an application to change the licence of CJET-FM 101.1 to allow the simulcast, at least until the current licence expires in 2026.

Unfortunately for Rogers, the CRTC announced on Aug. 22 a two-year moratorium on new applications related to radio, “unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated that would justify, with supporting evidence when filing the request, the need to process them.”

“After several rounds of correspondence and performance evaluation analyses of both CJET-FM and CIWW,” Rogers writes, it chose to withdraw the application the next day. “The risk of non-compliance and the operational burden of the Commission’s review of the stations’ performance and financial situation coupled with the continued decline in revenues since the launch of the simulcast led us to make this decision much earlier than we were planning and were contemplating in our Application.”

“Unfortunately, the regulatory framework did not provide us with the tools to experiment and innovate without facing an untenable level of scrutiny and evaluation that we can ill afford given the competitive environment in which we are operating,” the letter continues. “For these reasons, we urge the Commission to prioritize the review of the Regulations impacting AM radio including the provisions related to simulcasting and the operation of a specialty format. These rules must be relaxed to ensure a viable path forward for AM news content on the FM band, which represents the only way to maintain audiences to local terrestrial radio and support our ability to deliver local news.”

In urging the CRTC to review its rules on AM radio, Rogers said “we remain concerned that, without a modernized and flexible approach, the future of other AM stations is at risk.”

Rogers owns eight other AM radio stations in Canada:

  • CFTR CityNews 680 in Toronto
  • CKGL CityNews 570 in Kitchener, Ont.
  • CFFR CityNews 660 in Calgary
  • CKWX CityNews 1130 in Vancouver
  • CJCL Sportsnet 590 in Toronto
  • CFAC Sportsnet 960 in Calgary
  • CISL Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver
  • CKAT 600 Country in North Bay, Ont.

I understand Rogers’ frustration with the CRTC’s rules, and in particular the commission’s baffling decision to just not do its job in terms of radio for a couple of years, but Rogers also must have been aware of the rules. And the implication that this is a simple bureaucratic matter holding up progress is not how I would describe it. Rogers took a radio station off the air for this to happen, and decided it should have the same content on two frequencies in a market that doesn’t have a lot of spare radio spectrum. Maybe that’s what’s best for the market, but it should at least have required approval.

Unfortunately, with everything going on, the result is the shutdown of another news radio station in Canada, and one more AM signal in the country going dark.

If you have a good idea for a radio station, a 50kW signal on 1310 AM in Ottawa is now available. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait two years before you can apply for it.

More call letter switching fun

Rogers also confirmed in its letter it is once again switching call letters for its FM stations in Smiths Falls. CKBY-FM, which belonged to Country 101 and was then switched to the Country 92.3 station, will go back to Country 101, while CJET-FM, which was Jack FM on 92.3 and then CityNews 101.1, is going back to 92.3. Rogers told the CRTC it would adopt a country music format separate from 101.1, but on Nov. 1 it switched to “Santa Radio Canada“, which has a very Jack-like branding to it, suggesting a move back to Jack FM might be in the cards in the new year.

Bell Media managing the decline of AM radio

Last week, while I was on vacation, Bell Media announced it was shutting down six AM radio stations, selling three others, laying off foreign correspondents and together with the rest of BCE laying off 1,300 people.

The stations shut down or sold were the lowest-hanging fruit — six of the nine were part of the “Funny” brand of all-comedy stations or “BNN Bloomberg Radio” business-news stations, which mostly replaced TSN Radio when Bell decided most of those were not worth continued investment and should switch to something low-budget:

  • CFRW (Funny 1290) Winnipeg, formerly TSN Radio
  • CKMX (Funny 1060) Calgary, formerly country
  • CKST (Funny 1040) Vancouver, formerly TSN Radio
  • CFTE (BNN Bloomberg 1410) Vancouver, formerly TSN Radio
  • CKOC (BNN Bloomberg 1150) Hamilton, formerly TSN Radio (being sold)
  • CHAM (Funny 820) Hamilton, formerly country (being sold)

The other stations getting the boot have their own reasons:

  • CFRN (TSN Radio 1260) Edmonton. Not much of a surprise either (if anything it’s surprising it kept the station when it dropped TSN elsewhere), since it didn’t have a contract with either the Edmonton Oilers or, since 2022, the Edmonton Elks. The shutdown leaves only three TSN Radio stations in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, and you have to wonder how long the first two are going to last. (Shows were cancelled on both Toronto and Ottawa stations as part of these cuts.)
  • London’s CJBK 1290, being shut down, was mostly national programming except for the morning show, and had direct competition from Corus’s 980 CFPL.
  • Windsor’s CKWW 580, being sold, is an oldies station in the Detroit-Windsor market with minimal local programming and had more use as a station for sale than a money-maker in its own right

I don’t know who’s buying the three stations in southern Ontario, except that it’s probably not Corus since they already have an AM station in Hamilton. While the Hamilton market itself is probably not a big prize, Hamilton AM stations also cover the GTA (both stations are 50kW daytime), and so AM frequencies are useful for that reason in the crowded Toronto market.

I’m honestly a bit surprised Bell couldn’t find a buyer for its AM stations in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. But that’s an indication of how much AM has declined in recent years, and how little value it has left.

Radio is letting go of AM

This isn’t the first time a broadcaster has given up on an AM station, and it won’t be the last. With new CRTC rules on common ownership, many AM stations will be able to move to FM in smaller markets. CBC is continuing the process of moving low-power AM stations to FM, and maintains full-power AM stations only in places like Toronto and Windsor where there’s no place left on the FM band.

Here in Montreal, commercial AM is almost dead, with the notable exception of CJAD. Corus shut down 940 Hits and Info 690 in 2010, and while there was a fight for those two clear-channel AM frequencies, here’s how those projects look 12 years later:

  • TSN is continuing to operate at 690 AM. The station must remain in a sports talk format as a condition of licence, though Bell could choose to shut it down at any time.
  • TTP Media has stations operating at 600 and 940 AM, but they have done little beyond play music. The big talk about competition to CJAD and French-language talk radio has so far been just that.
  • TTP Media abandoned its plans for a sports-talk station at 850 AM.
  • Evanov Radio launched an LGBTQ+ station at 980 AM, but abandoned Radio Fierté within a year to switch to a music-talk format and shut the station down in 2020.
  • Cogeco withdrew its application for a French all-traffic stations and decided instead to turn CKAC 730 into one, moving sports programming to 98.5.
  • Cogeco’s application for an English all-traffic station was denied by the CRTC, and the company did not pursue trying again on a different available frequency.

Quebec City’s last AM station shut down in 2012. CJMS 1040 died when the CRTC was finally fed up with its compliance failures. Radio Shalom 1650 went dark and was eventually sold to a Christian broadcaster.

According to the Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada database, there are only 203 AM broadcasting transmitters still operating in Canada, and if you exclude low-power CBC retransmitters and the stations Bell has shut down here, that number drops to 156.

Many of the ones who remain exist because:

  • They’re in major markets where the FM band is full
  • They’re in markets where the same owner already has two FM stations and so can’t have a third on FM
  • They’re stations in rural spread-out areas like Saskatchewan where distance is more important
  • They’re old stations and either don’t have the budget or haven’t seen the need to move to FM

As I learned when speaking with major radio executives two years ago, AM isn’t the future. It’s expensive to run, the audio quality is bad, and many new receivers (particularly those in electric vehicles and hybrids) don’t support it anymore. The question isn’t whether more AM stations will pull the plug, it’s when and how.

Alternative declines

In Ottawa, Rogers made a bold move to deal with the AM problem, choosing to sacrifice a music station so it could simulcast its AM CityNews radio station on FM. In Calgary, Corus did the same, turning Q107 into a simulcast of CHQR 770AM (a move the CRTC took issue with because you can’t just turn a station into a rebroadcasting transmitter without approval). In those cases, it’s easy to see a day when they’ll pull the plug on the AM side, though neither company has said it will do so.

In many other cases, broadcasters have chosen to establish HD Radio channels on FM stations in the same or nearby markets to simulcast AM station programming. That has had limited success, due in part to the limited availability of HD Radio receivers outside of newer cars and the complexity of explaining how to tune in to these stations on FM HD. Broadcast executives don’t see HD as the future either.

That isn’t to say talk radio is going anywhere. Podcasts are still popular, and Rogers, Corus, Bell, Quebecor et al have their own podcast groups.

But acquiring programming through the amplitude modulation technology developed by Reginald Fessenden in 1900 is a concept that will soon be on its last legs.

Other Bell Media cuts

AM radio wasn’t the only place where employees faced the chopping block at Bell Media. Cuts were made across the country, including several big names at CTV National News (Joyce Napier, Tom Walters, Daniele Hamamdjian, Glen McGregor, Paul Workman and executive producer Rosa Hwang) and cuts to smaller newsrooms like Rimouski, where Bell Media’s two radio stations can now rely on only a single journalist covering the region. In Victoria, CTV2 will now be simulcasting the Vancouver news at 5, sandwiched between Victoria local newscasts that are now half an hour in length. Unifor says it expects 100 union jobs to be cut nationwide.

In Montreal, Jason Rockman has left CHOM. He posted a video to Facebook explaining that he has no hard feelings toward his former employer.

Bell attributed these latest cuts to its workforce to the changing media landscape, and tried to deflect some blame on the CRTC for Bell’s regulatory burden and on the Canadian government for not moving fast enough on making Google and Facebook compensate news companies.

But let’s be honest here, eliminating CRTC obligations or cutting a cheque with Google’s logo in the corner isn’t going to reverse these cuts. The truth is that Bell is losing the war for people’s attention, and the advertising income that goes with that.

Quebec taxpayers are continuing to subsidize a traffic radio station with $1.5 million a year

Do you listen to Radio Circulation 730? Maybe you should, because you’re still paying for it.

Last month, the Quebec government renewed its no-bid contract with Cogeco Media to subsidize the Montreal traffic information station, agreeing to pay it up to $7,738,965 for five years, or $1,547,793 per year.

Cogeco Media doesn’t break down budgets for individual radio stations, but we know from CRTC filings that the average cost to run its radio stations is about $3 million a year, and when Cogeco first applied to the CRTC for a new licence to run a new all-traffic radio station in 2010 (and an anglophone equivalent on another AM frequency), it budgeted about $2 million, rising with inflation.

So I think it would be fair to say that taxpayers are footing about half the cost of running this station that consistently performs at the bottom of Numeris radio ratings (which is not unexpected since no one is going to tune in for more than a few minutes at a time).

The last contract between the government and Cogeco, which has been posted online because of an access-to-information request, was signed in 2018 for three years and renewable for two more, at a cost of $1.37 million a year. Besides agreeing to run the all-traffic station, Cogeco also provides some advertising time and a weekly interview.

Whether this is a good investment is up for debate. But a 2014 survey showed 40% of drivers had tuned into the station at least once, so the government seems to think there’s at least some use to it.

And it’s not like the traffic situation is going to get much better soon.

Matthew Ross is ready to be uncancelled

It’s been half a year since Matthew Ross got cancelled for a tweet, and he’s finally ready to rebuild his public face.

“A tweet” might be an exaggeration. He expressed an opinion on Twitter, and then doubled down when criticized about it, until the backlash was so much he disabled his Twitter account, and lost his weekend morning show on TSN 690.

Now he’s doing what most dismissed radio personalities do these days: starting a video podcast. Called “Are You Game?”  it features Ross talking about sports — there’s an episode about the failed Expos-Rays plan, and another about Pierre Karl Péladeau and the Expos.

It’s low-budget, but it’s more about giving himself an outlet to express himself than it is about making money.

When Ross lost his show on TSN 690, I asked him if he wanted to talk about it. Like most people in similar situations, he declined, saying he was going through a lot and didn’t want to talk about it publicly yet. He said he’d get in touch when he was ready.

I didn’t expect I’d hear back, but a few weeks ago he reached out and said he was willing to talk now. We set up a video chat and I asked him about his life, his controversy and why he wants to put himself out there again after all that.

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How CRTC policy changes could affect commercial radio in Montreal

Last month, the CRTC released its long-awaited review of its Commercial Radio Policy. The policy determines what standard regulations will apply to commercial AM and FM radio stations in Canada, covering things like Canadian content quotas, ownership limits, mandatory financial contributions and local programming minimums.

The industry pushed for some big changes in the policy, which has been a long time coming (the review of French music quotas started back in 2015 but was delayed in part because for a time the commission didn’t have enough francophone commissioners).

What they got was a lot of the same. Canadian and French-language content quotas are basically unchanged, local programming is still expected but not required, and stations still need to ask permission if they change between a mainly talk format and a mainly music format on FM. But there were a few changes that could make a big difference, in particular for stations in Montreal. Let’s get into them:

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Jeremy White leaves The Beat 92.5

Jeremy White

Jeremy White, the kid from Kahnawake who has been the evening host at The Beat 92.5 just about since its launch, is no longer at the station.

White tells me he left of his own accord and decided in November he didn’t want to work a shift that started at 7pm anymore, and the company wasn’t interested in letting him voice-track his show earlier in the day.

The Beat has already scrubbed all reference to him on its website and has the generic “MTL’s Perfect Mix” listed in his time slot.

White is still on Corus-owned Energy 93.5 in Toronto in the same time slot and his Jeremy White Show podcast/YouTube channel. He tells me that while he isn’t looking for other radio work at the moment, he’s open if someone wants to suggest another gig that can be voice-tracked. “But going to a station and doing a shift just ain’t in the cards anymore for me.”

Several people (including one of White’s former program directors at The Beat) have noted that White would seem to be a good fit for CHOM when you consider his more hard-rock musical tastes. But nothing has ever materialized on that front and there’s no indication anything ever will.

But if someone at Bell Media wants a new voice for a weekend rock station countdown show, one just became available.

CRTC once again threatens Montreal’s Haitian radio station with licence revocation

“The Commission has concerns regarding the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner.”

With that standard phrasing, the CRTC is once again threatening Montreal radio station CJWI 1410 AM (CPAM Radio Union) with revoking its licence over repeated failure to meet licence conditions.

The owners of the station, and two others in a similar situation (CICR-FM Parrsboro, N.S., and CKVM-FM Ville-Marie, Que.) have been called to appear at a hearing on April 5 to explain why their licences should be renewed despite their repeated failures, including in their current licence terms.

The station’s last licence renewal came in 2020, along with several mandatory orders requiring it to comply with its conditions of licence, and just after the commission refused to renew the licence of sister station CJMS 1040.

The latest apparent failures (CJWI is still being given the chance to explain how they are still in compliance) relate to a regulation requiring they provide a “complete and accurate” list of all musical pieces played on the air, and a requirement that at least 35% of non-pop music played be Canadian.

In correspondence with the commission, CJWI blamed the former on software it was using that did not count musical selections played for less than 12 seconds, and blamed the latter on the difficulty of finding Canadian specialty music of interest to the Haitian community.

If CJWI is found to be in non-compliance again, it would be the fifth consecutive licence term in which the station is not complying with its licence conditions. And it would be the second consecutive licence term in which it has failed to comply with a mandatory order requiring it to respect the regulation about having a complete and accurate music list. These are very serious matters and the CRTC can’t just let them go and maintain credibility as a regulator.

But revoking CJWI’s licence, or refusing to renew it, might not be the best thing for the broadcasting system. There isn’t much demand for AM frequencies these days (1040 AM remains vacant) and this is the only station specifically serving the Haitian community.

In a separate but related application also being heard in this proceeding, CJWI is asking the CRTC for amendments to its conditions of licence regarding music quotas. Since the CRTC is saying it failed to meet those quotas, it is unlikely to grant such changes.

Other stations are also in front of the commission to have their licences renewed, but with less ominous stakes. They include Radio Ville-Marie (CIRA-FM 91.3) in Montreal, which the CRTC says failed to meet Canadian and French-language music quotas.

The CRTC is accepting comments on these files until Feb. 9. Note that all information submitted, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.

Numeris publishes its final public radio ratings

It’s the end of an era: After years of Numeris (formerly BBM Canada) publishing a bare minimum of statistics on radio ratings in Canada’s five largest markets, it will now publish no data at all.

A statement on its website reads “Effective the start of the 2022-23 broadcast year (August 29, 2022), the Radio Topline Reports will no longer be produced. The final report will encompass the period ending on August 28, 2022.”

That report came out last week. It showed about the same as previous reports did, with CJAD 800 leading the pack on the anglophone side and 98.5 FM leading in French, as they always do.

Numeris (which is owned by the broadcasters) hasn’t explained why it made this decision. The result is that the only people who have access to even the most basic data will be those who are Numeris members — the broadcasters themselves as well as ad agencies and others who can afford the budget.

So we’re left to whatever (self-serving) statements they make about the ratings every three months. Fantastic.

Anyway, here’s what it looks like, one last time, for Montreal’s English market:

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CRTC approves Christian radio transmitter in Pointe-Claire

Christian Hit Radio’s CHRI-FM Ottawa is expanding to Pointe-Claire.

On Thursday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved an application from CHR to add a rebroadcasting transmitter at the Lakeside Heights Baptist Church to serve the West Island community.

The 51-watt FM transmitter will be at 90.7 MHz, and very limited in its service area, including parts of Dorval, Beaconsfield, Kirkland and Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

Theoretical coverage area of a proposed retransmitter of CHRI-FM in Pointe-Claire

People in the rest of Montreal won’t be able to hear it, because of interference from CKUT 90.3 but more importantly another transmitter also on 90.7 FM in the Saint-Laurent borough.

In its decision, the commission noted that there isn’t an English-language religious radio station with Pointe-Claire in its primary service area. It also noted that there are other frequencies available that could serve Pointe-Claire, so this application would not exhaust available channels. (Montreal as a whole is saturated on FM, but there are still ways to cover parts of it on certain frequencies, though each new transmitter makes the task a bit harder.)

CHRI, which mainly broadcasts Christian music, has two years to implement the new transmitter, unless they request an extension. They have similar rebroadcasting transmitters already in Pembroke (100.7) and Cornwall (88.1), both of which are low-power. As rebroadcasting transmitters, they do not produce any original content and simply repeat the programming of the Ottawa main station, as the Pointe-Claire transmitter will.

RNC Media kills Vibe brand to create new BPM Sports radio network

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.

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Radio Shalom officially proposes sale of 1650 AM to Christian broadcaster

Six years after Radio Shalom, Montreal’s Jewish radio station, announced it was shutting down, and then kind of came back a bit, the company is planning to wind up operations and officially transfer the licence to Gospel Media Communications, which has effectively been running the station since.

On Tuesday, the CRTC posted an application by Communications Média Évangélique / Gospel Media Communications to acquire CKZW 1650 AM (formerly CJRS) from Radio Shalom for $0. The company is owned by André Joly, who also sits on Radio Shalom’s board.

According to the application, Radio Shalom’s board voted to approve the deal after CME had already acquired most of its assets and was subsidizing the station’s financial losses in addition to providing gospel programming.

The fact that Joly has been effectively running things for months if not years would normally trigger some questions from the commission about whether an effective transfer of control happened without approval, but the application states that the station was in contact with the commission about its activities.

One thing the CRTC will need to settle is tangible benefits, the tax new owners have to pay when they acquire radio stations. Both groups are non-profit, and the agreed upon purchase price for the licence is zero, but the commission suggested in a letter it may set a value of $309,125 for the purchase, which includes payments from CME to Radio Shalom as well as the value of leases that would be transferred.

According to an unaudited 2021 financial statement, Radio Shalom had $136,834 in net assets.

If the commission finds the sale has an actual value, Joly has agreed to pay tangible benefits of up to $18,548, representing the standard 6% of the value. But the company argues (as many other acquirers have in other purchase deals) that the CRTC should not consider the value of leases when calculating tangible benefits.

Once the sale is approved and closed, Radio Shalom as a corporate entity would be wound up.

The application does not include any statements about changes to the station’s programming after the sale.

The CRTC will hold a pro forma hearing (without any presentations) on the application Oct. 13 in Gatineau. Those who wish to comment on the proposed sale have until Sept. 1 to do so.

TSN 690 gives midday show to Campbell and Gallo after Marinaro resigns

TSN 690 is shuffling its lineup after two high-profile and somewhat mysterious departures of midday hosts.

In February, the station was forced to let go of Chris Nilan after the former Canadiens player refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, in violation of a Bell Media policy. Then on May 27, Tony Marinaro resigned from his job as host of The Montreal Forum, later saying it was to focus his attention on a new sports podcast.

To fill both those holes, TSN has taken two hard-working veteran supporting characters — Sean Campbell and Mitch Gallo — and put them in the spotlight as a duo. The show, called Campbell vs. Gallo, debuts Monday, June 20. It will run from 10am to 2pm, with Mitch Melnick’s afternoon show shifted an hour earlier to run 2-6.

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