Tag Archives: CKKI

The Jewel in Hudson hires Ted Bird as morning show host

Ted Bird

Ted Bird

Three months after it began on-air testing, The Jewel 106.7 (CHSV-FM) in Hudson/St-Lazare is getting ready for a launch in early March and has hired its morning man: Ted Bird.

I have some details in this story in the Montreal Gazette’s Off-Island section.

With the hire, Bird gains his fifth employer and fifth station in five years. He left CHOM in 2010 over “creative differences” with management and months later landed at community station K103 in Kahnawake. In 2012, he left K103 and joined what was then TSN 990. In the fall of 2013, after the Bell/Astral merger put his old CHOM bosses in charge of TSN, he was let go, and joined KIC Country 89.9 in Kahnawake. His last shift at that station was on Friday.

Bird also freelances as a sports commentator. He had a regular segment on CTV Montreal, and recently started doing the same thing for City’s Sportsnet Central Montreal.

Evanov Radio, which owns The Jewel, confirms that it has hired Bird as the morning show host.

“We have also hired a sales team which consists of three representatives to start and are looking to add our sales manager shortly,” says Evanov vice-president Carmela Laurignano.

There’s no word yet on other talent, but we’ll know that in the coming weeks. I’ve heard of a few names familiar to Montreal radio listeners that have tried out.

The Jewel is licensed to serve Hudson and St-Lazare, and its signal also covers Vaudreuil, Rigaud, Oka, Île Perrot and the western part of the West Island. Its programming will be mainly easy-listening music, but will have news and information specific for the Hudson/St-Lazare community (its application promised four hours and 22 minutes a week of news, of which half would be local to that community). Evanov told the CRTC in applying for the licence to the station that this community of should be considered a separate market from Montreal. (According to the CRTC’s measure, Hudson and St-Lazare alone have about 22,000 anglophone residents.)


Ted Bird, Java Jacobs to take over morning show at KIC 89.9 in Kahnawake


It wasn’t exactly kept super-secret, but after a “‘big tease’ social media campaign,” Ted Bird has confirmed he will be returning to the airwaves, reuniting with buddy Java Jacobs as the morning men for KIC Country 89.9 in Kahnawake, from 6am to 9am starting Jan. 6.

KIC (CKKI-FM) launched as KKIC Radio in 2011 after operating as a pirate (or perhaps just licence-challenged) station. Since then it has had a revolving door of morning personalities, including Brian Moon, Sheldon Harvey and most recently Chris Reiser, who have volunteered their time in exchange for a share of any advertising they could drum up. (Bird says he and Jacobs will be paid for their work at this station, though.)

Bird and Jacobs worked together as the morning team (with Paul Graif) at Kahnawake community station K103 from 2010 to 2012, when Bird left to join TSN Radio. He was let go from that job in September. Jacobs stayed on until last month, when he was let go and replaced by Lance Delisle.

Bird and Jacobs have been hinting about the new job for a while now, with Bird rediscovering country music to prepare for his new job. It’ll be his first stint at a commercial music station since he left CHOM.

Unlike K103, KIC Country is a private station focused on country music. It has a low-power signal and very few resources, so much of its schedule is music with no DJ. They’ll need to help turn things around dramatically for this station if they’re going to turn this into long-term or even medium-term career moves.

UPDATE (Jan. 8): Here’s 10 minutes of excerpts from their first show on Monday morning:

Status report: How things are changing at Montreal TV and radio stations

Last fall, I wrote for The Gazette that there were a lot of changes going on at local TV and radio stations. This year, 2013, is turning out to be the biggest one for local broadcasting in decades, with new stations, ownership changes and other big plans.

Because of that, a lot of people have been asking me what’s going on with some of them. My usual response is either “I don’t know” or recapping a blog post I published or something I posted on Twitter.

As we hit the halfway mark of the calendar year, I figured now is a good time to give you an update on what’s going on at each of these stations, one by one.

Continue reading

KKIC gives itself a big push

It’s been a year since KKIC (Kahnawake Keeps It Country) went from being a pirate radio broadcaster to a properly licensed radio station (CKKI-FM 89.9), from someone’s fun project into a serious commercial enterprise. But not much has been heard from the low-powered commercial country music station since then. Its programming has been mostly automated, and it hasn’t done much marketing to get the word out about what it offers.

That changes this week as the station launches new morning and afternoon drive programs and makes more of an effort to market itself through social media.

Sheldon Harvey is a co-host, with owner Brian Moon, of the KKIC morning show

The most surprising news is one of the station’s new faces. Sheldon Harvey, a local radio expert, moderator of the Radio in Montreal discussion group and co-host of the International Radio Report on CKUT, joins station owner Brian Moon as hosts of The Country Breakfast Show with Brian and Sheldon, from 6am to 9am on weekdays. Harvey has been hired by the station as a consultant and has been working to give it a marketing push over the past few weeks.

“It’s not going to be any super-slick produced affair; just a easy, laid-back approach, with casual conversation, basic information and the usual mix of today’s country hits and country classics,” Harvey writes in an email. “It’s really going to be a ‘work in progress’ as we feel our way around. We hope that listeners will give us a try and come along for the ride.”

“We do want to reach out to the listening audience and have them feel like a part of the station. We also want country music fans everywhere within the reach of our signal that this station is for them. There is a bit of misconception that this a community station for Kahnawake. KKIC is really for everyone. While there is an obvious connection to Kahnawake, KKIC is proud to be offering country music to fans of country music. Country is the most popular radio format in North America. Now Montreal and the surrounding regions have their own 24 hour a day country music station on 89.9 MHz and live-streaming on www.kkicradio.com”

Harvey, who lives on the south shore, has a history with Kahnawake. He also worked for the other FM radio station there, CKRK-FM (K103), which is the community station serving the reserve. He emphasizes that, unlike K103, KKIC is a commercial station, and it wants everyone to feel welcome.

Montreal has been described as the largest market in North America without a country music station. Whether that’s true depends on your definition. There’s CJMS 1040 in Saint-Constant, which bills itself as a country station, but doesn’t have country music full-time. There’s also WVNV 96.5FM, a border station that targets Montreal.

“We really believe that there is potential for a country music station, particularly an English one,” Harvey writes. “Given the several dozen country music festivals held in Quebec each summer, including the immense St-Tite festival, we know that there are lots of country music fans in the Francophone community.  We know that they don’t want to listen to French country music, so once they know about KKIC, we hope we can bring them over.”

Aside from marketing and programming, which are mainly a question of money, the big issue for KKIC is its signal. Its license is for a transmitter with a maximum effective radiated power of 610 watts, on top of a small tower in a backyard. Its signal technically covers the reserve and surrounding areas, including the southern half of the West Island. But its signal is actually pretty good in other places, and can be easily heard farther away.

Whether this push will be enough to put 89.9 on people’s dials and turn KKIC into a profitable enterprise remains to be seen. Running a radio station most people have never heard of isn’t easy, and Harvey admits that selling advertising is a challenge.

But at least they’re trying.

The Country Breakfast Show with Brian and Sheldon airs 6am to 9am on weekdays. Cedrick’s Kickin’ Country Drive with Cedrick Periard airs 3pm to 6pm weekdays. The station also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and can be streamed live at kkicradio.com (which is in desperate need of a makeover).

Coming soon: A reborn (and legal) KKIC Radio

Saturday’s Gazette features an article by yours truly about new radio station KKIC.

KKIC owner Brian Moon at the microphone

KKIC (Kahnawake Keeps It Country) was born out of frustration: Montreal is the largest market in North America without a (full-time) country music station. And while that style of music might not be that popular among the hip urbanites of Quebec’s métropole, it’s very popular among the closely-knit population of the Mohawk reserve of Kahnawake.

It began as a pirate radio station in December 2009 on 106.7 MHz, the frequency formerly occupied by Aboriginal Voices Radio‘s Montreal station. Its goal – then and now – is to fill the need for country music in the region but in the Kahnawake community in particular.

Montreal has only two other stations that carry country music: CJMS 1040 AM, a French station that is mostly talk during peak hours, and CKRK 103.7 FM, Kahnawake’s community station, which plays country music only on the weekends.

The latter helped raise KKIC’s profile in 2010, when it followed up on the hiring of Ted Bird by bringing on board CJAD castoffs Laurie and Olga on the weekends and ditching country music. The decision was more financial than anything else – there wasn’t advertising with the country music, and K103 hoped Laurie and Olga’s following would bring in some ad money on the weekends. And it did, at first, with the Bar B Barn remaining loyal to the long-time on-air duo.

But killing country ended up backfiring, with the community up in arms about the disappearance of country music. Many were driven to KKIC, even if it was mostly automated and broadcast with less power. There was even a “passing of the country music torch” from K103 to KKIC.

By the end of 2010, the outrage drummed up sponsorship for country music weekends on K103, and Laurie and Olga were out the door.

Still, for Moon, weekends weren’t enough. KKIC would keep on.

While K103 was experimenting with more lucrative programming, Industry Canada had taken interest in the pirate transmitter on 106.7 MHz. An inspector was sent in January 2010 to take readings, and though there are conflicting stories circulating about what exactly happened, the parties involved (Moon, the Peacekeepers and Industry Canada) all say there was full cooperation afterward. KKIC, which says it had no intention of operating as a pirate station, was guided through the process of obtaining a CRTC license and proper authorization for broadcasting.

Politics in Kahnawake being what they are, Moon at first approached the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake instead of the Canadian government for authorization, and in the initial CRTC application Moon asked for an exclusion from its Canadian content requirements because Kahnawake doesn’t treat international borders the same way the Canadian and U.S. governments do.

In the end, Moon relented and accepted the 35% CanCon minimum (he wants to spotlight local artists in particular, so he expects to easily meet this requirement), as well as a change in frequency from 106.7 MHz to 89.9 MHz, and the CRTC approved the license on Sept. 29.

The approval came the day after I visited the station on Route 207.

KKIC occupies a house, with its transmitting antenna (left) on a tower in the back yard.

It’s a house. Or at least, that’s what it used to be. Nobody lives there anymore, and Moon, with partners Don Patrick Martin and Patrick Periard, plan to reconfigure it for use as a radio station, including setting up a studio where live performances can be recorded.

The transmitter sits in a small rack next to the computer desk in the living room. The songs are stored on the computer, and there’s a sound board and some professional microphones. It’s usable as a radio studio, even though it feels like you’re in someone’s home.

The antenna is on a freshly-installed tower in the back yard. According to the Industry Canada database, it’s 26 metres high, and when it begins operating on its assigned frequency it will be running with an average effective radiated power of 360 watts. That’s about three times what it has now, and even a bit better than K103, but its coverage area will still be limited to the reserve and neighbouring communities (including, they hope, neighbouring areas on the island like Lachine and LaSalle).

Switching frequencies requires installing a new transmitter, and Moon confirmed this week that it’s on track to launch on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Their callsign will be CKKI-FM.

Morning hiccup

KKIC has big plans for the station. It’s still going to be mostly music, and a lot of it will be animated, but they’re adding people to the schedule. Cornbread Country on Sundays. A weekly show tied with the Eastern Door newspaper. Not much, but others are planned.

The big thing to start Nov. 1 was supposed to be a new morning man, Lance Delisle, who used to work at K103. But the deal with Delisle fell through, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Moon said Delisle had decided on a better offer elsewhere. Delisle made a somewhat cryptic remark about how the station still had some things to work out first but that he wished them the best.

Moon says the station will still relaunch on Nov. 1, even if he has to be the one doing the morning show himself.

Can Kahnawake afford two stations?

For a community of only about 8,000 residents, its seems astonishing that they would have not one but two radio stations. But Kahnawake has plenty of media, some in more competition than others. I’m not sure if it’s a sign of a healthy commitment to supporting not only local media but diversity in local media, or if it’s a bad sign that anything designed to bring the community together will inevitably drive it apart.

For what it’s worth, KKIC doesn’t see itself as competing with K103. It’s a commercial country music station, while K103 is a community station. Each has its role, and the two complement more than they clash.

The proof will be in whether the station can stay on its feet financially. Periard, whose fancy shirt, styled hair and BlackBerry was just about the opposite look of Moon’s long hair and T-shirt when I met them at KKIC’s studio last month, sees them hiring about a dozen people, including ad salespeople, who he thinks can help the station break even, particularly if it develops an audience just across the river. In any case, airing mostly music (“we get calls and emails from our listeners when we talk too much”, Moon says) means their overhead is low.

The group wouldn’t get into their finances much, except to say they have private investors.

I’m a bit more skeptical about their chances for financial survival. K103 isn’t exactly drowning in cash, and this second station is going to divide the community’s advertising budgets even further. And even at 300 watts KKIC has a long way to go before being considered a powerhouse in the region. Even mostly automated, there’s a lot of overhead for a radio station.

But it’s nice to see someone try.

CKKI-FM (re)launches Nov. 1 at 89.9 MHz FM. You can also stream it live at kkicradio.com