Bell’s Virgin Radio Toronto & Edmonton Cutting Staff

Fergie with Tucker and Maura

In some not so surprising news, Virgin Radio Toronto has essentially cleaned house. Almost all of the local on-air staff are gone. The entire morning show, Tucker, Maura, Robyn, Andrew Wilson as well as, Tessa, Will Nash, and Kella.

Word is, Bell is going to rebrand all of the Virgin Radio stations now that the original contract is over. I heard just in the last 24 hours that changes were coming to the Virgin brand and it makes sense to start with the original Canadian Virgin station. There have also long been rumors about the future of the stations in Edmonton, Winnipeg, London, and even Halifax. My take on this is we will see Adam Wylde resurface on the ALL NEW MIX 99.9 Toronto. My theory is that by the time mid-December rolls around we will see all Virgin stations renamed. Probably also some more layoffs, and in order to generate buzz, probably run only music and commercials until early to mid-January.

Personally, I never liked the idea of a Virgin radio network, nor do I like the idea of a Fresh radio network, or any other network of stations. I prefer a local concept and local identity, because what may work in Vancouver may not work in Toronto, or even what works in Calgary may not work in Edmonton. The timing of these changes is awful but I believe that in the end, we will see a strong local presence that we do not currently see. I think Virgin in Vancouver will revert back to The Beat, Calgary will become Vibe, Toronto and Montreal will become Mix, and then for the others I think new names, and possibly format changes.

On February 17, 2017, Evanov flipped the format of Jewel 100.5 in Winnipeg, to Hot 100.5. At the time it was a curious move but was done out of necessity. Word going around was Bell was about to flip Virgin back to the Hot name. As Hot 103.1 they always had strong ratings. But as Virgin, they have not done as well. At the time Energy 106 was having issues gaining a good share of the ratings so Evanov felt that by switching format and taking the Hot name that they would be able to take more listeners from Virgin and eventually if or when Virgin flipped then they would be unable to revert to the previous branding. Perhaps the changes we see at Virgin stations across Canada would also cause other Bell stations to make changes such as with Kool FM Victoria or even within the same market? Maybe when 99.9 changes, the format will be one with less overlap with CHUM. Or perhaps CHUM will take a more Virgin sound on and 99.9 will change formats completely.

Another update, the morning show of Ian and Chelsea have been let go at Virgin Edmonton. I will continue to update as I hear more about the other Virgin properties

Published on November 20, 2018 at 2:59 pm by Brian Cook

Comments

November 20, 2018 - 3:19 pm

Ryan McClelland

So what could it possibly be like with all the Virgin Radio stations across Canada after the New Years? Would CJCH-FM in Halifax revert back to its former “Bounce” identity or will it be changed to a different music format? I was thinking CJCH would keep the Top 40 format and CIOO-FM would shift away from its mainstream pop sound and add more classic/recurrents to its playlist.

Also, CFCA-FM in Kitchener, Ontario would revert to its former “Kool” identity after the holidays but who knows with this?


November 20, 2018 - 5:08 pm

Mike

Country music coming to Toronto?????????


November 20, 2018 - 9:42 pm

Bagoverheadguy

Mike…Toronto isn’t Calgary when it comes to country music, but you’d be very surprised at how many folks in the GTA are big on C&W…


November 20, 2018 - 10:15 pm

G_MAN

Virgin sucked from the day it started!!! Brink back the mix!!!


November 20, 2018 - 10:30 pm

Matthew Lausmann

Maybe A Classic Hits For 1031 Radio Station Winnipeg Don’t Have Classic Hits Station Since 943 Drive Switch To Classic Rock Back In July Of This Year


November 21, 2018 - 4:21 am

Teddy Baxter

Matthew Winnipeg doesn’t need a classic hits format. Bob & Drive have that covered. Whatever 103 brands itself they will be just fine as long as Ace Burpee remains


November 21, 2018 - 6:55 am

Joel

This is such a stupid idea. Even if they want to rebrand why get rid of all the radio hosts? Some people listen for certain hosts and if they are go, people will not listen no matter what they change the name too.


November 21, 2018 - 8:00 am

Don

Outside of Edmonton, all the Virgin stations have good or great ratings; they’re not going anywhere.


November 21, 2018 - 11:10 am

Phil

That country music “demand “ dream was given as the reason for not allowing an urban music station earlier . They launched country music instead and it went belly up almost immediately as per my understanding . Now they are back at it again. Watch. Just Can’t make head or tail out of this kind of business


November 21, 2018 - 11:40 am

Don

They’re not back at it. Nobody’s flipping to Country.


November 21, 2018 - 11:46 am

George in Richmond

It seems to me that radio stations are existing, for the most part, due to listeners re-listening to what they listened to in their youth, with only a few appreciating a new genre afterwords, i.e. a C&W convert after a R&R youth.

Today’s classic radio stations, old time goldies etc etc are built on nostalgia. So I pose this question: Does today’s new music, Ariana Grande-teen pop, rap, etc etc form the basis for a future nostalgia radio station. In other words, when Boomers die off and no longer listen to Led Zepplin on any radio station, are those stations going to be reformatted to Rap Classics, Grande-Cyrus-Spears Classics?

Just a thought experiment.


November 21, 2018 - 3:13 pm

Ryan McClelland

Don’t even know if or when all the Virgin stations will rebrand? Does anyone want to know when will all the Virgin stations across Canada rebrand?


November 21, 2018 - 4:53 pm

Don

Not anytime soon.


November 21, 2018 - 6:07 pm

Steve Huber

I’m gonna guess Crave FM.


November 21, 2018 - 7:06 pm

Jeff

Merry f**king Christmas…just in time for the holidays!


November 22, 2018 - 6:51 am

RadioGuy_ca

George in Richmond- You have an excellent point. Classic Hits core is still the rock genre. Even as the format moves along the chronological line, you see 90’s and early Millennium rock coming into the formats, essentially ignoring other genres that were popular at the same time. You’ll hear more Foo Fighters than Destiny’s Child.

This is a big reason that pop based 90’s & Now formats are so hard to crack without brand history. Corus “Fresh” formats are a good example of failing to find a good pop gold mix. Even Classic Hits tried 80’s pop in a few spots years ago…including the now massive BOOM in Toronto. BOOM eventually dropped most of the pop in favour of a rock based format.

Rock lives on is a cliche but also a reality for gold formats is it is the driver for passion scores in the format. Will Drake be gold with passion in 20 years? Excellent question.


November 22, 2018 - 10:09 am

JLR

Maybe they are swapping one brand that means nothing in Canada for another brand that means nothing in Canada and calling them all iHeart Radio.


November 22, 2018 - 11:22 am

Adrian

I think Bell isn’t making any branding nor format changes for 999 Virgin Radio, it’s just a really massive layoff for employees working in TV and radio properties, 98.3 Fly FM in Kingston, Ontario almost fire 75% of on-air staffs, while CTV Montreal has also suffered massive cuts. Bell is always notorious for firing people regularly, and it might possibly be a step for hiring Adam Wylde to be the host of breakfast show, just the same as hiring Tucker after Mad Dog being fired in 2015. The idea of changing Virgin brand to iHeartRadio/ iHeartRadio Hits is just pointless, if its true Bell is already making on-air promotions about Virgin leaving Bell.


November 22, 2018 - 1:08 pm

Steve

Virgin radio = garbage since day one.
Bring back The beat 94.5 in Vancouver.
Vancouver needs an all 90’s station! If Winnipeg can why can’t we? But I think Zed should fill this role and cash in on all the people who grew up with it and are longing for their youth again.


November 22, 2018 - 1:29 pm

Richard

But but but…….what happened to the ECONOMY IS BOOMING??????


November 23, 2018 - 8:57 am

Littletony

The original branding deal Astral signed with Virgin ends this December…They could renew, or maybe go iHeart??…In any event, Bell does this sort of purge every November. One of the reasons internally it is referred to as Bhell…


November 23, 2018 - 6:41 pm

Sue

Too many radio stations, too many formats. The pie can be sliced so many ways before you don’t make budgets. Great for the guys who reformat and rebrand.


November 30, 2018 - 1:31 pm

Chunky

George in Richmond, interesting question but tough to answer considering baby boomers discovered Led Zeppelin by listening to the radio. Millennials on the other hand may have discovered Ariana Grande on the radio or they may have discovered her on their phones or computers…

I don’t know how important that is in the grand scheme of things but I do think it will prevent them from having as emotional a connection to the radio that baby boomers have…


December 4, 2018 - 5:47 pm

Terry

I always listen Virgin, I love Tucker and his group every morning jokes specially court house very funny makes my day. Changed is good for better however this changes is worst. If you want change leave host they’re the one who run show and have good relationships with listeners.

I don’t hear Turker and Maura, the court house 🏡 in morning . I don’t listen anymore. Boring to listen ,not making my day.


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