My observations for radio so far in 2019

Is 2019 the year we are going to see a real shakeup in the radio landscape? So far it is looking like a big yes. On December 26th, in both Edmonton and Vancouver, Stingray did 2 format flips. But here is the kicker… no jobs were lost. In fact, the only change that was done in Edmonton was Jake Taylor took over middays at sister station K97. Sean Burke is still morning show. Middays are done by the multi-station voicetracker Lea Miller, with Drew Ferreira on Afternoon drive and Stacey Thompson evenings. Over in Vancouver Kelly Latremouille is the 6-12 host and Graham does 12-6. The only difference between the 2 Breeze stations is that Vancouver has a condition to play Category 3 music so for as long as the station had been on the air, they have played blues. Since the Breeze blew into town, the blues have left and been replaced by Jazz.

This week in Halifax it was announced Stingray was going to flip Mix 96.5 to The Breeze. On January 14 Facebook group, On The Air In Atlantic Canada reported that Halifax’s Rock 105 was going to be flipping to Jewel 105, as the station is an Evanov property. Jewel is a format heard in and around the Toronto area as well as Ottawa and a few other markets. Once Stingray released the press release on January 15, the decision was made at Rock 105 to flip to Jewel that night at 7. Since August when Live 105, flipped to Rock 105, that station had brought in Gina K from Montreal, and a couple months later let go of a couple more on-air staff. The writing was on the wall at that point that eventually the rock format was going to be gone from 105.1 in Halifax. Live 105 was formatted similarly to Ottawa’s version. It changed in August to compete more with Stingray owned Q104. Now it is another Jewel station and Halifax has 2 radio stations basically playing the same format.

Radio is always a crazy place, but I still believe we will see many more stations change over the next several months. A soft AC station might work in Halifax but not 2. The advantage stingray has right now is that they have a full lineup of on-air staff. Jewel currently has middays syndicating the John Tesh radio show, and the syndicated evening show The Lounge. I believe the next Breeze station we will see will be in Sudbury replacing Rewind 103.9.

The move by Stingray to bring the Breeze format to Canada was an interesting one. It was strongly rumoured that Virgin Radio in Edmonton was going to move back to a soft AC with the return of EZ rock, but the plans were scrapped after Stingray launched the Breeze. The current contract for the Virgin name in Canada was for 10 years and that ended in 2018 but due to a few changes that happened from competitors Bell (iHeartradio) decided to renew the contract but on a year by year basis. This information was relayed to me from anonymously, and from someone I have received lots of information from. I still think in some markets Stingray is going to change things up and that will eventually make other companies alter plans and possibly force format changes to try to compete.

Another change Stingray made was they took a successful morning show from 90.3 Amp radio Calgary and added them to 6 other stations as an evening show. Each of the stations already had a voicetracked evening show, except Z95.3 in Vancouver. Again, no jobs were lost. The evening host in Vancouver was moved into a co-host role for the afternoon show at Z. The afternoon show of Sutto, is now Sutto and Vanessa.

When Stingray made the announcement of purchasing Newcap I was a little skeptical at first until I heard from several people that I knew at stations across Canada that Stingray was going to invest in the company, and they wanted to make changes to certain stations without cutting jobs. So far 3 format changes and no jobs lost. Now all they need to do is hire more local hosts to work outside of the am and pm drives so there is less voicetracking and I think we will actually see some important changes in radio in 2019.

What else can we expect in 2019? Well a new midday host at CFOX, to replace Alex Carr who teamed with his sister Ruby, formerly at z95.3 in Vancouver, at 102.1 The Edge Toronto. We will possibly see a new co-host for the morning show at Z to replace Ruby. We may, but it is unlikely, see a new cohost to team with Jeremy Baker on afternoons at CFOX. His former co-host Meredith made the move to Toronto and 102.1 The Edge as afternoon co-host with Kolter who was at sister station Q107. Notice a pattern here? CFOX keeps shipping talent to 102.1 The Edge. I am expecting more format changes over the next year, including probably one in Vancouver to fill the void of LG 104.3 and possibly one in Edmonton to capitalize on Capitals rebranding, both to The Breeze. Could 93.5 The Move change name and or format this year? Stingray could decide that they might want to compete more directly with Z103.5 and Virgin Radio as well as Kiss 92.5 and rebrand The Move to a Hot based format. Or launch a different format all together at 93.5

Let’s see what else happens this year and feel free to drop a comment and let us know what you think might happen this year

Since this article was posted a commenter mentioned that there were layoffs in Alberta today. I have not been able to confirm anything so if anyone has information please let us know and we will update as soon as we can confirm

Published on January 17, 2019 at 12:33 am by Brian Cook

Comments

January 17, 2019 - 8:42 am

Rob

Brian,

Thanks for your summary and observations. I’m hoping as you’ve observed that Stingray plays the disrupter and shake things up. I agree that in a world where a ownership change and format change brought about certain job insecurity, Stingray making change without job loss is refreshing.

As an arm chair quarterback observer, these changes has me a little excited to see how this plays out. I would have bet on BOOM being the Stingray breakout format and can’t see this Breeze format appeal. I believe it has been based on US success, but they don’t have to prop it up with 36% can-con. Not to be Debbie Downer, I just can’t see it in a demographic sense. However the bench at Stingray has some great talent, so they must know something.

Rob


January 17, 2019 - 11:17 am

Downtown Rob Brown

Love the irony of this article given the bloodletting from Stingray in Alberta today.


January 17, 2019 - 11:19 am

Ryan McClelland

So I guess this means Halifax now has 2 Soft AC outlets. Did I mention it right?


January 17, 2019 - 11:30 am

Brian Cook

What were the changes that happened today? I haven’t heard anything so far


January 17, 2019 - 4:39 pm

Downtown Rob Brown

Looks like most of, if not all, small market stations had their on air staff cut to one.


January 18, 2019 - 6:33 am

Rob

After seeing the reply from Downtown and the update on Stingray, I guess the optimism that change can be made without blood letting was premature.

Sounds like Stingray made the play out of the old Haliburton/Vista operations manual. Centralize everything a leave a sole survivor to read news headlines and weather forecasts and call it serving the community.


January 23, 2019 - 4:03 pm

Ryan Bailey

Stingray has killed small market radio. Stingray, you are the worst.


January 27, 2019 - 10:37 pm

T.J.

What a ridiculous spin. People were laid off prior to format changes. Stingray is disgusting.


February 8, 2019 - 6:42 pm

13

Any radio that doesnt have live on air DJs doesnt deserve to be on the air. Maybe in an OTIS elevator but not on my radio.


February 10, 2019 - 8:25 am

Kent

Not a big fan of the new format can’t you just leave the good stations alone its all dollars sorry you are losing lots of listeners 😂😂


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