The Problem With Jack: CJAQ's Rock N' Roll Failure

RadioMy shower radio is tuned to 92.5. That's Jack-FM, "Toronto's Best Rock Variety", and I listen to it in the shower because it just so happens my shower is perfectly timed with an ad-free block of old and new rock tunes on Jack. It's just a series of tunes, anything from Honeymoon Suite to Coldplay to Bruce Springsteen, and it starts my day nicely.

I don't expect Jack-FM to last much longer in its current incarnation. Nobody's listening, it seems. The recent BBM results give Jack-FM a 1.8 market share, which supposedly and unscientifically translates into 180,000 listeners. Q107, if you're looking for a comparison, scored a 6.3. 1.8 is brutal, which means I expect changes by Labour Day.

How did Jack fail so miserably? Why can't a station playing a great mix of rock n' roll gain any traction? As Jules Winnfield says in Pulp Fiction, personality goes a long way. And Jack doesn't have personality.

Their bland morning duo seems to double as their afternoon hosts. A station that once threatened to go without djs has instead decided to employ djs that fail to hold a listener's interest. There's certainly no compelling reason to tune in again to hear what he or she will say next. It's really all about the music, but if you're betting all your money on the shuffle, how can you possibly expect to win against iPods? Five years ago, when the Jack PD at the time said the station was just like listening to your iPod on shuffle, I asked whose iPod he was talking about? Radio can never, ever be the same experience as listening to your own iPod on shuffle. That's why you've gotta have personality.

In my recent interview with long time local radio duo Humble and Fred, I closed by asking the guys a simple question that was on my mind. Why the heck aren't Humble and Fred, as a duo, still on Toronto radio? Humble's answer hits Jack's nail on the head.

No idea... why not ask the PD at Jack FM, who's also the afternoon drive guy and janitor.

Things could have been different for Jack, but instead the sounds of Aerosmith and White Stripes have drifted well below the radar to a dismal 1.8 share. I'll bet nobody reads this closing sentence because I'll bet nobody cares.


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Jack FM is really just an example of Toronto radio & all that's wrong with it.

Toronto likes to believe it's the media capital of Canada. The reality no one wants to hear is that it's not. Toronto's radio market is stale. Same voices on the radio for the past 20 years. Same sounds too. Even if there was an injection of new blood into Toronto, the stale nature of it's media WILL suck the creativity out of that person.

Case in hand, Fearless Fred coming to Edge 102. All he does out here will NOT be happening on 102.1.

The best radio in Canada exists far away from the corporate towers of Toronto. X92.9 in Calgary is this countries finest Alt rock station. Edmonton's Bounce 91.7 is Canada's best CHR. Calgary's Energy 101.5 is our best example of a true Hot AC. Winnipeg's Power 97 is probably Canada's best Active rock station. Even the Mighty Q is challenged by Edmonton's K97 for "Classic Rock superiority".

Hell, Winterpeg used to have a commercial hard alt/punk station called Freq 107. Calgary has a classic alternative station called Fuel. Even Victoria, BC has an Alternative rocker that's MORE progressive than Edge 102.

Jack FM is just a symptom of a bigger problem. Toronto radio is tired, stale and lifeless. The only thing interesting in Toronto is Z103 & their ethnic slant (and that's fading) and what you hear on the Rock when Marsden is on the air.

May 31, 2009 @ 4:34 PM


Hey I visited the the archives man. lol :(

May 31, 2009 @ 4:36 PM

twins from bolton

Radio in T.O. is mostly done.
TOO much of the same music. People are tired of Q107 with same music & same DJ's, including Derringer.
JackFM had something that was unique a few years ago but their DJ's are terrible & that will be their demise.
Humble & Fred could make that station suceed.

May 31, 2009 @ 6:24 PM


Any ideas what they'll format they'll flip to?

FM Talk
Top 40
Spa Muzak
World Music
Progressive Rock
Christian Heavy Metal
Quebecois Musique
Retransmit Rogers Future TV News Channel

May 31, 2009 @ 9:14 PM

Toronto Mike

It's time to go after the mighty 1050 simulcast of CP24 by simulcasting Breakfast Television on 92.5!

Another option is 24-hour Humble and Fred Radio. They just have to buy out Howard's massive Astral contract and that's a done deal.

And finally, if those two options don't make it out of Mr. Rogers neighbourhood, this is a great opportunity to launch Jays Radio, featuring old school Blue Jays songs and replays of vintage Tom and Jerry called games from Exhibition Stadium.

All of the above will improve upon the 1.8 earned during the last ratings period.

May 31, 2009 @ 9:21 PM


Pat Cardinal not Pat Holiday. Pat H. is a long time fixture at Standard / Astral. And I mean fixture in a nice way :).

May 31, 2009 @ 9:41 PM

Toronto Mike

Thanks Iain, I've edited the entry to protect Pat Holiday's good name.

June 1, 2009 @ 8:40 AM

James Edgar

" Toronto likes to believe it's the media capital of Canada"
Who do you mean by that? I sure don't think that and I bet 99 out of a hundrwed random people on the street don't either.Toronto is a place not a person.

Having said that the radio here does suck and radio almost anywhere I go is better. I like the Stations in London and Peterborough for example. they like jackfm play a mix of Old and new . Not always great it's listenable and you never what you'll hear next. At least that's my impression only hearing the stations on weekends.

I'm with mike on why jack doesn't work. No personality. It should work but it's flat. I never bother to listen even though it's preset in the car.

there are interesting bits on Radio here though it's not all bad. The Strombo show on Sundays on the Edge and syndicated is great radio IMHO . A nice mix of tunes interesting guests and George and his Sidekick are interesting to listen to. If more Radio in this city ws like that I'd certianly listen more.

June 1, 2009 @ 9:27 AM


Could you link all the results? I can't find them at BBM.

Or I just suck at looking.

June 1, 2009 @ 10:22 AM

Sammi said it perfectly. JACK is symbolic of the state of radio in Toronto.

Everyone is so careful and slowly they have completely dumbed radio down to nothing. Today's CFNY is a joke. Virgin Radio is annoying as hell. CHFI and EZ Rock just spit out the same songs over and over again. CHUM FM is boring. PRIDE Radio is so repetitive, like everyone else. Even 97.7 has fallen in a continuous repetitive loop. Q107 is probably the best of a sorry lot of crap in this city.

Nobody wants to take a chance anymore. It is truely sad and awful.

June 1, 2009 @ 11:20 AM


I've lived in London and the radio is worst there James (other than the campus station which would be a true alternative).

Frankly, yes, Toronto is the media capital of Canada. Where else could it be? That doesn't mean it's any good.

June 1, 2009 @ 11:27 AM


I would disagree that CFNY is crap. While their song rotation is pretty poor, the on-air personalities are not that bad.

I think they have one of the strongest talent pools. But everyone has a different opinion.

June 1, 2009 @ 11:29 AM

Toronto Mike



Survey 2 ‘09

CBC Radio Two


CBC Radio One


AM 640 Toronto


Classical 96.3 FM


102.1 The Edge


News Talk 1010 CFRB


680 News


Flow 93.5


AM 740  Prime Time Radio


98.1 CHFI-FM


CP24 Radio 1050


104.5 CHUM-FM






New Country 95.3


92.5 Jack-FM


The FAN 590


97.3 EZ Rock


Jazz FM 91


88.5 The Jewel


Virgin Radio 99.9


June 1, 2009 @ 11:37 AM


i didn't listen to Pete and Geets for the music...nor did i listen to Humble and Fred for the music..nor do i listen to Dean, Jason & Todd for the music. In all cases it was the interpaly bewteen the personalities that kept/keeps me tuned in. It was an added bonus that music was generally good...I have a MP3 and a huge CD collection if I want to hear the stuff I really like...

June 1, 2009 @ 12:19 PM


Can't understand how AM 640 with Oakley and Stafford pull in only a 1.9

June 1, 2009 @ 3:44 PM

Toronto Mike

Who the heck with a real job can actually hear Stafford? I wait for Oakley vacations just so I can hear the man on my drive to work. Last week, for example...

June 1, 2009 @ 3:47 PM


I would listen to 640 if Stafford had the AM drive or the PM drive.

I will not ever listen to Waters and Brady.

I need to get a schedule when Okaley takes holidays. I always find out afterwards when Stafford was on.

June 1, 2009 @ 3:58 PM

Toronto Mike

You'll appreciate this... On Friday, Chris Alexander was on talking about movies and new DVD releases. He was going on about HBO's True Blood and how much he's digging it.

Stafford mentioned The Wire, and you could hear Chris freeze up like a deer in the headlights. He didn't know what Stafford was talking about.

Stafford, if you're out there, we want weekly updates on your Wire watching when you finally crack open that plastic.

June 1, 2009 @ 4:03 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

a 1.8? You could put static on and get a better audience than that.....

June 1, 2009 @ 4:16 PM

Toronto Mike

Look at what they're dealing with at CP24 Radio 1050... proof static doesn't get you a 1.8.

June 1, 2009 @ 4:18 PM


He didn't know what the Wire was?

And he's on the radio?


And yes, I want to hear what Stafford thinks of it.

June 1, 2009 @ 7:10 PM

Toronto Mike

He ran down a laundry list of HBO shows people watch on DVD, like Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, True Blood, etc, and The Wire was notably absent.

June 1, 2009 @ 8:42 PM


"I personally was hoping for all Hawaiian..."- Johnny Fever (on news of WKRP's format change)

June 1, 2009 @ 9:54 PM

Nikki Sixx

640 wouldn't still be in the format if it wasn't holding its own corporately. The hockey stuff sells to the same advertisers as their Corus FM stations; may well be a more profitable station than CFRB at this point.

June 1, 2009 @ 10:43 PM

Chad Peery

Sorry to see your Jack failing, but at least my Bob thrives. I program Bob FM in Chico CA, and we're number one after three strong years. The personality is built into the station, it is localized, and it works without mundane DJ clutter. We stream, so I'd be interested in hearing your comments after you sample Bob. Link at

June 1, 2009 @ 11:39 PM

Babs Bunny

I miss CFTR. Oh how I date myself, but I do.

June 2, 2009 @ 7:00 PM


I really miss good radio. The closest thing I have to listenable right now in Burlington is 105.1 The River (it's run out of Welland, but I lose it right about when I his Oakville). Check out their website for a playlist at Only wish you guys in Toronto could hear the station.

June 4, 2009 @ 11:03 PM


I like Oakley and Stafford, but 640 is too weird a format. I think Oakley and Staffords shows focus too much on local Toronto politics - interviews with city counselors can get pretty dry. I miss the freedom they had with the guy talk thing.

I can't listen to the Watters show and I'm a huge sports fan. Way too hockey oriented. I'm not interested in hearing interviews with assistant GMs from American NHL teams every day while totally ignoring the Jays and Raptors.

It's like 640 is caught between CFRB and the Fan. But it doesn't do either nearly as well.

June 4, 2009 @ 11:37 PM

Toronto Mike

Click that link above this comment to read about how Jack FM is now KISS FM once more. All hits, dontchaknow.

June 5, 2009 @ 6:35 PM

D.I. Joe

Hey Mike:

I think the pre Jack FM -
"Kiss FM" was actually 92.5 CISS FM and it was a "new" Country station.

Anyway, regardless of the ratings, there's alot of pissed off people out there right now since they pulled the plug on Jack FM, Jack had the right formula in the end
with a good mix of old and new rock and yes we enjoyed listening to our on air personalities, we were all too busy enjoying life and the music on Jack FM to worry about silly polls.

Give us back our on air Gang and Rock on 92.5 Jack FM and they can keep the top 40 KISS FM, got enough of that other type of music on the other stations.

P.S. I think we are all getting tired of being dictated to in terms of what we can watch and listen to, Rogers is really bad for that,
both in music and their cable services, what ever happend to the "customer is always right" .


June 5, 2009 @ 8:05 PM


Yes, the DJ's were boring as hell, but then, a lot of the other stations are boring too.
But for God's sake why did they have to go and start playing the same shit that "Virgin" (99.9) Radio is playing?
The secret to a good rock radio station is to play not only the top songs from NOW but throw in some from years gone by.
We all know that Supertramp has Logical Song, and School, how 'bout playing Asylum, and From Now On.
You see, the stations pound the hell out of the songs everyone hears on ALL the stations, but seldom do you hear the cuts from the middle of the album.
Just my 4 cents worth!

June 5, 2009 @ 10:08 PM


I got so tired of the same old same old I actually started to listen to talk radio and oldies 1150AM.

June 6, 2009 @ 9:31 AM

Toronto Mike

D.I. Joe, just to clarify, they were CISS 92.5 New Country but then switched to KISS 92.5 Pop Hits before becoming Jack "We Play What We Want" and then Jack "Rock Only" and now KISS 92.5 All Hits again.

June 6, 2009 @ 9:38 AM


I agree with D.I. Joe.
We have enough of this pop and its just stupid to take away our beloved Jack. I love to listen to all the new rock and all the old stuff too! If i want pop i can fo to chum or Virgin but i want rock!This really pissed me of this morning when i heard this.So im really agaisnt Kiss! erg..bad start for June!!

June 6, 2009 @ 2:26 PM


Ohhhhh I'm so not happy with the pulling of the plug on Jack FM...
i love the pop and the rap but the odd time i need to switch to hear me some def leppard and honeymoon suite to bring me back to the good ol' days...
guess i'll be taking 92.5 off my memory dial for good!

June 6, 2009 @ 9:56 PM

Anna P.

Great...another hit music station, ugh! I need classic rock; back to Q, I guess.

June 7, 2009 @ 9:08 PM


Damn, Jack was the only station I could get at work that didn't make me ill. I think I'll be bringing my ipod from now on.

June 7, 2009 @ 11:21 PM


I listened to Jack FM from the UK via internet radio...and was shocked to switch on and find yet more dance crap that you can find everywhere else in the world.

Can anyone recommend another rock radio station that streams and has DJs? Till then, back to Big R Radio, 80s Metal...

June 8, 2009 @ 10:43 AM


I am also quite angry and upset with taking 92.5 Jack FM off the air in Toronto. It Sucks.

For those interested, I'm listening online to 96.9 Jack FM in Vancouver. Has pretty much exactly the same format and I think you'll like it.

If it's not in my city, and I have to listen to good music and fun stuff, in another city, in another province, so be it! Check it out!!

My car will be my iPod and CD's.

June 8, 2009 @ 1:34 PM

U2 Fan

Dude: 1 - I was tuned into Jack, but I'm in my mid - late 30's era. I'm not glued to the iPOD buds, but I like that mx of music. Not FLOORED that the format didn't fly, but a little bummed.

2 - Simon the Scottish guy in Barrie on Saturday nights. Quite frankly it doesn't matter what he plays I love listening to him whenever I can either way... now that is TALENT... or just a charming Scottish accent...

Whatever it is - it works!!!


June 9, 2009 @ 2:20 AM


Rogers, you suck. Dropped the "Jack" format for "kiss" WTF!!. Thanks god for the internet and satellite radio.

June 9, 2009 @ 3:52 PM


God Damnit bring back JACK. The music on KISS is absolute garbage.

June 9, 2009 @ 8:32 PM


I found that 96.9 Jack FM in Vancouver is great! Awesome.

Online, or for those who have Rogers On Demand (that's what I'm familiar with), try it out. Channels are mid- 700's.

This Vancouver station plays off your TV, so who needs Toronto radio? Bring back JACK!

June 9, 2009 @ 10:21 PM

Neville A. Ross

This is just what Eye Weekly said would happen a few years ago, and now it has-amazing how people don't fracking listen, though:

All we hear is radio-ca-ca

Do you know JACK? Sure you do. The ads for Toronto's newest radio station are all over the subway: "Playing what we want" goes the slogan, with the station's logo bursting out of a jack-in-the-box, implying that the station's programmers are out of control! The posters list off what kind of crazy musical combinations you can expect: Tom Petty! Springsteen! The Cars! Meat Loaf! Now, proudly advertising Meat Loaf as a selling point in 2003 may constitute a bold, revolutionary act, but really, JACK FM is just the latest addition to a radio dial littered with microscopically focused niche stations boasting unintentionally ironic slogans that only draw attention to how rigid, formulaic and safe their playlists truly are.

JACK joins the likes of MIX 99 (whose mainstream-rock mix rarely veers more than a centimeter or two from the middle of the road), Q107 (whose definition of "Classic Rock" is flexible enough to include a regular rotation of Saga records), to the worst offender, 102.1 The Edge, whose conception of edgy music begins with the first Our Lady Peace album, ends with the latest Evanescence single, and wedges every last fake brow-pierced, phony-angst nĂ¼-metal mook into the sliver between. The irony is that JACK's former incarnation, KISS 92.5, while adhering to a top 40 format, managed to achieve something resembling true variety, bouncing from Eminem to Destiny's Child to Coldplay.

Now, for those of us who routinely seek musical guidance from college radio or CBC's Brave New Waves, and who spend more at Rotate This and Soundscapes than on food and shelter, the relentlessly uninspiring state of commercial radio is a topic as tired as the insincerity of televangelists. But as much as we are loath to admit it, radio is still an important cultural arbiter. For the casual music fan -- someone who buys maybe 10 CDs a year, simply based on liking something they heard on the radio or MuchMusic -- radio airplay represents validation, in the same way hipsters rely on New York or London to tell them what's cool. And more often than not, radio assumes the masses are brain-dead automatons incapable of appreciating anything beyond whatever narrowly defined genre parameters the station's corporate bosses deem most profitable.

The troubled state of the music industry is often portrayed as a battle between greedy major labels and unscrupulous music fans stealing music online. While the former portrays the latter's actions as cold-hearted theft, the question is rarely asked: did radio make them do it? The keys to any industry's growth are brand (in this case, band) loyalty and regeneration through the introduction of new products. The music industry is unique in that it relies on radio (instead of traditional advertising methods) to broadcast new-product information to consumers. Radio is failing them. As a result, those consumers have had to seek alternative outlets -- e.g., Kazaa -- to get that information.

Each week eye receives, on average, 75 CDs submitted for review, ranging from superstar acts like Radiohead down to indie techno artists burning beats off their laptops. This in itself is just a fraction of what's produced every week. Contrary to the music industry's doomsday prognostications, the actual amount of music being created has increased as the means of production (laptops, four-track recorders) and distribution (internet mail order, for example) have become more accessible.

Strangely, radio's response to this proliferation has been to become more conservative, and in doing so, it does a disservice to the music industry. Retro-minded stations like JACK and Q107 do nothing to promote the continued survival of the industry by playing songs we've heard a million times before from records we bought 20 years ago. CanCon regulations, initially devised to expose emerging homegrown talent, can now be satisfied by dropping the Hip or side one of 2112. And given that the careers of most Edge-endorsed alterna-rockers last about as long as their target listener's first sexual encounter, it's not exactly inspiring band loyalty among a new generation of music fans. Anyone remember Eve 6? Mudvayne? No wonder kids today would rather buy videogames.

We're not saying these stations should scrap their Zeppelin records and play nothing but godspeed you! black emperor, but there's no reason a Neil Young fan wouldn't appreciate The Flaming Lips, or a Coldplay fan wouldn't dig the emotional space-pop of Broken Social Scene. There's also no reason one of these stations couldn't just up and transform themselves into a station that could play both The Rolling Stones and The Constantines. As JACK (formerly KISS) and CHUM (formerly sports, formerly rock) have made abundantly clear, it takes very little time or thought to repackage.

Yes, radio is ultimately a business, concerned with the bottom line more than giving unknown artists exposure. But given the limited channels for quality new music on Toronto radio, soon these stations won't have any nostalgia left to sell.

June 10, 2009 @ 5:21 AM


The rest of the radio stations in toronto suck. I don't want to listen to "personalities" I want to listen to rock music and that is what JACK played. Bring it back.

June 12, 2009 @ 5:22 PM


Wow, I can't believe they got rid of Jack FM for yet another boring, bland Top 40 radio station. Isn't this rap, hip hop, justin timberlake, lady goo-goo stuff the exact music they played to torture those prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

Great idea rogers, obviously there aren't enough radio stations playing talentless rap and horrible hip hop music already in Toronto. Well, at least now all the trendy 14 year old buffoons have a station they can listen to, it's not like they have others to choose from since this is Toronto's ONLY all hits station, right?

I guess I'll just stick to Classical 96.3 fm or Jazz 91.1 fm, because I'll never listen to the garbage on kiss fm. I'll leave that for the mindless trend followers.

June 12, 2009 @ 7:29 PM

925 Kissfm Sucks

Wow, I can't believe they got rid of Jack FM for yet another boring, bland Top 40 radio station. Isn't this rap, hip hop, justin timberlake, lady goo-goo stuff the exact music they played to torture those prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

Great idea rogers, obviously there aren't enough radio stations playing talentless rap and horrible hip hop music already in Toronto. Well, at least now all the trendy 14 year old buffoons have a station they can listen to, it's not like they have others to choose from since this is Toronto's ONLY all hits station, right?

I guess I'll just stick to Classical 96.3 fm or Jazz 91.1 fm, because I'll never listen to the garbage on kiss fm. I'll leave that for the mindless trend followers.

June 12, 2009 @ 7:30 PM


You can't totally blame Rogers for the lack of song selection. Remember Shelia Copps and her Canadain content rule. I drive for a living and I listen to alot of radio and you get tired of the same old same old. Takin' care of business was awesome ........ 20 years ago or Loverboy but I got so tired of that so I turned away. I mean I could hear These eyes by the Guess who 20 times a week no problem. If we didn't have the 45% Canuk content rule Jack still may be open!

June 13, 2009 @ 11:22 AM


try Rock95 (95.7 on the FM dial) - from Barrie - it's classic rock, new rock - the best station now. Q107 has too many commercials, and I really don't care what Derringer thinks about anything.

June 14, 2009 @ 12:38 PM


Yeah the morning show was not overly innovative but Samantha Stevens 6:00pm onwards was mixed ( in my opinion) with old, new and alternative rock that isn't found on ANY other station...not same old ...same old....also, there was personality coming through that made it worthwhile listening to....KISS being replaced by KISS (FM) isnt an even trade...

June 14, 2009 @ 8:10 PM


Congrats, you bastard!
It,s May, 31, 2010, and the first anniversary of the death of my favorite radio station is approaching. I would just like to say that you are a little bit of a prick for jinxing the whole thing.

May 31, 2010 @ 8:09 PM


To all Jack lovers! If you have access to the internet, try finding 96.9 JackFM from Calgary. I listen to it at work. Matt & Eric are awesome DJs in the morning, and the music is just like T.O.s old 92.5 JackFM.

PS. It's also owned by Rogers!

April 2, 2012 @ 2:28 PM

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