MSM Writes About Radio! (Or How to Save Q107 and The Edge)

Have you noticed how little attention radio gets from the mainstream media? Newspapers seem to all but ignore the format now. I never understand this, because from my vantage point, Torontonians still listen to an awful lot of terrestrial radio.

The lack of MSM interest in radio is why I noticed this article in the Toronto Star about Corus's Q107 and 102.1 The Edge. Corus, apparently, is experiencing a decline in advertising revenue, and longtime president and CEO John Cassaday had some 'splaining to do.

Here are a few of the excuses provided:

  1. The Dean Blundell Show was cancelled
  2. Both stations caught in widespread "rock downturn"
  3. Lack of awareness that Q107 now plays some current rock music

The fix, as Cassaday sees it, is to get the right music, develop the right talent and market the shit out of it. Expect to be pummeled with Q107 ads.

He's right, of course. The right music with the right talent and better awareness of both is exactly what will improve these stations. I'm less sure, however, that these stations currently have the right music with the right talent.

What do you guys think?


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Comments (38 - click here to join in!)

Stan

It a sunset industry.

Revenues will keep falling and falling.

January 14, 2015 @ 4:13 PM

Not Dean

Time to bring back Blundell?

January 14, 2015 @ 4:17 PM

Michele M

Who listens to radio anymore?

January 14, 2015 @ 4:26 PM

Anonymous

Forget bringing back Dean, bring back Shapiro.

His podcast is horrible - even Ana Cyzon quit - so he'd surely come cheap.

Give Todd Shapiro the morning show and move Fred back to afternoons.

January 14, 2015 @ 4:44 PM

Andrew

@ Stan and Michele

I don't think it's a sunset industry - I think it needs to evolve to not become one. I still listen to radio everyday, but I listen for all sorts of reasons.

I've talked about what I think needs to happen for terrestrial radio in the age of streaming and I hope they will.

Talent drives audiences, not necessarily music.

Cheers,
Andrew

January 14, 2015 @ 4:45 PM

519 Rob

The sad answer is that radio has changed so much that I am not sure there is any going back to the old glory days. There was an article over at Alan Cross' web site today (http://ajournalofmusicalthings.com/genre-sold-albums-canada-last-year/) that spoke to album sales in Canada in 2014. Rock sales were quite low.
It's not hard to take a giant leap of faith between Rock Radio and Rock Album sales.
If you ain't listening, you ain't buying.
Its a POP market, and rock radio needs to adjust, or wait it out. And I believe that those who choose to wait it out will have a lot in common with the Dinosaurs.

January 14, 2015 @ 4:47 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@519 Rob

"If you ain't listening, you ain't buying."

I just assumed people were stealing.

January 14, 2015 @ 4:48 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Andrew

I can't listen to a good host if the station is playing music I dislike, but I will listen to a lousy host if the station is playing music I want to hear.

ideally, it's a good host with good music I want to hear.

January 14, 2015 @ 4:57 PM

Al Reda

Am I the only one who finds Alan Cross pretentious?

January 14, 2015 @ 5:15 PM

Ben V

If spence diamonds goes out of business or the conservatives lose the next election EDGE 102.1 will cease to exist.

How can a concert be an edge presents title in their concert listing if the EDGE won't play them?

My one suggestiom is get rid of the broadcast standards council and only have the CRTC.

January 14, 2015 @ 5:20 PM

Irvine

Corus Management can put all the spin they want on declining ratings, but this is a macro, not micro event.

Rock music has been in decline since the mid 80's when hip hop & beat based music appeared in the Top 40. It returned a bit for a few years (Nirvana & Pearl Jams first records) then continued it's decline . Later rock records were a copy of a copy & even the biggest rock band, Nickelback, had most of it's success with female orientated pop songs. In the real of rock, the only thing with any staying power now falls in the "indie" rock category . And most of that has more pop sensibilities than rock.

It's not just Q107 that's dying. It's nearly every active, hard rock & alternative rock station in North America. In radio, what's holding up the mantel of "rock" is the Jack FM/Classic Hits stuff. Everything else is getting long in the tooth & the end is near.

As much as I'll send rock snobs into a raging pit of hate against me, Top 40 radio is far more interesting musically than rock radio is. Oh sure, Top 40 plays the shit out of songs, but they always have. But for the most part the entire format is rather diverse. It encompasses everything from the Hozier/Of Monsters & Men stuff through to Ronson's Uptown Funk to Mr Probz or Avicii.

Q107 in Calgary is now playing Blondie & Rick Springfield. Q107 Toronto has no place to go & it's the end of the line is nearing. That format will become "extinct". And Edge 102? To have a future it needs to self destruct & be reborn, probably as a more "indie hits" style of station. Or it could hang on for a decade or so by playing the new indie stuff & adding in "Spirit of Radio" material in the playlist. Somehow I suspect the old "Spirit" types just might accept hearing Monsters & Men in with Depeche Mode.

Rock is dead. And if you're surprised by that you clearly haven't been listening to rock radio lately or you still think it's 1974.

PS. I know some will say "well this pop music won't be around in 40 years". That's just rock snobbery. No, it probably won't but SO WHAT. That doesn't matter to someone that is into modern music & pop hits.

January 14, 2015 @ 5:43 PM

dale

I WAS a Q107 follower for many, many years with their music choices, even though they played too many bands constantly. It's us older folk who lived by this as a "remember the good old days when music was music." This is now fermenting to a moldy fruit that has to be changed. Derringer hasn't changed his persona in the last 10 years. His time is due, even though he signed a mega$ contract with Corus in the last while.

I only listen at work as the only station with good reception on a very low volume as background music.

I follow 680 news driving to & from work for traffic updates as I have a long drive to & from.

Retire Derringer or CHANGE or soon you will be bought out like Jeff Finger - LOL

January 14, 2015 @ 6:58 PM

GUNTer

i hsve no idea what the answer is, but the recent changes at Q are horrible. John D reading the news is unlistenable. Too much editorializing and not enough just putting the news out there. Then throwing it over to TWO other guys to finish it off (sports/weather) is terrible. I have never been a fan of Aunty Mo (gag)- her time has come and gone.
Please Q do something.....minimally go back to a proper newsman.

January 14, 2015 @ 7:21 PM

Jason from Sudbury

I think Q needs to bring back the hardrock/pure rock format. Surely Toronto could use a good hard rock station.

January 14, 2015 @ 8:13 PM

this guest

I really enjoy Little Steven's
Underground Garage on Q107
Sunday nights

When I can I listen to online NPR WUMB
out of Boston Saturday mornings
for their 'Highway 61' show:
way cooler than Q's Psychedelic Sunday

January 14, 2015 @ 10:36 PM

Lorne

Maybe they should experiment with having no hosts. Just play music. And massively increase the size of the playlist. Rather than programming it, make it random.

And and and to save money on the cost of transmitters and broadcast licenses, they could instead put all the music on a high capacity storage device. And give those devices to the listeners.

Who could add or remove music as they see fit. And skip songs they don't like and...

hmmm...

ipod.

January 14, 2015 @ 11:02 PM

McNulty

My take…

I listen to the radio every day as I drive in and from work. I agree with Irv that it is Rock Radio that is dying. I used to be a huge CFNY and Alt Rock fan for years and years. I don’t think that format has evolved very much. I just don’t find a lot of it entertaining. But I can listen to a Top 40 station and get a lot more enjoyment, however, I can stand some of the music they play. I am also not one of those “music is dead” assholes that lament that Taylor Swift is the devil and Top 40 is crap. If you can’t find any new music that you enjoy then the problem isn’t the music, it is you.

The other issue with radio is the really bad personalities and the poor ability to host. Perhaps this shows my age, but I don’t find it entertaining when a host teases a news item and then a half hour later reads whatever has popped up on their Twitter feeds. It’s not unique and usually we have all read or heard about it already.

The only show that entertains me with music and host is the Spirit of Radio on Sundays. That’s what I want from my radio. Good music and a host that can speak to the music I am listening to. I don’t know why that can’t happen in the Top 40 stations. The hosts seem so ignorant to the music that it is appalling. Perhaps a morning show can have a lot more fun but it just seems more and more hosts are either stupid or feign stupidity and a lack of knowledge of events (pop culture and news) for laughs.

Sigh…..Maybe I am old.

January 15, 2015 @ 8:09 AM

Ryan G / hobogauntlet.blogspot.ca

Nearly 40 years ago (gasp!) they said video would kill the radio star, yet it's proven to be the other way around.

I think the phenomena of breakfast TV shows are in deeper shit than radio. Prior to smartphones, you'd turn this tripe on before work in order to get your traffic, weather and news headlines. Nowadays most people wake up in the morning and simply swipe a finger over their iphone while still in bed. Radio still generally has you cornered when you drive anywhere, but mobile content will continue to grow in my view. I don't have a paper subscription to the star anymore, but i still peruse it on my phone several times a day (or on a computer at work/home). Think of the zillions of times you have 2 seconds or 2 hours to kill - an airport ..a stop light..waiting in line at T-Ho's..given the opportunity, you're on your bloody phone looking at something.

January 15, 2015 @ 8:39 AM

mrmojorisinca

I think both stations don't play the music or have the talent.

January 15, 2015 @ 9:04 AM

mrmojorisinca

ROCK AND ROLL CAN NEVER DIE

January 15, 2015 @ 10:46 AM

mrmojorisinca

y my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

Out of the blue
and into the black
They give you this,
but you pay for that
And once you're gone,
you can never come back
When you're out of the blue
and into the black.

The king is gone
but he's not forgotten
This is the story
of a Johnny Rotten
It's better to burn out
than it is to rust
The king is gone
but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

January 15, 2015 @ 10:51 AM

Tim

I have not laughed in the morning ( despite myself )since Dean Blundell has been gone. I think Q has had it and will fade away but the Edge could be great again. Bring Deano back and let him do whatever he wants to. Sometimes his schtick is irritating but for the most part he is way funnier than any of the clowns they have on air now. I say expand Spirit of Radio Sundays. Maybe, make it Spirit of Radio afternoons and send Josie packing. Dump Fred on overnights or better yet get rid of him altogether. Play more Alan Cross history of new rock. Hire Maie Pautts away from Boom. If you have any classic Martin Streek stuff in the can broadcast it in memory of that great man.

January 15, 2015 @ 12:13 PM

CQ

Funny how just questioning radio's performance as an industry is often frowned upon. I appreciate Ms. Pauts podcast answers, though.
Regardless of station or company: just slop 3 veggies, a salad, and a main course serving into a pile then smother with ketchup. Then argue when anyone notices that the ketchup is a watered down supermarket brand.

January 15, 2015 @ 12:59 PM

Douglas

So much could be covered here, as there are micro-, not just macro-topics.
Q107 and Edge 102.1 are noted as "dying" here. "Here" being the Toronto area. Is rock radio dying? Looking at ratings across the US and Canada, I would say "not really". Market segmenting, within the rock category, is important. For example, most major markets in the US do not just have a Classic Rock station. They have two, three, or more different Rock stations - Classic, Active, Alternative, Hard, Metal, etc. Even with decades of music to work with, many here have (correctly) noted that Classic Rock stations seem to have a limited playlist. In Buffalo, it is a running joke that 97Rock hasn't changed their playlist for 30 years. You can make a Bingo card with classic rock artists and see how quickly you "win" listening to 97Rock. Not long. If you want to make it challenging, you'll need three or four Pink Floyd boxes on the card.

One part-explanation for the drop in ratings at Q107 is that, for (too many) years, all they promoted, their slogan, etc. was "Classic Rock". Yet, to the west of Toronto in Hamilton and to the east in Oshawa, two stations with slogans something like "the classic rock you want to hear AND the new rock you need to hear" are faring rather well, with significant spillover listenership into the Toronto area. Y108 (107.9) and 94.9 The Rock, respectively. Many would think, even for a Hamiltonian "why would you listen to a local radio station when you've got a ("powerhouse") station like Q107 in Toronto out there?" Why? Both Y108 and The Rock made sure they weren't just a clone of Q107. They give rock music listeners something they want, and what they want is not nothing-but-Classic-Rock. Ultimately, if "Classic Rock" doesn't change from what it has been since the format was on top in the 1980s, it will die out with its current listeners - death by demographics.

"Alternative", rock or not, by its definition, tells you that you're not mainstream and shouldn't expect that you'll be a top-rated music radio station. Yet there are some alt-rock stations in North America that are, have been or are still close to being the #1 station - outright - in their market. How do/did they do it? They offered listeners that sought-for combination of programming (music, personalities, talk, etc.) and made themselves meaningful to the listeners and market. In other words, they are/were not just an iPod on shuffle with "canned" announcers and commercials. This is not the 1970s anymore: Who in the Toronto area remembers fully-automated WBEN-FM Rock 102 from the 70s-early 80s? Some of today's music radio stations really aren't much different than Rock 102 in presentation, even though they are using "live" on-air people. Or maybe they aren't, because everything besides timely breaks (weather, traffic, news) that you hear over the speakers has been voice-tracked many days in advance, likely in a studio far, far away by someone who has no connection whatsoever to your community.

By what is known in media as "area of dominant influence", Toronto is one of the top five media markets in North America. That includes radio. When you look at what radio offers in that huge market, it is one of the least diversified, format-wise. That is simply sad. Now, back to streaming one of my preferred non-local alt-rock music stations...

January 15, 2015 @ 1:42 PM

519 Rob

@Mike
I really can't imagine that music piracy is THAT big of an issue anymore.
When you can have (basically) unlimited streaming for 10 bucks a month, why would you steal anymore?

And most of the streaming services have free options as long as you are OK with a commercial every so often.

And this makes me curious Mike - how do you get your music? Stream? Steal? Buy?

January 15, 2015 @ 1:54 PM

Irvine

@Douglas

I wasted 5 minutes of my life looking at the ratings in the Top markets in the United States. Results

- a couple of classic rock stations around 10th in the market
- no alternative rock stations
- 1 active rock station (Dallas).

While unscientific, most of the top stations were either News Talk, Light Hits, CHR and Hispanic. Rock was noticeably absent. Is this going to be another case of the "Toronto Mike ignore the numbers" thing based on what you WANT to believe? BTW, "alternative rock" is hardly alternative. Most of the bands that have been in heavy rotation on alternative rock stations are not fringe bands. Is Nickelback fringe? Is Foo FIghts fringe? Is Green Day fringe? Classic rock stations have limited playlists because that's what has traditionally worked

Years ago I worked in this factory for the summer. It was near the S&S strip club in Brampton. I worked with these dude. He was obese. He was bald. He was missing a lot of teeth. He often drooled while talking & his shirt was stained with lunch. He spent his pay at the S&S on strippers. He would regale in how the girls "love him" and how he was basically the Mac Daddy of the peeler bar. In short, he was delusion. Some folks, with a long history in radio, fall in the same category when predicting the future (and current status) of radio.

The reason there are a half dozen stations doing CHR and Hot AC in Toronto is because that's where the money is. The reason there is NOT half a dozen classic/active rock stations in Toronto is........._________

January 15, 2015 @ 3:30 PM

Jillian

There seems to be a trend in morning show news reading. Derringer on Q and Jason Barr on 97.7 both read the news themselves and it sounds forced..why do they do this? Saving a salary by not having a news guy in the morning?

Listening to the Edge this morning- they bring in the news guy for a round table with the 2 hosts and they pretend to be interested in the news of the day. So fake, it's uncomfortable to listen to.

January 15, 2015 @ 6:47 PM

this guest

all those jobs
it's tough enough
as it is

January 15, 2015 @ 7:18 PM

Mike, Not Toronto Mike

There really is no saving Q107 or Edge in their current state. They are both set for failure because they are set in the past and keep reflecting on the glory years.

Someone had earlier mentioned 94.9 The Rock. I have been to many shows lately where they are at the Danforth Music Hall. Started listening recently and this station really gets rock and it has a Toronto wide focus, not just Oshawa.

Heard yesterday that they are now hosting a new music night at the Phoenix as well. Sounds like this is the rock station on the rise.

January 16, 2015 @ 8:25 AM

Irvine

@Not Toronto Mike

Well in the case of Q107 I'm not sure it can focus on anything other than it's glory years. There really isn't much new rock music they could play.

You only have to listen to rock radio to understand the problem. Every time I tune into a rock station I'm greeted with the same thing

- the whole "mullethead" thing. There is this focus on the whole "excess" of rock music or it's superiority compared to other formats. No thanks. Tip though. Try WDRV Chicago for a good classic rock station. It's on iTunes.

- the same songs in perpetual rotation. I guess that's reflective of the fact there is no new rock music to play (or at least the programmers won't find it). 94.9 isn't any different either. How many times does a guy need to hear "Rock You Like a Hurricane"? (or any other rock song).

In the case of the glory years, I think CFNY could play on that. CFNY could build a 'generations' alternative rock station which respects it's past and also focuses on the future. It would mean a shift in the demo I'm sure but things aren't looking so well.

Side note: What blows me away is how a DJ is the first to go with bad ratings, but the GM/PD is not. Edge's ratings are plummeting but I don't see any management getting fired. To quote Animal Farm "I guess some pigs are more equal than other pigs".

January 16, 2015 @ 9:35 AM

Not Toronto Mike

@Irvine

Haven't heard a Scorpions song or any mullet rock on 94.9. A lot of new rock, seems they are finding it.


January 16, 2015 @ 12:53 PM

Janet

There is nothing wrong with Rick Springfield and i suggest that you people who only remember Jessie's Girl and the radio stations who only play the "hits" start downloading his new stuff and other artists like him again. I am am tired of hip hop and rap etc crap on the radio. 80/90s music was awesome and if you down loaded any of his new stuff you would see he has only gotten better with age. Ask McCartney, Grohl and Stevie Nicks they will tell you this too.

Listen and start playing the man that never was, my ships sinking, I hate myself, to name a few and perhaps people would be interested in radio again. I miss the days of radio band promotion, CD / Vinyal in stores and I hate the fact that radio is so computerized now and that the radio stations don't program their own unique play lists anymore. I am a visual and tacktile person I want to touch the CDs in the rack and the books on the shelf's.

O I here Amadus on Boom again I go crazy....there are other songs out there peoe!!!!

February 1, 2015 @ 1:57 AM

Janet

There is nothing wrong with Rick Springfield and i suggest that you people who only remember Jessie's Girl and the radio stations who only play the "hits" start downloading his new stuff and other artists like him again. I am am tired of hip hop and rap etc crap on the radio. 80/90s music was awesome and if you down loaded any of his new stuff you would see he has only gotten better with age. Ask McCartney, Grohl and Stevie Nicks they will tell you this too.

Listen and start playing the man that never was, my ships sinking, I hate myself, to name a few and perhaps people would be interested in radio again. I miss the days of radio band promotion, CD / Vinyal in stores and I hate the fact that radio is so computerized now and that the radio stations don't program their own unique play lists anymore. I am a visual and tacktile person I want to touch the CDs in the rack and the books on the shelf's.

O I here Amadus on Boom again I go crazy....there are other songs out there peoe!!!!

February 1, 2015 @ 1:57 AM

Radio gaga

I really enjoyed this thread. Thank you Irvine and Douglas. Some great valid points. I have a few friends still in the industry or at least hovering around it. Some are still employed in the industry however most are not. This was not their choice. Some, now do podcasts, others, keep applying to radio stations with no luck. There is talent out there. One of my friends who use to work in Toronto radio tried to volunteer at Indie88 and they couldn't even get a return email or phone call and this is a person most of this thread would know if they listened to CFNY in the 90s and that's just to volunteer since indie88 advertises that they are looking for volunteers. I've seen so many of my farourite announcers get fired. Too many, and what I'm left with are hipster douchebags that I would hire to work at a mall record store.

February 6, 2015 @ 9:35 PM

oldfoggy

Q107 needs to bring back Jonny Spadina.

February 17, 2015 @ 6:12 PM

Javed Jafri

Speak of the devil I was doing some research on John Morris from the early CFNY today and Johnny Spadina's name came up on a Google search. He had the Pink Flamingo Room show on Q. Can someone confirm if John Morris was Johnny Spidina. John Morris hosted early episodes of Listener's Choice and The Eclectic Spirit on NY.

February 17, 2015 @ 9:48 PM

Jeff

Yes, I agree with Al Reda about Alan Cross.

Also, Q107 change of playlist suck. It is like that they self-killed their identity and what remain kept playing and playing like a top 40 station. They're getting more and more crappy and hyper-formatted as CHUM (Mtl) and CJAY (Cgy) are.

Moreover, I miss Kim Mitchell and it is like that they cannot deal with his loss and don't know how to fill the hole left in the programming.

And since commercial radio stations is about avertissement, they should do something about the annoying Spence Diamond commercials. I always change stations where I hear them and lots of time I stay listening on their other station. Yes, Spence is a cash cow for them, but a poisonous one too.

The Edge: I guess that's about the same as Q107. Not as bad as Q107 crisis, but they can't hook me much, plus I cannot really stand Wade MacNeil's voice.

December 8, 2015 @ 4:20 PM

Gordon Joseph

An observation from the simple side.

I have llisten to southern Ontario FM radio in the 80's, it was free running with A LOT of variety.

Now it's just boring, all the stations run the same format in their niche market.

If I was new to Canada and started to listen to music on our stations, I would believe all the great bands that are boasted to have a 30 + years career only ever wrote a dozen songs.

It's the same with all stations, they play the same song, over and over and over again. These band (not listing because there are so many great ones) and many of them have a great library of music. Certainly enough to make a station like Q107 sound fresh with classic music.

I feel sorry for the DJs who have to sit and listen to the same songs over and over again day in day out, I bet at times they would like to put a bullet in their head.

The implementation of the CANCON rule many have a lot to do with the crap music format as well.

Just tune your radio to 103.3 EDGE in Buffalo.
Great music all the time.

It's not so much about record sales.
I stopped buying a long time ago (I do love my LP collection), nor do I download music. Tuning into an Internet radio has so much more variety.
Although I would rather listen to terrestrial radio since it's more convenient and it's in my car.

Seriously listen to the music variety in southern Ontario radio stations
There isn't any,
That, I believe is the problem with music.

December 29, 2016 @ 5:19 AM

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