Toronto Radio Ratings Musings

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CFNY FM: ain't your average radio clone

Karim Mosna sent me a link to this little documentary about CFNY thinking I might be interested. It's 22-minutes long and includes chats with Alan Cross, David Marsden, Ivar Hamilton and Dani Elwell.

If you're looking for a more long-form deeper dive into this subject, I strongly recommend the following episodes of Toronto Mike'd:

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Another Round of Radio Layoffs at Corus

Corus Entertainment is shaving its payroll again with a series of radio layoffs. The names of those affected are still trickling in, so I'll update this entry as I learn more.

Most of the changes are at Q107. Longtime host Jeff Woods, who recently moved back from Calgary, has been let go, as have Dominik Diamond, Nails Mahoney and James MacPhee, who did news double duty with Q and AM640.

Kim Mitchell, who has been working the 2-6pm shift, will not have his contract renewed. His last day at Q107 will be tomorrow.

And, a little outside the city in Hamilton, my pal Kelly Cutrara was axed at Fresh FM. She's coming on my podcast to talk about it, as soon as she sobers up.

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Newstalk 1010 Cancels Humble & Fred Radio

Back in January 2013, Humble and Fred signed on to have their daily podcast aired on Newstalk 1010. The Humble and Fred show started airing weekdays at midnight where it stayed through last week.

Here's how the early morning lineup looked last week on Newstalk 1010.


Newstalk 1010 has cancelled the Humble and Fred show, effective immediately. Here's how the early morning lineup now looks.


The midnight to 2am slot, previously occupied by a censored version of the Humble and Fred podcast, is now The Best of Jerry Agar and The Best of Jim Richards.

You can still hear the Humble and Fred show online as a podcast. IMHO, it's the only way to go.

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The Results of Dean Blundell's First Spring Ratings Book at The Fan 590

Happy ratings day, my radio friends! Just this morning I was chatting with Roger Ashby in my basement (I can't believe I just typed that) and he had a deadline because of a meeting he had to attend, all because it's ratings day. It's a big day for everyone in radio, whether you're Roger Ashby or Dean Blundell.

Speaking of Dean Blundell, the spring book is now complete, and I've learned how Blundell & Co. fared on The Fan 590. As discussed in great detail last month, The Fan only cares about men aged 25-54. That's the only number I'll share, because it's the only number that matters.

Blundell & Co. fell to 5.6 in May 2015. That's down almost a full point from April 2015. That also means he managed a 5.5 for the past three months combined. Again, this is well below Rogers execs' expectations.

For a little perspective, The Fan 590 managed an 8.6 last year. This year's spring book for the morning show shows a decline of over three points.

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PPM Radio Rating Blind Spot

I'm always interested in the PPM rating results for our local radio stations. Often, when I learn the numbers, I'll even write about it. I just assumed PPM (Portable People Meter) dependably measured stations encountered, but apparently it has "blind spots".

This article was enlightening for this radio fan. Depending on the station's encoding, the PPM may or may not pick it up. In fact, if the station is primarily talk, it's often missed.

Voltair is a new service marketed to radio stations that promises "advanced audio signal processing to enhance the detectability of the watermark codes within the context of your programming objectives." In other words, it eliminates the blind spot so the PPM gives full credit.

In a couple of tests by Harker Research, ratings increased up to 61% when Voltair was installed. Nothing else was changed, and ratings spiked.

The most important lesson here is that the rumors about Voltair helping improve ratings are true. This is the clearest evidence that PPM as implemented is flawed.

PPM does not capture all listening, so it under-estimates radio listening–potentially by a lot for some formats.

The solution is for Nielsen to admit that the problem exists and agree to a time-table to fix it.

It is likely that PPM will never be perfect. It will never capture all listening, but missing 20%, 50%, or more should be unacceptable.

Remember, we don't know which stations are using Voltair and which are not. That makes an already imperfect system even more suspect. There has to be a better way to measure radio listeners.

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Canadian Premiere of I Am What I Play at The Royal

I attended the Canadian premiere of I Am What I Play at The Royal last night. You might recall me writing about this documentary. It features Meg Griffin, Charles Laquidara, Pat O'Day and our very own David Marsden.

Marsden was at the premiere, and we chatted before the curtains went up. A number of old CFNY staffers were there, as well as radio fan Erin Davis who gave me a big hug. It was a great atmosphere.


And for this longtime fan of radio, it was a great doc. Aside from Marsden, i was only slightly familiar with Meg Griffin from her appearances on Howard Stern. The others, Charles Laquidara in particular, were great story tellers.

And that's what makes Marsden so great. The man is an excellent storyteller, with fantastic stories to tell. It's why his appearance in episode 106 of my podcast is one my personal favourites. I Am What I Play features plenty of great Marsden tales with old audio, video and photos I had never seen. I've finally heard what Dave Mickie sounds like!

If you love radio, you'll adore this doc. It's also got a great soundtrack and closes the only way a good radio story should.

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Dean Blundell Improves, but Below Rogers's Expectations

Demographics are everything to a station. Performances in a targeted demo determine a station's revenue generation potential. Dave Shoalts writes in today's Globe and Mail about Dean Blundell's rating improvement in The Fan's targeted demo of men aged 18-34. I have it on good authority that The Fan is actually targeting men aged 25-54, a subtle but significant difference.

Looking at that M25-54 demo, Blundell & Co. rose to 6.4 in April. That's great when compared to the competition on TSN Radio 1050, but not-so-great when compared to how Brady and Walker fared in that same time slot last April. In April 2014, Brady and Walker got a 9.8. Blundell lost a 3.4 share and Rogers executives expected the opposite.

Let's talk about TSN Radio 1050 for a moment... That station has had terrible ratings for over four years, and Mike Richards slipped to 1.1 last month. How long does Bell prop this station up?

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The Effect of Morning Show Changes at The Fan 590 and Virgin 999 on Toronto Radio Ratings

Toronto radio ratings came out yesterday, and I was interested in what effect recent changes at The Fan 590 and Virgin 999 have had. The Fan 590 recently moved Brady and Walker to 1pm and brought in long-time Edge 102 morning man Dean Blundell to host their morning show. Virgin 999 recently fired Jay "Maddog" Michaels and replaced him with someone named Tucker.

First, let's take a look at the numbers for The Fan 590. Keep in mind, Dean Blundell debuted on March 2 after a great deal of promotion.

Males, ages 25 - 54
590 Mornings

Jan 2015: 4.9
Feb 2015: 4.4
Mar 2015: 4.4

Males, ages 18 - 49
590 Mornings

Feb 2015: 4.5
Mar 2015: 4.2

Males and Females, ages 25 - 54
590 Mornings

Jan 2015: 2.6
Feb 2015: 2.4
Mar 2015: 2.3

The needle barely moved. I'm certain Rogers executives expected a much bigger bump, or at least a bump. Instead, the numbers are going in the wrong direction. And remember, Blundell is a controversial figure in this town. You've got to assume many would tune in during his first month to see how he sounds in the new format. Curiosity alone should have resulted in an increased share. The numbers will likely only go down from here.

The 4.4 share Dean Blundell got in The Fan's key demo is particularly devastating for Rogers when you consider Brady and Walker earned an 8.5 share last March.

Now, let's look at the numbers for Virgin 999. Maddog was fired on March 4, so he's responsible for February.

Females, ages 25 - 54
Virgin Mornings

Feb 2015: 6.6
Mar 2015: 4.3

All Females, all ages
Virgin Overall

Feb 2015: 6.4
Mar 2015: 3.4

That's a significant drop in their targeted female audience gone in 30 days. Ladies seem to love Maddog. It's important to note, however, that Tucker didn't start until very late March.

I reached out to Maddog, who appeared in episode 92 of my podcast, and here's what he had to say.

The listener response has been overwhelming and completely humbling. You always hope your connecting with people but I had no idea how much and how many. Between the petition, Facebook and Twitter, WOW. Blown away daily by the support. And the fact that they say they'll follow me wherever I go next? That's proof that Radio personalities are still a huge part of people's lives in Toronto. I Can't thank everyone enough... but I sure plan on trying.

What are your thoughts on these numbers for The Fan 590 and Virgin Radio's morning shows? Were the big changes worth it?

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Who Is Mason Reese And Why Is He Crying?

I love compelling audio. I love a good story and learning new things. Yesterday, while driving the family home from my son's hockey game, I tuned into CBC Radio One and heard Jonathan Goldstein on Wiretap airing an episode he originally recorded for the Gimlet Media podcast Reply All.

Goldstein was talking about falling down a rabbit hole of YouTube nostalgia and staring down a figure from from his early childhood. Mason Reese was that figure.​

Goldstein's memories of Mason Reese date back to the early 70s, just before my time. I completely missed the Mason Reese era, and was fascinated to learn he was an advertising phenomenon who appeared in dozens of commercials for everything from Dunkin' Donuts to Raisin Bran. He built his career on this Underwood Chicken Spread ad, which included the adorable spoonerism, “Borgasmord.”

Then, Goldstein happened upon this clip of Mason Reese crying on the Mike Douglas Show. It was uploaded by Mason Reese himself. You've got to see this.

Why was Mason Reese crying because Harry Chapin was going to play Cat's in the Cradle? There was only one way to find out. Goldstein needed to track Mason Reese down and ask him. The result is precisely what I love about good podcasts and documentary-style radio shows like this: a compelling story in which I learn something new.

Here's the full episode:

And the Mike Douglas Show, which I had never seen, has an awesome logo I could totally steal.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.45.22 PM

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