Five new radio stations approved in Edmonton

mic Believe it or not, the CRTC has approved five applications for new FM radio stations in Edmonton. According to the official decision, that would bring the total number of commercial radio stations in the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) to 21, though Wikipedia already lists 25 stations (I suppose some are considered non-commercial). Here are a few other highlights from the document:

  • From 2003 to 2007, total revenues grew at a compound annual rate of 9.8% in the Edmonton radio market, compared to 9.9% for the province of Alberta and 6% for all of Canada over the same period.
  • In 2007, the Edmonton radio market recorded a profit before interest and tax (PBIT) of 26.7%, slightly above Alberta’s PBIT of 26.4% in 2007 and well above Canada’s 2007 PBIT of 20%.
  • An economic outlook for 2008 released by the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) in November 2007 predicts continued strong economic growth in the region.

Though it might seem crowded, the radio market in Edmonton appears to be doing quite well. It should be noted that 14 applications were submitted, so 9 of those were rejected by the CRTC. The approved stations include an Aboriginal language station covering all of Alberta, as well as Adult Contemporary, Adult Album Alternative, Essential Alternative and Young Music stations. I’m pretty sure that John Yerxa’s New 107 FM was the first of the new stations with a website.

It’s also worth taking a look at the Summer 2008 ratings book, by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement. As usual, last link on the left has all of the details:

When they’re not spinning tunes or tales, most radio folk will say a summer book is a lightweight and not truly indicative of the market. However, total listenership was up, reaching 1,647,000 compared to 1,631,000 in the previous book, suggesting BBM diary-keeping was done in earnest.

The top radio station for the period was The Bear (100.3 FM), with 630 CHED taking second place and CISN Country (103.9 FM) in third. Corus’ new station, iNews 880, placed 16th. You can read the full report in PDF format. The Fall 2008 ratings book will be released on November 27th.

I don’t listen to much radio myself – CDs and my iPod work well for me. When I do listen, it’s to either 630 CHED or The Bounce (91.7 FM, which placed 4th in the Summer 2008 book). Very rarely do I “station surf” so I doubt I’ll hear much of the new stations first hand.

Broadcast radio turns 100

Post ImageIt was on December 24th, 1906 that Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden produced the world’s first public radio broadcast. When you consider how many technologies have met their deaths in recent decades, it’s amazing that radio is still so prevalent today (Via Engadget):

On Dec. 24, 1906, Fessenden fired up his transmitting station at Brant Rock, Mass., a small village about 50 kilometres from Boston. Together with his wife Helen, a secretary and a small crew, Fessenden started his broadcast at 9:00 p.m. with a brief speech, followed by a Edison phonograph recording of Handel’s “Largo.”

Apparently Fessenden earned over 500 patents during his lifetime, had a U.S. Navy destroyer named after him, and was paid $2.5 million by the U.S. Radio Trust in 1928 for his contribution to radio technology.

Kind of odd that I’ve never heard of him before! As broadcast journalism professor Len Arminio says:

“Fessenden was a true Canadian genius,” said Arminio. “He got lost in the historic shuffle, and that’s too bad.”

Happy Birthday broadcast radio!

Read: Canoe

Commercial Free CBC?

Post ImageVia, I came across a post on the Canadian Journalist blog which explains that a recent senate report on Canadian media is recommending an ad-free CBC:

A Senate report on Canadian media recommends that CBC-TV become a commercial-free broadcaster. The report also recommends measures to prevent private media conglomerates from dominating newspaper, radio and television audiences in a single market.

The CBC proposal would mean the federal government would have to boost the corporation’s almost $1-billion annual budget to make up for the loss of advertising revenue.

First of all, have these people not heard of the Internet? There’s your solution to one media conglomerate dominating a single market. And then more importantly – more money for the CBC?! I don’t think so.

The post also mentions that the senate committee spent more than three years travelling the country, hearing from witnesses. I find it hard to believe these people gave them the idea that CBC needs more money. Maybe more money to produce something worth watching, but certainly not to have more of the crap we currently find on CBC. Seriously, there’s sports, crappy CBC shows, and decent BBC shows.

Here’s my recommendation: keep the radio and Internet properties, and get rid of CBC television. I’ve been thinking about this for a while actually, especially since CBC lost the contract for curling (there, even a link!). Here is my reasoning:

  • I don’t think a publicly-funded organization should be allowed to compete with private companies for contracts such as curling or the NHL broadcast rights.
  • I don’t agree with a publicly-funded organization running a for-profit entity, like Country Canada.
  • There is no compelling reason for CBC Television to exist. CTV, Global, City, and the other stations are all quite capable, and often cover news and events far better than CBC does anyway.
  • We could probably do far more with the budget currently spent on CBC.
  • We could get rid of Don Cherry and those other idiots, and Ron MacLean could move to TSN!

Okay that last one isn’t really a serious reason, but it would be awesome! The only time I ever watch CBC is for the hockey, and I don’t think I’m alone.

My only other suggestion would be to make CBC Television an entirely, 100%, Canadian-content channel that is not allowed to bid on sporting broadcast rights, play Hollywood movies, etc. No budget increases either. Then we could relax the requirement that Canadian broadcasters make sure at least 30% of their content is Canadian-created, and we might actually have some competition for American networks.

However, with our media becoming increasingly global, I wonder if we need television stations like CBC. I’m of the opinion that private enterprise will do a far better job of providing local and national content in the long run anyway.

Read: Canadian Journalist

Edmonton Radio Ratings Spring 2006

As you may recall, back in December I posted about 96X becoming Big Earl and the reasoning behind the switch, which was based mainly on ratings. Now that the first quarter of 2006 is complete, the radio station ratings have been updated, and it doesn’t look good for poor old Earl:

The Spring book measured Edmonton radio audiences from January 9th to March 5th, 2006.

CKRA “Big Earl 96.3” (Newcap) had a more disappointing book than newcomer Magic 99, posting an all-time low at 2.7 for station formats occupying the 96.3 frequency. Despite the popularity of the country format in Northern Alberta, Big Earl seems to have repelled listeners rather than attract. If Corus is to take some good news from this book it would be that CISN seems bulletproof.

Yeah no doubt! CISN fell from 11.2 to 10.5, but still easily occupied the second spot. I am impressed that The Bear made such a comeback, rising from 5.5 to 8.7, totally didn’t expect that. You can check out the full listing and commentary at The site also contains the Fall 2005 data, and links to more detailed data sources.

In a somewhat related story, it seems that podcasting and MP3 players are in fact stealing some of the audience away from radio:

According to Dave Van Dyke, President of Bridge Ratings, “By 2010, today’s 94% penetration for terrestrial radio will have sunk to 85%.”

27% of people 12-24 attribute their reduced use of radio to MP3 use; 22% attributed it to tired radio programming; 3% attributed it to podcast listening.

I can only expect that last number to grow as podcasting becomes more widely adopted. And once it does, advertising dollars will follow. Too bad there is no geographical data. It would be interesting to know if the audience in Edmonton has shrunk at all because of MP3 players or podcasting or something.

UPDATE: Check out the new 630 CHED helicopter which launched on Wednesday, April 12th!

CBC Radio One coming to Edmonton FM

Post ImageLooks like Edmonton will be getting another FM station, this one run by CBC, according to radio-guru Tod Maffin:

The CRTC CRTC this morning approved CBC Radio CBC Radio’s request to add FM transmitters to serve listeners in Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg.

The AM transmitters in those cities will remain on to continue to serve outlying areas, but the Commission agreed with the CBC CBC that “urban growth, the construction of high-rise concrete and steel buildings, increased electrical noise from overhead wires, large and small appliances and portable radio transmitters have impeded the ability of its radio stations to deliver reliable high quality AM signals to listeners.”

I wonder if this will really have an impact on the number of listeners? I mean, I tune into 630 CHED when there is a program I want to hear (usually hockey), and that wouldn’t change if it were an FM station, its not like I’d randomly keep it on or anything.

Read: Tod Maffin

96X Boycott?

Post ImageToday I received a rather interesting email forward. The original email was from Matt Ashdown. I’ll let you read it first before I comment:

Between 9 and 10 am on boh October 12th, and 19th, 96X had on their station what they called the “ADHD HOUR.” During this hour, they only would play the first 90 seconds of each song, and between the songs they would have short vignettes that devalue people with ADHD through humiliation, embarassement, and slander. Essentially what these vignettes are implying is that people with ADHD are stupid. I am quite distressed that after so much human rights legislation, and work has been done, a main stream radio station thinks it is humerous to discriminate against a minority population and gets away with it.

I challenge you to boycott 96X until the “ADHD hour” is removed from the air. Write a letter to the program manager and submit it through either their web site or through me. I will be sending in massed letters next Wednesday October 26th. And finally, you can help through spreading the word to as many people as you can.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me at

Actually, they played it again this morning at 9 AM, and I am pretty sure it’s called the “ADD Hour” – the old acronym for the disorder. Regardless, I don’t think we need to take the show off the air (it’s kind of neat actually) but I would support a name change. It’s probably not the most appropriate name in the world, that’s for sure. You have to give them credit though for at least trying something new. Anyway, now I’ve done my part, by letting you know!

Read: 96X

Tod Maffin and CBCunplugged

Post ImageThose of you following the current CBC labour dispute have no doubt been impacted in some form by Tod Maffin. He’s the guy behind, which has emerged as sort of “home away from home” for many former CBC writers, producers, and hosts. Tod not only got the ball rolling, but has been a major reason it has continued rolling, so it’s kind of disappointing to see he’s “stepping off the grid“:

This will be the last post for me. I’m going to “step off the grid,” as we nerds say. I’ll keep reading blogs and the comments here, but I’m going to take a rest for a bit from posting and checking my email obsessively. Luckily, there are plenty of great bloggers like Robin, Drone, Hadeel, John, Dan, and Matt who will, I hope, continue to report on what’s new. Thanks so much to everyone who’s posted comments and emailed. I will try to get back to each of you, though it might take me some time, as I’ll be off the grid for a while.

He then goes on to give a bit of a history on the site. Definitely worth a read. Good luck Tod! And does this mean your blog will come back to life?


Do you miss the CBC?

Post ImageThe CBC lockout has been ongoing for more than a month now, and people are starting to reflect on how it has affected them. Barry Reuger over at Canadian Journalist had this to say:

It’s been over a month since the CBC locked out its employees. In that time a flurry of podcasts have started and subsequently been ignored by yours truly. I now find myself reading – although not really liking – the Macleans that arrives in my mailbox each week thanks to the previous tenant.

I find that I’ve stopped missing CBC Radio, except perhaps once each morning when I would really like a newscast. I find instead that I fill my head with American public radio programming.

I would have to say I don’t miss the CBC. I think the lockout came at a particularly bad time for the workers. It’s not like I am going to miss Hockey Night in Canada, because I went a whole year without for the NHL’s lockout and somehow I survived. There are no Olympics coming up that need coverage. Actually, besides those two shows, the only thing I really watched on CBC was The Simpsons. I never really listened to CBC Radio, and I’ve always been a Global (or ITV back in the day) viewer for news.

I think the CBC is in need of a major overhaul! I don’t know what a new incarnation should look like, but The Hour was a good start. I can’t say if I think CBC has been fulfilling it’s mandate, because I don’t know what the mandate was. My generation hasn’t really had to care about mandates or responsibilities of the CBC, until now I suppose. Perhaps that would be a good step to making the CBC relevant again, review the original mandate. And on the committee that reviews said mandate, let’s have some people under the age of 30, yes?

Read: Canadian Journalist

CBC workers to launch competing service

Post ImageNormally I hate unions, but this bit of news caught my fancy. In addition to the current Telus strike, the CBC is facing a labour dispute all across the country. And as Tod Maffin reports, things are about to get interesting:

Next week, locked-out workers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will use the Internet to compete against their employer. They are even setting up office and studio space in Toronto.

The site will have a national daily newscast available via podcast or download, released at the usual time of CBC Radio’s flagship World at Six news program (currently off the air). Phase two will include local and regional news, expanded current affairs coverage, and perhaps video-casts.

Watch for the new site at At least, it sounds like that’s where things will be located:

Turns out a number of locked-out producers have been working on a podcast/news site of their own and they’d planned to call it — go ahead, guess — CBC Unplugged. Great minds think alike I guess. Rather than cause confusion, I’m going to hand the domain over to them and let them run with their own service. So as of next week, will be managed by a different group of people. Stay tuned, they have some exciting things planned!

Will be pretty interesting to watch next week. Apparently if works volunteer ten hours a week on the new site, they only have to walk the picket line half the usual time to get their strike pay. I wonder if anything like this has happened before? I doubt it. Ah, the wonders of the Internet.

Read: I Love