Montreal Radio Blog

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Final Years of CFCF/CIQC/CINW

I recently posted a link to an article about the history of CFCF radio. This would have technically been the station's 90th anniversary had it not been axed at the beginning of this year. In all fairness, the 2010 version of the station bared little resemblance to the CFCF of old. In fact, it didn't even have much in common with CIQC.

For a lot of people, when the signal moved from 600 to 940 on the AM dial, it ceased being the same radio station. It was more than a simple change of frequency, it was more as if they were trying not only to distance themselves from their history, but to pretend they were in no way connected to their past.

If I am not mistaken, the story goes that around 1990 (give or take a few years), when CFCF Inc., then still a mega-broadcaster, sold CFCF and CFQR. At the time, they insisted the radio station change its call letters to break the obvious perceived connection to the rest of the CFCF family. That happened in 1991, when the station went all-country. You may remember tuning in to hear an Expo game and being shocked when an announcement referred to the station as Country 600, CIQC.

CIQC went to a talk format in 1993, and they pretty much maintained it until their 1999 move to all news on 940. From late afternoon on, the station became as close to a Montreal English-language sports station as you could get back in the mid-90s. Having the Expos helped in that regard.

I have some fond memories of Expos coverage on CIQC that I have wrote about before. It's kind of symbolic that the Expos began their demise at the same time the station pulled the plug on itself in 1999. After that happened, English-language sports talk in Montreal almost completely disappeared until Team 990 was born.

940 News went on the air in 1999. The premise with that kind of format is that people do not tune in for extended periods of time. I tried to listen, but heard the same loops of news being repeated over and over again. They added a talk component to their format in the mid-2000s, but that wasn’t really any more successful.

Ironically, there are no more 24 hour radio news rooms in Montreal right now in either official language. That is pretty alarming for a city of nearly 4 million people. Back in the 1980s, if there was a power outage or a fire in your neighbourhood at 2 o'clock in the morning, you could tune in to the next local radio newscast and probably hear about it. Where are you supposed to get your information from now? You can't...

So 940 went to an oldies format toward the end of their existence, and predictably that didn't pan out. You can't seriously expect to market music on an AM frequency in the 2000s. You'd have had a hard time doing that in the late 1970s.

When the plug was pulled on the two Montreal stations earlier this year, it was sad. Sad for people in the business who saw two less opportunities to do their “thing“, and even sadder for the public, who now have two less listening choices than they did before. So at best, people can be nostalgic about the station that was - even as late as the 1990s. The station that was the home of Montreal sports for the longest time, and to some of the greatest announcers in Montreal radio history.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking for info for a book for the period 1978 - when everything went ass up. When CFCF was bought 79-80 what happened to Don Martz and when. Also during the 70's I need info on Ron Hoar, Ron Handfield, Ray Poitras amoung others during this period. Most CFCF TV 12. Any Help will be credited.