On June 4, Blackgold Broadcasting launched their new station The One CKSS – Parkland’s Best Country at 88.1 FM in Stony Plain. The town’s first radio station, it joins sister station, CJLD at 93.1 FM branded The One – Leduc’s Best Country launched by Blackgold in April 2013. Both stations feature a Country format. Blackgold’s application promised 80 newscasts per week with 81 hours of spoken word content including energy news, agricultural updates, sports, commuter traffic, community calendar and weather.
The application separately lists news programming per broadcast week, indicating 13.5 hours of pure news, primarily locally based, but with a slight focus on national and international coverage. It also detailed Blackgold’s commitment of $52,500 in community giving over a seven-year term, which is above and beyond the requirements the CRTC lists for Canadian Content Development.
This funding will be provided to the Parkland Music Festival, the Blueberry Bluegrass and Country Music Festival, the Parkland School Division for the purchase of musical instruments and to non-profit organizations involved in the growth of the Canadian music industry. Additionally, the application indicates the station will dedicate 15 per cent of its weekly programming to emerging Canadian country artists.
In April, the CRTC denied Blackgold’s application to launch a new country station in Ponoka citing “an undue negative impact on existing radio stations, most notably those in Wetaskiwin and Lacombe.” Meanwhile, a pair of applications to the CRTC for radio stations in Sylvan Lake, which were scheduled to be heard in April, have been postponed to an unspecified date.
Lethbridge-based Clear Sky Radio, which operates radio stations in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, is seeking approval for an FM station with a “modern music” format and a target audience between the ages of 18 and 44.
Golden West Broadcasting, based in Manitoba and operating about 40 radio stations across the Prairies, also wants to launch an FM station in Sylvan Lake. Its application described a new country format that would serve adults 18 to 54.
Rogers announced plans to revamp all its news stations across Canada beginning with its flagship station, CFTR in Toronto and including CFFR / 660 News in Calgary. The changes are reported to include new radio imaging, increased local content and an overhaul of the stations’ websites, including responsive web design, easier navigation and enhanced user-generated content functions.
In April, the CRTC announced they received four license applications for a new Ethnic Commercial station in Edmonton. One application is for the 580 AM freqency recently vacated by CKUA. Two applications are for what is currently considered the last available Edmonton FM frequency, 106.5 FM. And another application is for the 530 AM frequency. CRTC’s response is to call for comments on the market capacity and the appropriateness of issuing a call for more radio applications to serve Edmonton. Bets are that soon Edmonton will have a new ethnic radio station in Edmonton along the lines Roger’s CKER | World FM, the only other ethnic station in Edmonton.
Lacombe-based LA Radio Group has put its two radio stations up for sale. Golden West Broadcasting offered to purchase Sunny 94.1 FM (CJUV) in Lacombe and Harvard Broadcasting agreed to purchase KRAZE 101.3 FM (CKIK) in Red Deer. Should the sale get the green light by the CRTC, KRAZE FM with a Current Hits format, would twin with CRUZ FM (CKRI-FM) Red Deer and its Greatest Hits format and would give Harvard two Red Deer stations.
On April 29, Golden West’s The Eagle 100.9 (CKUV-FM) High River/Okotoks flipped from Classic Rock to CHR. The first song played was Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off. The on-air line-up remains in place and more news and traffic reports will be posted on www.okotoksonline.com.
Touch Canada Broadcasting has re-applied for a licence for a Christian station at CJLI | 700 AM in Calgary it had been awarded some years ago, but let lapse. Reports are that they are testing and have their website up at: www.am700thelight.com. Touch Broadcasting is owned by the son of Dr. Charles Allard, the founder of CHQT (branded iNews 880), and CITV-TV (now Global TV and owned by Shaw Media) both in Edmonton. Dr. Allard’s son, Charles Jr., founded Touch Broadcasting by getting CJCA back on the air after the previous owner simply signed it off after losing money. Touch Canada now has three FM radio stations with a Christian format branded The Shine in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton and will soon have two AM stations with a Christian format branded The Light in Calgary and Edmonton.
In Alberta tv news, Shaw Media announced in April that it plans to undertake sweeping changes to how it produces its news for Global TV. It plans to consolidate much of its production across Canada and change how the late-night and weekend newscasts are produced. The production of Global TV’s late-night and weekend newscasts east of Alberta and Kelowna will be moved to Toronto.Local morning shows and early evening newscasts in Alberta will continue to be anchored from studios in local markets, though production of some national and international segments will be centralized in Toronto with a single anchor team. The total net reduction in staff across the country as a result of the consolidation is anticipated to be less than 30 with most of the layoffs coming from behind the camera. According to Troy Reeb, the senior vice-president of news and station operations for Global News:
We’ll actually increase the reporting assets at the front line and we’ll be able to increase the number of hours of news we produce each week, though it’s going to be a big change in the way that people traditionally thing of television.
On April 8, the CRTC approved Rogers application to redirect a portion of the funding for independent production for its two OMNI stations in Alberta to the development of independent production of ethnic digital content in Alberta. See more at: www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2015/2015-128.htm
On May 19, Roger’s City TV in Edmonton swapped out their early morning Breakfast Television program for late afternoon/early evening program branded Dinner Television. The new magazine-style current affairs program will air daily from 5 to 7 p.m. and feature new faces in ex-NHLer Jason Strudwick (Edmonton-born NHL-er and former evening talk show host on sports radio station TSN 1260 in Edmonton) and volleyball star Claire Hanna (Calgary-born and former sports anchor and reporter at Newcap Television in Lloydminster), along with Bridget Ryan and Courtney Theriault, both formerly from Breakfast Television.
The venerable Vegreville Observer published its last issue after 109 years of publishing on May 27, 2015 — “a victim of competition with the much larger, more business oriented, Vegreville News Advertiser” (Sheila Pratt, Edmonton Journal). Both papers are owned by Dan Beaudett, also the marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the Advertiser.
The St. Albert Leader has ceased publication. The first issue was published October 20, 2011, the final issue on May 28, 2015. Editor Rob LeLacheur, former publisher of the Saint City News, posted the reason he made this no doubt difficult decision : “Unfortunately, there is not much room for a small independently owned newspaper these days, especially in a major metro market.”