Imagine the lament of veteran US broadcasters if KDKA-AM Pittsburgh were to shut down. Well, that’s pretty much the equivalent of what happened in Canada on Friday. The country’s very first radio station is no more.
Corus Entertainment took two AMs off the air in Montreal, concluding that they were no longer viable. One of them was “Info690 Montreal,” whose All News format will continue on the FM band.
The station was the direct descendant of XWA, an experimental station begun in 1919 by the Canadian Marconi Company. The call letters were switched to CFCF, “Canada’s First, Canada’s Finest,” the next year. Over the years, the station moved from 600 kHz to 690 kHz and the calls changed to CIQC and finally to CINW.
According to the Canwest News Service, both Corus AMs ran recorded messages on Friday from the station GMs, thanking listeners and advertisers, but explaining that the tough decision had been made to go off the air because the AM stations were not viable.
Here is the official announcement that Corus released on Friday (1/29):
“Corus Entertainment announced today that AM Info690 Montréal and AM940 Montreal’s Greatest Hits will cease operation on January 29 at 7 p.m.
Despite the excellence and dedication of station employees, Info690 and AM940 are unprofitable. Corus Québec and its employees worked to grow audience and revenues on both these stations while operating them as efficiently as possible. It is clear that these two AM stations are not viable, particularly in the current economic climate.
This decision affects 10 positions, including eight positions at Info690: three journalist positions, two traffic reporter positions and three operations positions. At AM940 Montreal’s Greatest Hits, two positions were affected: one on-air host position and one technician position.
The Info690 Montréal newsroom, known as CorusNouvelles, will continue its activities as part of 98,5 FM Montréal. CorusNouvelles will continue to invest in providing news content to the entire Corus Québec network and its clients. The majority of journalist positions from the Info690 newsroom (five of eight journalist positions along with three of five traffic reporter positions) will be retained.
“We put tremendous effort into trying to find the right format and content to grow our audience base and operate profitably, but after years of effort it is clear these AM stations are not viable,” said Mario Cecchini, Vice President, Corus Québec. “We would like to thank the employees affected by this decision for their hard work. We would also like to acknowledge the support of listeners and advertising clients of Info690 Montréal and AM940 Montreal’s Greatest Hits.”
The operating licences for these two AM stations will be returned to the CRTC. Corus Québec employs 466 people in Quebec.”