Monday, April 3, 2017

4.3.17 Bee-otch of the Day: Bell Media

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Name: Bell Media
Age: 72
Occupation: media giant
Last Seen: Toronto
Bee-otched For: X-ing 89X

Not all big media companies are American.

Last Thursday, listeners of legendary alt-rocker CIMX/89X were shocked to hear that many of the station's DJs were all let go after their owner, Bell Media, closed their Detroit area studio and office.

The firings include morning man Cal Cagno, his sidekick Gillian Riley, midday jock Phil Kukawinski and afternooner Reed Petitpren. Approximately 20 staffers - jocks, management and promotions crew - were all pink-slipped simply because they were American.

Not all of 89X's jocks saw the door; night jock Mark McKenzie and station programmer Phat Matt - both Canadians - are still under 89X's employ.

Sadly, the worst of the firings was the legendary Cristina, who was the host of the long-running Time Warp show. The Sunday morning program showcased alternative classics from the 70s into the 90s. She had been one of 89X's longest-running jocks, starting as an intern in 1991, the same year 89X itself was born.

89X debuted on May 13, 1991 with the Jane's Addiction classic "Stop!". With grunge taking over the mainstream, it soon took some of top 40 stations WHYT 96.3 and 99.5 The Fox's ratings. Three years later, 96.3 flipped to alternative themselves as Planet 96.3. Soon, Detroit was loaded with new rock and alternative stations such as The Edge @ 105dot1 and 97.1 K-Rock. Throughout the years, 89X's ratings fluctuated, depending on competition. Up until a few years ago, the X had decent ratings until long-time morning show Dave and Chuck the Freak crossed the border and went to WRIF. Since losing D&CTC to The Riff, 89X's ratings have fallen around 50%; as a matter of fact, their last Nielsen book at them at a gravely poor 1.6 share, making them the lowest-rated FM music station in the Detroit area.

Personally, I put a lot of the blame regarding 89X's pathetic ratings on their inept Canadian owners, Bell Media. Since taking over their Windsor stations - also including 93.9 The River, CKLW and CKWW - 89X has been a shadow of itself. Lame morning show, lame jocks that sound worse than some jocks in northern Michigan and a weird music mix. The wussy "One Thing" by Finger Eleven into the legendary "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine? Please.

But sadly, a lot of the problems are beyond Bell's reach. Because they are a Canadian station, 89X must play a certain amount of Canadian tunes; in the 5 p.m. hour today, Arcade Fire (Quebec), Billy Talent (Ontario), Finger Eleven (Ontario), Smashing Satellites (Ontario) and Coleman Hell (Ontario) were all played. Five out of 12 artists that hour = 42% CanCon. Nice enough to please the Canadian government, but hey! Who in America likes Billy Talent, anyway?

(And for the record, I do like Canadian bands. Rush rules!)

Another issue is the fact that they had a studio in the Detroit area. Apparently, it's a no-no to have an American studio for a Canadian radio station. But since 1) Detroit has far more people than Windsor and 2) 89X's ratings are apparently better in America over Canada, shouldn't that actually PLEASE the Canadian government? If 89X has good ratings, that means good ad revenue and more American money given to the Canadians! DUUUUUH!

But in the meantime, if a radio company in Detroit was smart, they'd give alternative a try. No forced CanCon and an actual street presence in the Detroit area. How about 106.7 The Drive? Nash 93.1?

Time to ring Bell's bell and X out the X.


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