SPUD FM: Classic Rock Comes to Summerside

If you’re a closer follower of the radio dial here on Prince Edward Island, you may have noticed that where you once found country music from CJRW at 102.1 FM, you now find “SPUD FM,” a new “classic rock” station.

And if you’re extra-curious, you may have gone to the CRTC website to look for the application by station owner Maritime Broadcasting to change formats. And found nothing.

A quick call to the CRTC office in Dartmouth reveals that “format change” by radio stations no longer requires CRTC application nor approval — several years ago the decision was made to leave this up to “market conditions” and not to “micromanage” the industry.

Stations can actually apply for a new license proposing one format, get approved, and then launch using a completely different format, as happened recently with CHNS in Halifax, which proposed an “adult contemporary” format when they applied to move from AM to FM, got approved, and then launched as a “hard rock” station.

Magic 93 Cruiser with KROCK in the Background

So while we began 2006 with two private FM stations on PEI — “Magic 93” and “C102” — 9 months later we’ve got five, “Magic 93,” “The Ocean,” “KROCK,” “SPUD FM,” and CFCY, which moved to FM just this month. Is there really that much radio advertising money floating around?


DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on September 5, 2006 - 19:51 Permalink

When the beans are counted, there is really only one new station competing for our advertising dollar — K-Rock (and it is getting back advertising that PEI was losing to Truro’s Big Dog station). CHTN and CFCY have just changed bands (and format for CHTN — now The Ocean). CJRW/SPUD has been around since it was broadcasting from a department store and called CHGS (Call Holmans Guaranteed Satisfaction)in 1927. It changed its name to CJRW and went to 1240 AM in 1948. I was working there in the late 70’s when they quadrupled its power from 250 watts to an entire kilowatt. It moved to FM in Nov. 99. The Schurman family sold it to MBS in 2002.

PEI seems to be a little behind the trend to move everything to FM. In my travels elsewhere, I find that the AM band is silent in most provinces and states, except for the occasional talk radio station. AM has made attempts to improve sound quality (remember AM stereo?) but has never been able to match the quality of the FM band, and has now been relegated to talk and sports formats.

See wiki entry for CJRW.

Chris Corrigan's picture
Chris Corrigan on September 5, 2006 - 22:24 Permalink

How many of these are local, and not just broadcasting content from the central server in San Antonio?

I think if they are big corporate machines, their revenue expectations are much lower — smaller staff, smaller tech requirements, less storage space required etc. It’s really the WalMart of radio, and they suck up whatever there is of the local ad revenue, place it alongside their national ad streams and spin golden oldies all day.

It makes me wonder if the artists like neil Young and Joni Mitchell and others mind having their music used for this purpose…

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on September 5, 2006 - 23:49 Permalink

So far, the new format Ch’town stations have been an improvement over what we had before. Much more live content (hint: if they give the temperature and the same person who introduces the songs reads the weather then it is probably live) then previously, and very little syndicated content from San Antonio (or wherever). Both K-Rock and Ocean broadcast their live shows from window-front studios at the Atlantic Technology Centre, visible to all passers-by.

There has also been some attempts at playing local talent, although they still have a long way to go in this regard. I note that KRock airs a two-hour PEI and East Coast rock show Sunday evening, but I don’t think Ocean has anything similar.

Ethan Hunt's picture
Ethan Hunt on September 6, 2006 - 03:50 Permalink

I am curious as to how a station like Ocean would play local talent. There isn’t exactly a flourishing Hot AC scene in Parkdale or anything. You can’t just throw these things on because it makes you feel warm inside. I love eggrolls but I am not going to serve them at an Italian restaurant. Same thing goes here.

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on September 6, 2006 - 17:25 Permalink

Agreed. According to the license application, The Ocean is a “Classic Hits” rather than an “Adult Contemporary” format. Groups such as Two Hours Traffic and Chucky Danger might have songs that fall under the AC format, but PEI Classic Hits are few and far between. Haywire is about the only group I can think of that might fall under this category.

Ann's picture
Ann on September 6, 2006 - 18:06 Permalink

Didn’t Anne Murray teach gym here once?

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on September 6, 2006 - 18:22 Permalink

Stompin’ Tom!!