The Weekly Briefing


AM800 CKLW Windsor was broadcasting on its sister station AM 580 (CKWW-AM) for about 13 hours on May 1 after a transmitter fire. There’s still no word on what started the fire at the transmitter site, which was in the Amherstburg area.

The CRTC has denied a format change for Christian music station CJLT-FM Medicine Hat, saying the move would hurt other stations. Vista Radio Ltd. had made the application with the intention of flipping the station to a “new-to-the-market” Indie/Alternative music format with an eye to making the station marginally profitable by 2020. In their interventions, Clear Sky and Pattison cited the poor state of the Medicine Hat radio market and the negative economic factors currently affecting the province of Alberta. Consequently, the commission found that approval of the proposed amendments could have an undue financial impact on the four incumbent, commercial Medicine Hat radio stations.

Country 101.1 (CKBY-FM) Smith Falls and Ottawa has launched 101 Minutes Commercial Free during morning drive in what the station is billing as a first in the country. The Rogers station started the commercial-free sets at 8 a.m. last Friday.

Sun FM (CICF-FM) Vernon’s 14th annual Have-a-Heart Radiothon hit a new record Apr. 27, with donations topping $82,675. The radiothon has now raised over $670,000 for kids at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Rawlco Radio president Pam Leyland (left) announcing a $1 million donation to the Remai Modern gallery on behalf of Gordon and Jill Rawlinson and Rawlco Radio.

Gordon and Jill Rawlinson and Rawlco Radio have donated $1 million to Remai Modern Art Gallery, set to open in Saskatoon later this year. The gift provides for the Free Admission Program, which will ensure free access to the museum, six days each year for five years. Rawlco Radio will be an active partner with the museum, promoting Remai Modern events.

VOCM-AM St. John’s helped raise over $45,000 on May 2 with the first annual VOCM Cares/Red Shield Radiothon. The Red Shield Appeal supports Salvation Army services throughout Newfoundland & Labrador.

SiriusXM Canada will launch The Beatles Channel on May 18 on SiriusXM channel 18. Fully authorized by The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd., the channel will explore live recordings, rarities and solo albums, while also spotlighting musicians who have inspired and drawn inspiration from the band. The channel is being launched in conjunction with SiriusXM’s free listening preview which will offer 24/7 listening on inactive SiriusXM radios from May 17 to May 30.


Barbara Cram

Barbara Cram, 66, Apr. 10. Born in Indian Head, SK, Barbara obtained her BA (History) from the University of Saskatchewan, and her BLS (Library Science) from the University of Alberta, then joined the Canadian diplomatic corps as an immigration officer, spending time in Canada, then Yugoslavia, prior to a two-year posting to New Delhi, India. She resigned from the diplomatic corps and pursued more education, graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with her LLB (law) degree, then entered into practice in rural Saskatchewan before practicing in Regina for a decade. While in Regina, Barb was appointed to the CRTC for three years, and later re-appointed twice, as the Regional Commissioner for Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Barb enjoyed her time with the CRTC, which afforded her the opportunity to travel across Canada and use three or four of the languages she spoke.

Armand Baril

Armand Baril, 87, Apr. 14 after a brief illness. Baril’s broadcasting career began in the 1940s at CKUA-AM Edmonton and concluded after 36 years with CBC in Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton. He is best remembered for his work at CBC Edmonton on shows including Reach for the Top, Keynotes, and numerous music shows including Music In Miniature, CBC Young Performers, the Gala Tri-Bach Concert, the Opening of the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts and Tommy Banks Live. He was an accomplished pianist and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. His passion for music led to a stint in the chorus of the Canadian Opera Company and to major roles with the Edmonton Civic Opera and Edmonton Opera. Later, he sang in Da Camera Singers and the Richard Eaton Singers and for 11 years was choir director at St. Joseph’s Basilica. He played bass clarinet with the Cosmopolitan Band for 25 years and in 1985, formed the Cosmopolitan Chorus, acting as its conductor until 1995. In 2000, he became music director of the Edmonton Schoolboys’ Alumni Band and remained in that position until 2013.

Burt Decaire

Burt Decaire, 76, Mar. 24 in Cranbrook. Decaire’s radio career began at CJAT-AM Trail in the 1960s. He joined the staff at EK Radio in Cranbrook in the early 1970s as sports director. While Decaire did a regular DJ shift, hundreds of on-location broadcasts and voiced thousands of commercials, he’s best remembered as a long-time voice for the Western International Hockey League, doing play-by-play and colour for hundreds of games for the Cranbrook Royals and Kimberley Dynamiters, as well as the KIJHL’s Cranbrook Colts. In the 1970s, Burt was also the author of a popular sports column in the Kootenay Advertiser entitled “Dak’s Diggings,” a nickname used by his close friends. His passion for sports led him to form and manage the Media Maulers fastball team, originally a combination of radio and newspaper employees, who played in the Cranbrook Men’s Bush League. Decaire retired from radio in 2002.


Rogers TV Peel ceased operations May 2, affecting 15 full-time positions. Similar to Shaw’s announcement it’s shuttering community stations in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver to redirect funds to Global News, Rogers is reallocating resources from Rogers TV. Rogers TV channels in the GTA, including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Richmond Hill will no longer be on the air as of Aug. 31. In the interim, Rogers TV Peel will feature a mix of community programming and City Council coverage. Coverage of the Ontario Hockey League finals will continue without interruption.

Jean-François Pouliot

Telefilm Canada has presented its annual Guichet d’or award to director Jean-François Pouliot and screenwriters Pierre Lamothe and Claude Lalonde for their film Les 3 p’tits cochons 2 (The 3 L’il Pigs 2). The Guichet d’or, which comes with a cash prize of $40,000, has been awarded annually for the last 10 years to the Canadian director and screenwriter of the French-language feature film generating the highest domestic box office in the previous year. In 2016, Les 3 p’tits cochons 2 earned close to $2.9 million at the Canadian box office.

Niobe Thompson

The Rosies, the annual gala for the Alberta Film & Television Awards and primary fundraiser for the Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA), was held Apr. 29 in Edmonton. Niobe Thompson was one of the night’s big winners taking home Best Director (Non-Fiction over 30 minutes) for Memento Mori and Best Screenwriter (Non-Fiction Over 30 minutes) for Vital Bonds. You can view the full list of winners here.

Ron Mann

Bell Media’s The Movie Network (TMN) has confirmed its Canadian original documentary development and production slate. The list of eight new works commissioned by TMN includes Ron Mann’s Grass 2, a timely sequel to his definitive look at marijuana; Anthropocene, the final chapter in documentarians Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s trilogy about the impact of humans on our planet; and Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine, which charts the rise of the Toronto power-rock group in the ’70s and ’80s.

Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin

TSN will broadcast Toronto Raptors NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals playoff games on TSN, TSN4K and TSN GO, while TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto will provide live coverage of Games 1-4.  TSN’s broadcast team features play-by-play commentator Matt Devlin and game analyst Jack Armstrong, along with NBA ON TSN host Rod Black, analysts Leo Rautins, Sam Mitchell, Nabil Karim and special guest analyst Nik Stauskas.

Lionsgate and Fandom, the largest entertainment fan site in the world, have announced a strategic partnership to combine resources and enhance marketing to reach fan communities across Lionsgate’s filmed entertainment brands and franchises. The multi-year agreement will give Fandom users access to enhanced and exclusive content experiences.

Isaac Kragten

TVOKids’ live-action math comedy series Odd Squad, produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment, was recognized with five awards at the 44th annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards presented Apr. 28 in Los Angeles. The series features kid agents who solve math-related mysteries CSI-style. Odd Squad won Outstanding Performer in a Children’s, Pre-School Children’s or Family Viewing Program (Isaac Kragten), Outstanding Writing Special Class for Odd Squad: The Movie (Tim McKeon, Mark De Angelis, Adam Peltzman), Outstanding Costume Design/Styling, Outstanding Hairstyling, and Outstanding Makeup. Earlier this spring, TVO received a record-setting 23 Daytime Emmy nominations.

Wendy Crewson

CTV, ICF Films and Entertainment One (eOne) have started production on The Detail, the network’s new, one-hour, detective series. The 10-episode drama starring Wendy Crewson (Saving Hope, Room), Shenae Grimes-Beech (90210, Degrassi: The Next Generation), and UK talent Angela Griffin (Coronation Street, Brief Encounters), is from the producing and writing team behind Saving Hope. The Detail is set to premiere as part of CTV’s 2017/18 schedule and will continue to shoot in and around Toronto until July 25. It’s been picked up by ION Television for broadcast in the U.S.

Meredith MacNeill

IFC has acquired all-female Canadian sketch comedy series Baroness von Sketch Show. Performed and written by Meredith MacNeill and Second City alums Carolyn Taylor, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen, IFC will start airing Seasons 1 and 2 of the half-hour series late this summer. Produced by Frantic Films, the show airs on CBC in Canada.

Spencer Watts

Bell Media has announced three new original Canadian series from Gusto Worldwide Media that will join the food and lifestyle channel’s slate of homegrown programming in 2017/2018. The newly-commissioned series begin production across Ontario this summer in 4K, including retro-themed baking series Flour Power, Ontario food market and local ingredient exploration series Fresh Market Dinners and barbecue cookout Watts On The Grill, starring chef Spencer Watts. Watt’s series Fish The Dish recently won a 2017 James Beard Foundation Media Award.

Super Channellaunches North America’s first 24-hour channel for esports fans GINX Esports TV Canada today (May 4) at 8 p.m. ET. Available to current Super Channel subscribers as part of their existing package, the channel (formerly SC4) will offer live esports events, news and gaming lifestyle programming.


Twitter is ramping up its video content, announcing 14 new, renewed or expanded deals for live sports, concerts, news and entertainment content with Major League Baseball, the NFL, Viacom, the WNBA, BuzzFeed, The Verge, Bloomberg Media, Live Nation, the PGA, Ben Silverman’s Propagate, and IMG Fashion, among others. Twitter’s collaboration with Bloomberg will see the creation of a 24-hour rolling news channel for the platform. The live video stream, set to debut this fall, will be made up of original programming and feeds from Bloomberg bureaus.

Torstar Corp. says it will continue to wind down investment in its tablet app Toronto Star Touch after releasing its Q1 2017 numbers. Launched in late 2015, Star Touch has failed to meet readership expectations, hitting just 60,000 weekly users. Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star, Metro commuter papers and the Hamilton Spectator, among others, lost $24.4 million, or 30 cents per share. Revenue fell $18.1 million or 10 per cent year-over-year to $156.7 million, impacted by a 19 per cent decline in print ad revenue and a 9.5 per cent drop in subscriber revenue. Digital revenues took a four per cent dip in the three months ended Mar. 31. 110 job losses have been announced related to closure of a Metroland printing plant and a mail room.  

Facebook announced Wednesday it will hire another 3,000 people to monitor videos for violence. The new community operations team hires are aimed at improving response times to address recent violence either streamed via Facebook Live or uploaded after being recorded. In the past month, a man in Thailand livestreamed the murder of his infant daughter, an Alabama man livestreamed his suicide, and an Ohio man uploaded a video of a murder he had committed.  

Rick Campanelli

Rick Campanelli, co-host of ET Canada, is among the judges featured in a new reality TV-style, three-episode web series funded by the Movember Foundation. Think You can Shrink? is aimed at helping remove the stigma associated with mental health issues among men. Contestants with everyday jobs who think they are good at giving advice (a bartender, a hairdresser and a strip club owner) test their skills – both successfully and unsuccessfully.

Canadian Media Guild (CMG) members at VICE Canada have ratified their first collective agreement after nine months of negotiations. VICE employees unionized within CMG just under a year ago. Employees will see immediate salary increases ranging from two per cent to 52.5 per cent based on the new negotiated salary grid, with an average salary increase of nine per cent. Other gains include increased vacation, improved parental leave benefits, equity provisions, and the protection of editorial independence.

CBC/Radio-Canada is giving Canadians digital space to share personal stories and memories (text, video, or photos) to be used in the creation of a special, bilingual project to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary. What’s Your Story? – A Canada 2017 Yearbook, a collection of short stories from Canadians across the country, will be published in both official languages as a single edition this fall. CBC/Radio-Canada will select stories to be included in the yearbook by July 15, and feature many of the submissions online at until Nov. 30.


GroupM predicts that digital advertising will capture 77 cents of every new ad dollar in 2017, while TV will capture 17 cents. Digital investment has already surpassed TV in 10 markets (Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, UK) and it’s predicted another five will cross this bar in 2017 (France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong and Taiwan). GroupM’s data shows that for now, TV is still king with advertisers when global data is aggregated. TV’s share of advertising investment was largely stable at 42 per cent in 2016; GroupM predicts a share decline to 41 per cent in 2017.

Adrienne Arsenault, Michelle Gagnon, Nazim Baksh, and Abigail Bimman

Adrienne Arsenault, Michelle Gagnon and Nazim Baksh from CBC News’ The National won the Open Broadcast News category at the CAJ (Canadian Association of Journalists) Awards, handed out Apr. 29 in Ottawa. Other winners included Abigail Bimman from CTV News Kitchener for Community Reporting, while The Canadian Press won for Daily Excellence for its Fort McMurray wildfire coverage. You can view the full list of winners here.

RTDNA Canada has announced the 2017 Prairie Region award winners. Global News stations dominated the television category with Global Edmonton winning both the Ron Laidlaw Award for Continuing Coverage of the Fort McMurray wildfire and the award for Best TV Newscast (Large Market). 650 CKOM Saskatoon won Best Radio Newscast (Medium Market), while 660 News (CFFR-AM) Calgary took home the same award for Large Market. You can view the full list of winners here.

Geoff Leo

CBC Saskatchewan’s Geoff Leo and Paul Dornstauder together with Patrick Lagacé and his newspaper La Presse are co-winners of the 19th Press Freedom Award, handed out May 2 by the Ottawa-based Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF). Along with producer Dornstauder, Leo researched and wrote a series of stories on controversial land dealings in which two well-connected businessmen made millions at taxpayers’ expense, working against government opposition, lawsuits and delayed responses to access to information requests. Co-winner Patrick Lagacé was subjected to police surveillance and wrote several columns exposing and challenging the practice.

Walt Bogdanich, Kathryn Gretsinger, Sunny Dhillon, and Peter Klein

Veritas – Advancing Journalism in the Public Interest is teaming up with Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Global Reporting Centre to host a cross-border investigative conference in Vancouver, May 20-21. Designed for reporters, editors and producers from newspapers, TV, radio stations, web-only news sites and news blogs, confirmed speakers and panelists include Walt Bogdanich, New York Times; Kathryn Gretsinger, CBC; Sunny Dhillon, Globe & Mail; and Peter Klein60 Minutes/UBC School of Journalism.

Bill Roberts

ZoomerMedia Ltd. has lost its final appeal in a long-running breach-of-contract suit filed by the former president and CEO of its television division, Bill Roberts. Roberts headed Vision TV when Zoomer bought the channel in 2010 and filed suit after his contract wasn’t extended. Based on terms of his original contract, the court awarded Roberts severance of two years salary, $150,000 in sabbatical claims, plus additional costs putting Zoomer on the hook for $778,000, including interest. Roberts was denied $300,000 he had sought for bad-faith damages and mental distress.

ZoomerMedia Ltd. has announced its financial results for the second quarter. For the three months ended Feb. 28, the company had revenues of $11.8 million, operating expenses of $12.6 million and negative EBITDA of $0.8 million. Net loss for the period was $1.0 million.

Following the 600 MHz spectrum auction in the U.S., the federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development has told the Financial Post a similar auction in Canada is at least two years away. The U.S. auction of low-band spectrum, previously used to carry broadcast TV signals, brought in $19.8 billion USD, most of that from T-Mobile which acquired 45 percent of the new spectrum initially to be used to cover rural areas. The federal department says it will launch a public consultation on auction policies to determine how a bidding structure might be laid out.

Global News marked the one-year anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfires on Wednesday with live coverage and a half-hour special, Fort McMurray: The Road Back. The special will be available to watch online and will be re-broadcast on several Global News stations at noon on Victoria Day, May 22. All Global News Alberta radio and TV broadcasts also featured live coverage from Fort McMurray.

The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group has announced its 2017 Prairie Equity Scholarship competition aimed at broadcasting students from the Prairie provinces who are part of underrepresented groups. The Equity Scholarship was instituted in 2009 to address the shortage of broadcasters from four groups: Aboriginal Peoples, Persons with Disabilities, Members of Visible Minorities, and Women. This year, two $2,000 awards are available to students attending or planning to attend a recognized broadcast program at a post-secondary institution in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Applicants can access scholarship information here. Deadline for applications is Oct. 6 with the award to be announced in November.

Bloomberg TV’s Amanda Lang among speakers at 83rd Annual WAB Conference

By Robin Hildebrand, 2016-17 WAB President, Golden West Broadcasting

The Western Association of Broadcasters hosts their 83rd Annual Conference at the world-class Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in beautiful Banff, Alberta, June 7-8.

We will kick start the conference with our Golf Classic on June 7th at the prestigious Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course. Our annual golf tournament has proven time and time again to be a fun networking event in the picturesque Canadian Rockies.

Turning to our conference program, the WAB board is in the midst of planning an action-packed agenda focusing on timely, relevant topics. There will be industry reports from ThinkTV, Radio Connects, Numeris, Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.

We are pleased to have keynote speaker and award-winning journalist Amanda Lang from Bloomberg TV Canada speak on the importance of innovation and how we as broadcasters can manage change in a complex world.

Gordon Borrell

There’s no question digital media has forged a new landscape for local radio and television. Ad dollars are spent differently than they were a decade ago and more change is likely.  Media research analyst Gordon Borrell will offer a lively and entertaining look at what the future is likely to hold and what role Canadian broadcasters might play.

Erica Farber

Anything is possible in Radio! Erica Farber, CEO of the Radio Marketing Bureau, talks about the many unique and positive strengths of radio. Audio is becoming more important, not less; we must strive to localize the listener experience. No other medium, on any platform, excels at local storytelling more than radio; people ARE still listening.

Tom Webster

Veteran media researcher Tom Webster with Edison Research has a unique perspective on what the “truths” are regarding both digital and analog media. WAB attendees will leave Banff learning how they can position themselves in their local markets to better compete with what seems like an ever-growing list of digital competitors.

Steve Simpson

Over the past six years, the CRTC Meet & Greet has become a WAB tradition and we are honoured to once again host this invaluable opportunity for our small market radio and television stations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to meet face-to-face with key CRTC Commissioners and staff in a relaxed and informal setting.  Our timely CRTC Report will be given this year by Steve Simpson, Commissioner for British Columbia and the Yukon.

As you can see, we’re gearing up for another high level conference in 2017 with an amazing lineup of top tier speakers and programming content. The age of disruption and the ever-evolving challenges facing our private radio and television broadcasters is the underlying theme of the conference. The insights provided by our speakers will help us navigate the ever-evolving broadcasting landscape.

Registration is now open and we encourage you to register soon.  If you have not attended a WAB Conference in the past, make this the year to attend as we have an excellent conference planned.

The conference highlight each year is the President’s Dinner & Gold Medal Awards Gala.  We will recognize our long serving broadcasters for their 25 and 50 years of service to the industry with the Broadcast Order of Achievement. Our radio and television broadcasters will honoured with the WAB Gold Medal Awards for their significant community service.

Nuela Charles

The Leader of Tomorrow award will also be handed out to someone under the age of 30 who has made a mark in their early career. We’ll close the event with our distinguished Hall of Fame Induction.  

With the support of FACTOR and Canada’s private radio broadcasters, we are excited to bring some soul to Banff. Canadian rising star Nuela Charles will perform exclusively for our delegates and guests. We look forward to having her perform at the President’s Dinner & Awards Gala.

Please visit to register today and reserve hotel accommodations. More information about becoming a valued member of the Western Association of Broadcasters is also available on the website.


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