CBC holds the top spot as Winnipeg’s best radio station


The latest Numeris ratings from Winnipeg Radio Stations is out. This shows Radio Canada in first place with 680 CJOBs just behind. Even with changes in both radio stations with the ongoing pandemic, talk radio continues to hold a strong position over music stations.

Here are the 2021 Numeris numbers for Winnipeg, with the Spring 2020 odds in parentheses:

  1. Radio Canada — 15.7 (16.7)
  2. 680 COIC—13.8 (12)
  3. QX 104 — 8.7 (9.1)
  4. Rebound 99.9 – 6.4 (6.6, last rating at 99.9 BOB FM)
  5. Virgo 103 — 5.4 (4.9)
  6. 92 ISIC FM—4.9 (4.8)
  7. Peggy 99.1 — 4.5 (3.9)
  8. Energy 106.1 — 4.1 (4.4)
  9. 94.3 Now! – 4.1 (3.8, last rated as 94-3 The Drive)
  10. Power 97 — 4.1 (4.2)
  11. CBC Music FM (Radio 2) — 4.0 (3.8)
  12. Warm 100.5 FM — 2.8 (2.5)
  13. Kiss 102.3 FM — 2.7 (3.7)
  14. Amusing 1290 — 0.8 (1.9, last rated as TSN 1290)

It’s hard to compare notes due to the pandemic bringing format changes, retirements, mass layoffs and personnel changes. For radio programmers, this is a new baseline, but with one big asterisk: the pandemic continues. And if a radio station depended on work trips, that might not happen at full power for a while.

This is the new normal and radio, like all other industries, needs to understand this. It’s sad to see TSN 1290 have to tear themselves apart. The abandonment of radio broadcasts by the Jets and big local sports personalities has left a gaping hole. The new comedy channel has lower ratings than non-commercial radio. Also, it has very little local content.

Some large corporations have radio stations in Winnipeg. It is surprising that some of these stations produce so little content in Manitoba. It may be cheaper, but these stations tend to cluster near the bottom of the dial. It’s amazing that the CRTC considers them local. A few try to be consistent with the hosts. More on that later.

Not all stations are listed in the rankings. The two university radio stations are not listed, nor are the three French broadcasters. The multilingual station is not listed and neither is the classic jazz and nostalgia radio. How much do they represent? Probably not a lot but I listen to Goldeyes games on nostalgia and there are plenty of others too. Christian radio is not included either. And let’s not forget the native-owned station either. A total of 25 stations exist in the Winnipeg market, plus some rural stations.

Recently, while talking to a convention attendee, they said they didn’t know who to turn to in the Winnipeg radio market for promotional links. They said in other markets there was a real dominance of one or two big media companies…but in Winnipeg there was Corus, Bell, Rogers, Evanov and now Pattison to consider. In other cities, the choice was obvious for a corporate link. In other words, Winnipeg is a competitive market, which is a good thing. However, the bad thing is that too many people are clustered in the middle and don’t make bold choices.

The only way to stand out is with your hosts. Winnipeg radio has always had syndicated material, but the sense of place requires a DJ who knows the territory. The top performing stations in town know this and pay well for a well-known host in the community. CBC, CJOB, Power 97 and Virgin Radio really emphasize the hosts and the continuity of their positions.

Station 94.3 recently laid off all of its staff to return as 94.3 Now! radio. At one time, 94.3 was the upper station. They have made format changes in the past and seen poor responses. Their format never changes enough and their on-air staff are too controlled to become a marketing force on their own. Resorts regularly try to save money so you never know where the ax will fall. 92 ISIC currently doesn’t have morning hosts, although a strong morning show can keep people on your station all day.

While Bell Media gutted sports radio TSN and paid for it even less with a comedy channel, they kept Burpee and Beau and their teams in place at Virgin and Bounce and it usually pays off. Friendly, community-engaged hosts help your brand more than a show airing from Toronto. Corus has done this recently with Anderson, Stevens and Aiello and their teams at CJOB, Peggy and Power 97.

The pandemic has hurt touring and music producers promoting their material. While much has been produced musically, there is a connection when an artist is in an area and radio stations get interviews, hold competitions for tickets and star access. It helps the musician and it helps the radio station. For talk radios like CJOB and CBC, it all depends on the sports. For CJOB, it’s the performance of the Jets and the Bombers. For CBC, it will be the Olympics. Having good regular content and hosts will help but there is a real surge of interest in Teams. It will be interesting to see if Anderson can make any inroads on CBC that former host Currier has kept close. And for CBC, it will be if the changes for weekend hosts pass.

Only time will tell what 2022 will bring to the music industry and radio. Satellite radio, Spotify, podcasting and people-curated music will always play a huge role. But local content is essential. Lose it and you lose all reason why people will read you, watch you, or listen to you faithfully.

This was a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To learn more about John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations


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