The competition in Halifax’s tight, 10-commercial station, radio market just heated up with a move by Evanov to preemptively flip its Rock 105 (CKHY-FM) station to Soft AC format The Jewel ahead of plans by Stingray to introduce an easy listening station to the market.
The format flip comes almost six months to the day Evanov rebranded Rock 105, tweaking the Alternative/Active Rock LIVE 105, in a bid to go head-to-head with its biggest competitor, Stingray-owned Classic Rock ratings powerhouse Q104 (CFRQ-FM).
Evanov already operates The Jewel Soft AC format in seven markets, including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal West Island, and Brantford. While the stations vary somewhat market to market, they play a variety of hits from the 1970s through late 2000s. Artists range from Chicago, Air Supply and The Moody Blues to Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran.
The Jewel 105 signed on at 7 p.m. AT Tuesday with syndicated offering The Lounge, hosted by Brian Perhoff, featuring easy listening and jazz deep cuts from the likes of Sade and Eydie Gorme.
Stingray is set to flip its Hot AC station Mix 96.5 (CKUL-FM) to The Breeze…Halifax’s Relaxing Favourites at midnight this Thursday, Jan. 17.
The Jewel to target the “mature listener”
“We didn’t have a hard date. We were looking at the 21st, but we thought what are we waiting for? We’ve got it ready,” Gary Gamble, director of operations for the Evanov Radio Group, told Broadcast Dialogue.
Gamble said The Jewel’s target demo is 45+, an audience he says has been under-served in the Halifax market.
“There is another segment of the population that enjoys radio and I don’t think those people are going to be leaving us for a Spotify to make up their own playlist, so we’re not going to be losing listeners. We just think that particular market has never really been serviced or provided with music they really like, because there’s always been that focus on the 25-54 demo.”
Gamble said The Jewel has performed well in other markets, with the Brantford station (CKPC-FM) number one in the market A12+. In the adjacent markets of Niagara Falls and Hamilton, the station is number 3.
Gamble believes there is room for two adult contemporary stations in the crowded Halifax radio landscape.
“We would have to compete against a format somewhere anyway,” said Gamble. “We’re very good at this, with this particular format, and all the better for some competition. We may skew a little older than [The Breeze] might. We’re happy to be serving Halifax with what we think is something different.”
Afternoon drive host Gina Kennedy, aka Gina K, is a casualty of the format flip. Kennedy arrived in Halifax just this past September from CHOM 97.7 Montreal.
Gamble said the station will be recruiting for mornings and afternoon drive. The Jewel will air The John Tesh Radio Show on middays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m, in addition to syndicated evening show The Lounge, which is hosted by a range of rotating voices.
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