How the West won

Since 1912, scores of professional calf ropers, bareback riders, steer wrestlers, barrel racers and bull riders have descended to this prairie city each summer to compete for the largest rodeo payout in the country. Top competitors in each of the main events then compete in sudden death rounds for cash bonus prizes (now sitting at $50,000 a pop) in what Western Horseman magazine calls 'the richest hour in rodeo.'
In 2002, Calgary continues to lure people into its wealthy fold.
'The biggest trend is that the city is growing so much,' says Carmen Hunt, media manager at the Calgary office of Bryant Fulton & Shee. 'We're also the youngest city in Canada right now, and very well educated.'

Since 1912, scores of professional calf ropers, bareback riders, steer wrestlers, barrel racers and bull riders have descended to this prairie city each summer to compete for the largest rodeo payout in the country. Top competitors in each of the main events then compete in sudden death rounds for cash bonus prizes (now sitting at $50,000 a pop) in what Western Horseman magazine calls ‘the richest hour in rodeo.’

In 2002, Calgary continues to lure people into its wealthy fold.

‘The biggest trend is that the city is growing so much,’ says Carmen Hunt, media manager at the Calgary office of Bryant Fulton & Shee. ‘We’re also the youngest city in Canada right now, and very well educated.’

Some 94,000 people moved to Calgary between 1996 and 1999, bringing the population to the one million mark. The population is expected to total 1.048 million in 2002 and increase to 1.165 million by 2007. The newcomers are mainly under 45, with a large portion (17.7%) aged 25 to 29. About 20% of the overall population holds a university degree, compared to a national average of 13%.

Part of this influx is due to Alberta’s strong petroleum industry, long a lure for job-seekers across the prairies, but the late 1990s saw high-tech, business services and transportation emerge as growth leaders. A weak dollar, a still somewhat strong American economy, and low provincial taxes combined to make the Alberta economy Canada’s healthiest in 2001, growing 3% in that year.

Hunt comments that growing wealth has stabilized Calgary’s media economy while the Canadian economy as a whole has slumped. Outdoor has gone down somewhat, but Hunt says that ‘some of the bigger TV and radio stations in Calgary are doing really well and becoming more costly all the time.’

Radio is presently the city’s most dynamic medium.

This July, Rogers Communications staged something of a coup by turning Rock 97 into the city’s first exclusively hip-hop, rhythm and R&B station overnight. The move came with no advance notice at a time when Rogers knew that the launch of a new hip-hop station by Standard Broadcasting was imminent. Standard, owner of Calgary’s most popular station, CJAY 92 FM, has yet to launch its station.

‘[Rock 97] is a complete success,’ says Luke Moore, VP media director at Calgary’s MacLaren McCann West. ‘CJAY 92 is a mix of alternative rock with some classic rock, but it really appealed to the 18-34 group. Now, I’m finding males who are 24 have switched CJAY-FM off. Anybody in their 20s is listening to Rock. I think it’s going to affect CJAY-FM’s listeners and will split listeners or have some sort of affect on the new Standard station. When it comes to teens, that’s what they’re listening to.’

On Aug. 30, another new CRTC licence came to fruition with the launch of The Breeze. The station, owned by Newcap Broadcasting, will follow the new adult contemporary format, featuring light jazz and easy listening music, including artists such as Diana Krall, Sade, Sting and Phil Collins. The station will also feature news and features targeted at a ‘mature’ audience.

CJAY 92 is now the only station in the city targeting older males with classic rock, and according to Hunt, ‘they’ve been setting the pace in terms of rates.’

Newspapers are also strong. A well-publicized eight-month strike at the Calgary Herald (CanWest Global) beginning in late 1999 caused a considerable shake-up in the city’s more established daily. In the meantime, the Calgary Sun (Sun Media) has developed a stable roster of columnists and has earned new readership. Like other Sun media, the paper relies heavily on a strong sports section. In Calgary, the Sun’s sports news is now bolstered by stronger headline news and lifestyle departments, increasing the number of women reading the traditionally male-oriented publication.

The Herald’s sales department went through another round of lay-offs in December of last year, but editorial turnover is beginning to stabilize.

In addition to the two dailies, Calgary supports two weeklies. FFWD has remained the stronger of the two (average press run: 27,188). A revamped edition of the successful Vox after a purchase by Vancouver’s Georgia Straight in 1998, caused enough of a shake-up to reduce the new Calgary Straight’s page count.

In television, Alberta was the quickest-selling region in Canada for this fall.