Ethnic radio proposal

A shakeout of Vancouver's multilingual radio market is expected soon as a challenger to the already established cjvb-am has appeared on the horizon.A group headed by former cjvb broadcaster Hanson Lau wants to buy chqm-am from Chum in Toronto and broadcast...

A shakeout of Vancouver’s multilingual radio market is expected soon as a challenger to the already established cjvb-am has appeared on the horizon.

A group headed by former cjvb broadcaster Hanson Lau wants to buy chqm-am from Chum in Toronto and broadcast in Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian and Farsi, the language spoken in Iran.

But, says Ed Ylanen, general manager at cjvb, Vancouver’s ethnic market is not big enough to support two multilingual stations, particularly if they skew towards broadcasts in Cantonese and Mandarin for the city’s and its suburbs’ large Chinese communities.

Ylanen says cjvb is not a member of the BBM Bureau of Measurement because of research and ‘political’ considerations.

Ylanen says cjvb will file an intervention with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for the Oct. 4 hearing.

A spokesman for the crtc says Chum has filed an application for an Oct. 4 hearing in Vancouver seeking permission to sell the station.

cjvb began to build its advertising base with ‘mom and pop’ grocery and other stores, says Ylanen, and it is only in the last five years the station has started to attract such corporate accounts as Pepsi-Cola Canada and The Brick furniture store chain.

The situation will not be helped either, Ylanen says, by a crtc application from Rogers Broadcasting to lease a sub-carrier capability to Harry Li and Newco Chinese Radio, who want to broadcast in Chinese 24 hours a day using Rogers’ ckks-fm signal.

A sub-carrier transmits on one of the side bands – essentially empty space at the edges of a frequency – that each fm signal has.

To pick up a sub-carrier broadcast, listeners need a special receiver.

Typically, fm broadcasters lease their side bands to data transmission operators or leave them unused.

(There is at least one sub-carrier already in Vancouver. cjjr-fm, owned by the Jim Pattison Group, leases a side band to a service that broadcasts Indo-Canadian listeners.)

Gary Miles, executive vice-president at Rogers Broadcasting’s Western Division in Vancouver, says the crtc has recently decided to open up fm stations’ side band or sub-carrier capabilities to ethnic broadcasters.

But, Miles says it insists the application be filed by the broadcast licence holder.

At the hearing on the application, he says it will be Newco which will answer the questions, adding Newco will pay Rogers to use the ckks signal.

Ylanen says cjvb broadcasts in 23 languages, with some emphasis on Cantonese and Mandarin. For example, he says his station broadcasts in Cantonese from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday to Friday.

Lau’s group, if it is successful, will program against that with Cantonese broadcasts from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday to Saturday, according to an ‘AM 1320 Program Schedule’ dated Feb. 23 and obtained by Strategy.

Lau could not be reached for comment on the proposed sale.

cjvb went on the air in June 1972 as a multilingual station and has not changed its format, Ylanen says.

chqm started in 1959. Its current format is ‘memory music.’

According to a February 1992 report, chqm-am was ranked 12th in the Vancouver market with a 3.6 share of total hours tuned per week. Its core listenership was aged 45+.

Paul Ski, vice-president and general manager of the Western Division of Chum, says his company is selling chqm because crtc rules prohibit an individual or group owning more than two stations on the same band in the same city.

Elsewhere in Vancouver radio, persistent rumors suggest one am station may go all or mostly sports in the near future.

However, as industry sources point out, it is unlikely such a station would work without broadcast rights to a major league franchise, preferably baseball.

And Vancouver does not have a major league baseball club, although it does have an aaa minor league team.

Chuck McCoy, general manager at Rogers’ ckwx, which carries Toronto Blue Jays games, says there is no change planned at his station, country music and baseball being a good mix.

Tom Mark, news director at chrx, a classic rock station that broadcasts sports features, says he has not heard of any format switch. chrx is owned by Pattison.

One radio insider in Toronto dismissed the notion top-rated cknw could go all sports despite the WIC Western International Communications station having the rights to Vancouver Canucks hockey and B.C Lions football.

The insider says cknw’s news-talk-sports format is working well and points to the success San Francisco’s knbr has had with a similar format.

In that city, the insider says, knbr broadcasts sports from noon to midnight.