Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sad State of Montreal Radio

Popping on the radio in the morning and the evening is more or less a staple in the daily life of a commuter. Get a fix on the traffic situation, listen to the weather, maybe a few tunes and some witty DJ banter to start and finish your work day. At least, it used to be.

Nowadays, you don't need the radio to tell you the traffic situation, you have your GPS device for that. The weather? Just open up your browser before you leave to get a reading for the upcoming week. And hell, who doesn't have an MP3 player of some sort, loaded with their favourite songs, not just what some radio programming director has deemed fit to play. So, what then does the radio have left to offer the commuter?

Witty banter is about it. Some fun jokes, maybe news bites, a sports commentary, just a bit of honest, improvised fun. The sort of thing that is hard for the commuter to pop onto their MP3 player ahead of time. Plus, the radio DJs can break it down to a local level, potentially giving the local commuter a better sense of what's going on around them in their communities.

So, if we have identified what drive time radio offers, what's the problem?

The problem is that in Montreal and the surrounding area, radio really, really, really fucking sucks.

Let me preface this by saying I am pretty much talking about the FM band here. I like to have some music mixed in, and AM radio just can't cut it there. So talking about FM radio, English of course, what is the current situation?

It's piss poor is what it is. Our options in the Montreal area are pretty limited, and that may in fact be part of the problem, but honestly, it seems that as of late, Montreal radio has been sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of suck. It hasn't always been peaches and cream of course, but usually there would be a station out of the lot that had a fun formula to grab your attention and keep it, instead of making you want to punch a baby due to the sheer stupidity.

When it comes to morning radio, I like to stick to what I like. Classic Rock and Hard Rock. Because of this, stations like Q92 or Mix 96 (I ain't calling it Virgin radio) never really appealed to me. For me, the music pretty much sucked so I didn't bother with them. No, as a lover of rock and roll, that meant one thing…

CHOM 97.7

For me, the golden age of Montreal AM radio was Terry and Ted in the morning. They jumped around a fair bit during their run together, and sometimes had other people join them, but honestly it was always about Terry and Ted. They played well off of one another, kept each other in check, and had fun with the job. That was awesome. Sure, they weren't always gold, but more often than not, their show made for a good drive.

Then Terry DiMonte left Montreal.

They replaced him with Rob Kemp. Now, don't get me wrong, I actually kind of like Rob Kemp. He's laid back and can be witty and fun. However, he was a bad pairing for Ted Bird. Ted walked all over him. More specifically, Ted Bird was just such a dominant part of the show, that Kemp took a back seat. Ted Bird is fun, but he needs to be reined in. Terry DiMonte could do that, Rob Kemp could not.

Then the brainiacs at CHOM replaced Rob Kemp with Pete Merrier. The guy that was pretty much CHOM filler for most of his career is suddenly given the plum position of morning host. How bad could it be? Pretty fucking bad. Pete Merrier and Ted Bird had zero chemistry, completely different styles and sense of humour, and quite simply didn't mesh. The dynamic of the show changed, taking on a more juvenile tone mixed with some misogyny. It was uncomfortable and unenjoyable.

However, something happened over the Christmas holiday of 2009. Ted Bird got fed up with stuff (no idea what it is, that's his business) and quit CHOM. It was a balsy move, maybe suicidal career wise, but Ted made it and I respect the man for not wanting to be stuck in a shitty situation and doing something about it.

Now, CHOM was in a bit of a spot here. Ted Bird was the marquee player in the mix, and with him gone, they were in a bit of a lurch. They needed a sports guy in the mix, and someone with name value. What do they end up doing?

P.J. fucking Stock.

An ex-NHLer with a HNiC gig, P.J. had *some* name value. What he did not have, and does not have to this day, is any sort of radio ability. His timing sucks balls, his voice is not fit for radio, he isn't witty, and he has a penchant for being crass. Don't get me wrong, I don't blame P.J. Stock for this, he's collecting a pay check is all, I blame CHOM management for hiring somebody that has no business being on radio, let alone a stations flagship show.

I love classic rock, but right now I hate CHOM. Something here doesn't make sense, and one can look at the lineup to get all the understanding you need. The morning show feels like it's insulting to my intelligence, and is more likely to make me angry than give me a pleasant drive.

So what to do?

Well, several months back, there was word that Ted Bird was returning to morning radio. Fuck yeah! Right? Only it was't going to be on CHOM, he was returning to K103.7 FM.

K103.7FM? What the fuck is that?

K103.7 is the local Kahnawake radio station. Now, I had, and still do not have, any idea why Ted Bird would end up on the Kahnawake radio station, but hell, Ted was back and I was going to give the man a chance to see what he could do there. Honestly, I didn't expect much. I thought it would be the overdose of Ted Bird that we had seen before, fairly convinced that he just couldn't do a show without Terry DiMonte. Oh me of little faith.

Ted Bird is teamed up with a fellow by the name of Java Jacobs. My first thought of course was… Java? But after that, I gave them a listen over a period of time. Trying to see what I thought.

Java, it turns out, is a funny, funny guy. He's almost a cross between Terry DiMonte and Peter Griffon, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible. Like DiMonte before him, he pairs up with Ted beautifully. Ted doesn't run the man over, as Java holds his own with the Montreal radio legend, and they have the sort of chemistry that just clicks. More importantly, it sounds like they have fun together. That it's more than just a job with a paycheck attached, that these guys are friends and the banter is real.

The music is generally good and I would say classic rock dominated, though they don't seem to have a set format to follow and simply play whatever they feel like playing at the time. They have their own skits which are as hit and miss as they ever were with Terry and Ted, along with a few K103 inspired bits. Every morning they have the "world reknown spoken word artist" Clovis Bova help out with a Name That Tune skit that is constantly hilarious and genuinely a highlight of the drive in.

Honestly, if you like classic rock, if you like fun shows, if you have fond memories of Terry and Ted, give the K103 morning show a listen. It's a great example of what a place can do with fewer resources, but great people. It seems to have completely re-energized Ted Bird, and introduced me to some awesome radio. In a sea of shitty, formulaic shows that feel tired and tripe, the K103 morning show is a genuine hit that makes the morning commute that much easier to stomach.


  1. One day we shall laugh so hard at Ted, Java and Paul that we shall drive off the Victoria bridge.

  2. Sold! Fuck CHOM. Their morning music blows, anyways.

  3. Can't agree with you more. I'd rather listen to dead air than anything on the radio. K103 is genuinely funny. #1 on my FM band pre-set.

  4. Ted quit chom because he couldnt accept the fact that Terry left. Ted and Terry had been having a secret relationship over 16 months. Teds wife food out and was set to sue the station for keeping it secret. Ted, unable to cope with the guilt handed in his resignation. Now that he no longer worked for chom his wife could no longer sue. They both left to antartica where Ted and his wife entered a private, celebrity rehab center. Cost : $45,000 a week. Who paid for this you ask.... Richard Branson . Branson had the plan all Long. Ted once recovered would be in great debt to Branson and thus at his mercy. Branson had recently acquired mix and most of global media, but like any true corporate evil genius he also secrerity bought most of the Indian reserves in Canada. That way he controls 90% of the air waves. Ted was now forced to work for him, rumor has it's a 99 year contract, Ted is being kept artificially young through whale testicle injections ( but that's another story) to fulfill his duties. And that is the real reason Ted is now on khananahanahawakae radio

  5. I could barely stomach Marrier in the afternoon and his transition to morning was a mistake. PJ truly sucks balls. I too miss the days of Terry and Ted, and while I cannot listen to Terry anymore (Except online), Ted does provide a more intelligent level of humor that the new CHOM lacks. Thank God Ted took some kind of pay cut to work at K103 because he truly loves his job.
    Go Team Clovis!!

  6. If only K103 was part of the ratings, I'd love to see how they are kicking Montreal's radio ass!

  7. My sentiments exactly. When I heard K103 was revamping their morning show I jumped the CHOM ship so fast the mast hit the program director in the head. The result, and the most annoying part of the show you forgort to mention, celebrity news! And brought to you by whom else? None other than someone less credible on a rock station than Chantal Desjardins (or Dezzy as Pete calls her). Everytime I had to sit through that 10 minutes of BS the only thing keeping me tuned in was Pete's honest reaction-it sounded like he wanted to be punched in the neck, bagged, and thrown down into a rock ravine.
    Very astute blog posting. Ted, Java, and Paul-thank you for saving me from my tired iPod playlists.

  8. In general I liked & agree with this blog post. However, I would like to say that on the drive home CHOM has Bilal Butt, who puts on a pretty decent show. He seems a little young from my perspective but I like his sense of humor and the mix of music he plays. In addition I still enjoy the electric lunch hour with Sharon Hyland. So, yeah, I have bailed on the CHOM morning show for K103 but there is still some decent radio left on CHOM.

  9. Java Jacobs has been my favourite morning man even before Ted came on. Java is smart, funny and genuine- rare in general and especially on radio. Ted and Java do compliment each other. That being said Paul Graif and Clovis Bova are both important in the success of the show. Also the music is th best on the radio. I too have wondered what their ratings would be.

  10. OK now I'm dying to listen !! Hope I can pick it up on Internet radio from Otttawa!

  11. Ted Bird was most likely turfed out of CHOM by the bean counters at ASSHOLE media. I went to his garage sale a few weeks ago, he was selling his old CHOM winter coats for $5 each, and no one wanted them! ANd they were like new! How about an analysis on CJAD, and their wonderful cast of clowns, starting with Schnurmacher, Kim "the douchebag" Fraser, Dan "Laxative" Laxer cuz he is so full of shit, that blowhard moron Ric Peterson, Rick Moffat, probably the worst sports announcer ever, I can go on, but my fingers are getting tired.

  12. CHOM lost me as a listener a couple of days after they brought in Chantal Desjardins and PJ Stock. Their lack of professionalism is unacceptable. Chantal's constant giggling during her news reports and the fact that she can't shut up when someone else is talking falls falt. And don't get me started on PJ.

  13. Gord you are way off base!

    And K103 does Rock in the Morning...Ted & Java are hysterical together while Paul tries to keep the decorum to it all!!

    Nice going Team 103!!

  14. The BEST morning show in the city. Java and Ted work great together. Clovis is always a riot. I wonder if they have writers or if they write their own skits. If they do write their own material the station hit a gold mine. It's a rare bird who can write AND deliver and the boys do it daily.

  15. A special thanks to the K103 guys for talking about this post on the air, and featuring it on their Facebook page. I love the feedback here everyone. Ted, Java and Paul deserve a lot of praise for making the drive in a whole lot more fun for many Montrealers.

    Team Clovis!

  16. Hey MurrayA, It's my opinion of CJAD and I stick to it. They are the most unprofessional bunch on the radio anywhere! They only reason these hacks are still on the air, is that here in distinct-land we are held captive with only one English news station. Its a sad situation in Montreal radio. I don;t need a douchebag like Kim Fraser telling me that I'm a bad person because I have to drive to work from the burbs, and the smog bothers her at her slum in Verdun. She's proud to live in Verdun. Verdun is a slum. If she;s not happy, she can crawl back under her rock, sit home on welfare and smoke dope - she's done it before, and she;s proud of it. This is what;s on the air.

  17. I too quit CHOM right after Ted left. Peter Merrier is like ROBO DJ 3000, literally just spewing out what he is supposed to say, but not really caring about it. I was at 9.99 the Buzz for a while, but I really started to miss the local scene and news. I'm now on AM 800, and find it great. Like the article said, I get my music from my ipod. The morning show is great with Andrew Carter (minus the constant Gibbey's commericals) and the stuff they do with the gadgets and stuff at 8:30 is awesome. Ric Peterson at night always gets me engaged in the conversation, plus I call in and txt often on the way home.

  18. CHOM's morning show is really bad. I don't know why people even applaud Terry... he was pretty bad himself. Ya ya.. we get it.. 737 is an airplane too. hi - lar- i - ous. The only positive about him (on air) was that Ted was able to play off him perfectly.
    Montreal is full of talent. Hell I would love to hear Joey Elias in the morning.
    CHOM as a whole has got to change up their format and playlist as a whole. How much Led Zeppelin III do we need to hear every day?
    Kudos to K103 for giving Ted an opportunity to shine once again. Props to Ted for taking less money to let himself do something that he both loves AND is really good at.

  19. Yes, I totally agree. However, The signal is weak and it dies out alot. I go to work without the radio turned on. Very sad indeed...

  20. yes with all the changes chom as it,s up and downs but that,s life!!!!yes terry and ted gone but the music there and!!!!i miss them both but that,s radio and people love good fun not being bornig on the dail in this life.....vb

  21. Love the Joey Elias in the mornings idea Paul. He and Rob Kemp would be a great team.

    Totaly disagree with the comment about Bilall show. Find it amateurish and offensive for no reason.


  22. Yes, it's a sad scene out there... for what it's worth, from this aging rocker...
    I recently had the bad fortune to be on the 20 westbound around 730 am for 4 months, & found myself flipping between Q92 & the good old CBC... Aaron & his crew are pretty good (hi Tash), they could try getting rid of the annoying background noise (music??) on the lead-in to the 'news', & the promo 'contests' are lame. CBC was often better, though they never have any attempt at humor (probably not allowed)
    The rest of the day Q's programming sucks, sorry guys, & as for CHOM, I can almost set my watch by what tunes are playing... (AC/DC ? - must be around 3pm... please...

    There are worse moments in Mtl radio though, if I may digress for a moment - like 'Les Grand Gueles' in the afternoon on I have no effin idea what station - a new low in culture...

    To tell the truth folks, since 'Couleurs/Planete Jazz' went on air (91.9) a few years ago, I took the tuning knobs off most of my equipment. Pity it's got no wattage, can barely pick it up in NDG...

    Yeah, I miss Terry & Ted too...

    LAD from NDG

  23. All I care about is the music and the music on CHOM simply sucks. I DO NOT want to hear music I grew up on played all day long. I want to hear music from today.
    I don't listen to CHOM often but when I tune in it always seems to be the same fucking playlist.

    BTW, never was a fan of Terry and Ted. While Bird is funny both their egos were just to big for my liking.

  24. K103 is a breathe of fresh air to Montreal morning radio. I was a loyal CHOM morning listener for over 30 years (except for the failed Howard Stern experiment) and now can't handle their morning show. Thankfully Ted hiring on with K103 saved me from a twenty car pile-up on the 40. I just wish that their signal was stronger and that they were part of the rating game. ASSHOLE media is probably going to lobby to keep them out as long as they can so that they don't get "Bird droppings" smeared all over their face.
    Ted I admire you for your sticking to your convictions, a lot of people can learn from you.
    Keep up the good work guys, all of you are great to listen to.

  25. K-103 in the morning is awesome! It's so refreshing to hear different songs for a change. Keith Richards solo this morning. What a treat! I just wish I could get it on my clock radio to wake up to instead of Chantal's giggling. What is she 12 (years old)?

    After listening to CHOM for years, I wonder how I ever could stand it for so long. How many times in a week, during the drive to work, can you hear Aerosmith, AC/DC and the Guess Who? I'll tell you how many times - 5 consecutive mornings in a row - and the same songs to boot! It has become so redundant, it's amazing they still have advertising revenue. I only wish K-103 success, but I wish they would expand their frequency so that I can catch it at home without having to go online.

  26. They should turf the whole CHOM morning show. Pete's lack of leadership or ability to reign in the immature antics of PJ and Chantal with the constant two cents worth of Merv. Merv, who's dying to get his voice on the radio and forgets that he's a producer who should be producing! Not to mention they have to throw traffic in there, yet ANOTHER voice! Go back to the old days where a personality (Peppermint Patty) did the traffic and then could come in and be used throughout the morning. CHOM currently has 6 different voices coming in and that's alot to handle when most of us are just waking up!
    Thankfully the rest of the day is ok with Sharon, Rob, Bilal and BC into Rockman.

    Astral - listen to your listeners or you won't have any!

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  28. CJAD's Andrew Carter has to be one of the biggest arseholes on radio. Not the lovable arsehole like Howard Stern, as he has talent and personality to back it up and somehow makes it work. Carter is just an idiot who condescends to women on his show and generally just annoys the shit out of me. He was lucky enough to get an infamous Quebec politician on his show, and instead of asking the questions everyone wanted to hear asked, he stuttered and forgot what he was going to say - he shot his wad early and generally just ended up looking like a fucking retard when all he really had to do is let the politician talk and dig his own hole. Who ever thought letting an idiot man-child host a radio show needs to be slapped with a wet packet of shit.

  29. CJAD is getting worse it seems in 2016. I don't mind
    Lesley Roberts but the Gang Of Four at noon and Nathalie Hall
    will drive me to turn it off. Plus there are in general
    too many repetitive commercials and the Bay commercials really drive me batty. Will have to find alternatives now.

  30. Old thread, but in case anyone still reads it - here's my 2 cents.
    I had to move back to MTL after living in Toronto for a while and can't take the radio here. Is there ANYTHING like Toronto Q107 classic rock here? (I'm not Old by the way, in case you care)
    People here keep saying to me,
    "Oh ya tune into CHOM" --- NOT! UGH!!! To play 1 song from a GREAT ARTIST with decades long great career next to some wet-behind-the-ears-can't even- play-more-than-a-bar-chord SIDE BY SIDE is an Insult to all great rock that rock radio was built on.
    Ive been in MTL for 3.5 yrs now and COUNTING the days til I can retire so I can MOVE BACK to TORONTO!! If only JUST for the RADIO.... (although, the mild no-snow winters and streetcars vs. the Vomit-Comet #11 bus amusement park ride through Mount Royal, comes in a close second as top reasons to move back too!)