January 12, 2012 @ 08:09
There could be a very interesting development in Toronto radio over the next few months that could not only see the demise of am 640 as we know it, but also an escalation in the sports radio wars.
Even if Bell Media and Rogers hadn't bought MLSE, it's no secret that Corus Radio wanted out of the hockey business. It never turned into the revenue generator they thought it would, and what money it did make was not enough to off-set the cost of running other day parts on the station.
When am 640 was MOJO, it made sense to have hockey. A guy's station with guy talk married to hockey play-by-play and hockey talk. Back then the station actually had an identity, something it has sadly lacked since somebody came up with the brilliant idea to drop the guy theme and adopt a mish-mash of something-or-other.
Since then, the station has done virtually nothing forcing Corus Radio to pour huge amounts of money down a bottomless pit.
But that could all change in imminently. Sources tell me that Bell Media has inquired about purchasing the 640 frequency from Corus Entertainment and using it for TSN Radio, currently occupying the shitty 1050 signal.
This could be a lucrative way out for Corus. Rather than continuously feeding a dead dog, or switching to an all-traffic format (which has been discussed). they can grab a few million off Bell and then use the am 640 studios as a production studio or maybe even a studio for where the business is really going, an internet station with super low overhead.
Give the room to Mike Stafford and let him go wild!
Bell is committed to a sports format and it makes a lot of sense now that they've grabbed a piece of MLSE. They'll have content they don't have to pay for, but it's hard to sell that content when 1050 on your dial virtually disappears in many parts after sun down.
It's a technical thing. For reasons that are beyond my explanation the lower you go on the am band the better the signal and the ones up the dial go all fuckin' weird at night.
In this case, 640 is beyond huge. When we were doing the MOJO thing we'd get calls from places like North Bay. 640 would instantly put TSN Radio on an even playing field with The Fan when it comes to reach.
It makes sense on so many levels. Even if Corus wanted to renew their hockey contract, they couldn't because the guys who now own the team own their own radio stations. The content on their own properties is worth way more than they'd ever get from Corus.
But more than anything else, it represents an attractive option for Corus. Over the past couple of years I've heard inklings about a desire to literally flip the switch "off" at 640. Unless you have niche programming like all sports or all news and are prepared to throw lots of money at it long term, am signals are useless.
Unless of course you have one that somebody else wants.
Hello TSN 640?