Media Beat: January 08, 2018

Turning Canadian media on its head in 2018

Below I have outlined a few thoughts that have been distilling in my mind over the past several months as a result of listening to various points of view about what needs to happen or will happen to the newspaper industry in Canada sooner than later, and Canada’s news media in general.

1. Postmedia is awash in debt, and yet its flagship paper continues to provide original features and off-beat news that aren’t mirrored anywhere else, with the possible exception of Maclean’s magazine. I suggest that The Toronto Star and The National Post combine newsrooms and create hubs across the country to create a national newspaper with regional inserts in the respective markets. How the accountants and the unions figure this idea out, I leave to them. Without drastic measures, it seems to me that the inevitable result of inertia will end in tragic consequence.

2. The Globe and Mail is withering away and reportedly awash in debt. It’s time the newspaper faced reality and did something to staunch its losses and give the brand a new life. My suggestion is that it acquires Maclean’s, launch a bi-monthly that finds a middle ground between The Economist and Maclean’s today and make the Report On Business its daily edition.

3. Bell Media has it right, integrating national and regional stories from its various platforms and offering a package of news and features online and in radio and TV newscasts. I can’t see any changes here unless it wants to cosy up with The Canadian Press to create a service that is available to all and any willing to subscribe to the news feeds. The benefit here is in having one bureau in Ottawa, and the provincial seats of power.

4. Now magazine is going through hard times. Why not merge itself with BlogTo and skip the print edition entirely? Further, with the tech backbone these two companies own, surely it would be easy to roll out similar online portals in major cities across the country.

5. It’s high-time an independent news service fed by stringers with videography and journalist experience was assembled. Mainstream media can use the pool of talent currently underused and underpaid to supplement their feeds and cover spot news in remote areas. Perhaps this is already in place. If it is, I’m unaware of it.

6. Bring blockchain technology into news services so that bloggers and media, in general, can efficiently clear copyrighted materials for reuse.

Montreal FM cans staff – temporarily

Montreal French-language community radio station CIBL-FM has laid off all of its 13 employees as it explores new funding arrangements and it has described the layoffs as temporary. The CRTC renewed the station’s licence in Sept. 2017 for one year, expiring Aug. 31, 2018. CIBL has operated with a community radio licence since 1980. In the past several years the station has taken to crowd-funding, slashing overhead and significantly reducing its payroll costs, in large part to gain control over an accumulated debt that’s believed to be as high as $200K.

2018’s biggest social media trends for business

Just how dominant a business tool was social media in 2017? Despite being involved in an investigation by Congress, Facebook reported its highest earnings ever in Q3, up nearly 50% from a year ago. Its mobile ads are so popular that the platform is starting to run out of space for them, even though they’re charging more than ever. Meanwhile, the network eclipsed the 2-billion-user mark, now counting nearly one-third of the planet among its user base – Ryan Holmes, Forbes

The basic social media mistakes businesses still make

There are a few common mistakes that marketers make with social media. The first is to start with social media objectives. Marketers take a channel such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and then set goals for raising their numbers of likes, comments, and shares. This approach sounds like it makes sense, but it can trap you in a social media–only perspective. After all, how much is that like, comment, or share worth to your business? Unless you connect your social media actions to broader business goals from the beginning, ROI can be elusive, and social media becomes an end unto itself – Keith A. Queensberry, Harvard Business Review

As low-powered local radio rises, tiny voices become a collective shout

In the last year, a diverse new wave of radio stations has arrived in urban America… Some are trying to become community bulletin boards, or voices of the counter culture or social justice. “Alternative” is the word that unites them – Kirk Johnson, The NYT

Where Ghomeshi case got it wrong, Soulpepper case got it right

It is not often that one applauds the media.

But as I walked into my law firm’s office Thursday and watched multiple camera crews cram themselves into our boardroom to live broadcast the alleged sexual harassment stories of four former employees of Soulpepper Theatre, I couldn’t help but think hats off to the media indeed – Labour & employment lawyer Sunira Chaudhri, Toronto Sun

And on the subject of Jian Ghomeshi   

He has become persona non-grata in Canadian media, and any number of online searches turn up blank about the once wildly popular media celebrity who was fired from his job at the CBC in late 2014 after accusations of sexual misconduct became public. Toronto police then laid a number of sexual assault charges against him but the Crown's prosecution case crumbled in court and 14 months later he was acquitted on all charges. Last April, Ghomeshi announced he was launching The Ideation Project on Twitter, describing it as "a creative adventure with the aim of taking a bigger picture view on newsworthy issues and culture”.

Reminiscent of the short essays that used to open his hosting gig on CBC Radio's q, the series ran for one season with the promise of a second–but four months later the website continues to show nothing new. Slickly produced, content-rich and absorbing to listen to, here’s one episode that paints the story of today’s headlines and the unintended consequence of presuming social media to be both judge and jury.

What’s being said on Facebook

Jim Jj Johnston

Jan. 5, 2018

Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes number five. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones” and not in any particular order. Just 365 Good Ones. Today we are shining the light on Laurie Laplante- English.

Laurie was the retail sales manager for Corus Radio Peterborough when I first met her at one of the many Corus manager Conferences over the years. I was always impressed with her. She was smart, friendly and professional.

In 2009 I asked Corus to consider a post for me back east as my mom was quite ill (it was a good thing because she passed two years later, and I will always cherish that time with her). Corus gave me the post as GM of Corus Radio Ontario east in 2010. That included all the Corus Radio stations in Barrie, Collingwood, Peterborough, Kingston, and Cornwall. Over the next three years, I travelled anywhere from 1000 to 2000 km a week, trying to do this long-distance GM job properly.

I always enjoyed the in-market visits including Peterborough, which is where I got to know Laurie better. I thought she was a good salesperson and manager before, but then quickly found out how really good she was. Some changes were made, and I promoted Laurie from Retail Sales Manager to General Sales Manager, a move that she excelled at. She worked very hard, cared a lot about her clients, but also understood more than most that the internal staff is a big part of the client base as well. There are three clients in broadcasting; The Audience, The Clients, and Ourselves. If we all think this way, there will be a lot fewer HR issues at work.

Laurie operated on what I call “On PAR”; Professional, Appropriate and Respectful. She managed with a positive, upbeat, fun and friendly vibe and always handled sticky situations with grace and a level head. Let me put this into perspective. Shortly after I arrived, Laurie lost her dad to cancer. She was very close to her parents, and understandably it was very tough on her and her family.

A few months later, she then lost her mom to the dreaded disease. Losing both parents in a matter of a few months is a tough life blow, but somehow Laurie, despite going through a tough grieving time, while working as a Radio GSM and of yeah, raising a family, pulled it all out with the usual poise and grace you would expect from her. Not many people could handle this as she did. Laurie amazingly did not miss a beat at work.

After I exited Corus to start JJIMS INC., Corus decided on more cost cuts and amalgamated Radio and TV sales. In other words, one sales manager for both. Laurie was informed that her good friend Brenda, who was the Sales Manager for Corus TV, would now be handling both. While disappointed, Laurie handled that in her usual professional and level-headed way, which would be tough under any circumstance let alone this unique situation. Brenda, by the way, is the salt of the earth and was very conflicted by this. Those two remain good friends, and Laurie is working alongside Brenda and enjoying selling for the Corus Peterborough radio and television sales team. Her husband Mike and the kids are all doing well! Carter is at Fleming in the Nursing Program, and Callie is now in Grade ten. What a great family.

Smart, gutsy, hardworking, lots of perseverance, professional, respectful, appropriate and fun! That’s Laurie.

Congrats Laurie Laplante- English, the legend, on being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share Laurie’s story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? Stay tuned!

Jim JJ Johnston is the CEO, President and Chief Talent Coach for JJIMS INC.

Jan 6, 2018

JJ-365 Salutes #6. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones” and not in any particular order. Just 365 Good Ones.

Today we are shining the light on THE Kim Mitchell, yes Kim Mitchell, the Canadian music icon.

Many years ago, when Kim was the front-man for the legendary Max Webster band, they were opening up for Rush at Civic Centre in Ottawa, Canada. I was the screaming evening Top 40 DJ on CFGO, and I not only introduced the show (back when we could do that until too many radio goofs blew it on stage) but I went backstage after the show and or the first time met the guys from both Rush and Max Webster including Kim. I was expecting 'attitude,' but it was quite the opposite. He was low key, even shy and bashful, friendly and humorous. This is how he was then, and this is how he is today. Kim as we all know later went out on his own and is still kicking ass.

After I became Program Director for CFOX in Vancouver in ‘88, we worked hard with Tom Berry (Kim’s manager) to get Kim on our huge New Year’s Eve concert bill produced by David Frinton. We had good friend Colin James on board, and Alannah Myles already on the bill (she’s a story or two for some other kind of blog). What a night that was. Jammed to the rafters and rockin’ baby! While backstage I met Kim once again and, after only meeting me once years earlier, he said: “how are you doing JJ?”. Wow.

Fast forward to when I was VP of Programming and GM/PD of MIX 99.9 for Standard Radio. We tried to get Kim to come in as much as we could on air because he was so damn good at it. Very funny and quick. A natural. He made a few visits, and every time Gary Slaight and myself tried to talk him into doing a show locally and on the Syndication network which became Orbyt Media. While he liked the idea, he wasn’t sure about it. He was constantly on the road and too busy to do it.

Later when I was four years in as VP/GM of Corus Radio, Jeff Brown left the Q107 afternoon drive slot for a PD gig in Ottawa. We didn’t see that coming. Dave Farough (who was the PD at the time) and I were spitballing on who to put in there. Dave said, “what about Kim Mitchell?”. I almost fell off my chair and said that was a great idea. I told Dave that we tried a few times before, but I supported him in trying to make this happen. It turns out it was the right time for Kim and Dave did a great job cutting the deal. The next thing you know Kim is doing drive on the mighty Q!
At first, many people didn’t get his show because he was so different. The myopic radio types were lamenting that he didn’t sound like a radio guy and we were like “Yeah! That’s why he is in there. He is different from the pack”. He was sooo cool to listen to with such a different delivery. He was just a real person on the radio and his history music community connections paid huge dividends. His feature “Damn I Wish I Wrote That” is still one of the coolest radio bits. He would take songs that he admired, break them down and play along with them live on-air. MAGIC.

All this time Kim continued to gig on weekends and only once that I can recall was there a problem. He called in one Sunday night to say he wouldn’t be able to make it and the reason why turned out to be a great story. He and the band were playing a gig at an east coast Casino one Saturday night. They hung around, and some of the guys were playing around on the poker machines and the slots. When they were going through security checks, one of the entourage was found with nitro on his hands, and they were all dumbfounded as to how it got there. Because of this, the band was held up and missed their flights. It turns out that the geriatrics at the casino were using nitro while playing the pokies, and the substance ended up rubbing off the machines onto the hands of the bandmates.

While we were together at Corus, no one in that company was exempt from Respect and Dignity training, including Kim. I told Kim about this not knowing what to expect, and he said he thought that would be great. So off we went to a Respect and Dignity workshop with Trevor Hitner (who is terrific) hosting the session. I was struck by how closely Kim was paying attention. He took copious notes. Here was a rock star genuinely into what was happening with this corporate initiative. At the end of the session, I said: "what did you think?” Kim said “it was fantastic man. I need all the help I can get.” I said “What? What do you mean?” He floored me when he said “I need the help. This is my first job man!” And we both laughed, but think about it. It was the first regular paying job in his entire life. Kim had a great run from 2004 to 2015 on the mighty Q. He was and is one of the coolest guys out there. He always has time for his fans and friends and worked hard to transform from a rock star into a radio star, all the time maintaining that cool, smart, friendly demeanour.

Kim had a heart attack two years ago. At the time he was working through the emotional weight of both his father's death and the passing of two close friends, all within the span of about seven months. Happy to say he has recovered nicely and still does a kick-ass show. Lots more to come from an Akimbo Alogo near you.

Congrats Kim Mitchell, the legend, on being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share Kim’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? Stay tuned!

You can continue reading JJ’s tributes on his Facebook page.

Gene Valaitis – Roundhouse Radio Vancouver

Dear angry, pissed off Canadians.

I was born in 1956. I was a part of a generation who grew up with John Lennon and adopted a philosophy of Peace and Love. I hold it true to how I live my life today. When I see my fellow Canadians get upset about Tim Hortons’ employees now making 15 bucks an hour in Ontario, it makes me wonder. I celebrate success.

But I wonder where you have been when the top paid CEO's of Canadian companies make according to figures released last week reveal an average salary of $119,000.00 a day or over $14,000.00 an hour. And good for their success. I celebrate it. I want to be there too. And I work damn hard at it.

Minimum wage earners want the same as all of us. To strive. To give their children a better life. They are not lazy. They are not failures. In fact, they work hard and dream big, bold dreams like all of us. I salute the people who have made it to the top. I salute the people at the bottom who dream equally.

Please don't be pissed off at them. Embrace their goals. Show some love and compassion. Just like oxygen, there is enough money to go around for all of us. This isn't about minimum wage or business. It’s about compassion for our fellow Canadians, who you just may be ordering a “double-double” from one of them tomorrow. Try some Peace and Love, try compassion, understand their dreams and goals instead of anger. We're all in this together.

10 resolutions for broadcasters – in 2017

Recently, a client asked what I thought would happen to radio in 2017.  Given recent events (Trump) I just couldn’t bring myself even to try to predict the future.  Instead, I’ve come up with some resolutions–Continue reading Sharon Taylor’s belated but topical advice on the Byrnes Media website.

Pew: TV viewing down

Americans are using TV for their news, according to a new Pew survey, but local TV news continues to lead among TV news sources. 

The Web survey found that just half (50%) of adults said they get new regularly from TV, down from 57% a year ago. "Local TV has a wider reach overall than network or cable," Pew found. – Broadcasting & Cable


Vern Traill, long associated with the Moffat radio chain, starting out at CHAB Moose Jaw and ending up as VP and GM  of CHED Edmonton in 1981 and, still in the position four years later, he was named chairman of the Radio Bureau of Canada. Nicknamed “The Cowboy,” Traill passed away Jan. 3 in Moose Jaw. He was 92.

Peter Preston, editor of The Guardian (UK) newspaper for almost 20 years from 1975 – then the longest service of any editor since CP Scott; a member of its controlling Scott Trust for almost 30; and overwhelmingly the most decisive and influential figure in its reshaping and development through the later years of the 20th century, has died aged 79.

And here's your thought for today, courtesy of Ed Preston

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