After 50 years as a high-profile beacon in midtown Toronto, one of the country’s most historic radio stations is moving to the city’s downtown to be closer to other media outlets owned by its new proprietor, Bell Media.
Newstalk 1010, also known by its call letters CFRB, will vacate its studios at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue in March and move into a Queen Street West building best known as the home of MuchMusic. The building now houses several Bell-owned specialty channels and serves as a hub for Bell’s media holdings.
The station – which commands about a 5 per cent share of the city’s radio market according to measurement firm BBM and is home to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s weekly radio show – is one of more than 80 radio stations and several television speciality channels acquired by Bell Media’s parent company BCE Inc. in June in a $3-billion deal for Astral Media.
The address change was announced in a memo to employees from Bell Media president Kevin Crull, who said it was one of a series of moves that are “important to bring new teams together, to refresh the working dynamic in our company, and to be able to efficiently utilize the properties that we own.”
“We have carefully planned how to provide minimum impact for the work lives of our team members as we execute these changes,” he wrote.
Bell’s parent company, BCE Inc., owns a 15-per-cent stake in The Globe and Mail.
CFRB was founded in 1927 by Ted Rogers Sr. to showcase his invention that allowed radio to be broadcast with household electricity instead of relying on battery power. Its call letters are a tribute to the invention: Canada’s First Rogers Batteryless.
The move downtown is part of the first wave of changes to hit former Astral properties, but will be one of the most noticeable to consumers because the radio station makes frequent mention of its location in its news and weather reports.
99.9 Virgin Radio will also be moved to the Queen Street building, where Bell has been consolidating its media holdings (most recently selling the downtown Masonic Temple that housed MTV Canada).
In a memo to Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt that is required by law when layoffs are planned, the company said it intended to eliminate about 100 jobs in Toronto and another 80 in Montreal.
“In view of mechanisms provided for and redeployment and career transitioning services we are not yet able to confirm the exact number of positions that will be eliminated,” Bell Media vice-president of human resources Anne McNamara wrote.
Other changes include merging sales staffs in both Toronto and Montreal, merging the Montreal programming, marketing and communications teams for its non-sports speciality and pay television channels and moving the Movie Network from its current Toronto home to the CTV building in Scarborough.
Astral Media had 2,713 employees at the end of last year, while Bell Media has approximately 3,000.
Bell had no comment on the moves.