Listeners are fleeing 102.1 The Edge after the Toronto radio station split with the popular morning shock jock Dean Blundell.
The Corus-owned station's morning market share among men aged 18 to 49 is down almost half since January 6, when the station announced it was ending Blundell's on-air run of almost 13 years in favour of what it called a "return to a more music-based format." Listenership among that valuable demographic fell from 12 per cent last month to 6.6 per cent in recent weeks, according to the most recent ratings data available.
"I've never seen that before," Blundell said during an interview late Thursday afternoon, in his first public comments to the news media since his departure. "It's too bad this has happened. There are lots of good people at that establishment."
He added: "It's just a shame, because we had a very long and happy history for 13 years communicating with our listeners. They were my lifeblood."
Calls and e-mails to Corus seeking comment were not returned.
Blundell regularly ranked as the number-one morning DJ among men aged 18 to 49. As recently as last summer, his show claimed a market share above 14 per cent.
The cancellation of the show came after a three-week suspension of Blundell and his co-host and producer Derek Welsman, over homophobic jokes Welsman made on air about serving as the jury foreman on a trial in which a gay man was found guilty of sexually assaulting three men he met at a Toronto bathhouse.
Days after leaving The Edge, Blundell issued a statement on his website declaring that he is not a homophobe.
Since then, Blundell's 5:30-9 am time slot has been occupied by Fearless Fred, an afternoon drive-time DJ who had filled in for Blundell during the suspension. The station has said it is searching for a permanent replacement.