Vancouver loses its MOJO
Station never took off with sports; hopes listeners want traffic reports
Wendy McLellan, The ProvincePublished: Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Vancouver all-sports radio station MOJO laid off 14 employees yesterday and announced a new format beginning Monday.
MOJO, one of Corus Radio Vancouver's four local stations, will become AM730 and offer continuous traffic and weather reports during the morning and afternoon rush hours as well as re-broadcast "time-shift" several talk shows from CKNW, its sister station.
Corus Radio Vancouver, which is owned by Corus Entertainment, fired another dozen or so staff in April across its four local stations, CKNW, 99.3 the Fox and Classic Rock 101.
Corus Radio Vancouver general manager J.J. Johnston's failed all-sports MOJO will be relaunched Monday as AM730.
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"The appetite in the Lower Mainland couldn't support two sports stations," said J.J. Johnston, general manager of Corus Radio Vancouver.
MOJO had about half the market share of its all-sports competitor, TEAM 1040, with a 0.9-per-cent share of the total radio audience compared to 1040's 1.4 per cent, according to Bureau of Broadcast Measurement Canada's 2006 statistics.
In comparison, CKNW has a 14.7-per-cent share of the market.
"There have been rumours floating around for months that MOJO was heading for a change of format because it wasn't doing very well," said Donna Logan, director of the University of B.C.'s school of journalism.
Johnston said the new format will
also cut costs.
Only three employees remained after yesterday's layoffs, but he said a few more staff will be needed for the traffic reports.
"There will be substantial savings in the new format compared to operating a full-fledged sports station, which is very expensive," he said. "This will be a better use of our resources."
Johnston said the new station will continue to air the Vancouver Whitecaps, Giants and Seattle Seahawks play-by-play games. It will also re-broadcast the CKNW programs hosted by Bill Good, Dan Russell, Charles Adler and Michael Smyth.
Andeen Pitt, vice-president of media and business development for Vancouver's Wasserman and Partners Advertising, said an all-traffic station may appeal to drivers as well as advertisers.
"We've all been waiting for them to do something with that station," Pitt said. "They had to make a decision about what direction to take with MOJO.
"I think a focus on traffic is a good decision -- I think it's a winner."
She said MOJO wasn't growing and it was clear the market couldn't support a second sports station.
When TEAM 1040 won the contract to air Canucks games for the next six years, MOJO's future turned even bleaker.
"The station never really took off -- I don't think there was much of a future there," Pitt said. "I think the new format will be more profitable for them.
"In a market like Vancouver, where we're more and more obsessed about traffic, I think people want to know what's happening on the roads. And for advertisers, driving times are the highest reach times for radio."