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Mojo Sports Radio shuts down; 14 staff let go

Broadcasters McKeachie, McConnell leaving as radio station turns to traffic format

Wency Leung, Vancouver Sun

Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Vancouver's lowest-rated radio station, Mojo Sports Radio (AM 730), was yanked off the air Tuesday as its parent company announced it is scrapping current programming in favour of a continuous traffic report format, pulling the plug on several veteran sports personalities -- including John McKeachie and JP McConnell.

A total of 14 full-time jobs at the radio station have been slashed, and only three employees will remain with the newly formatted station, dubbed AM730 Continuous Drive Time Traffic and the Best of Talk, said JJ Johnston, general manager of Corus Radio Vancouver, a division of Mojo's parent company Corus Entertainment.

"The past several months, it's been uncertain about the future of Mojo," Johnston said. "Even though we have a great product, it's difficult to continue."

Mojo was originally launched as an all-guys talk station in August 2002, but the station overhauled its format to all-sports less than two years later, after it received anemic ratings.

It has been struggling since against rival Team 1040 Sports Radio in a market with limited appetite for the all-sports format.

Speculation about the station's demise was fuelled earlier this year by Corus's loss of the broadcast rights for Vancouver Canucks games to Team 1040's parent company CHUM.

Starting at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, AM730 will provide non-stop traffic reports in the mornings and afternoons.

The station will also broadcast play-by-play Vancouver Whitecaps, Giants and Seattle Seahawks games, as well as delayed CKNW programs.

Mojo's regular programs were were replaced Tuesday afternoon by continuous soft rock.

Johnston said the new station will target motorists who commute on a daily basis.

While most radio stations already offer traffic reports, he said AM730 will be the first to provide continuous traffic information.

He added that while Corus does not expect to capture a large audience share with the new station, "it should, in time, have huge reach."

Johnston confirmed that McKeachie, Blake Price, and Bob Marjanovich are among those cut from the station and that McConnell, a veteran broadcaster at sister station CKNW, is also leaving as part of restructuring.

"It's affected our sports department in our entire cluster," Johnston said.

He added: "I would like to salute those players on the Mojo side ... who hung in there in adverse times. I have the greatest respect for them."

Johnston declined to reveal how many new employees Corus will hire for the new AM730.

McKeachie said he was informed his job was being cut only after he hosted his last show Tuesday morning.

"I just was told within minutes after I got off the air," he said in a telephone interview, adding that he would've liked to have thanked his listeners for their support.

McKeachie said he does not yet know what he will do, but he noted: "When you've been in the business as long as I have, nothing comes as a shock."

Mojo held the worst ratings among the 17 Lower Mainland stations included in April's spring Bureau of Broadcast Management ratings. Mojo recorded a 0.9-per-cent share of the audience, behind Team 1040's 1.4-per-cent share.


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