The Media Notepad: Q101 launches podcast series

Q101 is launching four new podcasts, including The Romance Podcast.

Also: Ten Milwaukee Bucks games head to WMLW; Canadian PM stemmed about Bell cuts

Hoping to capitalize on the ever-growing audio-on-demand category, Cumulus’ Alternative Rock Q101 (WKQX-FM) launched a podcast platform last week with four new shows.

“Q101 is a Chicago icon and adding an offering of new podcasts allows us to extend the reach of our brand even deeper into the fabric of Chicagoland.”, Q101 PD James Kurdziel said in a press release.

The four shows are: Car Con Carne featuring longtime Q101 personality James VanOsdol, an interview series from his car; A Case For…featuring Case The Producer from Q101 Morning Crew who…um, makes a case for new artists and entertainers that get listeners ahead of the curve before they become household names (nice wordplay there); The Brian and Kenzie Podcast, featuring content from Brian Haddad’s and Kenzie Kramer’s Q101 Morning Crew with exclusive material featuring the two hosts; and The ROMANce Podcast, featuring Kramer and her husband, former B96 and US99 personality Justin Roman as they discuss the ups and downs of their relationship as the couple is expecting a child soon (known die-hard Cubs fans, the duo also host a Marquee Sports Network show, The MVP Game.)

Q101 joins other Chicago radio stations who expanded their audience through podcasts. Among them include The Drive (WDRV-FM) and WGN-AM.

It’s been quite the full circle journey for Q101 in the last thirteen years – after nearly twenty years as an iconic Alternative rocker, Q101 and a similar New York station were sold by Emmis to Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media in 2011 at a time when the format was seemingly in decline. Q101 flipped to all-news WWWN-FM but a few months later, began programming the 87.7 frequency (now known as MeTVFM) with Q101’s old format. A year after the all-news format wound down, the 101.1 frequency briefly flipped to Hot AC as “i101″/WIQI before the Q87.7 format moved back to 101.1 when Merlin went into a LMA deal with Cumulus, reverting to the WKQX call letters. After buying WKQX in 2018, Cumulus bought the rights to the Q101 branding four years later and re-united the brand with the station.

The Milwaukee Bucks is the latest team to return to over-the-air broadcasting with the team announcing a partnership with Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting’s WMLW (branded as The M) to carry ten games.

In addition, the Bucks assembled a statewide network of stations across Wisconsin and surrounding states to carry the games: Madison (WISC/Television Wisconsin); LaCrosse (WEAU); Quad Cities (WQAD 8.3); Green Bay (WBAY 2.1/The 365 2.3); and Wausau (WSAU/WYOW).

“Broadcasting Bucks games on free over-the-air television is a tremendous opportunity to give even more of our fans easy access to their team,” said Peter Feigin, president of the Bucks and Fiserv Forum. “We appreciate our partnership with Weigel for this exciting initiative.”

The first game is February 23 at the Minnesota Timberwolves; the game is also airing on The M’s sister station WDJT (CBS 58) with an unusually late start time of 9 p.m., as ESPN is also carrying the game. Both The M and CBS 58 are owned by Weigel, as is Telemundo affiliate WYTU, who’ll carry the March 4 home game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Spanish.

Another game is scheduled for March 1 against the Bulls here in Chicago with an unusually late start time of 9 p.m. in the Central Time Zone (the game locally will air on NBC Sports Chicago and nationally on ESPN.)

This marks a return of Bucks basketball to broadcast TV in Milwaukee. In its history, games were carried on WVTV and the former WCGV. Since 2007, games have aired on Fox Sports Wisconsin and Bally Sports Wisconsin, who is producing the games for The M.

As Bally Sports’ future is still unknown as the RSN is ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, the Bucks are the latest NBA team to air games on local over-the-air TV this season, joining the Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Dallas Mavericks in doing so. All of the teams have contracts with Bally Sports. Last November 3, the Bulls had a regular-season game against the Orlando Magic simulcast on NBC Sports Chicago and NBC-owned sister station WMAQ-TV. A second game was planned to be simulcast two weeks later but was scrapped for unknown reasons.

It looks like the U.S. isn’t the only country dealing with media layoffs: Canada’s Bell Media announced tons of layoffs last week with more than 4,800 workers, or nine percent of the workforce losing their jobs. Bell Media owns CTV, TSN, French-language sports network RDS, and steaming service Crave, among other properties.

The cutbacks also had some programming causalities: The cancellation of Noon news at all CTV affiliates except CFTO Toronto; the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts in all markets except CFTO, CFCF Montreal, and CJOH Ottawa; and the cancellation of W5, a long-running newsmagazine show akin to what CBS’ 60 Minutes is to U.S. audiences, though it’s being repurposed for CTV’s regular news shows; Bell is also selling off 45 radio stations nationwide; Bell is one of the few conglomerates in North America who own a significant number of radio and TV properties.

The layoffs even drew attention from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who blasted Bell for the cutbacks after receiving government subsidies. “I’m furious”, he said at an unrelated press conference in King City, Ont. Thursday. “This is a garbage decision by a corporation that should know better. We have seen over the past years journalistic outlets, radio stations, small community newspapers, bought up by corporate entities who then lay off journalists, change the quality of offerings to people, and then when people don’t watch as much or engage as much, the corporate entity says ‘Ah, see, they’re not profitable any more, we’re going to sell them off.’

“So yeah, I’m pretty pissed off about what just happened.”

Trudeau said the cutbacks would erode journalism and democracy – the same language we’ve seen in the U.S. after similar moves took place as the number of layoffs from media companies – including journalists, have reached more than one thousand.

This is the latest round of layoffs plaguing Canadian media companies recently. In December, the CBC also made layoffs.

While an online publication blamed cord-cutting for the layoffs (only 32 percent of residents have a cable subscription), it isn’t the only culprit. There is no retrans system in Canada like in the U.S., where stations negotiate with cable and satellite providers to get paid for carrying their signals. Bell and Rogers are not only cable and internet providers but also own a significant number of TV stations including in all of Canada’s major markets.

Of note, Bell is still profitable thanks to NFL programming, including regular-season games and the Super Bowl, and will gain more revenue after the simsub rules are restored (meaning Canadian commercials replace the ones from the U.S.) So if you’re wondering why layoffs are taking place, let’s just say they’re taking an American approach on how to run a company.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *