Media Beat: October 13 2020

By David Farrell

Toronto’s FLOW 93-5 says goodbye to The Breakfast Club

Hip-hop radio station FLOW 93-5 is bringing back a local morning show after a brief fling with The Breakfast Club.

The station originally decided to program the wildly popular New York-based morning show to boost ratings back in March. When coronavirus lockdown measures hit, execs pushed the debut to May. But Toronto listeners haven’t warmed to the change.

Local hosts Blake Carter and Peter Kash, who were bumped to the drive-home time slot, will now return to mornings starting on October 14. – Kevin Ritchie, Now

Torres Media new launch must sponsor festivals

Ed Torres says the station will sponsor local music festivals, post-pandemic, which is one of its CRTC license requirements.


“We believe that building local roots is very important. With our rock station in Ottawa, we do a band contest with prizes. We also support local artists through music festivals. So some of those ideas we’ll be bringing to Georgina.”

Coleton MacDonald, K Country’s morning show host, also sees the station becoming a big part of the community.

The station was initially scheduled to launch over the labour-day weekend, but the pandemic delayed installing the station’s 40,000-watt transmitter, which had to be imported from Italy. – Mike Anderson, Georgina Post

National Post’s Toronto newsroom staff votes to unionize

Workers in the Toronto newsroom of the National Post have voted in favour of union representation.

About 40 workers are included in the new bargaining unit, said Unifor spokesman Stuart Laidlaw.

The National Post is one of the publications under the banner of parent company Postmedia Network Canada Corp., which as of May had 43 other collective agreements. – Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press

The fall of Cineplex is like watching a bad movie

The calamities that have afflicted Cineplex Inc. this year suggest that major changes are in store for Canadian moviegoers.

Cineplex accounts for about 75 percent of Canada’s box-office revenues.

And Cineplex, with 1,687 screens at 164 locations across the country, is on its knees. The firm is bleeding copious red ink and is starved for Hollywood hit movies. Cineplex has acknowledged that it is uncertain whether the firm can survive the pandemic. – David Olive, The Star


How Rogers internally promoted its new podcast to its 25,000+ employees

Pacific Content gets to work with huge brands.

Ford Motor Company has around 190,000 employees.

Dell Technologies has around 165,000 employees.

Big companies like this have an audience development superpower that smaller companies don’t have: the ability to promote shows to a massive internal audience of employees.

Today, we’re going to talk about how Rogers did exactly that with its new podcast For the Love of Work.

In the weeks leading up to the show’s launch, Rogers took bold steps to promote and market the show internally to its 25,000+ employees.

The campaign took time and planning, but it paid off in spades.

Even before it publicly launched this week, the show was number one in the Careers category on Apple Podcasts Canada. – Steve & Dan, Pacific Content

Howard Stern closing in on blockbuster deal with SiriusXM

Bloomberg News reports that the deal for "The King of All Media" could be worth around $120 million per year, compared with Stern's current five-year contract of $80 million-$100 million a year. That drove the firm's stock higher in after-hours.


Congress gets ready to smash Big Tech monopolies

The House Antitrust Subcommittee report is over 400 pages long, the subcommittee staff went through 1.287M documents and significant quantities of enforcement agency records, did hundreds of hours of interviews with “more than 240 market participants, former employees of the investigated platforms, and other individuals totaling thousands of hours,” and had seven hearings, including questioning the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos.

… Over and over, the report just lays into the Federal Trade Commission and Antitrust Division for refusing to enforce monopolization laws and failing to stop mergers, even when they had evidence that such mergers were anti-competitive. The four companies bought more than 500 companies since 1998. However, "for most, if not all, of the acquisitions discussed in this Report,” it says, “the FTC had advance notice of the deals, but did not attempt to block any of them." What were the priorities of the agencies? "Both agencies have targeted their enforcement efforts on relatively small players—including ice skating teachers and organists—raising questions about their enforcement priorities." Ouch. – Matt Stoller, BIG


Trump's conservatives love listening to talk radio

Talk radio still somehow manages to fly below the national media radar. In large part, that is because media consumption patterns are segregated by class. If you visit a carpentry shop or factory floor or hitch a ride with a long-haul truck driver, odds are that talk radio is a fixture of the aural landscape. But many white-collar workers, journalists included, struggle to understand the reach of talk radio because they don’t listen to it, and don’t know anyone who does. – Paul Matzko, The New York Times

The customer service reps for Airbnb and Disney who have to pay to talk to you

You may not have heard of Arise, but chances are, you’ve talked to an Arise agent — perhaps when you thought you were talking to a Comcast employee about a bill or a Disney employee about a reservation. Arise lines up customer service agents who work from home. It then sells this network of agents to blue-chip corporations.

Arise and most of its corporate clients consider preserving the secrecy of this arrangement to be vital. An Arise company manual says, “The confidentiality of information related to Arise and its clients must be maintained forever.” Arise’s agents are forbidden from publicly identifying the brand-name companies whose customers’ calls they answer. Even commiserating in a private Facebook group, they avoid typing out Airbnb, opting instead for rather flimsy code. The “bed and breakfast client,” some write. One used “sky bnb.”


Arise’s workers not only don’t work for its clients, they also don’t officially work for Arise. Like Uber drivers or TaskRabbit gofers, they are independent contractors. To get gigs, they first absorb substantial expense, paying for their own equipment and training, and then have fees deducted from every paycheck for the “use” of Arise’s “platform.” – Ken Armstrong, ProPublica

Why local journalism needs a funding pipeline

In one year, nearly a billion dollars poured into the local news industry from tech companies and philanthropies: 

  • March 2018: Google commits $300 million to fund local journalism programs and initiatives; 

  • January 2019:  Facebook pledges $300 million to support local journalism projects;

  • February 2019: The Knight Foundation says it will double its investment in local journalism to $300 million over the next five years (disclosure — I am a consultant for the foundation);

  • March 2019: The American Journalism Project announces a $49 million fund to support local nonprofit newsrooms.

If you were a budding or seasoned media entrepreneur, the message was clear: Now is the time to start a local news company, and predictably, many did.

Of course, the world had other plans. Due to Covid-19, what was deemed a local news renaissance quickly became an apocalypse. Dozens of media funders responded with emergency Covid-19 local journalism relief funds, Facebook gave another $100 million, and Google issued more grants to help local news outfits weather the economic recession.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder, “Where has all of this money gone?” – Yvonne Leow, Reynolds Journalism Institute


Buju Banton

Buju Banton


Legendary Jamaican Artist Buju Banton Coming To Toronto On North American Arena Tour

The show will come as part of the reggae artist's first U.S. tour in 13 years. Don Toliver and Snotty Nose Rez Kids have also revealed upcoming Canadian dates.

A legendary Jamaican artist is making a major return to Canada.

Grammy-winning reggae and dancehall musician Buju Banton will perform at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on October 13, for his first Canadian show in over fifteen years.

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