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After 101 years, Rogers Shuts Down CityNews, Ottawa’s Oldest Radio Station

It’s yet another tough day for local radio.

Rogers Sports & Media announced last week that it’s shutting down CityNews Ottawa. Newsroom staff, producers, anchors and on-air personalities like Rob Snow and Sam Laprade, were informed of the news earlier today.

Rogers spokeswoman Charmaine Khan told the Canadian Press that the closure of the station is “due to low audiences, declining revenue and restrictive regulatory policies for AM radio.”

For almost three years, the CityNews talk radio format had been simulcasting on AM 1310 and FM 101.1. Up until then, the FM signal had been a country music format and it’s now simply reverted back to that same format today.

But after 101 years, AM 1310 is no more.

1310 has been in the news talk game for the past 13 years, first as 1310 News and then City News. It was Ottawa’s first radio station, launched back in 1922, as CKCO. After a sale in 1949, the call letters were switched to CKOY, and they primarily played hit music for the next four decades.

With FM becoming the superior choice for pop music listeners, another sale in 1985 saw the station call letters change to CIWW, as they hitched on to an Oldies format. Through the years it was known as W1310, Sunny 1310 and Oldies 1310. As the theory went, oldies listeners didn’t mind the inferior sound quality of AM radio. That was the sound of their youth – AM was all there was back then – and it just added to the nostalgia.

But as that unique demographic aged out and grew smaller, year by year, the talk format was eventually seen as the only one with a chance to survive on AM radio. And so CIWW went that route in 2010. But Bell Media’s CFRA had already gone that route 17 years earlier, with big guns like Steve Madely and Lowell Green helping to man the ship. So 1310 News began the race miles behind and never caught up.

Today, listeners and advertisers are flocking online, and many auto manufacturers aren’t even bothering to install AM radios in cars. This town is barely big enough for one AM news talk station, let alone two.

Even CFRA’s sister AM talk station, TSN 1200, is feeling the pinch on the sports side, permanently closing down all local programming between 10 am and 4 pm for the first time in their 24 year history.

Today’s news release reads that Rogers’ other radio stations, all on the FM dial – CHEZ 106, COUNTRY 101 and KISS 105.3 – have not been affected by today’s move. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Employees at those three stations are all in the same building on Thurston Drive. They not only have to say goodbye to co-workers, their grasp on their own dwindling sense of job security feels even looser today.

CityNews will continue operating its Ottawa website and its social channels.

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