My g/f cheered when I announced to her last night that I won’t be listening to CHOM-FM (97.7) anymore.
“Finally! Thank God . . . I won’t have to hear their head-banging music anymore!”
Then she eyed me a little suspiciously. I could see it in her eyes: What was I up to? She knows that I have been listening to CHOM since the 1970s, that I have sung its praises to my readers in my various blogs, that I swore I would listen to that station till the day I died.
Yes, I was Ms. Loyalty. I’m like that with companies that treat me well, like my Honda dealer in St-Jerome, for example. Honda rules!! So, why was I suddenly divorcing CHOM-FM, the so-called “spirit of Montreal.”?
She asked simply: “Uh . . . why not?”
Well, I explained, it has — first and foremost — to do with the layoff of the station’s overnight DJ, Ronny Mack. It was, proverbially speaking, the straw that broke the camel’s back. You see, on a personal level, Ronny is, strike that, was part of my life. I’m often on the road after midnight, and listening to his live real-time dialogue between songs on CHOM provided me with some comfort in the dark cloak of night. It’s about warmth. It’s about connections, no doubt something all radio personalities strive to do: connect with their listeners.
Ronny connected with me, and I know he connected with other night folks who are “working the back shift,” as he likes to put it. We need to hear a real voice, not canned programming with ads being the only thing we hear between songs. I mean, if CHOM is not going to give us a warm body to listen to, we might as well listen to CDs . . .
Ya hear that, advertisers!: I won’t be listening to your ads on CHOM anymore. Your reach has been diminished by one . . . and then some (as you will see).
But it’s about more than Ronny. It’s about a corporate parent slashing jobs — i.e. wounding people — less than a week after the #ParisAttacks, and little more than a month before Christmas.
Sure, I could understand if the corporate parent was losing money and struggling to survive. Then layoffs and cutbacks would be necessary — everybody understands that.
But that’s not the case here. Bell Media’s parent company, BCE, is raking in the loot, more than $700 million in profit for the third quarter.
It’s just not enough for the bean counters there, I guess. They want more earnings per share, and they are throwing people into the street to see that eps rise by a few pennies. Yes, that is what this is about: pennies per share, and it is yet another example of capitalism run amok. It’s about greed and selfishness by a wealthy few always wanting more, more, more. It’s about contempt by small-hearted grinches for workers and people like me, the listeners.
And viewers. Because, you see, I am so sickened by Bell Media’s layoffs across the country — hundreds of jobs in various media outlets — I’ve decided to boycott all Bell Media stations and products. On principle. I’m not going to put any more pennies into this Scrooge’s piggybank.
I won’t be watching CTV News anymore; I’ll watch our public broadcaster instead, the CBC.
I had been thinking about getting rid of my telephone landline, because I don’t really need it: I’ve got a great deal going with Rogers for my smartphone and Internet. I kept a Bell telephone landline out of loyalty. Now I can cut it in good conscience.
Ditto for my Bell satellite TV service, which is expensive and not very good, anyway. I had been thinking about cancelling the service and going with another provider.
Ya hear that, advertisers: I won’t be hearing or seeing your ads on any Bell Media radio stations and TV newscasts. Do you care? Does it bother you that good, simple folk have been cast aside and left to struggle while the fat cats in the corporate parent of their former employers celebrate? Does it bother you that consumers like me weep inside for those we know are hurting today because they have been thrown out like so much garbage by a Scrooge hiding behind a corporate logo?
It’s just business, Bell Media and its advertisers might say. It’s about the opportunity to make more money. It’s just business . . .
To quote the ghost of Jacob Marley, talking to a trembling Scrooge in the classic book A Christmas Carol: “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
And that’s where too many corporations have lost their way, and their spirit. Their owners have forgotten that mankind is our business, even if it means eps will be a few pennies less.
That’s why I can’t in good conscience support Bell Media, and why I must finally tune out a radio station I have loved for so long. It has nothing to do with the wonderful people who still work there: Terry, Rob, Escoban and so many others. It’s simply that CHOM is no longer the “spirit of Montreal,” in my opinion. It has become a symbol of corporate greed to me, of an uncaring entity that puts business before mankind.
So, is it just me, or are there others who feel the same way I do today? Well, a couple of people I know told me they had already tuned out Bell Media, and what took me so long?
And these things do have a tendency to spread. Consumers often turn their backs on companies that treat them — and employees — with contempt.
And so it goes . . . I’m not urging anyone else to boycott Bell Media stations. But I’ve got to live with my conscience.
So what station will I listen to, you may be asking? After all, I am a rock ‘n’ roller. I may watch CBC News and such, but I’m just not ready for the rocking chair serenity of CBC Radio (sorry, CBC folks, maybe in a couple of decades).
My g/f asked the same question, eyeing me suspiciously.
Smiles . . .
Well, there is more than one “head-banging station” out there, darling — though, I dispute the idea that rock ‘n’ roll is head-banging music . . . another time, perhaps. She gravitates to the music of Celine Dion . . . puh lease . . . gag me with a spoon . . .
Anyway, I’ve already made the switch: to the Buzz 99.9, The Rock Alternative, in Burlington. They’re young, they’re hip, and they rock! I contacted them on Twitter and Facebook, and they welcomed me with open arms. Nice folks . . . I’m already developing a loyalty to them.
(Ya hear that, Bell Media advertisers! Bye, bye . . .)
And I’ll also be checking out a certain “handsome and funny morning-show host” on The Jewel 106.7 FM — if I wake up early enough, but ya know, I am a night owl, Ted.
To Ronny Mack: Thank you for being a voice in the night for me and for so many others. And thank you for the kindness you showed on air when my daughter’s dear friend — and my friend, too — died in a motorcycle accident. Thank you for being a good soul. I hope you land on your feet and find employment with a company worthy of someone like you.
Hugs to you, Ronny Mack. We love you . . . Don’t forget that.
So, bye-bye, CHOM. Thanks to all the good folks there for what you’ve done for rock music in this city.
Sorry it had to end this way.
— Jillian Page