DAWG FM Yelping the Blues

Blues and blues-rock enthusiasts were howling enthusiastically when the CRTC awarded the Torres brothers — Frank and Ed — a licence to broadcast on the 101.9 FM frequency in Ottawa on August 26, 2008. Broadcasters in other markets were skeptical the specialty format could work and, doggone it, they may be right.

Torres Media has applied to remove a condition of license that requires CIDG 101.9 (commercially known as DAWG) in Ottawa to devote 20% of the music broadcast to Category 3 (Special Interest Music) and reduce the amount of Canadian content aired from 40 to 35 percent.

Irritating the situation of operating an independent specialty format in a market with 17 FMs competing for $66 million in ad revenues, Torres has an outstanding application in front of the CRTC seeking approval to swap their 101.9 frequency with CHIP 101.7 in Fort Coulonge, Quebec and increase power from 5,500 to 19,500 watts. At the time of the application for the swap in March of this year, DAWG GM Todd Bernard went on record saying,  “It’ll be a real big deal for us. We reach less than 50% of the Ottawa census metropolitan area, about 582,000 in our primary service contour. The proposed technical amendments will take that number to 755,000. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

“We were getting e-mails saying, ‘We love your station, it’s the best in town … but can you turn up your power?”

There are few successful independent FM voices operating in major markets in Canada that can be described as successful. Fewer still operating in a niche format. It would be helpful if the CRTC were to understand the business dynamics of the station and give this DAWG a bone.



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