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Le Courant

Automne 2016 | 18

The first FM Country Quebec

The first radio FM Country Quebec


It is 6 o'clock in the morning. Welcome to the debut morning transmission from the new radio station in Coaticook, CFIN-FM 104.5 on your dial, the first FM Country Station in Quebec. It was with those words that featured Benoit Claude Prevost as the "Morning Man'' who officially opened the station on November 2, 1983.

Clement de Laat, the developer of the station, worked on the project for more than six years. At some point during this time, Michael Dougherty joined the project. It was not until 1981 that the two men presented their first application containing a musically diverse format. Along with a group of 5 persons representing different organizations in Coaticook, the two promoters went to Ottawa, during that time period, to go before a public hearing and to present their project to the Radio and Telecommunication Council. Despite a warm reception from the representatives of the Council, the project was denied as it did not seem to be viable enough for a small community like Coaticook.

Despite the disappointment of the review, both promoters were not discouraged and went on to make a new request in the spring of 1982. Mr. de Laat and Mr. Dougherty knew very well that a radio station was not just listened to by the people of Coaticook. It would be listened to by all the people living in the area that would be able to pull in the station. According to a study by a consulting engineer, towns as far away as Cowansville, Granby, Richmond, Asbestos, Sherbrooke, East Angus, Cookshire and La Patrie could also pull in the station. Also, we should mention that our nearby American neighbors would have access as well. A particular feature, at this time, the station format contained 60% Country Music content.

It was always in their mind that a good quality station be put up in their community and, finally, their application was accepted. It was November 3, 1982 when the CRTC finally complied that a Country FM station could be located in Coaticook. There would be 710 watts of power coming from the antenna atop Mount Tanguay in Dixville.

The station officially began its run on Monday, November 2, 1983. In the beginning the radio studio was to be found at the foot of the antenna on Mount Tanguay. It was there that the radio announcers would meet, in a house trailer, to start the programs each day. On the other hand, the administrative office was located in the business district of Coaticook, namely, 194 St. Jean Baptiste St.

In 1984, a meeting took place between the Quebec CHRC and the local radio station with the outcome of the meeting being that station CFIN-FM became the official voice of the Quebec Nordiques in the Eastern Townships. And this became a fact for the upcoming hockey season. The radio station received a phone call in the spring of the following year from Malcolm Scott, Director General of Verdun FM, CKOI-FM. He was a frequent visitor in our beautiful region. Mr. Scott simply wanted to share his observations on the musical format of the station. It was this man who convinced us to increase our content of Country Music of 60% to 100%. Henceforward, our speciality would be Country.

Thanks to his suggestion, we literally felt that our station was finally on the way to becoming a success. According to surveys done by BBM, CFIN-FM was ranked third in the Townships after CITE-FM and CIMO-FM, with a listening audience of approximately 63,000 persons. If we included the Nielson surveys, in the United States, we could add on another 22,000 persons.

In addition to having a greater listening audience by Quebecers, CFIN was also listened to by our American neighbors in communities such as Canaan, Colebrook, Newport, Island Pond and many others in their surrounding towns and villages. Radio Coaticook had succeeded in gaining an American foothold where previously many had not been so interesting in what we had to offer. We had now created an interest among our American neighbors concerning the Quebec Country Music that we had to offer. As a matter of fact, this situation was confirmed by Jean-Pierre Lefebre of Lefebre's Store who had noticed an increase in American customers to his store who were asking for music made by Quebec artists. Unfortunately, a distribution network for Quebec Country Music did not yet exist. We attended public hearings with the CRTC and they really did not want to admit the reality that we were actually living in. The body politic's interests were to defend Canadian politics to such an extent that eyes and ears were closed to the possibility of success in radio broadcasting with a foreign note.

The CRTC refused our first request in 1980 to operate a radio station in Coaticook due to the fact that the listening audience would be too small to support such a service. It is known very well, that radio waves are not just received by one town but rather are radiated or diffused throughout a certain area. That is perhaps why when the team from CFIN-FM was trying to demonstrate that Country Music was viable (2/3 of our advertising revenues came from Quebec while 1/3 of the advertising revenues came from the United States), the broadcast was bilingual in nature as it had to cover the two separate but distinct areas and that a profitable business was being managed that the CRTC began to get more difficult in accepting our initiatives. According to the CRTC, our successes were not conforming with Canadian regulations. We now realized that the ratings would not be in our favor.

In the end of summer, 1987 - CFIN-FM stopped broadcasting.

Source: Clement Delaat

Le Courant

Le Courant est publié par la Société une fois par année. Membres de la société, historiens professionnels et amateurs partagent avec les lecteurs le fruit de leurs recherches. Les textes sont disponibles en français et en anglais. La publication de cette revue est rendue possible grâce au soutien de commanditaires locaux que nous remercions avec toute notre gratitude.

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