Halifax’s News 95.7 faces upheaval after Rogers Media layoffs
Halifax’s News 95.7 is reeling from 11 layoffs on Tuesday and programming changes that turned its schedule on its head. The news talk radio station will lose the popular Maritime Morning and Maritime Morning Weekend Edition shows.
By Natascia Lypny
Halifax’s News 95.7 is reeling from 11 layoffs on last Tuesday and programming changes that turned its schedule on its head.
The popular news talk station was a victim of Rogers Media’s countrywide staff slimming on Nov. 5, which saw 94 people lose their jobs and its radio outlets allocate more time to nationally produced sports content.
At noon last Tuesday, News 95.7’s staffers were assembled to hear the news of the layoffs. Jordi Morgan, host of the popular Maritime Morning talk show, found out he was without a job and that, by the same time tomorrow, his show would be off the air. The layoffs and changes, he told J-Source , were a shock to the unsuspecting staff.
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The Maritime Morning show is seen by Haligonians as a critical loss to the station. Listeners took to social media last week to lament the airwaves going silent on a voice they had woken up to for the past three years.
— Hance Colburne (@HanceCBC) November 6, 2013
— Brian Larter (@brianlarter) November 6, 2013
“It’s very interesting because, on one part, you think it’s very disappointing to not be able to do the job. But on the other hand, I’ve had an enormous outpouring of kind words and support and…most of all people talking about how much they enjoyed the program,” Morgan said. He also posted a farewell message to the show’s Facebook page.
With three teenagers to support at home, Morgan said he “better get back to work” soon. He is unsure what he’ll tackle next and whether he’ll stay in broadcast or even in journalism.
Morgan doesn’t criticize Rogers for its decision. He praised the company for investing money in Maritime radio stations, especially in “resource-intensive” news talk shows, “but there comes a point where they have to rationalize what they’re doing to their shareholders and find a balance between serving the community the best they can and still being profitable or at least not being very unprofitable,” he said.
A Rogers press release outlined the changes to News 95.7, including a partnership with Sportsnet 590 The FAN, a new program called Hockey Central and an extra hour of Prime Time Sports.[node:ad]
“The changes to our schedule allow us to engage with audiences through a broader range of topics that matter, locally, nationally and internationally,” said Danny Kingsbury, Rogers Radio’s general manager for Ottawa, Kingston and Atlantic Canada in the release. “And partnering with a strong all-sports brand like Sportsnet to bring the country’s leading sports radio shows is sure to bring new energy to the Halifax market.”
With the additional sports content comes a reshuffling of current News 95.7 programming, including bumping The Rick Howe Show from afternoons to mornings and the Todd Veinotte Show to an afternoon slot.
The station is also losing its Maritime Morning Weekend Edition. Host Scott Simpson, who has led the show for just under a year, survived the cuts but in a lengthy post to his blog expressed his sadness over the loss of his colleagues’ jobs.
“I was very sad for the people who left. I was grateful I still had a job. I felt torn between those two,” he told J-Source.
Simpson said he is experiencing “survivor’s guilt” over the layoffs, explaining that he can’t enjoy the fact that he still has a job and worries about his workload going forward.
“You know you’re going to be working in an environment that’s not the same,” he said. “You’re going to go back to a quiet office where people might be sad, where people might be discouraged, and the people might be afraid of management, afraid to stick their neck out, afraid to do things that might be innovative or risky because there might be fewer opportunities to do so, and everything’s being watched very carefully at that point.”
“Companies tend to focus on helping the people who are laid off: they have lots of resources and packages and resources for the people who are leaving,” Simpson said. “I don’t think a lot of companies know what to do with the people who are still there, knowing that they’ve been through a traumatic event, that they’ve seen their co-workers leave, they might be suspicious of what might happen next and worried about how much workload they’re going to have to carry going forward.”
Simpson now runs the afternoon news updates and acts as web editor. He said he hasn’t yet processed the loss of his show but, like Morgan, he has been comforted by the support of listeners. He worries about the programming changes, though, and said he hopes they aren’t permanent.
“Radio is such an intimate medium…we are driving around in people’s cars with them, we are in people’s homes often when they are by themselves, right in their earphones,” he said. “It’s very intimate and people feel very close to their radio personalities, and so for there to be a change for them, you might feel like mom and dad getting a divorce or a death in the family.”
— ~ Tammi ~ (@WindsweptCoast) November 6, 2013
Among News 95.7’s other losses were morning anchor Erica Munn; sports anchor Scott MacIntosh; reporter Desiree Finhert, who was on maternity leave, and her replacement Amanda Debison; The Rick Howe Show producer Melissa Mancini; morning news editor Connie Thiessen; Lite 92.9 DJ Jamie Paterson and one staff each from the creative, production and sales teams.
Natascia Lypny is a copy editor for Brunswick News and a freelance reporter based in Saint John, N.B.