Two afternoon radio hosts are out of work after a program revamp at 980 CJME.

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By Kyrsten Stringer

Two afternoon radio hosts are out of work after a program revamp at 980 CJME, a province-wide radio station in Saskatchewan.

Two new programs hosted by existing staff—Saskatchewan Afternoon with David Kirton and The Green Zone—are taking over the time slot previously occupied by MainStreet, hosted by Jill Smith and Dave Arnold.

Broadcasting out of Regina, and sharing content with sister station CKOM in Saskatoon, the station’s programs reach across Saskatchewan; it is considered one of the province’s more influential media outlets.

MainStreet co-host Jill Smith said that the show’s cancellation was unexpected, but that it also aired at a time of day that sees less traffic than other shows.

“When (people) turn on their radio, when are they usually listening? First thing in the morning or on their drive home,” Smith said. “(MainStreet) was never going to be a flagship show.”

Jay Stone, program director at CJME, was not available for an interview. He did provide  an email statement that CJME is excited about its new afternoon line up, which debuted  Jan. 18, 2017.

“David’s show will keep you up to date in the fast paced world of breaking news,” Stone wrote. “Jamie takes on the big sports stories of the day as well as the hot topics everyone is talking about.”

While some people support the decision to end MainStreet in favour of other programming, fans of the show are disappointed.

“My favorite two hours of 980. You’ll still have me for the news but I won’t be tuning in for that time slot anymore. I enjoyed the female presence and the modern approach to radio and our times. I’ll miss you Jill and Dave,” Maeribeth Sullivan said on CJME’s Facebook. Other fans, including Tanya Gattinger, an LPN with the Regina Qu’apelle Health Region studying to become an RN, want to know where they will be able to listen to Smith and Arnold in the future.

Gattinger said that listening to MainStreet was something that she looked forward to every day. She listened when she lived in Neudorf. She listened when she lived in Estevan. She listened when she lived in Maidstone and when she lived in Yorkton.

Gattinger, who was inspired by Smith and Arnold to reach out and be more proactive in her community, said the hosts leave big shoes to fill.

“I don’t just listen. I phone in,” said Gattinger. “Being students we have to write a lot of diverse papers on racism, on poverty, on inequality. They’ve actually helped me find articles and sources just by listening and then I google who they’re talking about and I can write a paper off of them. They’ve helped me along with my academic success, too.”

Merelda Fiddler, former producer with CBC and current Dallas Smythe Chair at the University of Regina Journalism School, said that there’s a trend towards industry contraction instead of expansion.

“Everyone’s trying to build the greatest amount of listeners, because we know that the number of people listening to radio is decreasing overall. The number of people watching traditional television is decreasing overall. A lot of that has to do with our cellphones,” said Fiddler. “Journalism is changing. When people figure out what social media and online can do we’ll see that change result in more jobs in the long run.”

Smith is currently in negotiations elsewhere to continue her journalism career. Co-host Dave Arnold declined an interview.

Kyrsten Stringer is a freelance writer from Saskatchewan. Born and raised on the prairie, she has a BA in English from the University of Regina and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Journalism.