Nadia Elkharadly: Q107 – What are they thinking?

I have to drive. A lot.  Luckily I have car that’s comfortable enough for the stupid amount of time I have to spend in it.  Somewhat unluckily, my car is too new for a tape deck, and too old for an auxiliary plug:  meaning I can’t plug my blackberry (which serves as my portable music device) to listen to my own personal soundtrack.  Therefore, I rely on commercial radio stations as well as cds to get me through my morning and afternoon commute.  Which brings me to my rant o’ the week:  WHAT IS IT WITH RADIO IN TORONTO?  Warning:  I am in no way professionally qualified to criticize radio programming.  This rant is brought to you from a place of crankiness due to lack of sleep, and extreme pickiness when it comes to music.

I will focus my particular rant on Q107.  I enjoy this station, I really do.  I started listening to it regularly when the Edge Morning show crew annoyed and irritated me so much that I resolved never to listen to them again.  They shock-jocked their way right off the dial on my clock radio at home, and the only reason the Edge is still programmed in my car is because I occasionally like the music they play.

My relationship with Q107 can be likened to one someone has with their dorky dad – you love him, but sometimes you can’t help but facepalm at some of the things he does.  Sometimes I do facepalm at some of the dorky dad like humour I hear on q (I’m looking at you John Derringer and Maureen Holloway).  But more and more I find myself rolling my eyes at the music played on that station.  For a station that calls itself “classic rock”…they sure seem to play a mish mash of random stuff, including a fairly disproportionate amount of Kim Mitchell (Pictured below) and Tom Cochrane, likely out of contractual obligation (that I don’t mind, since I grew up loving “Patio Lanterns” and “Life is a highway” – thanks Mom!)…but I digress.

Classifying music by genre is problematic as it is.  Trying to fit a specific band or artist into one single square box labeled “rock” or “blues” or “country” is incredibly difficult, sometimes impossible.  That’s Q’s first issue:  calling your station specifically “classic rock” means constantly trying to fit the music played on the station into that one (albeit large) box.  The other issue is that it doesn’t really seem to me that Q107 has actually sat down and specifically defined what that box should hold.  Does classic rock mean music made a certain amount of years ago?  Does classic rock mean music from a certain past decade, or few decades?  Is it music of a certain style or sound or format?  According to my trusty online friend Wikipedia (not a completely reliable source for facts but always a good guideline): “Classic rock is a radio format which developed from the album-oriented rock (AOR) format in the early 1980s. In the United States, the classic rock format was originally developed as an oldies format featuring the British Invasion era music of the 1960s.[citation needed] Classic rock stations re-create, in part, the sound of album-oriented rock stations of the 1970s and 1980s (although usually with a much more limited playlist) and appeal mainly to adults rather than teenagers. Despite this, many classic rock acts consistently attract new generations of fans.[1][2] Some classic rock stations also play a limited number of current releases which are stylistically consistent with the station’s sound, or from established classic rock artists who still produce new albums.”

Methinks no one at Q107 has access to the internet to read this very simple, and in my opinion very reasonable definition of classic rock.  The only inkling to a definition I’ve gleaned in my short years of listening to Q107 is that anything recorded more than a decade ago seems to qualify as “classic rock”.  Meaning, the hits of the 90s that I grew up with are apparently fair game to the music directors working over at Sugar Beach.  Now, after I get over the OMG I’M OLD NOW panic wears off, I just get confused.  Grunge music to me isn’t classic rock.  Classic rock is the stuff that influenced the music that I loved in my teen years.  As a result, I find it pretty jarring to be listening to Q107 on my morning or afternoon drive only to hear “Smells like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana coming on the airwaves right after they’ve played “Paperback writer” by the Beatles.  It’s made even more jarring by the fact that Corus already HAS a station dedicated to playing bands like Nirvana and the Tragically Hip and all those non-classic rock bands that creep onto that station – that’s right, remember 102.1 the Edge, Corus?

If Corus Entertainment insists on having multiple stations to play music based on some genre based classification, and insist on classifying by some strange era or time period based method, at least be consistent:  play one kind of music on one station, and the other kind of music on, you know, THE OTHER STATION.  Maybe I’m being too intense, but in cases such as these I really don’t understand how overlap can even happen.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been driving to and from work, when I’ve flipped to Q to hear some song by Pearl Jam, only to hear the same song played on the Edge maybe 20 mins later.  That’s just lazy programming in my opinion.

If you want to play the same music on both stations, then why have two stations?  Other radio stations manage to play all of that music all on their own.  Check out 97.7 Hitz FM out of St. Catherines.  What do they play?  Everything that rocks.  What does that entail?  Everything that has rocked, is currently rocking, or hopefully will rock.  Hearing Rival Sons on the same stationt hat plays Led Zeppelin and Soundgarden is pretty awesome.  Frankly, the only reason why that station hasn’t taken over for Q107 on my bedroom radio is…because I can’t figure out how to tune into 97.7 on my FM dial without it still sounding fuzzy.  This really sucks because Chris Biggs and Jason Barr are my favourite morning show hosts – they’re funny and I don’t wish violence and pestilence upon them (I’m looking at you Dean Blundell and company.)

My other beef is this: to categorize classic rock as only music from (enter arbitrary year) and previous, you’re discouraging the creation and dissemination of music made now in that vein.  Look at the Sheepdogs.  Look at Rival Sons.  Look at Little Foot Long Foot.  These bands are clearly influenced by the music of the past, and are recreating it in their own style.  They’re classic rock in a sense, but modern.  So if Q107 will only play music made before 199…whatever, or by bands that formed before 199…whatever, these bands are automatically left out, even though their music may totally suit the sound of the station.

Of course, I may not be “right” about all this stuff.  But it’s something I find myself thinking about whenever a totally not classic rock song (to me) comes on the radio.  I’m completely open to other opinions and arguments on the subject, so get on down to that comment button and use it!  In the meantime, I will still listen to Q107 while I drive to and from work, and I will still shake my head here and there at the content.

Until next time,



Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

9 Responses to “Nadia Elkharadly: Q107 – What are they thinking?”

  1. The reason Corus has two stations programming near identical playlists (well, nearly 100 stations actually) is so they can dominate the demographic that listens to it. It’s near illegal according to the CRTC – as it monopolizes geographic centres – but with some fancy ‘branding’ to fool listeners into thinking it’s different they get to pretend they’re catering to a bigger variety of listeners….and keep the stooges at the CRTC believing it.

  2. I agree with the argument that a “classic rock” station should play music that sounds like or is “classic rock”… but to say that 102.1 the edge is the go-to station for 90’s music (some now 20+ years old) is not necessarily true anymore. Yes, they have the 90’s nooner 4 days a week, and you can hear Nirvana, PJ and Soundgarden, maybe some Rage, at any given point, but there is a lot of other 90’s music that is not played consistently on that station and doesn’t fit into the “classic rock” description, as stated above. It’s almost as if to make way for the influx of new and (not always) great bands, some of the older alternative is marginalized. These bands still rock and could be considered “classic”, but in a different sense, a new generation of “classic”. 97.7 does a great job of playing a lot of great rock, old and new, but there doesn’t seem to be a great radio venue dedicated to the music that falls between classic rock and today’s modern alternative rock. Apparently they are all crooks. That is all.

    • LOL that’s why i mostly listen to cbc radio 2 in the car and 3 online. they just play everything and anything so very little is left out. also, if corus were to makea 90s dedicated station as so much music came out of that period, that would be fine by me, and i’m sure they’d love invading the market even further!

  3. I live in the States (US), terrestial radio seems to be on a serious decline here. The best source for new music is National Public Radio or internet radio.

  4. American here – we have no illusions about anything but a monopoly in radio, satellite or otherwise. As I was explaining the payola scandal of the olden days to a friend, I laughed at how silly that seems now. Of course the radio stations are owned by the same corporations that own the record labels. Why wouldn’t they be? And with that, I shall end my rant.

  5. The reception isn’t always the best in the car but I find that GIANT FM out of Welland is more of a pure classic rock station than Q.

  6. Always liked HTZ-FM, and before that, I would listen to 96.9, Buffalo’s 97Rock, but since the Humber station started at the same frequency, it blocks it out. They are TRULY Classic Rock format, and never stray from it…I listen to them online sometimes, but their stream is crappy….

  7. May I humbly suggest 94-9 The Rock, Rockin the GTA. Although I am very bias. I think you may enjoy what you hear.

    Doug Elliott
    Program Director
    94-9 The Rock

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