Bell Media announced yesterday that it plans to flip 1150 CKOC Hamilton to TSN Sports Radio from its current oldies…sorry…classic hits format between now and the fall. I don’t know why we call it classic hits instead of oldies now, but everybody seems to have jumped on this train. Listen. The newest songs from the 1980s are 26 years old. It’s ok to call them oldies.
It’s an interesting move considering that Bell already has a TSN branded sports station on 1050 in Toronto, which isn’t all that far away and can easily be picked up by most people in Hamilton unless something has changed from what I remember. And that station is already in direct competition with the Fan 590 and from what I’ve seen of the ratings, not winning.
The release was light on details other than announcing 1150 as the new home of Hamilton Tiger-Cats games starting this year and that it would be airing the Leafs and Raptors games that are already on the Toronto signal. I hope they have ideas to make this station substantially different from the Toronto one because if they don’t, it’s going to get killed. It’s nice for me personally because 1150 comes in on my radios here and 1050 basically doesn’t exist, but I’m only one person and I’m not even in the local market. The people who are are probably aware of 1050 and used to tuning it in. If those people don’t like the Ticats, they have literally no reason to seek out the new Hamilton station if it’s essentially going to be a simulcast. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with, but I’m fully prepared to be disappointed.
On a personal note, this is the end of an era. Through the 80s and up until it switched to oldies in 1992, CKOC was one of my favourite music stations. Like most kids I was a fan of the current pop they played, but unlike some of the other stations around back then they seemed to slip in a lot more variety, finding room for things the others weren’t playing while also making time for music from the 60s and 70s. I liked that. It made radio seem like a fun job because you had a feeling that sometimes they were just playing whatever they wanted to hear. I also remember listening to the All Hit 40 countdown on Wednesday nights and being fascinated by how different it was from the American Top 40 on the weekends. I was sad when it was suddenly an oldies station, but eventually I accepted it and even listened sometimes. It was never the same, but I guess that’s how things go.
I’m listening right now, and it’s pretty clear that they’re winding things down. It’s felt that way for a while with less and less in the form of news updates and banter from whoever’s on air whenever I tune in, but I’ve been listening for over an hour already today and I haven’t heard a single DJ. It’s kind of sad. I wonder how many loyal listeners know what’s coming.