The Saskatoon radio scene has taken a hit. FM station Wired 96.3 closed up shop yesterday. The staff was let go, and the station will play Christmas music for the remainder of the year as Santa FM, when owners Harvard Broadcasting will decide what to do with the transmitter. Ironically this is the same format the station used when it was doing its final tests before officially hitting the air in July of 2008.
I was skeptical when the station opened that there was enough listenership, and hence ad revenue, to support another contemporary pop station. It would seem I was right, unfortunately. I think it's telling that the station would fire its staff with more than a month to go until Christmas, instead of waiting until year's end. I'm guessing the station's revenues weren't covering its staff costs, and it was losing too much money to continue operating even a few weeks longer.
Next July would have been the station's fifth anniversary.
What format might Harvard replace Wired with? I really don't have an idea. We have 2 country stations, one each on AM and FM, so that seems unlikely. A rock station? Competing with Rock 102 FM might not be a much better idea that competing with C95 was in the current format. I can't imagine a news/talk station, as that would seem to be a waste of an FM stereo transmitter, and the format is already served by CKOM and CBC Radio One. Even a Christian music format would have competition in the form of Free 100.3, although the tiny Free would likely be the loser in that kind of battle. Would an oldies format work here? Perhaps. There is an AM oldies station easily heard in this market, Melfort's CKJH on 750 khz AM, but a stereo FM format might take much of their Saskatoon listernship, whatever it might be.