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Virgin Radio Vancouver To Return To Z95.3 Name

Virgin Radio 95.3 CKZZ Vancouver Shore 104.3 CHRR Boom 97.3 CHBM Flow 93.5 CFXT Toronto Hot 95.3 Z95.3 Zed Z NewcapUpdate 3/24: CKZZ has announced it will rebrand on Monday, March 31 and not to the “Hot 95.3” moniker it teased.

The station will return to the “Z95.3” (pronounced Zed 95.3) moniker it used from 1991 to 2007. The station dropped the Z name as part of a format change to Rhythmic AC “95 Crave” followed by its return to CHR as part of Astral’s network of Virgin Radio branded across Canada.

Bell Media will retain the rights to the Virgin Radio brand in Vancouver and intends to relaunch it on another station at a later date. “We’d like to thank listeners and advertisers for their loyalty to Virgin Radio, and appreciate their patience until Virgin Radio returns bigger and better than ever before,” said James Stuart, Regional Vice-President, Radio and TV Operations, Bell Media Vancouver. “Virgin Radio is the #1 contemporary hit radio network in the country as the result of its awesome blend of music, personalities, and energy that listeners love. As the proud parent of Virgin in Vancouver, we are excited to begin building our plans for the Virgin brand’s return.”

A potential destination for the Virgin brand could be AC “103.5 QM/FM” CHQM as 95.3 morning hosts Nat Hunter and Drew Savage will move to that station later this spring replacing the exiting Mike Shaeffer and Tara McGuire. Bell also owns CHR “94.5 The Beat” CFBT and Sports combo “Team 1040” CKST and “Team 1410” CFTE.

One of the most iconic radio brands in Vancouver is making a return to Vancouver’s airwaves. Virgin Radio 95.3 (CKZZ) re-brands to its famous Z95.3 moniker following the recent sale from Bell Media to Newcap Radio. The rights to the Virgin Radio Brand remain Bell’s property.

“We’re excited to launch this truly Vancouver brand while continuing our current Hot AC mix that Virgin Radio 95.3 listeners have come to love,” says station general manager Sherri Pierce. “Z95.3 never really disappeared. The popular Z95.3 bumper stickers are still everywhere on vehicles around the city.”

The new Z95.3 will continue to play Today’s Best Mix and listeners can expect to hear all their favourite regular features such as the $1,000 Minute, Golddigger and The Sleaze.

Within the transaction, the rights to the Virgin morning show were also retained by Bell. “We have thoroughly enjoyed our time with the Nat & Drew show and we wish them the very best,” says program director Mel Kemmis. “We look forward to introducing our dynamic new morning show team to our awesome listeners in the weeks ahead.”

Consumers will be made aware of Newcap Radio’s re-branding of Z95.3 with the support of a city-wide advertising campaign across Metro Vancouver.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted its final approval on the deal on March 19th stemming from the purchase of Astral Media by Bell Media. Locally within the Vancouver radio cluster AM650 (CISL) and SHORE104.3 FM (CHHR) were also acquired by Newcap Radio.

103.5 QM/FM delivers an exciting wakeup call to listeners, welcoming beloved local co-hosting duo Nat Hunter and Drew Savage to its morning lineup. The popular pair and winner of the Georgia Straight “Best of Vancouver” Award for favourite radio personalities for the last two years, are poised to deliver their trademark blend of crackling energy and non-stop hilarity to Vancouver’s #1 radio station, making mornings a breeze for loyal listeners across the region. Longtime show members Erin Davis and Producer Scooter will join MORNINGS WITH NAT & DREW, which will make its debut later this spring.

The announcement follows today’s departure of MIKE AND TARA IN THE MORNING co-hosts Mike Shaeffer and Tara McGuire from 103.5 QM/FM.

“We are delighted to welcome Nat and Drew to 103.5 QM/FM and their enormously popular blend of chemistry and charisma. This powerhouse pair is set to energize listeners and make Vancouver’s #1 radio station even stronger,” said James Stuart, Regional Vice-President, Radio and TV Operations, Bell Media Vancouver.

Stuart also remarked on the departure of Shaeffer and McGuire. “Mike and Tara have left an indelible imprint on our station and our listeners over the years,” said Stuart. “We thank them for contributing to the success of QM/FM and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”

MORNINGS WITH NAT & DREW will air from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. weekday mornings on 103.5 QM/FM and online at QMFM.com.

Original Report 3/19: The divestitures of five Toronto and Vancouver stations to Newcap as part of the Bell/Astral merger has been approved by the CRTC.

The purchase brings Urban “Flow 93.5” CFXJ and Classic Hits “Boom 97.3” CHBM Toronto and Standards “AM 650” CISL, CHR “95.3 Virgin Radio” CKZZ, and AAA “Shore 104.3” CHHR Vancouver to the Newcap fold.

With the “Virgin Radio” brand licensed exclusively to Bell Media in Canada, a rebranding is likely at 95.3 CKZZ Vancouver. Newcap has registered numerous domains for the frequency since the sale was first announced last August. In September the company registered Radio953.com, Kool953.com, Hits953.com, AmpRadio953.com, and Zed953.com. They were joined by 953Boom.com, Amp953.com, Hot953.com, TheNewZ953.com, and TheNewZed953.com in December.

Interestingly a Twitter account for @Hot953 went live in the past 24 hours with a background of the Vancouver skyline and following a few Vancouver oriented accounts and pop artists. Newcap has five “Hot” branded CHR’s in its portfolio already; most notably “Hot 89.9” CIHT Ottawa.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

5 Comments

  1. Profile photo of e-dawg


    Just leave QM/FM as is. Just change 94.5 THE BEAT to Virgin, instead of QM/FM. 94.5 THE BEAT is the right format for VIRGIN since the VIRGIN brand is mostly a CHR brand.

  2. Profile photo of ksradiogeek


    I highly doubt QM will become Virgin. That would be a “Beat” thing since Virgin isn’t AC.

  3. Profile photo of ksradiogeek


    Also, I possibly see Virgin being rolled out on the remaining CHRs in Bell’s portfolio.

  4. Profile photo of Bongwater


    QM is safe. They’re a perennial leader in Vancouver. CFBT on the other hand….

    • Profile photo of ksradiogeek


      QM is a lot like CHFI in Toronto. Been around a long time, synonymous with “at work station” in both markets, both perennial ratings winners. Why change names? It doesn’t connotate too many memories of “soft.”

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