Stingray Digital was founded by a partnership of Eric Boyko, Alexandre Taillefer and Telesystem. This followed the group’s purchase Soundchoice for $6 million.
Stingray acquired the commercial-free cable TV Galaxie music service from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for $65 million. It was renamed Stingray Music.
Alexandre Taillefer left Stingray.
Stingray began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on June 3. On the same date, Novacap, one of Canada’s leading private equity firms, sold most of its 29.4% stake in Stingray Digital Group Inc. Novacap had been involved with Stingray for seven years.
On May 2, Stingray announced its intent to acquire Newcap Radio for $506 million. Following regulatory approval, the sale was completed on October 26. The family of Newcap founder Harry Steele became Stingray’s largest third-party shareholder. The purchase of Newcap brought Stingray into the broadcasting business and made the company one of the largest operators of radio stations in Canada.
In September, CKDQ Drumheller changed branding from “CFCW” to Real Country 910.
In December, CKRA-FM Edmonton changed from Classic Hits Capital FM to The Breeze with an Adult Contemporary format. Vancouver’s CHLG-FM switched from Classic Hits LG 104.3 to Adult Contemporary as The Breeze. CKEC-FM New Glasgow changed from East Coast FM to Mix 94.1, keeping its Adult Contemporary format. CKEZ-FM Pictou remained Classic Rock when it changed branding from Classic Rock 97.9 to Z 97.9.
In December, the company officially changed its name to Stingray Group, Inc.
In January, Stingray began syndicating the Real Country 95.5 Red Deer morning show across its Real Country and boom-branded radio stations in rural Alberta, leading to the elimination of 14 on-air positions.
In January, CKUL-FM Halifax became Adult Contemporary formatted The Breeze. It had been Hot AC Mix 96.5.
In February, CFXJ-FM Toronto changed from The Move to its original branding of Flow 93.5. The format remained Hip Hop-Urban.
On May 9, Stingray announced that it planned to acquire CIXL-FM and CKYY-FM in Welland, Ontario from Wellport Broadcasting Ltd./RB Communications Ltd. subject to CRTC approval.
On July 4, the CRTC approved CHCM Marystown’s conversion to the FM band, operating on 88.3 MHz with an ERP of 59,300 watts and EHAAT of 186.1 metres (non-directional). 20 hours of local programming would be broadcast per week with the remainder coming from VOCM 590 in St, John’s.
On July 15, the CRTC approved the application by Stingray Radio to acquire CHOO-FM from Golden West Broadcasting.
In the fall, Stingray entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Giant FM (CIXL) and Country 89 (CKYY) Welland from Wellport Broadcasting Limited/RB Communications Ltd, subject to CRTC approval.
Stingray rebranded two of its Alberta stations in the fall: CKWY Wainwright changed from Wayne FM to Hot 93.7 and CJEG Bonnyville switched from Kool 101.3 to Hot 101.3.
The company launched a syndicated, coast-to-coast, midday show on half a dozen of its small market country stations. The Paul McGuire Show began airing on New Country 100.7 (CIGV) Kelowna, New Country 103.1 (CJKC) Kamloops, New Country 98.1 (CFCW) Camrose, New Country 96.9 (CJXL) Moncton, New Country 103.5 (CKCH) Sydney, and New Country 92.3 (CFRK) Fredericton.
On February 7, the CRTC approved Stingray’s of CIXL-FM and CKYY-FM Welland from R.B. Communications Ltd. RB was controlled by Katlynx Communications Corporation and was effectively controlled by David Holgate.
Stingray’s application for a licence to operate the previously exempt Stingray Hits video channel was approved by the CRTC. It would be licensed as an English-language discretionary service despite the fact it targeted the French-language market and broadcast about 40% French-language programming.
In April, Stingray Radio temporarily laid off just under 90 employees nationwide due to a sudden and dramatic drop in advertising. The layoffs primarily impacted employees that given Covid-19 social distancing measures and the downturn in ad revenue, no longer had work to do. The impacted employees would receive top-up provisions and continue on the company benefit plan. Stingray staff worldwide accepted a temporary wage rollback that amounted to 10% for the majority of employees and 75% for CEO Eric Boyko.
Stingray initiated what it called an economic stimulus plan, which offered local businesses the opportunity to apply for grants in the form of free radio advertising. Through the program, Stingray would provide a minimum of $15 million in radio advertising grants to local businesses in markets where Stingray operated a radio station.
In May, Stingray proceeded with its plan to air syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club on Flow 93.5 Toronto, which were temporarily halted by COVID-19. The move to transition to the syndicated show from New York City’s WWPR-FM was originally set to start airing on Flow on March 16.
As of the late summer, CFRQ Halifax morning show BJ & The Morning Crew was also being heard on CJMO Moncton.
Stingray launched an initiative to support emerging Canadian talent on 19 of its country stations which introduced The Trending Track. Every other month the country team would select a track by an emerging artist to feature. That song would receive two months of support and a minimum of 25 spins per week on the stations. The artist would also have the opportunity to do an interview with Paul McGuire for his National Midday and Countdown Shows and receive additional support on station social media and websites.
In November, Jenn Dalen-Gordon was promoted within Stingray to Operations Manager for the B.C. Interior stations, as well as overseeing the Real Country and New Country brands, nationally. Now based in Kamloops, she had been Regional PD, Red Deer/Rural AB/Kelowna/Kamloops, based in Red Deer.
Stingray announced the further extension of ‘the Breeze‘ format to rural Nova Scotia, starting January 15. Already heard in Halifax, Edmonton, and Vancouver, CKEC-FM New Glasgow became the latest market to pick up the “easy, relaxing and familiar favourites” format.
In February, Stingray rebranded three of its stations in the Maritimes under the Classic Hits ‘Rewind’ banner. Adult Hits stations Up! 93.1 (CIHI) Fredericton, 95.9 Sun FM (CHHI) Miramichi, and Active Rocker 89.3 K-Rock (CIJK) Kentville were now under the Rewind umbrella. Each station’s local personalities remained.
John Steele resigned from the Stingray Group Board of Directors. He was the former President of Newfoundland & Labrador operations for Newfoundland Capital Corp., which Stingray acquired in 2018. Karinne Bouchard was appointed to the board and would also serve on the corporation’s Audit Committee.
Stingray laid off a number of staff at its east coast radio stations in March. Among those caught up in the restructuring were Trevor Wallworth, PD at CFRQ Halifax; Allie MacKinnon, one-third of the CFRQ morning show; Mike Shannon, Ops Manager for Stingray’s Charlottetown stations; Alan Johnson, news director in New Glasgow; Dave Jennison, a sales rep at CIJK Kentville; and Stephanie MacPhee, PM drive host and music director at CKCH Sydney.
Stingray introduced a syndicated morning show across its The Breeze stations in Vancouver (CHLG), Edmonton (CKRA) and Halifax (CKUL) and syndicated evening programming on its Classic Rock stations in the west (CIRK Edmonton, CKKO Kelowna and CIZZ Red Deer).
Stingray rebranded three of its Newfoundland & Labrador stations in the spring. CHVO Carbonear switched from Kixx Country to New Country 103.9. CKLN Clarenville changed from Kixx Country to New Country 97.1. CJYQ St. John’s became New Country 930. It had been known as Kixx Country.
In May, Stingray launched its “Hot” Adult Contemporary music brand in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in May. The format appeared in Sydney as Hot 101.9 CHRK, and St. John’s as Hot 99.1 CKIX.
Stingray Group Inc. Radio Stations
(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)
|CFCB-AM||570||Corner Brook, NL|
|CFLN-AM||1230||Goose Bay, NL|
|CHNI-FM||88.9||Saint John, NB|
|CHSL-FM||92.7||Slave Lake, AB|
|CHSP-FM||97.7||St. Paul, AB|
|CILB-FM||103.5||Lac La Biche, AB|
|CIZZ-FM||100.5||Red Deer, AB|
|CJXK-FM||95.3||Grand Centre (Cold Lake), AB|
|CJYQ-AM||930||St. John’s, NL|
|CKCM-AM||620||Grand Falls, NL|
|CKEC-FM||94.1||New Glasgow, NS|
|CKEZ-FM||97.9||New Glasgow, NS|
|CKGY-FM||95.5||Red Deer, AB|
|CKIX-FM||99.1||St. John’s, NL|
|CKVH-FM||93.5||High Prairie, AB|
|CKXG-FM||102.3||Grand Falls, NL|
|CKXX-FM||103.9||Corner Brook, NL|
|VOCM-AM||590||St. John’s, NL|
|VOCM-FM||97.5||St. John’s, NL|
Stingray Group Inc. Television Stations
(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)