Posts tagged “Q107”

Q107 Culpa

Last year I applauded Q107 for owning up to their deceptive presentation of a Rolling Stones bootleg as a simulcast of a club show in Toronto. I was probably too easy on them in hindsight, but whatever. Some other folks pursued the misleading handling of it by The Mighty Q with the government regulatory body, and got some satisfaction. The ruling is quite lengthy (but includes a lot of detail from the broadcast) and says, in part

As a preliminary matter, the Panel wishes to note that “promotions” are not limited to such advertising as occurs prior to a broadcast, aired in order to entice listening (or viewing) of an upcoming program; they may also include trailers, bumpers and other types of promotional material that are aired during a broadcast. Such promotions serve to identify a program that is already underway for those listeners/viewers who may be surfing or just tuning in, on the one hand, or to encourage already engaged audience members to remain tuned to that broadcast. It follows that the bumpers aired by Q107 going into and out of the commercial breaks during the Rolling Stones concert, as well as other language used by the host, all fall under the heading of “promotions”, as anticipated in Clause 12 of the Code. The question for the Panel is, then, whether those promotions were misleading.

On that point, the Panel considers that an ordinary reasonable listener could reach only one conclusion. The show promised to them was to be the live Rolling Stones Concert from that night. Nothing less. While the station said, in its reply to the complainants, “We certainly did not intend to deceive any of our listeners”, it hardly took their sensibilities into account. From the get-go, it said, “As promised, live Stones in Toronto comin’ up -“. And how coincidental was it, from a listener’s perspective, that the broadcast of the “old” concert began at precisely the same time as the live concert? And that the background sounds at the start of the concert were those of a crowd cheering and instruments warming up? To compound the likelihood that the audience would believe it was that night’s live concert, the radio host said:

Uh, the club gig, live, tonight, right now in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. As promised all day, the Stones live in Toronto. Enjoy everybody, on Q107. [Emphasis added.]

According to the complainants (but unverified by the CBSC), similar comments about the upcoming “live” Rolling Stones performance were made on air for at least 36 hours leading up to the broadcast. Also, the bumpers during the broadcast stated “This is the Rolling Stones live in Toronto” and “This is the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band live.” The repeated juxtaposition of the word “live” and references to the Phoenix show occurring in the identical time period as the broadcast concert clearly left the impression to any listener that the broadcast was indeed that of the live 2005 Rolling Stones show. This impression was compounded by the sounds of a crowd cheering and other typical concert noises which served as background audio when Scholes was speaking. Further remarks such as “Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne, the club gig for the Stones before they embark on their tour. It’s, uh, happening right now. More live Stones comin’ up, hang on” would have led any reasonable listener to assume that they were in fact listening to the concert then taking place at the Phoenix.

The only consequences are that Q107 has to broadcast this decision a number of specific times. But still, it’s pretty cool.

Q107 misleads listeners; apologizes

I wrote previously about how Q107 had presented a broadcast of live Rolling Stones as if it was a simulcast of a club show in Toronto, and how many of us protested and they responded. Well, they got some press out of the whole thing, too.

From this story

Bartrem maintained that Q107’s intent was never to deceive, but does concede that the station could have been a little more specific in its programming intentions.

“I guess the way we positioned it on the air was ‘Celebrating this night at the Phoenix, we’ve got Stones live on air at 9:30.’ People heard ‘live’ and ‘Phoenix’ and put the two together and thought ‘simulcasting,'” he said.

“In hindsight, one line would have saved all the problems: ‘While some are enjoying the show at the Phoenix, let’s go back three years and enjoy what was going on.'”

Since he was one of the lucky 1,100 people to attend the show, Bartrem said he can’t speak to what Scholes said on air, but he is taking care to absolve the station’s DJs “of any kind of responsibility in this thing” and accepts full blame for the furor.

As penance, he has volunteered to be morning host John Derringer’s “Tool of the Day” today and will publicly proclaim the whole thing “totally my fault.” He has sent a mea culpa e-mail to everyone who wrote the station.

and from this story

The station evidently never specifically told its listeners it was simulcasting the Stones show from the Phoenix, but one listener, Steve Popichak, who e-mailed the Sun said, “During their broadcast, their announcer came on between songs and made references to this performance happening right in front of him right there at the Phoenix.”

“Well, it was live Stones,” DJ John Scholes told the Sun Wednesday night.

Blair Bartrem, Q107’s program director, yesterday told the Sun that the station received 30 to 40 complaints from fans, via e-mail. He said he takes responsibility for the confusion and that, in hindsight, the e-mail should have been clearer.

“I think a few of our Q listeners felt that we were trying to deceive them, which clearly wasn’t our intent,” Bartrem said. “I mean, there’s a trust that we have with our audience, obviously, and we’re not trying to pull a fast one.”

Bloggers on Tuesday and Wednesday were abuzz with anticipation about the perceived simulcast. An Ottawa resident filed a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council [over the playing of a bootleg? — SP]. He said other fans might do the same.

From discussions online, it appears that few believe that the deception was accidental or that the apology was genuine. I guess I was glad to get any acknowledgement of a mistake from a company.

But desite their claims to have responded to all who complained – I have not heard back from them, and obviously am not going to. I feel singled out!

Stones Club Show

The Rolling Stones played their usual end-of-rehearsal club show in Toronto. Local station Q107 suggested they were going to be simulcasting the show. Indeed, as the show started, they played a concert and played it very close to the edge of the truth. They didn’t identify the show they were actually playing on the radio as coming from 2002, they simply referred regularly to the show going on right now and their excitement about it. I don’t have any exact quotes but the DJ patter was designed to mislead, not clarify.

I grew up with Q107; I was horrified to see them playing a game like that with listeners. There were indeed fans around the world who stayed up late or got up early to catch this (supposed) simulcast, and were fooled. I wouldn’t have known what it was except that someone familiar with concert recordings posted to my Rolling Stones online community the actual source of the show being played. No doubt that others simply took the station at face value.

I wrote the station and encouraged others on the list to do so.

Come on guys – how’s about respecting your listeners instead of playing stupid games with them? If you aren’t playing tonight’s stealth Stones show, then tell us what show you ARE playing, don’t play coy games where you don’t actually literally directly honestly SAY that it’s tonight’s show but yeah (heh heh heh) you pretend that well, maybe we’ll reach our own conclusions.

That’s no way to treat people. Unless you are a telemarketer or a phone company. Q was never about the fine-print when I grew up listening to you. What the hell happened?

I have not heard back from the station, although others have. The first few I saw looked like this

Our sincere apologies if you are upset by the Q107 live programming with the Rolling Stones last night. We never claimed to be broadcasting the Phoenix show. We did say we were going to air live Rolling Stones. Our intent was not to deceive, but merely give the listeners who could not attend last nights show at the Phoenix, a
healthy dose of live Stones.

Thank you for your email, we appreciate comments from our great listeners.

The intent was absolutely to deceive. By being deliberately vague, they allowed people to come to their own (obvious, but incorrect) conclusions. Isn’t that deception?

Now we get this:

Thank you for your email note. We have received an inordinate amount of negative email concerning the Rolling Stones live broadcast which we aired last night on Q. You may have received a note from Q107’s Assistant Program Director, Michelle Dyer, or Andrew from Club Q…but I got thinking…”why should Michelle or Andrew take the hit on this?” While we did not come right out and say we were doing a simulcast from the Phoenix, we were perhaps vague in the way we positioned the program. I take full accountability for how this show was presented on air. Here’s what I’ve learned. Q listeners are extremely passionate about their music, and at no time should I take this for granted. It’s not like we aired bootleg Wham concert. Music matters here.

Having said this, here’s how I plan to take responsibility. I have asked John Derringer if I could be named tomorrow’s Tool of The Day. He has kindly said yes. So, tomorrow tune in at 8:20 to hear me take my lumps on air and apologize to our audience.


Blair Bartrem
Program Director

This is the most awesome response I’ve ever seen! And hey, they turned into a bit of a PR opportunity as well!

I’m so burned out on corporate misleading and evasion and being ignored and all that – and here we’ve got a company absolutely stepping up.

It’d be great if they got around to writing me back too, but I’ll take this as a victory for the consumer!

All right Q107!


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