Why Q107 is changing its tune

The station formerly known for classic rock is broadening its scope.

Fans of Rush and Triumph aside, hard rock just doesn’t get as much love from Toronto radio listeners these days.

While doing research with Sparknet communications Corus Radio found that people in the city want music that’s familiar, says Dave Farough, GM, Corus Radio Toronto.

“Toronto is not a hard rock market like some other cities may be,” Farough says. “It’s more of a hits market. The music has to be very familiar and easy to digest.”

Cue a new focus for the station that incorporates newer rock artists – like Saskatchewan-based The Sheepdogs and American rock duo The Black Keys – along with an increased emphasis on pop-influenced rock hits from the likes of Elton John and Steely Dan. Those more modern hits now feature along with a rotation of classic artists like Blondie and, yes, Rush.

This week the station released a TV spot on Global TV to promote the new positioning, with the 60-second ad running through the history of rock.

Q107printad copyIt’s the latest phase of a campaign started in the summer, including a logo and website redesign, developed by its in-house branding team.

Susan Schaefer, head of brands, Corus Entertainment, says research also showed that people associated Q107 with a darker image, so the new look and on-air approach tries to lighten things up and incorporate more humour. Also gone from its descriptor is reference to classic rock, replaced with “Toronto’s rock,” while its call sign has been redone with the voice of a younger-sounding male.

The average age of a Q107 listener was 50 but with the new branding the station hopes to attract people in their 40s, while appealing more to a female demographic.

The rebranding has led to an increase in ratings, Farough says. The station had a 5.5% share among listeners 2+, according to Numeris’ Fall 2014 top-line data, up from 4.6% during the spring period.

“The strategy really is about [making] the station more accessible for a lighter rock listener” Farough says.

“We had people listening that do like rock music and maybe in the past tuned to Q107 and didn’t like some of the things they heard or had the image it was a darker place,” Schaefer adds. “We are hoping that now they will come back, check us out and rediscover Q107.”