Maverick Television Entrepreneur Plans to Buy Toronto's Commercial Classical Radio Station

Classic Arts News   Maverick Television Entrepreneur Plans to Buy Toronto's Commercial Classical Radio Station
Moses Znaimer, founder of the Canadian television network Citytv, hopes to buy Canada's only private English-language classical music radio station and target younger listeners.

While there are privately-owned francophone classical stations in Ottawa and Montreal and the public classical networks, CBC Radio Two and Radio-Canada ChaêÎne culturelle, are heard nationwide, Classical 96.3 (CFMX-FM) in Toronto is the country's only anglophone commercial classical station. It has close ties to groups such as the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Canadian Opera Company and the Toronto Symphony, which has a subscription drive on CFMX every spring, according to CBC News.

Znaimer developed and launched Citytv for the CHUM media group in 1972 with a single station in Toronto; the network now has outlets in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg as well. It is known for an urban orientation, an unconventional style at once laid-back and energetic — "It's not the show, it's the flow," Znaimer once said — and a concentration on local content.

He evidently intends to bring a similar approach to classical radio. According to CBC News, Znaimer wants to reach a broader audience by building on Classical 96.3's relationships with Toronto's performing organizations and use hip "classical music ambassadors" to attract younger listeners more accustomed to alterna-punk or gangsta rap.

Documents filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) indicate Znaimer has offered C$13 million to Trumar Communications, owned by Martin Rosenthal, to buy Classical 96.3.

Rosenthal has run the station since 1983. Classical 96.3 began broadcasting in 1976, went off the air for a few years, then returned in 1979; it has reportedly lost money for the last 22 years and only broke even in the last three years because Rosenthal worked for no salary.

The CRTC will begin hearings on change of ownership and Znaimer's proposal beginning August 1.

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