Following its recent acquisition by Newcap Radio, Vancouver radio station CKZZ FM, the former Virgin Radio 95.3, is rebranding as Z95.3 – the moniker it used from its 1991 launch until 2007.
The station’s former owner, Bell Media, retains the rights to the Virgin Radio brand in Canada. Bell currently operates six stations under the Virgin banner, which was first introduced to the Canadian market by Astral Media in 2008.
Bell said Monday that it plans to re-launch the Virgin Radio brand in Vancouver later this year, although it didn’t specify on which station. The brand will be on hiatus beginning March 31, the company said.
The media giant also announced that former Z95.3 personalities Nat Hunter and Drew Savage, co-hosts of the morning program “Mornings with Nat & Drew,” would join 103.5 QM/FM later this spring. They replace Mike Shaeffer and Tara McGuire, who have co-hosted “Mike and Tara in the Morning” for 19 years.
Newcap, meanwhile, said that Z95.3 would retain the Hot AC format it adopted in 2004. General manager Sherri Pierce said that the Z95.3 brand remains firmly entrenched in Vancouver listeners’ minds, with its bumper stickers still dotting cars around the city.
The CRTC approved Newcap’s purchase of Z95.3 on March 19, part of a $112-million transaction – the largest in company history – that also included the Toronto stations BOOM 97.3 and FLOW 93.5, as well as two other Vancouver stations (CISL, AM 650 and SHORE 104.3 FM).
Bell was ordered to divest the stations as part of its $3.4-billion purchase of Montreal’s Astral Media last year, in order to comply with the CRTC’s Common Ownership Policy, which states that companies can own no more than two AM and two FM stations in markets with eight commercial stations or more operating in a given language.
Z95.3’s regular on-air features, including the “$1,000 minute,” “Golddigger” and “The Sleaze,” will remain, said Pierce. The station will promote the rebrand with a citywide advertising campaign, said Newcap.
Newcap president and CEO Rob Steele said that 2014 would be a “transformational year” for the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Newfoundland Capital Corporation, with its absorption of the former Bell Media properties.