Saint John gains rock radio station, loses all-talk one

Rogers has sold its all-talk radio station in Saint John, News 88.9, to Newcap Radio. which plans to relaunch the station as Rock 88.9.

News 88.9 becomes Rock 88.9 under new ownership of Newcap Radio

Saint John has a new classic rock radio station, but has lost its all-news one.

Rock 88.9 went to air on Monday, replacing News 88.9, after the station was acquired by Newcap Radio.

David Newbury, Newcap's general manager in Fredericton and Saint John, says the station will follow a music and entertainment format, like the majority of the company's other stations.

"The plan with Saint John is no different than any of our other radio stations really. It's going to be a fully-staffed radio station, serving the community the same way we are here in Fredericton, Charlottetown, Moncton, Kentville, St. John's, Sydney. It's not going to be different in any significant way from any of those stations really," Newbury told CBC News.

"You know our roots are firmly planted here in Atlantic Canada. If you look at the history of our company and the successes that we've had, have been in small and medium-sized markets," he said.

"And I think Saint John is a perfect example of the type of market Newcap tends to do well in. And I think we're going to have a lot of success in Saint John. We're really looking forward to the opportunity there."

Newbury says the new station is filling a void in the city's radio market.

"Research indicated that was basically what was missing in the market. It's been a while since there's been a station like that in the market and it was a real void that really needed to be filled."

The station will be playing music commercial-free for 30 days to get listeners used to the new format.

"That also gives us some time to find the perfect on-air talent that we'll be looking for for the market," Newbury said.

News 88.9 staff, like talk-show host Todd Veinotte, won't be returning to the station.

Veinotte says he's sad to see the talk-station go.

He says he hopes Newcap hires people with community connection.

"I wasn't a fit for them and that's fine. I completely respect that. But I hope that they recognize they need to pay a decent wage, to have good employees who know the community and serve the community."

Rock 88.9 will officially launch the last week of August.

Rogers announced last summer it would be selling News 88.9.