Winnipeg Free Press - Energy 106

A Toronto radio group is hoping to inject some energy into the far right of the Winnipeg radio dial.

Energy 106 will officially launch Friday at noon at 106.1 FM with a top 40 playlist featuring artists such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, Pitbull, Down With Webster and Simple Plan.

The format was decided after the Evanov Radio Group received about 1,500 emails from Winnipeggers who responded to requests for suggestions during the station's two month testing period.

Its biggest local competition will be Hot 103, the city's most popular music station. In the last radio ratings book in the spring, the station garnered a 15.6 share of listeners aged 12 and up, second only to perennial ratings leader CJOB.

"What we did was put a week of different types of music formats together: a week of soft AC stuff, a week of lounge, country, modern rock and contemporary hit radio and we just asked people throughout the broadcast to let us know what they wanted and if the signal was interfering with anything, as required by the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission)," said Energy programming manager Barry Stewart.

"We got bombarded. I made folders in my email with top 40 here, AC here, country here, rock and the Top 40 dance was overpowering. We weren't even leaning that way at all."

The station will launch at noon with 10,000 songs in a row, which will end around the September long weekend. No DJs have been hired yet, but it is expected an on air-crew will be in place by late September.

Sharon Taylor, vice-president and general manager of Hot 103's ownership group Astral Manitoba, said she wishes the new station well, but it takes more than music to make people tune in and she is confident their mixture of personalities and playlist will keep listeners tuned in.

"We have always been competitive, even without another station like us, we are constantly fresh," she said.

Energy will be based in the Corydon Avenue offices/studios currently home to blues-rock station K-Rock and AM ethnic station CKJS. Evanov has put in an offer to purchase both stations from Nova Scotia company Newcap Radio and should learn if the CRTC has approved the application by January, Stewart said.

Evanov is a family-owned company based in Toronto that operates 10 stations in Ontario and Halifax. Winnipeg is its first western Canadian holding.

-- Rob Williams