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98.9 The Drive shifts to easy listening

Image by Joe007 from Pixabay

Kingston’s airwaves have lost a rock station and gained an easy listening station. On Monday, May 27, 2019, just after 1 p.m., 98.9 The Drive flipped from playing alternative bands like Nirvana and Arcade Fire, to decidedly more mellow artists like Josh Groban and Frank Sinatra. A format flip had been anticipated for several months, as morning show hosts Reid and Ben moved to sister station Fly-FM on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, and there have been almost no regular announcers on The Drive since then. The station’s website removed most references to its on-air staff, and posts to social media had been greatly reduced.

While there was some speculation that The Drive would become a country music station, this current adult contemporary format has not been heard on commercial Kingston airwaves since The Drive was CKLC AM. While the playlist so far has featured many easy listening staples such as Michael Bolton and Celine Dion, there have also been tracks by Eminem, Post Malone, and Drake, suggesting that the station is now in a “stunting” phases on 98.9 FM before launching a more permanent on-air brand later on. 

Rock music lovers now have two options: K-Rock 105.7 (sister station to Country 93.5), and 96.3 Big FM, owned by Corus Entertainment and sister to Fresh Radio and Global Kingston television.

The format flip comes on the heels of country-wide layoffs by Bell Media, which affected the company’s Kingston radio stations. Four on-air announcers — Susan Amos, Lindsay Young, Jacquie Beckett, and Dave Deodato — were let go earlier in the year, and former Drive afternoon host Riley Jabour’s position was laid off on Tuesday, May 21. Two sales staff were also let go in the layoffs, including Tim Cunningham, now the host of the Kingstonist podcast.

98.9 The Drive originated as CKLC AM, which was the last Kingston-based AM radio station when it switched to an FM signal late in 2007. It had been known as 98.9 The Drive since then. As of the time of publication, 98.9 FM has not yet established a new name, nor have their been live announcers.

More to come.

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19 thoughts on “98.9 The Drive shifts to easy listening

  • May 27, 2019 at 10:06 pm
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    No, now I have no choice of good listening on the radio in Kingston. These lay-offs have made me turn my car radio off. Will be listening to music from my phone now. Sad.

  • May 27, 2019 at 11:52 pm
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    That’s the worst thing that could happen to Kingston radio. Big media taking over everything.

    • May 28, 2019 at 5:04 pm
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      This was definitely the only station I enjoyed. No more car radio for me either.

  • May 28, 2019 at 10:44 am
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    I just listened all the way through Mama Mia thinking that it was a joke!
    THIS SUCKS!
    Ok, enough shouting. Does anyone know what the last song played was before their death rattle?
    I think their first song was Breed by Nirvana.

    • May 28, 2019 at 4:41 pm
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      Was shocked when I went to listen to my normal radio station today! Looks like I’ll be relying upon Spotify. The station of old will be missed. Not a country lover at all!

  • May 28, 2019 at 9:55 pm
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    The Drive was the only station I enjoyed listening to because they offered an alternative to all the current mainstream crap, but I guess we really needed another country station in Kingston, I actually tuned in yesterday and said ‘wtf’ out loud. Very disappointing, Seacrest Out..

  • May 29, 2019 at 9:38 am
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    I listen while driving through Kingston and my ears started bleeding yesterday when Celine Dion was playing. Not cool Bell, not cool.

  • May 29, 2019 at 10:02 am
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    Now even more reason to not listen to radio. Where is all the angry music for happy people!!!

  • May 29, 2019 at 1:56 pm
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    This makes me so sad. The Drive was a truly unique station that got me through my teenage years. The rock stations leftover do not even compare. I miss Reid, I miss Rebecca, I miss Riley, heck I miss Jeffrey the Movie Nerd and Erik (?) the Recycling Guy! Definitely the end of an era.

  • May 29, 2019 at 9:24 pm
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    CFLY has had a terrible morning show since November 2018. There is no longer a decent station with decent music or personalities to suit the format. Never been a fan of The Drive so it’s no loss to me.

  • May 30, 2019 at 6:09 pm
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    Missing the crew…but not a fan of easy listening : (. farewell radio, hello spotify!

  • June 2, 2019 at 1:26 am
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    Just got back from vacation, and turned on “the drive” and heard beauty and the beast”,, I thought I had the wrong station, but I was wrong. Just another boring station in Kingston.

  • June 15, 2019 at 9:00 pm
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    This has to be one of the dumbest moves ever made! The Drive was The Best! Who the hell
    made this decision??

  • July 21, 2019 at 10:00 am
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    Bell sucks……..country music sucks……..and now Kingston radio sucks the hardest…..congratulations to the morons who made this decision.

    F U Bell!!!

  • December 22, 2019 at 4:42 pm
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    I live outside of 98.9’s listening range, but I tune in whenever I drive past. It was the best radio station ever listened to. RIP. ?

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