The Phantom Stations

A "Phantom Radio Station" was one which did not own or operate a radio transmitter and was licensed to broadcast only over an existing physical station. The phantom's licensee's assigned station call was used only during the period of time where the facilities of the physical station were leased.

The physical station ostensibly "signed off" and the call letters of the phantom station were announced and possibly used throughout the period. At the conclusion of the leased time, the phantom "signed off" and the physical station "signed on" again.

The one entity that used phantom stations extensively was the Canadian National Railway which provided live Canadian programs over its intercity telegraph lines, and also did some live local programming. The CNR owned only three stations - CNRA Moncton, CNRO Ottawa and CNRV Vancouver.

The Hamilton Spectator (newspaper) station CHCS started with a 10 watt transmitter in 1926, but discarded it in 1930 for leased time on CKOC. The Canadian Pacific Railway held one phantom license in Toronto (CPRY) and used the facilities of CKGW.

The following is a list of some of the licensed phantom stations and the physical stations they used:

CNRC

Calgary

CFAC

    

CHCA

Calgary

CJCJ

CNRE

Edmonton

CJCA

    

CHCT

Red Deer

CKLC

CNRW

Winnipeg

CKY

    

CHLS

Vancouver

CKCD

CNRT

Toronto

CFCA

    

CJSC

Toronto

CKCL

CNRM

Montreal

CKAC

    

CHNC

Toronto

CKNC

CNRQ

Quebec

CKCV

    

CJBR

Regina

CKCK

CNRR

Regina

CKCK

    

CHCS

Hamilton

CKOC

CNRS

Saskatoon

CFQC

    

CKCI

Quebec

CHRC

CNRD

Red Deer

CKLC

    

CHYC

Montreal

CKAC

CNRL

London

CJGC

    

CJYC

Scarborough

CFCA

CNRH

Halifax

CHNS

    

CFRC

Regina

CHWC

CNRX

Toronto

CFRB

    

CPRY

Toronto

CKGW

 

During these early years, "physical" stations were usually only operating a few hours each day, and were happy to have the additional hours of programming so that prospective listeners would be encouraged to buy receivers.

The Phantom stations disappeared in the early 1930s. Of the physical stations listed, the following ceased operations: CFCA Toronto, CKLC Red Deer, CJGC London, CKCD Vancouver and CHWC Regina.

CKY Winnipeg was sold by Manitoba Government Telephones to the CBC to become CBW. (Lloyd Moffat picked up the discarded CKY call sign when he launched a new station in Winnipeg in 1949). CJCJ Calgary was sold and became CKXL. Jack Kent Cooke bought CKCL Toronto and switched the call sign to CKEY. CKNC and CKGW, both in Toronto, were bought by the CBC. CKNC became CRCY, then CBY and finally CJBC. CKGW's call sign was replaced by CRCT and then CBL.

J. Lyman Potts - December, 1997

 

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