By the end of 1924, the CNR telegraph lines linked the following private stations which were identified during “CNR-paid time” with a “phantom” call sign –
CFCA and CKGW
CFCN and CFAC
(Thereafter, stations were added in Halifax, Saint John, Fredericton, Quebec City, London Kitchener-Waterloo, Chatham, Brandon, Yorkton, Red Deer, Hamilton (2), a third in Toronto and one in Michigan).
The first regularly-scheduled coast-to-coast network program produced by CN Radio was broadcast December 27, 1928.
By December 31, 1929, the CN Network was turning out three hours of programming a week.
CN Radio’s operating costs for 1929 (the highest in CN Radio’s lifetime) totalled $ 441,000 of which $ 55,000 (12.46%) was spent renting time on private stations – a weekly average of roughly $ 57.00 per city having a participating station or stations. Talent expenditures for the networked and locally-produced programs were $ 117,000 (26.52%).
Between 1923 and 1931, total capital expenditures amounted to $ 170,000 – of which, $ 135,000 was spent building stations. (The CN Moncton station cost $ 25,000). About $ 35,000 went to equipping trains for radio reception.
In 1931, CN was feeding programs over CN Telegraph wires to its three O & O stations in Moncton, Ottawa and Vancouver while covering 19 other Canadian cities by renting airtime on private stations.
Private broadcasters were generally supportive of the CNR venture. The quality of the CNR-produced programming was good, and it enhanced the attraction of the local stations which, at that time, had neither the staff nor the funds to produce ambitious features. CNR sponsorship of local programs (usually of a musical nature) encouraged the development of musicians and singers as radio artists. Further, the stations received some income for the use of its staff and facilities.
Thornton had an excellent record of employee relations — this was one of the reasons he appealed to Mackenzie King — and he furthered this reputation by instituting a payroll deduction plan so that CNR workers could buy radios at cost.