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:
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.
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