CKWB-FM, Real Country 97.9, Westlock

Stingray Group Inc.

CKWB-FM201897.95,700Stingray Group Inc.
CKWB-FM201697.95,700Newcap Inc.
CFOK-AM2002137010,000Newcap Inc.
CFOK-AM1999137010,000Telemedia (West) Inc
CFOK-AM1998137010,000Okanagan Skeena Group
CFOK-AM1990137010,000Nor-Net Communications Ltd.
CFOK-AM1984137010,000CFOK Broadcasting Ltd
CFOK-AM1971137010,000O. K. Radio Group


Charest Communications Ltd. was granted a licence December 24 for a new AM station at Westlock. The new station would operate on 1370 kHz with a power of 10,000 watts (directional at night). This was not the first attempt to gain a radio licence at Westlock. In 1971, Ernest Alfred Mykyte had his application denied.


On August 19, CFOK signed on the air. The station was owned by Roger Charest and Stu Morton’s OK Radio Group (owner of CJOK Fort McMurray and CIOK St. Paul). CFOK would offer at least 44 hours a week of local programming. As a condition of licence, CFOK was to establish studios in Barhead within one year.


The CRTC issued short-term licence renewals for CFOK and CIOK. The Commission called for progress reports within six months on the establishment of studio facilities at Barrhead and Bonnyville. The licensees had promised to open such facilities within the first year of operation of the two stations, both of which have been on the air since 1975.

On July 27, the CRTC approved the transfer of 50% of Charest Communications Ltd. from Roger Charest to Humford Developments Ltd., resulting in the indirect transfer of the 75% of Radio 1310 Ltd. held by Charest. A further transfer of 25% of Radio 1310 Ltd. from the present shareholders to Charest Communications was also approved. As a result, John M. Humphrey and Gordon H. Gifford, co-owners of Humford and existing shareholders (25% each) in Charest, acquired full beneficial ownership of Charest Communications and Radio 1310 Ltd.


CFOK acquired a new Sintronic SI-A-1S 1,000 watt transmitter. Ken Harris was chief engineer.


Humford Developments Ltd. acquired a 90% interest in O.K. Radio Group Ltd. Stu Morton held the remaining 10%.


Roger Charest and Stu Morton purchased O.K. Radio Group Ltd. (50% each). Humford Developments Ltd. had held a 90% interest. Charest founded CJOK in 1973 and Morton was the station’s original manager. The new ownership interest brought Charest’s CKER Edmonton under the O.K. umbrella.

Following OK Radio Group’s reorganization, Stu Morton, formerly a partner with Roger Charest, became president. Larry Snelgrove left CHNL Kamloops to become CFOK’s sales manager and Al Holmberg became chief engineer. Don McAllister was named CFOK’s program director. He had been with CJAZ-FM in Vancouver.


On April 20, approval was granted for the sale of OK Radio Group Ltd. by Humford Developments Ltd. and R. Stuart Morton to CKER Radio Ltd. OK owned CJOK, CFOK, CIOK and CIOK-1. Also approved: the conversion of 100% of the issued common shares of CKER Radio Ltd. to non-voting preferred shares for existing shareholders; the issuance of an additional 100 preferred shares to R. Stuart Morton; the issuance of 100 new common voting shares of CKER to Roger Charest (51), R. Stuart Morton (41), Frank Charest (3), Don Rollans (2), Ronald Clark (1), Larry Snelgrove (1) and Linda Charest (1). Control of CKER Radio Ltd. would remain with Roger Charest. CKER Radio Ltd. would have indirect control of CFOK a country station serving the rural area north and west of Edmonton, while maintaining direct control of CKER Edmonton. On the same date, approval was granted for the sale of CIOK and CIOK-1 to LW Broadcasting Ltd.


On June 5, the CRTC approved the application by CFOK Broadcasting Ltd. for authority to acquire  CFOK Westlock from O.K. Radio Group Ltd. The Commission expressed concern with the applicant’s proposal to implement an automated programming system and to reduce substantially the amount of live programming broadcast on CFOK. As the station’s revenues and operations permit, the Commission would expect the applicant to decrease the amount of automated programming and increase its programming staff, in order to improve the quality of service to the Westlock area by increasing locally-produced news and community service information. The applicant company was owned 50% by Western Communicon Ventures Ltd. and 50% by L.J.N. Holdings Ltd. Western was the licensee of CKNL Fort St. John and CFNL Fort Nelson, B.C., and the major shareholder (96.4%) in Parkland Radio Ltd., licensee of CJOI Wetaskiwin. Western was controlled 50.3% by Marco Holdings Ltd. The application indicated that, on January 5, 1981, 100% of the issued shares of Marco were transferred from Neil McKinnon to Norscot Holdings Ltd., a holding company owned and controlled by McKinnon (97.9%).  This transfer of shares resulted in a change of ownership from McKinnon to Norscot Holdings Ltd., but did not affect control of Western, which remained with McKinnon. The Commission approved today’s transfer, but expressed concern that a transfer took place without its prior approval.


On September 3, CFOK Broadcasting Ltd. was granted a licence for a new AM station at Slave Lake on the frequency 1210 kHz, with a power of 1,000 watts day and night. The station would rebroadcast the programs of CFOK Westlock except for four hours between 07:00 and 11:00 Monday through Saturday when local programming would originate from the Slave Lake studios.

On November 1, CKWA 1210 began broadcasting.


Program director Rob Berg left to become manager of CJOI Wetaskiwin.


On February 18, Len Novak, representing a company to be incorporated, received CRTC approval to acquire CKWA Slave Lake, CFOK Westlock, CFNL Fort Nelson and CKNL Fort St. John from CFOK Broadcasting Ltd. (CFOK and CKWA) and Western Communicon Ventures Ltd. (CFNL and CKNL). The Commission noted that the existing shareholders of CFOK Broadcasting Ltd., were Western Communicon Ventures Ltd. (50%) and L.J.N. Holdings Ltd. (50%). The existing shareholders of Western Communicon Ventures Ltd., were Marco Holdings Ltd. (52.7%) and Gee Dan Holdings Ltd. (47.3%). Len Novak held 100% of the common shares of L.J.N. Holdings Ltd. and Gene Daniel was the principal shareholder (80%) of Gee Dan Holdings Ltd. These transactions represented an intercorporate reorganization. One licensee company would operate these four radio stations, Len Novak (OBCI), and its shareholders would include the existing shareholders: Marco Holdings Ltd. (50%), Len Novak (25%) and Gene Daniel (25%).

On November 24, 332540 British Columbia Ltd. received permission to operate a new AM station at Athabasca, on the frequency 850 kHz, with a transmitter power of 1,000 watts. The station would produce 24 hours of local programming each week, including 2 hours and 18 minutes of local news. The remaining programming would be provided by CFOK Westlock.

Len Novak became managing director, overseeing the operations of CFOK, CKNL/CFNL, CHLW, CILW, CKWA and CJOI. He had been CFOK’s general manager.


On July 19, Nor-Net Communications Ltd. (formerly 332540 British Columbia Ltd.) received approval to operate a new AM station at High Prairie, on the frequency 1020 kHz, with a transmitter power of 1,000 watts day-time) and 400 watts night-time. It would rebroadcast the programs of CFOK as well as 24 hours per week of local programming from studios located at High Prairie.

On August 1, CFOK launched semi-satellite CKBA Athabasca. The station operated on 850 kHz with a power of 1,000 watts.


CFOK’s semi-satellite CKVH High Prairie signed on the air. The station operated on 1020 kHz with a power of 1,000 watts day and 400 watts at night.


On Febraury 22, approval was given for the transfer effective control of Nor-Net Communications Ltd., licensee of CFOK Westlock, CKWA Slave Lake, CKBA Athabasca, CHLW St. Paul and its rebroadcaster CHLW-1 Grand Centre, CILW Wainwright, CKVH High Prairie, CKNL Fort St. John and CFNL Fort Nelson, through the transfer of all of the issued and outstanding shares of 362278 British Columbia Ltd., a company which owned 25% of Nor-Net, from Mr. Eugene Daniel to Marco Holdings Ltd. This intra-corporate transaction would result in an existing shareholder buying out another minority shareholder and thereby gaining effective control of the licensee company. Until now, Marco held 50% of Nor-Net. As a result of this transaction, the share structure would remain unchanged; however, Marco would effectively control Nor-Net by holding 75% of the voting shares, 50% directly and 25% indirectly through 362278 British Columbia Ltd. 

On August 26, CILW Wainwright was authorized to change its program source from CHLW St. Paul to CFOK Westlock.


On August 26, CKBA Athabaska was authorized to change its program source to broadcast programs received from CFOK, in addition to local programs. CKVH High Prairie and CKWA Slave Lake received approval to change program scource from CFOK to CKDQ Drumheller, in addition to local programs. CFOK was also authorized to receive some programming from CKDQ.


On November 18, Okanagan Skeena Group Ltd. received approval to acquire Nornet Broadcasting Ltd. (including CFOK).


On October 7, approval was given for Okanagan Skeena Group Ltd. to effect an intra-corporate reorganization. OKS would transfer the assets of its television and radio stations in British Columbia and Alberta to 3537412 Canada Ltd., one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries.

On October 18, approval was granted for the transfer of ownership and control of Okanagan Skeena Group Ltd. through the transfer of all of its issued and outstanding shares to Telemedia Radio Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telemedia Communications Inc. Initially, Okanagan had applied for the transfer of its shares to TCI Acquisition Corporation. However, on August 31, by letter of authority, the CRTC approved the merger of Okanagan with TCI. The resulting company kept Okanagan’s name. Also, Telemedia advised the Commission that, effective September 1, 3581713 Canada Inc. amalgamated with Telemedia Radio. As a result of these mergers, Telemedia Radio was now the company that acquired the shares of Okanagan.


On April 19, the CRTC approved the sale of a number of radio and television stations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia by Telemedia Radio Inc. and Telemedia Radio (West) Inc. to Standard Radio Inc. Standard was then allowed to sell certain of these stations to Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. and 3937844 Canada Inc. (subsidary of Newcap Inc.). Newcap acquired 15 Alberta radio stations and related transmitters (Newcap 76.34%, Standard 23.66%). CKWA was one of the 15 stations that would now be owned by Newcap.


On September 22 at 7:15 a.m., CFOK 1370 switched formats from Country (“Cat Country”) to Classic Hits (“The Fox”).


CFOK changed its branding from “The Fox” to “1370 CFOK”, keeping the Classic Hits format.


Newcap rebranded eight of its Alberta country music stations to the Real Country Network. CKGY Red Deer was the flagship. CKWB rebranded from The Range to Real Country 97.9. All stations would still air local programming but off-peak shows would be centralized from Red Deer. Seven on-air jobs were lost as a result of the change.


On October 23, the CRTC approved an application by Newfoundland Capital Corporation Limited, on behalf of Newcap Inc. and its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries, for authorization to effect a change in the ownership and effective control of various radio and television broadcasting undertakings in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, so that effective control of the undertakings would be exercised by Eric Boyko (Stingray Digital Group Inc.). Stingray took ownership of the stations just a few days later.



In January, Stingray began syndicating the Real Country 95.5 Red Deer morning show across its Real Country and boom-branded radio stations in rural Alberta, leading to the elimination of 14 on-air positions. Real Country 97.9 was among the stations to add the show.

The story continues elsewhere…
Effective September 1st 2019, we will only be adding new material to these station histories in exceptional circumstances. Our intent to chronicle the early days of these radio and television stations has been achieved, and many new sources and technologies, from the CRTC website to Wikipedia, and others, are now regularly providing new information in these areas.

Contact this station