CFFR-AM, 660 News, Calgary
|CFFR-AM||1999||660||50,000||Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.|
|CFFR-AM||1984||660||50,000||Rawlco Communications Ltd.|
Calgary Family Radio Ltd. received a licence November 24 for a new AM station at Calgary. Because of technical concerns, CFR was advised to seek a frequency other than the one it proposed to use. CFR had requested the use of 1380 kHz but that was pre-empted by the approval of 1390 kHz for (CJCY) Medicine Hat. The applicant was to determine a suitable frequency in consultation with the Department of Communications. Gordon Rawlinson, president of CJME in Regina, would be the principal shareholder and would move to Calgary to manage the station. The CRTC described the proposed program format as innovative and well researched. It would offer input from 110 community associations to provide guidance on social issues and personal problems. A number of competing applications for AM were denied but in addition to CFR, the CRTC approved two new FM applications.
Rawlco Communications Ltd. (formerly Calgary Family Radio Ltd.) received approval to use the 660 kHz frequency for its new station.
CFFR 660 signed on the air January 10. The station was called “Calgary Family Radio – 66 CFR”. CFFR broadcast in stereo, on a frequency of 660 kHz with a full-time power of 50,000 watts, using six towers. Delays in finding an alternative frequency and ironing out all technical issues were the reason it took so long for 66 CFR to get on the air. CFFR was the first new AM station for Calgary in 20 years.
The program format was Contemporary Hit music with an emphasis on the 50’s and 60’s. There was a strong emphasis on local news and information. Gord Rawlinson was general manager, Don Armstrong was assistant manager, Vince Cownden was program director and Steve Brown was news director.
Mike Zaplitny became operations manager for the Rawlco group while Vince Cownden, former CFFR program director, became the new group programmer.
Doug Blackie became CFR’s news director. He had been with CJGX Yorkton and replaced Bill Parker who left for CFGO Ottawa.
On August 16, approval was given for the acquisition of CFFR by a numbered company that was jointly owned by existing owner Rawlco Communications Ltd. (82.5%), and Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. (17.5%). Golden West owned CFXL-AM in Calgary and on the same date received permission to convert that station to the FM band (96.9 MHz). The numbered company also acquired the licence for CFXL-AM (to convert to the FM band).
CFXL-AM (1140 kHz) moved to the CFFR building.
Chief engineer Leonard Dean left 66CFR for the computer industry. He was replaced by Ken Crook who was with CKOM in Saskatoon. Jacquie Donaldson, morning co-host at CFFR left for similar duties at CISS-FM Toronto in mid-August.
CKIS-FM (96.9 MHz) signed on the air, replacing CFXL-AM.
Rogers Broadcasting announced its purchase Rawlco’s Calgary stations, CFFR and CKIS-FM. Rogers Broadcasting President & CEO Tony Viner said the two stations were terrific and would complement Rogers existing Calgary stations, CFAC and CHFM-FM. He added, “with this acquisition, we’ve now achieved our objective of increasing our presence in four key markets: Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Calgary.” Rawlco president Gordon Rawlinson, said the decision to sell was a difficult one. He said the company looked into the alternatives and it became “quite clear that it is in the best interest of our company, our staff, our listeners and our clients.” Rawlco’s Toronto station, CISS-FM, was in an LMA with Rogers at this time and an application was pending for Rogers to acquire it too.
On September 10, the CRTC approved the sale of Rawlco (Alberta) Ltd., licensee of CFFR and CKIS-FM Calgary (and its transmitters) and of Rawlco (Toronto) Ltd., licensee of CISS-FM Toronto, to Rogers (Alberta) Ltd. (division of Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. ). Rogers already owned CFAC-AM and CHFM-FM in Calgary.
In 1999 or 2000, CKIS-FM became CHRK-FM.
In June, CFAC-AM and CHFM-FM moved studios and offices to the renovated and expanded CHRK / CFFR facility at 2723 37th Avenue N. E.
CFFR adopted an all-news format on April 3, becoming “660 News”.
Early on the morning of December 2nd, Ted Rogers, founder and former Chief Executive of Rogers Communications, owners of CFFR-AM, died at his home in Toronto, after having suffered from congestive heart failure for some time.
Laura Knop was CHQR’s new News Director. Knop, who had three decades of radio broadcast experience, moved to QR January 4 from her mid-day editor’s gig at 660 News.
Kapila (Kaps) Ratnayake left Rogers Radio Calgary to become Chief Engineer at Corus Radio Cornwall.
On November 30, the CRTC renewed CFFR’s licence to August 31, 2017.
Promotions Director Amanda Young left Rogers Calgary for Country 93.3 FM and Rock 97.9 in Fort McMurray.
Dan Ahlstrand, host of the New Brunswick Morning News on Rogers’ news stations in Saint John and Moncton, moved to Halifax to become morning news co-anchor on News95.7. He succeeded Doug Reynolds who moved to another Rogers property, 660News Calgary, as morning Anchor.
Kevin McKanna, executive VP, Rogers Radio Alberta, retired at the end of March. He began his 22-year career with Rogers as VP/GM at CFAC Calgary (Sportsnet 960 The FAN) and CFHC AM Canmore (now 106.5 Mountain FM). Later, he was promoted to VP/GM of CHFM FM (LITE 95.9), CKIS FM (96.9 JACK FM) and CFFR AM (660News) which combined to form the Calgary Radio cluster. In May of 2005, McKanna was appointed executive VP, Rogers Radio Alberta, overseeing 14 radio stations. Before moving to Rogers, he was program director at CHED Edmonton.
Jim Blundell succeeded Kevin McKanna and is the Acting General Manager of the 13 Rogers Radio stations in Alberta. Blundell had been the Vice President & GM at CTV Vancouver Island, C-FAX and KooL FM Victoria and left Bell Media in September of last year. Blundell’s background included being the Market Manager for the CHUM radio stations in Brockville, Kingston and Peterborough. In 2007, he was promoted to VP/GM of then Star-FM London and, in 2009, he was promoted again to take the lead at CHUM’s (now Bell Media’s) Victoria properties.
Doug Reynolds, the morning show anchor at News 95.7 since 2005, moved to become the morning show news anchor at 660News Calgary. He began his 32-year career at CJCB Sydney and later worked for CKDH Amherst and CJCH Halifax. Reynolds began in Calgary September 26. He succeeded Ted Henley who moved to Citytv Calgary as co-Host of Breakfast Television. Henley began at Citytv September 6.
Most of the staff at Rogers Radio Calgary joined their TV colleagues at City/ OMNI’s downtown location, 535 7th Avenue S.W.
Don Seel (76) passed away on January 26. Seel was a 50-year broadcasting veteran who began his career at CJGX Yorkton. He then moved to CHAB Moose Jaw, CFCN-AM-TV Calgary and CFAC-AM-TV Calgary. In 1984, Seel joined CFFR-AM as a sportscaster and covered the Calgary Flames for two decades.
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.