CKCQ-FM, Wild Country, Quesnel

Vista Broadcast Group Inc.

CKCQ-FM2005100.31,800Vista Broadcast Group Inc.
CKCQ-FM2004100.31,800Cariboo Central Interior Radio Inc.
CKCQ-AM197992010,000/1,000Cariboo Central Interior Radio Inc.
CKCQ-AM19575701,000Cariboo Broadcasters Ltd.


Cariboo Broadcasters Ltd. CKCQ signed on at 570 kHz with 1000 watts day/night. The founders were Fred Webber, Jim Richie and Dennis Reid, who began his radio career at CKOV Kelowna, B.C. in the mid thirties, and went on to become its assistant manager. The new station was warmly welcomed, as the only previously reliable signal was from the local CBC Vancouver 40 watt rebroadcaster.

John Boates was the sales manager & did an air shift. Bob Leckie was the program director as well as commercial selling and doing an air shift. Fred Webber, who later went on to operate broadcasting and cable entities in Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert, B.C. designed and engineered the station. Initially it was on air about 17 hours daily. Denny Carr, who grew up in Quesnel, was hired about 4 months after the station went on the air. He left in 1961 for CFQC Saskatoon, where he continued until it went off the air in 1993.

At the time, CKCQ was the only link to many of the outlying areas of the Cariboo, running an extremely popular program “Message Time” several times daily. Music played on the station was varied but tended to be mostly Country.


Popular radio host, Gil McCall moved from Edmonton to start with the station on Feb. 14 and was quickly promoted to Program Director.


Known as “Cariboo Radio”, CKCQ added 250-watt re-broadcast station CKCQ-1 at 1240 kHz in Williams Lake, 120 kilometres to the south. It was promoted as “Canada’s only full time privately operated radio network”. The audio was extremely “tinny”, even by AM radio standards during the early years of the network, as the signal was relayed between the two stations via a narrow band telephone connection. The “Message Time” program continued to expand, particularly from the Williams Lake re-broadcaster, which served the remote Chilcotin area of B.C. Sometimes it took 15 minutes to read all the messages. Denny Carr was the first air staff at CKCQ-1.


Myles Green joined CKCQ on August 28.


Bob Leckie moved to Williams Lake and the call letters of CKCQ-1 were changed to CKWL to allow the stations to operate independently.


A broadcast quality studio transmitter link was established between Quesnel and Williams Lake, which vastly improved the audio between the two stations.


Popular TV weatherman Wayne Cox of CHAN-TV (Global British Columbia) Vancouver made his radio debut at CKCQ, where he stayed for one year before moving on to Kamloops and then Vancouver.


Cariboo Radio added its third station, CKBX 100 Mile House, 80 kilometres southeast of Williams Lake, at 1240 kHz with 1000 watts day/250 watts night to increase its coverage to the south. The network now covered most of the urban population of the Cariboo area of British Columbia.

Original founder, Dennis Reid retired and sold the stations to John Boates, Bob Leckie, Gil McCall, Ken Wilson, his son Pat Reid, Myles Green (local retail sales manager), and local businessmen. Additionally, Reid was named the British Columbia Association of Broadcaster’s (BCAB) Broadcaster of the Year.


On July 15, Cariboo Broadcasters Ltd. was given approval to swap the frequencies of sister stations CKCQ and CKWL, with CKCQ moving from 570 to 920 kHz. In addition, CKCQ would increase power from 1,000 to 10,000 watts (directional at night). 


Gil McCall became station manager, while continuing an air shift at the station. John Boates retired and Bob Leckie became President and General Manager.


CKCQ changed frequency to 920 kHz with 10,000 watts day/1,000 night. At the same time CKWL moved to 570 with 1,000 watts day and night.


Stan Davis and Ron East purchased Cariboo Broadcasters. It was renamed Cariboo Central Interior Radio Ltd. (CCI), which now included CJCI Prince George, B.C. Continuing an air shift, Gil McCall moved north to manage CJCI. McCall received the BCAB’s Roy Chapman Memorial Award as Broadcast Performer of the year, recognizing his long and successful career. He was the first small town broadcaster to receive it.


The CRTC approved application to change the frequency of CKBX 100 Mile House from 1240 kHz to 840 kHz and increase the night power from 250 watts to 500 watts. The Commission noted that the proposed change would result in improved day and night service as well as a slight increase in the station’s overall coverage.


McCall made another move Sept. 1 to manage CFFM-FM Williams Lake and still continued an air shift. 


Wayne Leslie joined the CKCQ staff.


On Mar 28 the CRTC approved application by Cariboo Central Interior Radio Inc. to allow part time program origination from CJCI Prince George as well as from Quesnel and Williams Lake.


The CRTC approved application by Cariboo Central Interior Radio Inc. for authority to acquire the assets of CFFM-FM Williams Lake and its transmitter CFFM-FM-1 100 Mile House and the assets of CFFM-FM-2 Quesnel from Jim Pattison Industries Ltd. 


Cariboo Central Interior Radio Inc. (CKCQ Quesnel, CKWL Williams Lake and CKBX 100 Mile House) has agreed to purchase CFFM-FM and its rebroadcasters from Jim Pattison Industries. CFFM would change format from country to pop/rock/dance, with an overnight feed from Cariboo’s CIRX-FM Prince George. The AM stations would pick up the country format with an overnight feed from CJCI Prince George.


Original founder Dennis Reid passed away in Prince George on July 7. 


Wayne Leslie left CKCQ. He had been with the station since 1989 and had hosted afternoons, mornings and was network program director. 


On May 7, Fred Weber, the other original founder of Cariboo Broadcasters passed away.


On March 19, Cariboo Central Interior Radio Inc. was given approval to convert CKCQ to the FM band, operating on 100.3 MHz with an effective radiated power of 1,800 watts.

CKCQ relaunched on the FM dial (100.3 MHz) at 8 a.m., October 4. The station (along with Williams Lake and 100 Mile House) was now known as “The Wolf”, playing Modern Country and the Best Southern Rock. CKCQ had been known as “Wild Country”.


In early August it was announced that Cariboo Central Interior Radio Inc., owners of CKBX 100 Mile House, CFLD Burns Lake, CJCI-FM and CIRX-FM Prince George, CKCQ-FM Quesnel, CFBV Smithers, CIVH Vanderhoof, CKWL and CFFM-FM Williams Lake and numerous re-broadcast stations in northern B.C. had been purchased by a Calgary group, headed by Margot Micallef.  On September 1, The CRTC announced approval of the sale to 1126144 Alberta Ltd., a company affiliated with Vista Broadcast Group Inc.


Myles Green left CKCQ on November 30.


On September 1, members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union representing announcers, news reporters, creative and clerical workers, went on strike to back wage and job security demands at Vista’s stations CKCQ-FM Quesnel, CKWL and CFFM-FM Williams Lake and CKBX 100 Mile House.  The stations remained on the air with programming fed from Prince George and local content provided by management personnel.  On October 5, the CEP announced that it had ratified a new contract, providing for wage increases totaling 8.25% over three years, plus improvements in layoff severance pay and guarantees concerning job security.  Staff members returned to their jobs at the stations on October 9. 


On August 24, the CRTC renewed the licence for CKCQ-FM from 1 September 2010 to 31 August 2014. The short-term licence renewal would enable the Commission to review, at an earlier date, the licensee’s compliance with the Radio Regulations, 1986 and its conditions of licence.


Gary Long, who had previously been program director at 94X in Prince George and assistant PD / mornings at 103.9 The Juice in Kelowna, headed to the Cariboo region of BC to take on the role of General Manager for The Rush and The Wolf in Quesnel, Williams Lake, and 100 Mile House. 

It was announced that Vista President Terry Coles would move into retirement at the end of 2012 and immediately into a consulting role with the company. His successor would be CEO Margot Micallef who would handle the dual roles of President/CEO. Bryan Edwards moves to Senior VP of Business Development. Vista Kelowna General Manager/General Sales Manager Ross Hawse would become the Director Western Operations. Gary Russell, Vista’s Director of Systems and GM of Vista Prince George, would integrate Haliburton and Vista in Ontario as the Director of Integration and Operations, Vista East. Co-Founder/ Executive VP Paul Mann would add Senior VP of Sales and Training and Development to his duties. Assisting him would be Tracey Gard, the GM/GSM of the Cariboo Group of Vista stations, as Director Vista Sales, West and based in Courtenay. The former finance executive at Corus and Telemedia, Chris Lecomte joined Vista as Senior VP/CFO, based in Toronto.

The CRTC approved a change to the effective control of Vista Radio Ltd. from a control exercised by its board of directors to a control exercised by Westerkirk Capital Inc., a corporation controlled by Thomson Investments Limited. Vista Radio Ltd. was the licensee of radio programming undertakings located in British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.


Pete Montana was promoted at Vista Radio to General Manager/Program Director of the five station Cariboo Group, based at Williams Lake. He had been PD/morning host at 91.7 Coast FM Sechelt/Nanaimo. Former Cariboo GM Gary Long left the business. 

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.

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