CHMB-AM, Multicultural – AM 1320 CHMB, Vancouver

Mainstream Broadcasting Corp.

CHMB-AM1994132050,000Mainstream Broadcasting Corp.
CHQM-AM1990132050,000CHUM Ltd.
CHQM-AM1959132010,000Vancouver Broadcast Associates Ltd.


CHQM signed on the air at 5:00 p.m., December 10. Phil Moore’s “Misty Moon” was used as the opening theme. CHQM operated on a frequency of 1320 kHz with a power of 10,000 watts. The station used an RCA Victor BTA-5k/10k transmitter and Robert Service was chief engineer. CHQM made use of full AM bandwidth for maximum fidelity sound. Studios and offices were located at 1134 Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. CHQM was owned and operated by Vancouver Broadcast Associates Ltd. Jack Stark and Bill Bellman headed up the group. Bellman was a former CBC announcer and producer, and host of a program on CBUT-TV. Stark was an executive in mills and steel products and primarily funded the station. The CHQM call sign: Canada’s Highest Quality Music. 

The promise was that CHQM would be unlike any other radio station in Canada, offering good music, a minimum of talk and a unique commercial policy. It was reasoned that such an approach would attract a large and loyal audience. Bill Bellman was president and managing director. He was a former CBC announcer and producer. When he applied to the Board of Broadcast Governors for licences he vowed to increase the number of sets in use in Vancouver by 25% – wooing non-listeners to the AM station with the FM sound. 

Programs were presented by name and included Q on the Aisle, Carousel, Candlelight & Wine, Starlight Concert, Gaslight and Bill Bellman’s own 6:00 p.m. editorial entitled Perspective. Most of the on-air staff had resonant, authoritative voices. 


CHQM-FM began operations on August 10. “The AM station with the FM sound” now had an FM counterpart. Both stations simulcasted during the 19 hour broadcast day. 

Dave Catton was at CHQM at this time.


In March, CHQM launched its background music service – Q Music (the “Q” for Quality). The service was offered on a side channel of the FM frequency. 

CHQM-AM and FM had a staff of 28. Terry Bate was national sales manager. 

CHQM-FM began airing segments of programming that was separate from the AM station. The separate FM programming concentrated on opera, theatre and adventures in stereo sound. 

The stations offered light and bright music in the early morning and serious music and the classics in the late evening. There were only two soft-sell commercials per quarter hour. Except for the 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. time period, CHQM music was programmed in uninterrupted 15 minute segments. Announcers were just friendly voices and not chit-chatting personalities. Editorial writer Ralph Daly prepared three editorials per day. News was aired every hour, on the hour, and originated from the Vancouver Sun newsroom. 

On September 1, CHQM-AM-FM began broadcasting 24 hours a day. 

In November, CHQM-FM broadcast its first “live” concert – a two hour program featuring the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Also in November, CHQM began publishing “Q” – a guide to entertainment and the arts in Vancouver. The stations also put out their first album of music – Candlelight & Wine – patterned on the station’s 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. program with the same name. 


In November, approval was given for CHQM to increase power to 50,000 watts full-time, using four 184 foot towers from a transmitter site on Lulu Island, south of Vancouver. 


W.E. (Bill) Bellman was president and manager.

Vancouver Broadcasting Associates owned CHQM-AM and FM, with Bill Bellman holding 50% of the stock. He still had his original partners: A.B. and R.L. Cliff, J.E. Stark, Russ Kinnimount and Alan Tatum, who had the other 50% through Western Industrial Holdings.


CHQM-AM purchased exclusive broadcast rights for the BC Lions (CFL) for the next three years. Sports director Brad Keene would handle the play by play.

Maurice Foisy was program director.


On August 23, the corporate name changed to Q Broadcasting Ltd. 

CHQM subscribed to the NewsRadio news service, started by Stephens & Towndrow in September of 1968. NewsRadio received news content from CBS in New York. 


Q Broadcasting announced its new board of directors: William E. Bellman was president and CEO, James E. Stark was vice president of finance and secretary-treasurer, Maurice L. Foisy was vice president of programming for Vancouver, James G. Lamb was a director with A.E. Ames & Co. Ltd., Arnold B. Cliff was president of Wescorp Industries Ltd., Gowan T. Guest was a barrister and solicitor, and R. Hilliard Claire was secretary-treasurer with Northern Hardware & Furniture Co. Ltd. 


John E. Stark became president as well as chairman of Q Broadcasting. He would manage the day-to-day operations, having assumed complete control. Co-founder Bill Bellman moved on to become a major shareholder in Vancouver’s CKVU-TV.


In September, CHQM adopted the “Music of Your Life” format from 6 p.m. to midnight, but continued playing beautiful music throughout the rest of the broadcast day.


Approval was given for a change in CHQM’s directional antenna system.


On January 1, CHQM switched from easy listening to a light rock format identifying as “Lite 1320”, with music by artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, the Beatles, Lionel Richie and Phil Collins.

CHUM Ltd. announced plans to purchase CHQM-FM and the Q Music division from Q Broadcasting. CHUM had been trying for years to get and FM station in Vancouver. The company had unsuccessfully applied three times for an FM licence to complement CFUN-AM. Q Music would provide an entry into B.C. for the CHUM Satellite Business Music Network. The deal also included CHQM-AM.

On October 17, CHUM Limited of Toronto was given approval to purchase CHQM and CHQM-FM Vancouver from Q Broadcasting Ltd. Because a company could only own one AM and/or one FM station in the same market and in the same language, CHUM was directed to sell CHQM-AM to a third party as the company already owned CFUN-AM in the city. Q Broadcasting Ltd., was owned by John E. Stark and other shareholders long involved in the broadcasting industry in Vancouver and elsewhere in British Columbia. Mr. Stark and his partners decided to divest themselves of their broadcast holdings, essentially for estate planning purposes.


On February 20, CHQM dropped its “Lite 1320” format for 1930s to 60s “Memory Music”. 

In July, an agreement between CHUM and CRBC Communications for the purchase of CHQM-AM collapsed when CRBC’s financing fell apart. 


The CRTC threatened to pull the licence for CHQM-AM. The licence was renewed for only one year. The Commission was concerned about the delay in the sale of the station by CHUM. The CRTC said it would not view favourably an application for a further extension. 


On January 23 the station began contracting out it’s late night programming from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday to Saturday nights to Canadian Chinese Radio.  Three weeks later, ethnic programming started at 9 p.m.

CHUM Limited announced that it finally found a buyer for CHQM-AM. The station would be sold to a group of local investors. CHUM would retain CFUN-AM and CHQM-FM.
On December 14, the CRTC approved the sale of CHQM-AM by CHUM Ltd. to a company 80% owned by James Ho.  Other shareholders were Chinese Commercial Radio (Canada) Ltd., popularly known as Overseas Chinese Voice (10%), Wayne Lee (5%) and George Feng (5%). Chinese Commercial Radio was owned by Hanson Lau and Agnes Hoi-Yin Yau.


On Chinese New Year’s Eve, February 9 at 9 p.m., after 34 years of nostalgic and easy listening music, CHQM signed off the air with Bob Hope’s “Thanks for the Memories” and was replaced moments later by CHMB with anall-night Chinese program.  It’s new multilingual format, under the new ownership, continued for about 7 months before becoming all Chinese Monday-Friday.  Twelve other languages including Portuguese, Brazilian, Filipino, Greek, Japanese, Tamil, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish were added to weekend programming. 


Program director Dave Geddes left CHQM when it became CHMB. He joined CKST as PD and morning host.


On October 30, CHQM co-founder Jack Stark died at the age of 83.  He was posthumously inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2003. 


AM 1320 President/CEO Teresa Wat resigned after being elected to the British Columbia legislature.


Bob Service died at the age of 84 on December 14. As a broadcast engineer, he helped launch CHQM AM 1320 Vancouver in 1959, and then went on to a 35-year career at CBC-TV.


Maurice Foisy, 86, died on May 10. He started his career at CKEN Kentville, NS in 1950. He went on to work at CFAB Windsor, NS, CJCH Halifax, CBC Sydney, NS, and then CBC Radio and TV in Halifax. Foisy then helped launch CHQM, where he served as VP of Programming and afternoon drive host for more than three decades up until 1993. He later landed at CKST in 1993, before retiring from broadcasting in 1995.

The story continues elsewhere…
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