CISL-AM, Sportsnet 650 The Fan, Richmond/Vancouver

Rogers Media

CISL-AM201765020,000/4,000Rogers Media
CISL-AM201465020,000/4,000Newcap Inc.
CISL-AM200765010,000/9,000Astral Media Inc.
CISL-AM199665010,000/9,000Standard Broadcasting Corp. Ltd.
CISL-AM19856502,500/720South Fraser Broadcasting Ltd.
CISL-AM19809402,500South Fraser Broadcasting Ltd.


South Fraser Broadcasting Ltd. (Michael Dickinson) was awarded a licence for a new AM station at Richmond. The station would operate on 940 kHz with a power of 2,500 watts (day and night) from a transmitter site located at Lulu Island. This was the first station ever licenced to Richmond.

There were three original owners who helped Michael Dickinson get the CISL licence. One was Allan Holender, who was a resident of Richmond. He helped Dickinson enagage the community and civic leaders, and was the Chair of the Community Advisory Board, and invited key local leaders to sit on the board, which was instrumental in getting the CRTC to grant the license. The two others were: Leon Geyser and Tom Sponarski. 


CISL (C-Isle) began broadcasting on May 1 at 6:00 a.m.

Glenn Crouter was at C-ISL (son of CFRB Toronto’s Wally Crouter).


Monty McFarlane took over CISL’s morning show, replacing Arnie Celsie who became program director. 


On February 3, the CRTC renewed CISL’s licence to September 30, 1988. The Commission also approves the application to amend CISL’s licence by changing the frequency from 940 kHz to 650 kHz; increasing the power from 2,500 to 10,000 watts during the day, and to 7,500 watts during the night; and changing the transmitter site from Richmond (Lulu Island) to Delta (Northshore Boundary Bay). When the Commission first licensed South Fraser Broadcasting Limited to provide AM radio service at Richmond, it underlined the fact that the applicant had promised to extend service to the communities of Delta and White Rock as soon as possible and the Commission required, as a condition of licence, “that the licensee take immediate steps to locate a suitable frequency in consultation with the Department of Communications and the Commission, and apply for service to these areas within the term of this licence”. Approval of the revised technical parameters noted in this decision would permit the licensee to fulfill this condition of licence and provide Delta and White Rock with a signal of consistent quality. 

The Commission was satisfied that CISL had generally met the expectations outlined in Decision CRTC 79-521 with respect to programming, community involvement and student training during its first licence term, and considered that CISL provided the Richmond audience with a valuable local service. In the Commission’s view, however, the licensee should improve and strengthen CISL’s news programming, particularly with respect to local and regional news. In line with the discussion at the hearing, the Commission noted that the licensee had undertaken to increase the level of local news from 40% to 60% of all news programming, provide more voice reports in the local and regional newscast items, and augment the number of full-time news staff from three to five persons, and indicated that more staff would be assigned to news in each subsequent year.

he Mud Bay (Delta) location that CISL wanted to use for a transmitter site was no longer available. As a result, the station applied to the CRTC for permission to operate on a temporary basis, on 650 kHz with a reduced power of 2,500 watts day and 725 watts night from the existing Lulu Island transmitter site. 
On July 1, CISL moved from 940  to 650 kHz.


On November 27, the CRTC made a decision on two matters relating to CISL. The first involved an increase in night-time power from 7,500 to 10,000 watts and the relocation of the transmitter site from Mud Bay (Delta) to Lulu Island, approximately 12.5 kilometers to the northwest. The Commission was unable to conclude that the proposed changes would provide White Rock and Delta with a good quality interference-free night-time signal so the application was denied. In order to allow sufficient time for CISL to find a transmitter site that would provide adequate service to White Rock and Delta, the Commission approved an amendment to the station’s licence to operate CISL, on a temporary basis, on 650 kHz, with a power of 2,500 watts day and 725 watts night from the Lulu Island transmitter site.

The other matter related the transfer of shares in South Fraser Broadcasting. At an earlier hearing, it was established that several unauthorized share transfers had occurred since South Fraser was licensed in 1979. As a result of these transfers, Michael Dickinson, who held 60% of the voting shares in 1979, now controlled only 38% of the voting shares through his ownership of 76% of the shares of Dickinson Radio Holdings Ltd. The shares in the holding company were subject to a shareholders’ agreement which limited to some extent Dickinson’s control over the holding company. The Commission determined that as a result of these share transfers there had been a change in the effective control of South Fraser, and approved the proposed share structure.


John Harris left CISL’s community affairs department.


On February 3, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for CISL whereby it would continue to operate on a temporary basis on the frequency 650 kHz with a power of 2,500 watts (day-time) and 725 watts (night-time) from the Lulu Island transmitter site until November 27, 1987. It was hoped this extension would allow sufficient time for the licensee to provide adequate service to White Rock and Delta. 

On May 26, CISL was given approval to increase night power from 7,500 to 9,000 watts and to change the location of the transmitter site from Delta (Northshore Boundary Bay) to Richmond (Lulu Island). The Commission also approved the addition of a rebroadcast transmitter at White Rock, operating at night only, on  650 kHz with a power of 100 watts. 

Jack Simmons was appointed retail sales manager. Johnathan Madill became operations manager and engineer. Both Simmons and Madill had been with CKNW. David Twanow left his operations position to be full-time creative product manager.

Arnie Celsie was program director.


Don Percy became CISL’s morning man. Other members of the morning show were John Norman (news), Casey White (traffic) and Douglas Miller (weather). Brian Braithwaite took over CISL’s mid-day show and Steve Hudson was assigned weekend duties.


On December 27 at 6 a.m., CISL shifted its oldies format from music ranging from 1955 to today as “AM Gold Music Radio” to music ranging from 1955 to 1975 as “Vancouver’s Oldies Station”. 

Arnie Celsie became CISL’s vice president of programming. Walt Judas moved from the sports department to become program director. Drew Snider joined CISL’s news department. 


W. (Bill) Waddington was appointed general manager; Janis McInnes, national sales manager; and Alex Adamson, creative services manager.

CISL ended its plan to use synchronous transmission on 650 kHz. In addition to the main transmitter on Lulu Island, a 400 watt transmitter would have been used to improve coverage at White Rock. Chief Engineer Danny Thiel said the problem was solved using the main transmitter.


South Fraser Broadcasting launched CKZZ-FM. 


Michael Dickinson agreed to sell CISL and CKZZ-FM to Standard Radio. Dickinson said he needed a rest from radio. He put CISL on the air in 1980 and 
Z-95 in 1991.

CISL morning man Red Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.


On May 8, Standard Radio Inc. was authorized to purchase CISL and CKZZ-FM. 


Eric Samuels was program director at CISL/Z95.


Rob Mise resigned as program director of Power 107 Calgary to succeed Eric Samuels as PD at CISL and CKZZ-FM. Samuels was named PD at CKFM and vice president of programming for Standard Radio in late December, 2000.


On September 27, Astral Media Radio G.P. received CRTC approval to acquire the assets of the radio and TV undertakings owned by Standard Radio Ltd., subject to certain conditions.  The purchase included CISL and CKZZ-FM.


In June, The Western Hockey League Vancouver Giants announced they had entered into a three-year agreement with Astral Media to broadcast all 72 regular season and playoff games on CISL.

As summer progressed, it was announced that veteran Vancouver broadcaster “Big Daddy” Dave McCormick had moved to CISL from rival CKBD, as that station prepared for a move to the FM band. It was further announced that other CKBD programs, including legendary bandleader Dal Richards’ weekly show and the Fred & Gerry Home Improvement Show would also be moving to CISL. Then at 9 a.m. on November 10, CISL moved to “All Time Favourites” to fill the gap left by the move of CKBD to a AAA format on the FM band. 


Cody Mackay, formerly a broadcast technician at CHUM Radio Vancouver, joined Astral Media Radio Vancouver as Director of Engineering. He succeeded Barry Johnston who announced his retirement in August.

Stu Ferguson, formerly of CHUM Vancouver, was appointed Director Talk of Programming at AM 650. He was creating a hybrid programming model featuring lifestyle content 6 p.m. through 6 a.m. Music programming would fill the other 12 hours of the day.


On January 26, the CRTC approved the application by Astral Media Radio (Toronto) Inc. and 4382072 Canada Inc., partners in a general partnership carrying on business as Astral Media Radio G.P., to amend the broadcasting licence for the English-language commercial AM radio programming undertaking CISL Richmond in order to broadcast Russian-language programming during the Vancouver Olympics. The Commission did not receive any interventions in connection with this application. The licensee accepted to devote, by condition of licence, no more than 20% of each broadcast week to third-language programming for the period of 10 to 28 February 2010.

As Vancouver prepared to welcome the world, AM 650 was preparing to welcome Russia’s Autoradio to its airwaves. From February 12 to 28, Russia’s leading music station planned to broadcast live from Vancouver’s “all-time favourites” AM 650. With a large contingent of Russian athletes here in the month of February as well as more than 60,000 Russian-Canadian residents living in Vancouver, this unique exchange program would give these individuals the opportunity to enjoy broadcasts in their native language. At the same time, listeners in Russia would be exposed to Vancouver’s vibrant multi-ethnic cultural landscape and be offered a taste of what’s to come in Sochi in 2014. 

Brad Phillips was promoted within Astral Media Radio, moving from Vice President/General Manager for Vancouver to Vice-President, British Columbia Operations. The appointment saw Phillips oversee all Astral Media Radio broadcast properties in the province.

Brad Phillips, vice-president of British Columbia operations at Astral Radio Vancouver, announced the appointment of Stu Ferguson as brand director at AM 650 CISL. He would be responsible for developing the marketing strategy, music scheduling, executing promotions and managing on-air and production staff at AM 650. Prior to this appointment, Ferguson was the director of talk programming at Astral Radio Vancouver. Gerry O’Day assumed the role of breakfast show host and music director at AM 650. CISL played adult pop music during the weekdays, with lifestyle spoken word programming on weekend mornings and early evenings. The station was also the play by play voice of the Vancouver Giants.

Cole Alford, an 11-year broadcast veteran, joined Astral Radio Vancouver May 4 as Business Manager. He moved from Corus Radio Vancouver.

At Astral Radio Vancouver Stephanie Asquith was promoted from her Account Executive position to Digital Sales Manager.

Stu Ferguson was now Brand Director at AM 650 CISL. He had been Director of Talk Programming. Former Program Director Gerry O’Day continued as Breakfast Show Host/Music Director at AM 650. 


Red Robinson wasn’t out of work long. When Rogers-owned FUN-FM rebranded to SONiC on August 17 and dropped Greatest Hits for Top 40, it also dropped his Red Rock Diner program. Astral Media’s AM 650, which aired ’50s, ’60s and ’70s Rock, brought him back. Robinson was the station’s morning show host from 1993 to 2000. His weekly show began on CISL Sunday, September 4.

Home improvement expert Shell Busey joined the team at AM 650 Radio. Known best for providing sound home improvement tips and useful home fixer-up advice, Shell’s new radio drive-time talk show “Shell Busey’s HouseSmart” would air on Mondays from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Shell had been with CKNW for more than 20 years before leaving to spend more time with family, especially during the weekends. 


Long-time CISL sales rep Les Nielsen passed away. He had been with the station since it went on the air in 1980. Les was the nephew of former federal cabinet minister Erik Nielsen and actor/comedian Leslie Nielsen. 

Gerry O’Day resigned as morning show host and music director. His last day was January 20. O’Day had been with the station since 1993. Jeff Winskell, music director at Virgin Radio 953 became assistant brand director and music director for the Astral BC Interior stations. His last day at Astral Vancouver was February 17. Winskell succeeded Dustin Collins in Kelowna who joined Astral’s AM 650 Vancouver as assistant brand director and morning host, succeeding Gerry O’Day who resigned. His last day was January 20. O’Day began at CISL in 1993. 

Imaging Director John Masecar was no longer with Astral Vancouver. The long-time Standard Broadcasting/Astral employee, who moved to Vancouver from MIX 99.9 Toronto in 2007, won numerous awards, including at the New York Festivals.

It was announced that Brad Phillips, Vice President of B.C. operations for Astral Media, would be the new General Manager of the Corus Entertainment Vancouver radio cluster, succeeding Garry McKenzie who was now heading prairie radio operations for Corus and based in Calgary. Sherri Pierce, Astral Media’s Director of Local Sales, Western Canada, would succeed Phillips as GM of the Astral Radio Vancouver cluster.


Ronnie Stanton left Astral Radio Vancouver to become Brand Director at Classic Rock 101 (CFMI) as of May 1.

On June 27, 2013, after a previous such application had been denied in 2012, the CRTC approved an application by Astral Media Inc. to sell its pay and specialty television channels, conventional television stations and radio stations to BCE Inc. It was a condition of the approval that BCE must divest itself of ownership of several television and radio programming undertakings, including CISL. Pending eventual sale, the Commission directed BCE Inc. to transfer the interim management and control of CISL to a trustee pursuant to the terms of the voting trust agreement addressed in a letter of approval issued 27 June 2013, by no later than 29 July 2013.

On August 26, Newcap and Bell Media announced that they had entered into an agreement whereby Newcap would acquire from Bell Media Inc. the licences of five radio stations of which BCE had been required to divest itself as part of the CRTC approval for BCE to acquire Astral. CISL was one of the stations included in the deal, which was subject to CRTC approval.


On March 19, the CRTC approved applications by Newcap Inc. on behalf of various licensed subsidiaries of Bell Media Inc. for authority to change their ownership and control to Newcap. Among the stations to be transferred to Newcap was CISL. 

On August 14, the CRTC approved a change of transmitter site for CISL, along with an increase in day power from 10,000 to 20,000 watts & decrease in night power from 9,000 to 4,000 watts.

The CISL 650 brand returned to Vancouver radio. It had been known as AM 650 for the last seven years. The format changed from Oldies-Standards to Soft Oldies from the 60’s and 70’s.


David F. Errington died at age 77. His career included being a writer, producer and director for CBC Radio/Television in Vancouver and Toronto, working at Access Alberta TV, the National Film Board and he was the first news director at CISL.


Gary Russell (Norm Vidler) died January 2 at age 67. His 41-year broadcasting career started at CKY-FM Winnipeg. He later joined Standard Broadcasting in Vancouver and, when Astral Media purchased that company, Russell became VP & GM of Astral’s CISL and CKZZ-FM. Gary retired in 2008 and later that year he was inducted into the CAB Hall of Fame.


Arnie Celsie died at age 66 on January 28. He started in radio in the 1960s and was the original morning host and PD at CISL in the 1980s before becoming a senior consultant at Bohn & Associates and SparkNet Communications. In addition to being one of the co-developers of the JACK and Playing What We Want brand, he was part of the team that created and launched the NOW Radio brand in Edmonton.

John Cummings (68) died in March. His career began at CHTK Prince Rupert in 1973. Later, he moved to CKOK Penticton, CJCA Edmonton, CJVI Victoria, CKXR Salmon Arm, CKXM Edmonton and CHQT Edmonton. He signed-on CJJR-FM Vancouver when the station launched in 1986. Cummings then joined CISL Richmond in 1989 and retired in 1991.

Andy Michaelson passed away May 10. He started his career as announcer and reporter in the 1960s at CHED Edmonton, followed by CKYL Peace River and CJCA Edmonton. In the 1970s he moved to Vancouver and was heard on-air over the next two decades as Andy Michaels on CISL, CKNW and as morning show co-host on CJOR.

In May, Newcap Inc. received approval from the CRTC to sell CISL to Rogers Media. The purchaser announced the station would rebrand as Sportsnet 650 in the fall.

Red Robinson (80) announced he would hang up his headphones, after 64 years, August 27. Red started out in radio in 1954 and worked for several Vancouver stations over the years and did programs for CBC TV Vancouver and KVOS-TV in Bellingham. Robinson was named BCAB Broadcast Performer of the Year (1969); a Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Pioneer DJ (1994); CAB Hall of Fame (1977); Rockabilly Hall of Fame (2000); and has a star on the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame Starwalk. In 2016, he was appointed to the Order of British Columbia.

With CISL set to relaunch as Sportsnet 650, Vancouver radio legend Red Robinson wrapped up his six-decade broadcast career on August 27 with his final show. He was joined by special guests Bruce Allen and Seattle radio legend Pat O’Day. Robinson planned to continue to entertain online at, and via his YouTube and SoundCloud channels.

CISL became available in HD via CJAX-FM-HD-3.

The story continues elsewhere…
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