CKZZ-FM, Z95.3, Richmond/Vancouver

Stingray Group Inc.

CKZZ-FM201495.371,300Newcap Inc.
CKZZ-FM201895.371,300Stingray Group Inc.
CKZZ-FM200795.371,300Astral Media Radio G.P.
CKZZ-FM199695.371,300Standard Radio Inc.
CKZZ-FM199195.371,300South Fraser Broadcasting


Brad Phillips joined the yet to go on the air CKZZ-FM. He had been program director at CKLG-AM.


CKZZ-FM 95.3 signed on at 8 a.m. Thursday May 23, running commercial-free until Monday May 27.  South Fraser Broadcasting, operators of CISL in suburban Richmond, founded the station.  The studio was shared with its sister station in Richmond.  The transmitter was located on Mount Seymour, northeast of Vancouver, and operated with a horizontal peak power of 71,300 watts.  Its format was authorized by the CRTC as “Dance Music”.  “Zed 95.3” became immediately successful with a younger audience, due mostly to an exceptionally strong promotional presence at local high schools, its unique blend of music and a general movement of listeners from AM to FM.  


CKZZ hired Canada’s funniest female comic, Janice Ungaro. The stand-up comic joined Clay St. Thomas, Valerie Ambrose and Joanna Mileos on the Z Breakfast Jam effective August 23.


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

CKZZ Z95 assistant program director Matthew McBride accepted the operations manager job at CKMM Winnipeg. He headed east in August. 

In September Rhona Raskin left CKZZ-FM to host “Sex, Lies and Audio Tape” on the Satellite Radio Network. KISS-FM and at least seven other stations would carry the program, which runs for two hours daily, five days a week. 


On May 8th the CRTC announced approval of the application by Standard to acquire the assets of CKZZ-FM and CISL for a purchase price of $18 million.  Standard committed to create, for each week over a six-year period commencing in 1998, 30-second commercials promoting current or newly released Canadian albums.  Z-95.3 moved from its originally mandated Dance format to a much more mainstream Contemporary Hit Radio. 


Clay St. Thomas left Z95 in March and joined JRfm (CJJR). Steve Scarrow left Z95/CISL where he had been promotions manager. Eric Samuels was program director at Z95/CISL.


David Wannan left Z95.3 to become promotion director at CISS-FM Toronto.

“The Woodman” (John Woodlock) left Z95 to become the new mid-day announcer at Power 107 in Calgary.


In December, program director Eric Samuels was named PD at CKFM-FM in Toronto and vice president of programming for Standard Radio.


Rob Mise was named program director for CKZZ and CISL. He had been with Power 107 in Calgary.

Erin Davis joined Z95 as morning news voice. She had been with CFOX-FM.

Z-95.3 showed continued success, as Bureau of Broadcast Measurement placed the station at number two overall in the Vancouver market during much of the year.  In October, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters recognized the station by awarding a Gold Ribbon for “Promotion–Audience Building”.  In November, the U.S. trade publication “Radio Ink” named it to its list of the “50 Best Radio Station Websites in the World”, ranking it 28th.


In March, Canadian Music Week named CKZZ-FM “Station of the Year”.  In mid August, the station edged away from its purely Contemporary Hits format and started using the slogan “The Best of the Nineties and Today”. 


In late February the station started playing an uninterrupted stream of hit music from its 13-year history, in preparation for another format tweak.  In early March, Canadian Music Week named Z-95.3 “CHR Station of the Year”.  Ironically, the award was made just a few days after it moved to a “Hot Adult Contemporary” format with the slogan, “Zed Ninety-Five Three, Your Music Your Z, with the Best of the 80s, 90s and Now”.


On June 2, it was announced that morning, midday and afternoon show hosts had been released from the station.  At midnight Sunday, June 3, it ceased operating as Z-95.3, stating that a new radio station would emerge the following Tuesday.  After running mostly comedy cuts over the weekend, it re-launched at 7 a.m. on June 5 as “95 Crave – Music That Moves You”, with the first song played, “Music” by Madonna.  Station management announced that the new format generally targeted 25-45 year old women and had lowered current music offerings from 75% to 30%, with the remainder from the 1980s and ‘90s.

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 CKZZ-FM.


On January 8 at 4:00 p.m., CKZZ-FM returned to a Hot Adult Contemporary format under the banner “Virgin Radio 953”. 

In the summer Virgin FM announced its new fall line-up: Breakfast with Nat and Drew (5-9), Taylor Jukes (9-noon), Kevin Lim (noon-3), Kiah and Tara-Jean (3-6) and On Air with Ryan Seacrest (6-9).

On August 28, the CRTC renewed the transitional digital radio licence of CKZZ-DR-1.

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. 

Aaron Buckley left Virgin 953 to become Promotions Director at Classic Rock 101 (CFMI). 


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

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.

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


On August 31, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CKZZ-DR-1 to April 30, 2012.


On April 23, the CRTC administratively renewed the broadcasting licence for digital radio programming undertaking CKZZ-DR-1 until August 31, 2012.

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 succeeds 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. Virgin Radio saw Taylor Jukes (mid-days) step up to assistant brand director/music director. Emily Carter of Belleville’s Mix 97 joined the station as assistant music director/weekend host and Niki Saunders of B100 Kamloops took over the 7-10pm shift on Virgin.

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.

Kiah Tucker, originally from Australia, signed up as the new morning show host at 100.5 The Peak Vancouver, moving from Virgin Radio Vancouver.

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 CKZZ-FM. Pending eventual sale, the Commission directed BCE Inc. to transfer the interim management and control of CKZZ 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. CKZZ-FM was one of the stations included in the deal, which was subject to CRTC approval.

The CRTC approved the decrease in ERP to 31,000 watts (directional antenna with maximum ERP decreasing to 66,000 watts) and increase in EHAAT to 707.4 metres. 


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 CKZZ-FM. 

Later in March, Newcap dropped the Virgin Radio brand on CKZZ as those rights remained with Bell Media. CKZZ flipped back to its original name…Z95.3 and continued to play “Today’s Best Mix”.


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.

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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