VOCM-FM, 97.5 K-Rock, St. John’s

Stingray Group Inc.

VOCM-FM201897.5100,000Stingray Group Inc.
VOCM-FM200097.5100,000Newcap Inc.
VOCM-FM198297.5100,000Colonial Broadcasting System


Colonial Broadcasting System Ltd., owner of 590 VOCM, was granted a licence for a new FM station at St. John’s. It would offer a Middle of the Road format on a frequency of 97.5 MHz with an effective radiated power of 20,000 watts. VOCM would provide a recording studio and allocate money to develop Canadian talent. A competing application by Radio CJYQ 930 Ltd. for a new FM station was denied.


Colonial Broadcasting System Ltd. was now also operating under the name Radio Newfoundland Ltd.

On August 17, VOCM-FM was authorized to increase effective radiated power from 20,000 watts to 50,100 watts.

“VO Stereo” VOCM-FM 97.5 signed on the air in September. An NEC FM transmitter was used.


On January 11, the CRTC renewed VOCM-FM’s licence to September 30, 1985.


On July 31, VOCM-FM was granted an increase in effective radiated power from 50,000 watts to 100,000 watts.


On December 17, VOCM-FM was given approval to add a transmitter at Clarenville, operating on 100.7 MHz with an effective radiated power of 2,200 watts. 


Citing three years of losses, VOCM-FM was relieved of some of its Canadian talent commitments. 


NewCap announced plans to buy all VOCM Radio Newfoundland stations (VOCM-AM/Magic 97 St. John’s, CKVO Clarenville, CHVO Carbonear, CHCM Marystown, CKGA Gander, CKCM Grand Falls/Windsor and CKIM Baie Verte). The deal would bring the VOCM stations together with Newcap’s CJYQ group in the province. 


On May 4, the sale of VOCM and VOCM-FM St. John’s, CKVO and VOCM-FM-1 Clarenville, CKCM Grand Falls, CKIM Baie Verte, CHVO Carbonear, CHCM Marystown and CKGA Gander to NewCap Broadcasting (owner the CJYQ / CKIX-FM group of stations) was approved. NewCap took operational 


In February, adult contemporary VOCM “Magic 97” became “K-Rock – Newfoundland’s Classic Rock”. 


On May 28, the CRTC renewed the licence of VOCM-FM until August 31, 2016. The renewal included VOCM-FM-1 Clarenville.

Shawn Basha became Chief Engineer at Steele Communications in Newfoundland & Labrador on March 1. Basha was the Director of Engineering at CHUM Halifax. He stepped into his new job to succeed Harold Steele, who retired December 31 after 35 years with Steele Communications and the stations’ previous owners.

Former VOCM-FM announcer Dave Wheeler (retired) passed away on November 27 at the age of 63. He worked on-air at radio and television in Newfoundland and Labrador from the ‘60s through the ‘90s and also served as mayor of Torbay. 


Gerry Phelan, long-time VOCM news director, left the company. He led the VOCM news department for 27 years. Brian Madore succeeded Phelan. He had been assistant news director. Madore had been with Steele Communications full-time since 2003, and off and on since 1984. John Reynolds added assistant news director to his duties (programming and on-air). Jay Lawrence became program director at VOCM. He was in the unusual position of programming Newcap’s 100.5 K-Rock Fort McMurray (Alberta) from his base at St. John’s, and would continue to do so for the immediate future.


K-ROCK host Tom “Big Tom” Fitzgerald passed away. He had hosted K-ROCK’s weekday morning show with Mike Campbell and Candice Udle for the past number of years, and had his own live request show, “Saturday in the Shed with Big Tom.”

Harold Steele died in May at the age of 65. Steele worked for VOCM for more than 30 years, 10 of which he was Chief Engineer. He was also with CHVO Carbonear for several years. Steele was credited with having superior technological skills, particularly in circuit boards and transmitters.

Dennis Dillon, the Retail Sales Manager at Steele Communications in St. John’s, added Station Manager duties for 103.9 FM KIXX Country Carbonear and Sales Manager responsibilities for VOCM St. John’s. He succeeded Darlene Myers who moved to Newcap Radio Halifax as an Account Manager.


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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