CHAY-FM, Fresh Radio 93.1, Barrie
|Corus Entertainment Inc.
|Shaw Cablesystems Ltd.
|CHAY Ltd. (Vin & Elizabeth Dittmer)
|CHAY Ltd. (Dittmer Markle others)
Andrew F. Markle, on behalf of a company to be incorporated, received a licence for a new FM station at Barrie. It would broadcast on a frequency of 93.1 MHz with an effective radiated power of 100,000 watts (horizontal & vertical). Markle was the publisher of community newspapers in the area. He proposed using his staff and freelancers as community reporters. A competing application by Ralph T. Snelgrove (CKBB-AM) was denied.
CHAY Ltd., owned by Vin Dittmer, Andy Markle and others, opened CHAY-FM on May 20. The studios and offices were on Highway 26 & 27 (later renamed 743 Bayfield Street) at Findlay Road, two miles north of Barrie. The antenna was at the 900 foot mark on the 1,000 foot CKVR-TV tower along Highway 27, two miles south of Barrie. CHAY used an AEL FM-25KG transmitter and a Shively 10-bay antenna. Programming was fed from the studios to the CKVR-TV tower by STL.
“CHAY” was a Huron greeting, and CHAY-FM was known as “The Welcome Sound from Huronia”. The station had an easy listening format with most of the music coming from a library of 600 thirty minute tapes, augmented by Canadian Content discs from CTL and other sources.
At 6:25 p.m. on September 7, a private aircraft struck the 1000′ CKVR-TV tower, killing all five on the plane and destroying the tower and antenna. The tower also supported the CHAY-FM antenna. On the following morning, the use of a 400′ temporary tower was secured from the CBC. The first sections of the new tower were lifted into place on September 10. CHIN Radio in Toronto assisted CHAY in setting up a Bell-line facility, EQ equipment and antenna to get that station on-air within 30 hours, in mono, at half power (50,000 watts). The CHAY, CBLFT-TV and CKVR-TV antennas were hoisted into place on September 19. The transmission line was also put into place. Work on the temporary tower was done that evening. A new 1000′ tower was expected to be use in early 1978.
John Christensen, Cecil Fry and the principals of CHAY-FM lost their bid for an FM station at Huntsville (100,000 watts on 99.5 MHz). The CRTC was not convinced the proposed regional station would be financially viable.
Ad: Who’s entertaining the weekenders? CHAY Stereo FM 93.1 Huronia.
Ron Knight (formerly of CFGM and CKAN) was doing the morning show at CHAY.
While holding his position as general manager of CHAY-FM, Vin Dittmer took on the job of managing director (chief executive officer) for Toronto’s CFMT-TV.
CHAY received approval to distribute a variety of programming (sports, leisure, hobby interests, educational, instructional and ethnic programs, reports to farmers and other groups), including Datamark audio services, for narrowly-defined audiences via SCMO.
On January 11, the CRTC renewed CHAY-FM’s licence until September 30, 1985.
It was announced that Vin Ditmer and his wife would increase their holding in CHAY to 61%. The other 39% would be held by Markle Community Newspapers.
On February 14, approval was given for a change in the ownership structure of CHAY Limited, with the transfer of 100% of the outstanding common shares from the current shareholders to a company ultimately controlled (60.8%) by Elizabeth and Vincent Dittmer, through their holding company Vidicomm Ltd. Subsequent to the share transfer, the Ditmer company and CHAY Ltd. would amalgamate to form CHAY FM Ltd. Vidicomm Ltd. would hold 60.8% of CHAY FM Ltd. with Markle Community Newspapers Ltd. holding the remaining 39.2%.
On July 31, the CRTC denied competing applications for a an English-language FM radio station to serve Barrie. Both applicants proposed to operate the station in the Group III format on the frequency 95.7 MHz (channel 239). Having received an application from Barrie Broadcasting Limited and in keeping with its usual procedures, the Commission issued a call for applications to carry on an FM undertaking to serve Barrie. In response, CHAY Limited filed a competing application. BBL held an AM licence for CKBB, one of two commercial radio stations in Barrie, and, accordingly, had applied for a joint licence. CHAY Limited is the licensee of Barrie’s other commercial station, CHAY-FM, and was seeking a second FM licence in this market. At the hearing, BBL submitted that its proposed new FM station would complement existing services in the region and outlined its programming proposals in the areas of enrichment, foreground and news, as well as its plans for the support and development of Canadian talent. CHAY Limited predicated its proposal on its need to expand in the face of increasing competition and submitted a program concept that “fills a void” in the region’s existing radio services. At the hearing, it also emphasized its local ownership and financing capability and discussed its programming proposals in the areas of news, sports and local talent. The related policy issue of a single licensee holding two FM licences in the market was also discussed. Although both of the applicants were experienced broadcasters and proposed music formats that would complement the range of existing radio music services, the Commission concluded, based on the information contained in both applications, that their budgetary and staffing commitments were inadequate to fulfill their programming plans. Further, the Commission was not persuaded that the proposals of either applicant in terms of local and regional news and information services would contribute to increased diversity in Simcoe County. The Commission was not convinced that BBL could achieve the ambitious commitments made in the area of Spoken Word programming or that it had fully taken into account the objectives and requirements of the FM policy. While the Spoken Word commitments were more conservative in the case of CHAY Limited, the applicant’s responses to questioning at the hearing did not persuade the Commission that its plans could be realized as proposed. The Commission considered that there was a demand among Barrie residents for greater diversity in local radio services and would be prepared to consider applications from interested parties for the provision of FM radio service to this area.
Bonnie McPherson was on the air at CHAY.
Longtime CHAY morning man Ron Knight left the business. Arnus Peterson returned to CHAY. He had been with the Financial Post Radio Network.
Kathy McLachlan was now in charge of all magazine programming on CHAY. Former producer Jim Henderson gave up that responsibility. He remains news director and would take on broader tasks within station management.
George Gall moved to CHAY-FM. He had been in the news department at CKQM-FM Peterborough.
Long-time CKEY newscaster Pete McGarvey retired from that station at the end of last year, but was now doing editorials on CHAY-FM. Frank Allinson was now at CHAY news after being with CKO. Arnis Peterson also joined CHAY from CKO-FM.
Shaw Cablesystems Ltd. of Edmonton announced it was buying CHAY from CHAY Ltd. James Shaw, president of Shaw, said the purchase would give the company access to the Ontario market and would be a valuable expansion of their radio division. Shaw owned five radio stations in Alberta, including CISN-FM in Edmonton.
When Shaw purchased CHAY, program director Paul Richards was instructed to move the station’s sound to a more modern, soft adult contemporary format. The station continued to enjoy serving an audience of a quarter million listeners weekly during the transition.
On March 8, the CRTC approved the application for authority to transfer effective control of CHAY Limited, licensee of CHAY-FM Barrie, through the transfer of all common and related preferred shares (100%) from Vincent, Elizabeth and Donald Dittmer, and Susan Cotton to Shaw Cablesystems Ltd. The licensee had been managed by Vincent Dittmer since its inception in 1977, and had been controlled by Mr. Dittmer and members of his family since 1985. At the hearing, Mr. Dittmer expressed the view that the station had progressed as far as it could under its present ownership. He submitted that, although the station required extensive capital improvements, these could only be carried out “by adding more debt than is prudent for someone in his sixties.” Shaw was a public company controlled by members of the Shaw family of Edmonton, Alberta and Woodridge, Ontario who, collectively, owned 59.5% of the total issued voting shares. Shaw stated that it possessed the financial capacity and was fully prepared to implement the various capital improvements at CHAY-FM that Mr. Dittmer identified as being necessary. Among the proposed initiatives was one entitled “Project Easy”, which was designed both to assist Canadian talent and to help reduce the current shortage in this country’s production of easy listening recordings. The Commission disqualified as a benefit the sum of $600,000 which the applicant claimed could be raised over five years by community groups and charities from admission charges to the licensee’s “Big Band Saturday Night Roadshow”, a program to be broadcast live from different venues in CHAY-FM’s listening area. In the Commission’s view, the amount of $600,000 that the applicant suggests could be raised by this activity over five years was speculative. The Commission expected the licensee, under its new ownership, to take immediate steps to develop a better mix of spoken word and musical elements in CHAY-FM’s foreground programming in order to expand the diversity of service provided to its audience. It also expected the licensee to ensure a more reasonable balance in the scheduling of foreground programs on CHAY-FM.
CHAY installed a new Harris 25,000 watt transmitter.
Ronald S. Gilbert left CHAY for CIDC in Orangeville. He was a marketing representative and acting general sales manager at CHAY for 13 years.
CHAY received CRTC approval to redirect a $345,000 commitment to a new Canadian talent project called The Huronia Radio Orchestra. It would record instrumental music and give concerts. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters recently paid tribute to CHAY for its “Project Easy”, which would record 150 easy listening selections over a five year period.
CHAY officially opened new studios and offices on May 1. The new building was sited on the old parking lot, and the old building was demolished to become the new parking lot.
On March 1, the CRTC approved the application to amend the Promise of Performance for CHAY-FM by reducing the level of instrumental music selections broadcast each week from “at least 35% to less than 50%” to “less than 35%”. The Commission noted that, in accordance with the Radio Regulations, 1986, the minimum amount of Canadian content in popular music that must be broadcast by CHAY-FM on a weekly basis following this approval would increase from 20% to 30%. The Commission also noted that this approval would provide the licensee with the flexibility to program a more contemporary soft vocal sound.
Corus Entertainment Inc. was formed September 1 from the media assets of Shaw Communications Inc. Corus became a separate and distinct, publicly traded corporation. The Shaw family continued to hold the majority of voting shares in Corus.
CHAY’s on-air line-up consisted of Ted Telford and Diana Meder (mornings), Ken Trew (middays), Bill Cosworth (afternoons), and Paul Richards (evenings).
In the summer, an addition to the CHAY building on Hwy 26 in Midhurst (1125 Bayfield St. N. – formerly 743 Bayfield Street) was completed, and in November, sister station CIQB-FM moved to this location.
On October 13, CHAY became Energy @ 93.1, simulcasting CING-FM in Burlington, with Cherie Baker doing middays and Brian Adam in afternoon drive from Barrie. The “energy” stations had a dance / contemporary hits format. On the same date, Darren Stevens added program director duties for CHAY-FM and CKCB-FM Collingwood. He was already CIQB-FM’s PD.
On November 15, CHAY-FM “officially” became Energy @ 93.1. The morning show came from CING. Cherie Baker was on 9-noon, Bob Wallace did the noon-3 shift. Afternoons and all other programs came from Burlington.
Bob Wallace became Energy Barrie’s program director.
Energy FM @ 93.1 changed to an adult contemporary format as “The New CHAY 93.1 FM” on August 15.
In September, CHAY began transmitting from a new antenna on the CKVR-TV tower.
Along with sister station CIQB and Rock 95 stations CFJB and CKMB, CHAY was now coupled into a new master FM antenna on the tower.
Vincent Dittmer, co-founder of CHAY-FM, passed away on October 25.
CHAY-FM was rebranded on August 11 as “FM93 Barrie’s Fresh Music Mix”.
The format changed from Adult Contemporary to Adult Contemporary-Oldies.
On November 30, the CRTC renewed CHAY’s licence to August 31, 2017.
Mike Patterson, who’d been Retail Sales Manager at FM96/1039FM since March 3, 2008, become General Sales Manager at the sister Corus Radio Barrie cluster. He began October 12. Patterson was no stranger to the Barrie market. He was with CKVR-TV before being recruited by Rogers TV Barrie.
Derrick Scott, program director at Corus Radio Barrie/Collingwood was no longer with the stations. He’d held the position since 2008. Dave Pinder, promotions director at Corus Radio Barrie, moved to become manager of the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce.
CHAY-FM re-branded itself as “chay today @ 93 1fm” on March 11. The station now offered Barrie and area residents the only Variety Adult Contemporary station in the market playing a blend of ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s music along with current pop/rock hits mixed in. J.J. Johnston was General Manager of Corus Radio Barrie/Collingwood.
In March, Chris Liedtke left B101 to help launch CHAY TODAY @ 93 1fm, handling the afternoon slot. John Facey, who was the afternoon announcer on the former FM 93, moved to B101 afternoons.
Corus Radio’s new B101/CHAY Barrie/The Peak Collingwood Program Director was Deb James. She had been with the city’s 107.5 KOOL FM where she’d been morning show host for the past five and a half years. Paul Stoutenburg, most recently with the Evanov Radio Group in Toronto, was the new Promotions Director at Corus Radio Barrie.
On February 27, Corus Barrie introduced a new line-up for CHAY TODAY @ 93 1fm. The longest running morning team in Barrie, Jamie and Tara, joined CHAY from sister station B101. They were heard between 5:00 and 9:00 a.m. Shawn Turner handled middays, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Stu Andrews assumed the assistant program director role and took the swing/weekend announcer slot The afternoon drive host was yet to be determined.
Chris Evans joined CHAY as afternoon host. He had been long-time midday announcer at Z1035 Toronto and most recently covered a maternity leave at Magic 106.1 Guelph. His first day at CHAY was March 19.
John Evans, the Chief Engineer at Corus Radio Barrie, retired after more than 50 years of service. Evans began in 1961 with the then stand-alone CKBB 950 and hung on through various ownership changes.
In May CHAY-FM was rebranded as Fresh Radio 93.1. The first song played was Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and featuring Bruno Mars.
Milt Conway (80) passed away October 24. He started in broadcasting in 1956 at CKOX Woodstock. In 1956 he moved to Barrie and spent 15 years at CKVR-TV before joining CHAY-FM in 1980. He wrapped up his career in Toronto at Classical 96.3 FM.
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.