CICX-FM, Pure Country 106, Orillia
|Bell Media Inc.
|Larche Communications Inc.
|Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.
|Telemedia Communications Inc.
|Telemedia Communications Inc.
|Orillia Broadcasting Ltd.
|Orillia Broadcasting (Eastern buys Countryside)
|Orillia Broadcasting Ltd. (Maclean-Hunter, Hildebrand)
|Great Lakes Broadcasting Systems Ltd.
|Great Lakes Broadcasting Ltd.
|Radio Station CFOR Ltd. (Smith)
|Gordon E. Smith
|Gordon E. Smith (Orillia)
|Gordon E. Smith (Parry Sound)
Construction of CHPS was underway in the summer. It was hoped the station would be on the air in the fall. The station would be managed by Gordon Smith, who had worked in North Bay, Hamilton and Brantford. The company would operate as the Parry Sound broadcasting Co., with Alex Mitchell, president. Smith was manager. CHPS would use a 250 watt RCA transmitter on 1450 kHz.
CHPS went on the air August 8. The station ended up using a Marconi 250 watt transmitter. The station provided primary radio coverage to a previously radio-starved territory. The service area contained 45,000 people, from Georgian Bay eastward to Sundridge, Bracebridge and Huntsville.
The transmitter site was located at Nobel, just outside Parry Sound. World War ll meant shortages of equipment and a used transmitter from CKTB St Catherines and a steel tower from CKOC Hamilton were used, those stations having installed new facilities just prior to the war. CHPS was owned by Gordon Ellesworth Smith and a partner. The “PS” in the call sign stood for Parry Sound.
Gordon Smith joined the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Gordon E. Smith was discharged from the RCAF after one year of service and returned to managing CHPS. He also bought the other interest in the station from Alec Mitchell, who had gone into the Air Force. Smith felt he could vie with CHML’s Ken Soble for the title of youngest station owner. Smith was 25 at this time and Soble apparently admitted to 32 summers.
Parry Sound was an important manufacturing town during the war but that all changed when WWII came to an end. At the same time, Smith wanted to add CBC programming to his schedule. There wasn’t a telegraph (feed line) repeater point near Parry Sound to get the programming to the station. There was a repeater point at Washago. For these reasons, it was decided that CHPS would shut down and if approved, the station would reopen in Orillia. Federal approval was granted for the move. Smith expected to make the transfer in the summer. Once in Orillia, CHPS would be known as CFOR.
During the summer, Smith shut CHPS down and began moving the station to Orillia. It was hoped the station would resume operations from Orillia (as CFOR) on August 22. Power would continue to be 250 watts but Smith was hopefull for an increase to 1,000 watts in the reasonably near future.
CFOR was officially launched by Orillia’s mayor (his jewellery store was one of the station’s first sponsors) on September 3. Studios were located atop the Loblaws store on Mississauga Street. It was impossible to get steel at this time for a new tower. Smith decided to come up with his own antenna plan: he built a tripod and suspended a heavy duty copper wire down the middle. CFOR operated on 1450 kHz with a power of 250 watts, and was on the air daily, from 6:00 a.m. to 12:10 a.m. The “OR” in the call letters: ORillia.
On December 5, CFOR was given permission to open a studio in Barrie on the condition such studio was closed once Barrie gets its own radio station. (Ralph Snelgrove opened CKBB Barrie in 1949).
Rupert Bedford joined CFOR’s promotion department from CKNX in Wingham. Don McBride joined the station as chief engineer. Dick Mungham became an announcer-operator and Russ waters took over the commercial department.
CFOR joined the CBC’s Dominion network.
Dick Mungham was now chief announcer.
Bell Telephone told CFOR that its audience participation program was disrupting telephone communications in Orillia because of the number of calls. The station was asked to decrease the telephone response to the program. Manager Gordon Smith had to decide how he could satisfy both Bell and the program sponsors.
Gerry Stovin (Horace N Stovin’s son) left CFOR for CKCW Moncton where he would be an announcer/writer. Jack Harvey and Dick Mingham joined CFOR as announcers. Bev Harrington joined CFOR as an announcer, from CKCR in Kitchener. Edna Forman and James (Pete) McGarvey were added to CFOR’s continuity department; Jim Nash and Ted Little to the technical staff. Francis Kirton joined CFOR as program director from CKOC in Hamilton.
Early in the year, CFOR was leaving the air daily between 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 4:30 p.m. in hopes of prompting local citizens to conserve power, in line with the request of the Orillia Water, Light and Power Commission to save electricity.
The CBC Board recommended for denial, Gordon Smith’s application for CFOR’s operation of a 250 watt relay transmitter at Barrie. Ralph Snelgrove would apply for an AM station in Barrie a short time later. It received approval in early 1949.
CFOR received approval to change frequency from 1450 to 1570 kHz and to increase power from 250 to 1,000 watts.
The CBC recommended for approval, CFOR’s application to switch the night antenna pattern from directional to non-directional. It would now operate omni-directional on a full-time basis.
Russ Waters was commercial manager.
CFOR moved to new studios and was preparing to increase power to 1,000 watts. The new studios officially opened on November 24 and the new 1,000 watt transmitter went in to operation on the same date. Premier Leslie Frost pulled the switch that moved the power up to a thousand watts. CFOR was now operating on 1570 kHz.
Slogan: Serving Central Ontario From Orillia.
CJOY Guelph was added to the Community Broadcast Services group which also included CKNX Wingham, CFOS Owen Sound, CKBB Barrie, and CFOR Orillia. The 14 month old group produced and promoted live talent programs, and had been working on a schedule of some three shows originated by each member station weekly. Each show was taped and circulated to the other member stations. CJOY had already been contributing programs for a few months.
The CBC approved the transfer of one common share in the company.
Pete McGarvey was program director. Stan Lark was in the copy department.
CFOR was opposed to an application by Central Ontario Television Ltd. for a TV station at Kitchener. They wanted the application deferred until a later date so that it could be considered along with their own proposal for a TV station in the Orillia-Barrie area.
CFOR began airing the Dominion Barn Dance over the Dominion Network, Saturday’s at 9:00 p.m.
The CBC Board of Governors deferred CFOR’s application for a power increase from 1,000 to 5,000 watts. When the application was heard again later in the year, the CBC approved it. This increase was for daytime hours only, although CFOR said the upgrade was needed due to interference from a Mexican station.
CFOR switched to 1570 kHz. Power remained 1,000 watts. The transmitter and single 200 foot tower were located on part of Lot 28, Concession 10, Mars Township, four miles east of Orillia.
CFOR’s studios and offices moved to the CFOR Radio Centre at 241 West Street North on November 23. Five days later, Hurricane Hazel struck central Ontario. CFOR’s basement studios flooded but the station remained on the air overnight with generator power, broadcasting emergency information, and was awarded a Col. Keith Rogers Memorial Trophy for this public service.
CFOR hoped to be operating at 5,000 watts power by early September. Related ads: Welcome to CFOR Orillia – Soon 5,000 Watts – the Dominant Voice in Central Ontario. An ad later in the year was promoting CFOR at 5,000 watts: Central Ontario is sold by CFOR – 5,000 watts.
James Albert (Pete) McGarvey was program director. Taylor “Hap” Parnaby got his start at CFOR amd talks abput his early days in radio.1,2,3,4,5,6
CFOR again applied for a power increase from 1,000 to 5,000 watts. This was approved in December of 1953 but never implemented and the authority ran out. The new application was approved at the end of 1954. CFOR increased power to 5,000 watts day and 1,000 watts night on June 17. The same tower and site were used.
Bob Douglas was in the news department.
Slogan: CFOR Orillia – In Central Ontario – Delivers Greatest Power, Biggest BBM, Largest City & Area Acceptance. 5,000 watts.
CFOR received federal approval to increase power from 5,000 to 10,000 watts.
Fire destroyed the CFOR transmitter building on June 1. The building and all the contents – worth $75,000 – were lost. This included the daytime 5,000 watt transmitter and the 1,000 watt standby transmitter. The news was big enough to get mention on CFRB, CJBC, CHUM, CKEY (all Toronto), CKLY Lindsay and Barrie’s CKBB. The station was back on the air the following morning though, thanks to the help of other broadcasters. Ralph T. Snelgrove, owner of CKBB-AM and CKVR-TV got federal permission to carry CFOR’s broadcasts over channel 3’s audio frequency. This never took place because Canadian General Electric in Toronto, told Gordon Smith that the new transmitter and installation crews could be in Orillia by mid afternoon. A special job was made on a new 1570 kHz crystal by a Toronto company headed up by Snelgrove’s brother, Gary. Installation began at 6:30 p.m. on the night of the fire. By 3:00 a.m. the following day, installation was complete and all tests had been conducted. CFOR signed on at its normal time that morning. Before returning to the air, production manager Pete McGarvey commented, “it appears we are going to sign on at 10,000 watts somewhat sooner than expected”.
On July 15, the corporate name changed to Radio Station CFOR Limited from “Gordon E. Smith”. Smith was president and manager under the new name. In addition to being production manager, Pete McGarvey was also program and farm director. Bob Douglas was news director.
CFOR officially increased daytime power to 10,000 watts (non-directional) on August 16. Night power (directional) remained at 5,000 watts. The same transmitter site was used and there were now two towers. Entertainer Bob Hope took a break from his shows at the Canadian National Exhibition to visit Orillia. He was on hand to “officially” push the button that launched CFOR’s new transmitter (and power increase) on September 4. After the ceremony, Hope and family went fishing with CFOR owner Gordon Smith!
Ad slogan: I’m always listening to CFOR – Radio at 1570. 10,000 watts of news and entertainment, from Orillia, Ontario.
Ken McDonald was CFOR’s program director.
The Trans-Canada and Dominion networks merged in to a single service. CFOR had been a Dominion affiliate. It would remain with the newly merged network for a couple of more years.
Barry Norman was now on the air staff of CFOR.
Gordon Smith sold CFOR to Great Lakes Broadcasting Ltd. Great Lakes was owned by Maclean Hunter Ltd. (50%), Don Hildebrand (25%) and Clair Chambers (25%).
CFOR dropped its CBC affiliation.
Great Lakes Broadcasting Ltd. (CFCO Chatham and CFOR) and Kitchener-Waterloo Broadcasting Ltd. (CHYM-AM-FM) amalgamated to become Great Lakes Broadcasting System Ltd. on February 25.
D. G. Hildebrand was president of Great Lakes Broadcasting Ltd. D. A. Johns was CFOR’s manager. Sandy Hoyt was production, program and music director, as well as chief announcer. Keith Sterling was morning man. Pete McGarvey was news director.
Pete McGarvey, with CFOR since 1947, left for CFCO in Chatham.
Maclean-Hunter Ltd. through subsidiary Orillia Broadcasting Ltd. acquired the remaining 50% in CFOR that was held by Hildebrand and Chambers.
Ron Fitzpatrick joined CFOR from CKOX Woodstock.
Greatlakes Broadcasting would come under complete control of Maclean-Hunter Ltd. pending CRTC approval. Maclean-Hunter, in collaboration with Countryside Holdings, a few months ago, each purchased 50% of CFOR from Greatlakes and set up a new company – Orillia Broadcasting, subject to federal approval. The latest purchase involved 50% of the common shares of Greatlakes previously held by D.G. Hildebrand, president, and Clair L. Chambers. Donald F. Hunter, head of Maclean-Hunter would also be president of Greatlakes. If approved, M-H would be sole owner of CHYM-AM-FM, CFCO and part owner of CFOR. M-H also owned CKEY and CFCN-AM-TV.
On May 28, permission was given for the transfer of CFOR from Greatlakes Broadcasting System Ltd. to Orillia Broadcasting Ltd.
Ron Fitzpatrick left for CHEX in Peterborough.
On August 7, approval was granted for the transfer of 2,000 common shares (50%) of Orillia Broadcasting Ltd. from Maclean Hunter Ltd. to Countryside Holdings Ltd.
Eastern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (85%) and Gordon V. Marratto (15%) received approval to acquire CKOX Woodstock (100%), CJCS Stratford (100%), CFOR Orillia (100%), CKAR Huntsville and Parry Sound (87.9%) and CKMP Midland (51%) from Countryside Holdings Ltd. and T. G. Ferris. Eastern owned stations in the Maritimes and had a major interest in the Northern Broadcasting group in northern Ontario. Eastern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. is owned by Jack W. Schoone, J. Irving Zucker, and Gerald W. Kennedy. The CRTC noted that the new owners were to improve the technical quality and overall performance of the stations, appointing at least one local director for each. The stations would continue to operate under the Countryside banner. CFOR had operated under the Orillia Broadcasting Ltd. name.
Ownership: Countryside Holdings Ltd.: Eastern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. 846 common shares or 84.6%, G.V. Marratto 150 common share or 15%, J.W. Schoone 1 common share or .1%, J.I. Zucker 1 common share or .1%, G.L. Kennedy 1 common share or .1%, R.S. Engle 1 common share or .1%. (*in trust for Eastern Broadcasting Co. Ltd.). Ownership of Eastern: Jack W. Schoone 20,000 common shares or 50%, J. Irving Zucker 19,999 common shares or 49.9975%, Gerald W. Kennedy 1 common share or .0025%.
CFOR was authorized to increase night-time power from 1,000 watts to 5,000 watts. Daytime power would remain 10,000 watts. The increase was operational by the end of the year. CFOR would operate directionally at night. The same transmitter site was used and an additional tower was added, for a total of two. Brian Hooper was chief engineer.
On-air staff at CFOR includes Rusty Draper (mornings), Jack Latimer (middays), Paul Mahon, Barry Norman and Gary Greer.
On February 28, approval was given for the transfer of CJCS Ltd. (CJCS Stratford), Midland-Penetang Broadcasting Ltd. (CKMP Midland), and Orillia Broadcasting Ltd. (CFOR Orillia) by Ranger Communications Ltd., and for the transfer of CKGB/CFTI-FM (Timmins Broadcasting Ltd.) Timmins and CFCH/CKAT-FM (Northern Ontario Broadcasting Ltd.) North Bay by Northern Broadcast Management Ltd. (owned by Eastern Broadcasting), to 93238 Canada Inc. 93238 was indirectly controlled by Philippe de Gaspe Beaubien. He controlled Telemedia Communications. Other shareholders in 93238 Canada Inc. were Ralph Burford (20%) and Keith Campbell (15%). Five per-cent of the shares were issued to senior officers. Keith Campbell was president of the new company, which promised to upgrade news service on the stations and make use of a Telemedia mobile unit to record local talent. Ranger also sold CKDK Woodstock to Gordon V. Marratto.
Following the purchase by Telemedia of Foster Hewitt’s CKFH, and its renaming to CJCL, the Toronto station began feeding newscasts four times a day to the other Telemedia Ontario stations, while exchanging news with the company’s Quebec network.
With the addition of the Ontario stations, Telemedia claimed to be the world’s largest privately-owned broadcast group. President of the Ontario group of stations was John Van de Kamer. Leslie Sole was vice president of programming (Ontario), and Gary Hooper was in charge of engineering for Telemedia Ontario. He had been chief engineer at CJRN Niagara Falls.
Bob Templeton, former manager of CFOR and Midland’s CKMP, became general manager of Telemedia’s Opex rep house.
Mark Sherwin, formerly with Standard Broadcast News, was now a newsman at CFOR.
On February 13, the CRTC approved the application by Telemedia Communications Inc. for a licence for an English-language radio network that included CFOR, for the purpose of broadcasting the hockey games of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1983-84 season of the National Hockey League.
Grant Forsythe joined CFOR’s news department from CKO in Toronto.
Bob Hope provided a phone interview and some special IDs for CFOR’s 40th anniversary celebrations. Hope was on hand to help open the station in 1945.
Grant Forsythe was at CFOR.
Bob Johnson was named general manager of Telemedia Ontario’s Vacation Stations – CFOR, CKMP Midland and the new FM station at Muskoka. He had been general sales manager of Telemedia’s CJCL in Toronto.
The stations owned by Telemedia Communications Inc. in Ontario were transferred to new subsidiary company Telemedia Communications Ontario Inc.
Kevin Kanne left CFOR as news director to return to his home town of New Liskeard, and CJTT-AM. Carrie Hart joined CFOR as news director. She had worked in CHUM-FM’s news department.
CFOR’s studios and offices moved to 7 Progress Drive.
Telemedia received approval to convert CFOR to the FM band. The station would move from 1570 kHz to 105.9 MHz and have an effective radiated power of 43,000 watts. The existing Country music format would continue on FM. The company’s CKMP in Midland would also move to FM, change its format to Country, and simulcast Orillia between 1:00 and 6:00 a.m. daily, while running its own news, spots and public service announcements.
On September 7 at 6:00 a.m., CICX-FM 105.9 (KICX-FM) replaced CFOR 1570. For the record, CICX was using the frequency and facilities formerly used by the CBC’s CBCO-FM. CFOR 1570 became CICX and simulcast FM programming until its deletion on November 30.
In the summer, CICX-FM switched from country to adult contemporary as “EZ Rock”.
John MacIntosh was general sales manager.
Barry Norman of EZ Rock 105.9 celebrated 35 years at the station. It was the Monday after the November 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy when he first walked through CFOR’s door. Since that time, he spent the majority of his career in sales, but also did stints as general sales manager, general manager, sportscaster, and play-by-play announcer.
On July 29, approval was given for the stations owned by Telemedia Communications Inc. to be transferred to new subsidiary company Telemedia Radio Inc.
Helen Bradley joined EZ Rock Orillia as an account executive. She had been general sales manager at CFBG-FM in Bracebridge.
CICX on-air staffers included Jack Latimer (mornings), Ken Trew (middays), Kim Sparks (afternoons), Rob Reid (evenings), Brian Heyworth, Dave Woods and newscaster Heather Thompson. Barry Norman left the station for retirement in December. He had spent 38 years at CFOR-AM/CICX-FM.
Telemedia Radio VP Braden Doerr, most recently vice president of the Ontario regional group, assumed responsibility for the Southern Ontario cluster (London, Hamilton and St. Catharines). Rick Doughty, VP of Telemedia Northern Ontario (Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Pembroke and Orillia) would continue in that assignment but also added responsibilities as a member of the executive committee of the Ontario division, reporting to Claude Beaudoin, Telemedia executive VP for Ontario region.
On April 19, the purchase of several Telemedia radio and television stations by Standard Radio Inc. was approved, as was Standard’s spin-off of a number of those stations to Rogers Broadcasting and NewCap Broadcasting. Among the stations acquired by Rogers was CICX.
On July 12, CICX adopted a lite adult music format as “105.9 Lite FM”. The purchase of the station by Rogers did not include the registered name “EZ Rock”.
CICX (Rogers) and CICZ Midland (Larche Communications) entered a local sales representation agreement, resulting in Larche handling all sales-related matters for the Orillia station. All other CICX operations remain under local control.
In August, CICX 105.9 Lite FM became the fourth Rogers station to adopt the “JACK-FM” name and format.
Gordon Smith, former owner of the station when it was CFOR-AM, passed away on June 8 at age 86.
On December 24, the CRTC approved applications by Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. and Larche Communications (Kitchener) Inc., for authority to exchange the assets of CICX-FM Orillia and CIKZ-FM Kitchener. Rogers is the current licensee of CICX-FM Orillia and a minority shareholder of Larche with a 29.9% voting interest in Larche. Larche is the current licensee of CIKZ-FM Kitchener. Larche is controlled by Larche Communications Inc., which holds 70.1% of the voting interest in Larche. Pursuant to an agreement between Rogers and Larche, Rogers would purchase the assets of CIKZ-FM Kitchener. Payment would include the transfer of CICX-FM Orillia’s assets to Larche. Some of the remainder would be paid through Rogers’ delivery of a promissory note that would, in turn, be used to redeem the 29.9% ownership interest held by Rogers in Larche.
On March 3 at 5:30 a.m., Larche Communications launched a new FM station in Central Ontario and moved the dial position of another. Country station KICX 104 moved from 104.1 MHz Midland to 105.9 MHz Orillia as KICX 106. JACK FM which had been on 105.9 MHz was replaced by The Dock on 104.1 MHz (104.1 The Dock…The Greatest Rock & Roll Of All Time!) with a mix of classic rock and classic hits. Both stations now operated from the Orillia studios at 7 Progress Drive.
On May 21, CICX-FM was authorized to decrease average effective radiated power from 43,000 watts to 10,600 watts, increase effective antenna height and relocate the antenna. Larche Communications proposed to move the transmitter from its current location to a new site approximately 10 kilometres west, where the transmission facilities of the licensee’s other radio station (CICZ-FM) are located. The licensee indicated that this change in the location of the transmitter would result in considerable cost savings and efficiencies.
Barry Norman died at age 74 in October. The long-time CFOR broadcaster had a 38-year career at the station that spanned such duties as Sports Director, Salesperson, Sales Manager and as Station Manager. Norman retired in 2001.
On November 19, the CRTC renewed CICX’s licence to 31 August 2014. This short-term renewal would enable the Commission to review the licensee’s compliance with the Radio Regulations, 1986 and its conditions of licence at an earlier date.
Don Chamberlain passed away January 26 at age 73. His radio stops over the years included Eastern Broadcasting in Charlottetown, CFOR Orillia, CKCW Moncton, CJBK-CJBX London, CKTY-CFGX Sarnia and CHYR Leamington, and many others.
Spenser Shaw moved laterally within Larche Communications from her promotions director position at 92.3 The Dock Owen Sound to KICX 106 Orillia. This was her second move within the company. Before Owen Sound she was an advertising specialist at KICX 91.7 Sudbury.
James A. “Pete” McGarvey passed away in March at the age of 86. He began his broadcast career at CFOR in 1947 and stayed for 18 years. McGarvey moved on to CFCO from 1965-1973 before heading to CKEY as a feature newscaster/commentator.
In January, KICX 106 staff and management had much to celebrate as the station was equipped with new studios and transmitter.
On February 14, the CRTC approved the application by Bell Media Inc. to acquire CICZ-FM Midland, CICX-FM Orillia, CJOS-FM Owen Sound and CICS-FM Sudbury from Larche Communications Inc. The Commission considered the transaction to be in the public interest.
Jack Latimer hung up his headphones in February after nearly half a century on the air. He started out with CKMP Midland in 1973, moved on to CFOR, got into management and then worked in Timmins and North Bay before returning to CFOR in 1993.
In May, Bell Media rolled out a rebrand (Pure Country) of 12 of its country stations. The stations offered local morning and afternoon drive shows with evening and weekend programming being syndicated. No jobs were lost as part of the changes, as former evening and weekend announcers were assigned new duties. CICX changed from Kicx Country to Pure Country 106.
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.