CJRT-FM, JAZZ.FM, Toronto
|CJRT-FM||1965||91.1||27,000||Board of Governors of Ryerson|
|CJRT-FM||1964||91.1||9,900||Board of Governors of Ryerson|
|CJRT-FM||1954||91.1||9,900||Ryerson Institute of Technology|
|CJRT-FM||1949||88.3||3,000||Ryerson Institute of Technology|
Ryerson Institute of Technology (Ontario Department of Education) received CBC approval to operate an educational FM station in Toronto (88.3 MHz – 3,000 watts).
CJRT was expected to begin operations in the fall. It would be the first educational FM station in Canada, and would be operated by the Broadcasting and Electronic Department at Ryerson, formerly the Rehab School, now operated by the Province of Ontario. CJRT would be manned by students under professional radio instructors. John Barnes, ex-CBC producer, had charge of the institute’s courses in broadcasting, under Eric Palin, who supervised all electronic studies. Principal of the institute was H.H. Kerr, director of Technological Institutes for the province.
CJRT signed on officially on the evening of November 22 when Premier Leslie Frost clicked a switch that lit up miniature towers. He declared, education’s own station was on the air. Also on hand for the opening were Education Minister Dana Porter; Rev. Cooke Davies, Speaker of the Ontario House; and Ernest L. Bushnell, director general of programs at the CBC. The opening ceremonies were broadcast simultaneously over CJRT and the CBC’s CJBC. Ryerson principal H.H. Kerr presided over the dinner. Following the speeches, a brief documentary, “CJRT Testing” was presented by a group of students from the broadcasting course at Ryerson. CJRT was on the air daily from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the early going. A. Kufluk and H. Jackson were on the technical staff and CJRT used a 3,000 watt General Electric FM transmitter. The “JRT” in the call letters stood for Journalism, Radio and Television, three of Ryerson’s many educational mandates.
CJRT received federal authority to change frequency from 88.3 to 91.1 MHz. Effective radiated power remained 9,900 watts.
Studios and transmitter were at 50 Gould Street and CJRT-FM became a training station for Radio and Television Arts students rather than budding engineers. The station was on the air only from 3 PM to 9PM, Monday through Friday, during the school year. Audience consisted mainly of teachers, students and their parents.
On April 6, the licensee name was changed to The Board of Governors of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, and CJRT-FM became a professionally staffed radio service with increased broadcast hours (7 AM to Midnight) seven days a week. There was still some student training but that ended a few years later. Future Station Manager Cam Finley joined the station in December.
With a modest budget for some promotion and a program guide, the audience slowly increased and on July 30, CJRT was authorized to increase power to 27,000 watts ERP with an antenna height of 172 feet.
Ted O’Reilly began hosting The Jazz Scene. Over the years he became known as one of Canada’s leading authorities on classical jazz and earned the respect of listeners, musicians and broadcasters alike for his passion for and dedication to the promotion of jazz. He was to stay with the station for 37 years
Joe Lewis began hosting Folk Music and Folkways. It ran for over 30 years.
Don Stone was manager.
Radio study began and a number of non-credit informal educational series were presented for two years, which led to the development of Open College credit courses.
At this time CJRT was offering some automated programming.
Broadcast News was the main source of news for radio stations in Canada but only a handful at this time were subscribing to BN’s voice (audio) service. CJRT was one of those stations.
CJRT had a full-time news staff of three. There were also three part-timers – students. In the summer, the station hired Allan Small from CFRB to move the station more prominently into the news media. Ted O’Reilly was news director.
D.C. Stone was manager.
Alan J. Small was appointed senior producer. He would be involved in the production of musical and educational programs and the training of broadcasting students.
With the support of Eric Wright, then Dean of Arts at Ryerson, sociology professor Marg Norquay and producer Cam Finley created and broadcast Introduction to Sociology, the first Open College university-level credit course for radio… and the first of its kind in Canada. Open College, CJRT’s Education Service, eventually offered 28 university courses (all produced in-house) accredited by Atkinson College, York University and Ryerson Polytechnical University. Open College was the only radio-based university-credit distance education provider in North America. More than 15,000 students have enrolled in Open College courses.
Total CJRT audience stood at about 50,000 listeners.
Adriane Markow and Peter Keigh began hosting classical music programs.
Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, due to financial restraints, announced its intention to surrender the broadcast licence of CJRT-FM. By now the station had achieved somewhat of a profile and the story reached the press. After a large public outcry, Premier William Davis announced to the Ontario Legislature that the Ontario government would assist with the establishment of an independent corporation to operate CJRT-FM, which would then apply for a new licence from the CRTC.
The year also saw the launch of Shift Change, the longest running labour program on Canadian airwaves, which contined until the mid-’90s.
Subsequent to Premier Davis’s intervention, a November 24 CRTC Public Hearing heard an application by Mary Alice Stuart on behalf of a company to be incorporated to acquire the assets of CJRT-FM from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and to obtain a broadcast licence to continue the operation of CJRT-FM.
On November 29, CJRT-FM INC. was incorporated by Ontario Letters Patent and CJRT-FM was transferred from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute to the new non-profit corporation. CJRT-FM INC. was to be an independent non-profit, charitable organization, which owned and operated CJRT-FM, a non-commercial educational FM radio service, specializing in educational and public affairs services, children’s programming, BBC comedy programming and classical, jazz and folk music. In addition to funding from the Province of Ontario, the station acquired revenue by fundraising from listeners and companies and student registrations in Open College. CJRT-FM remained affiliated with Ryerson. Cam Finley was appointed Acting Manager in 1973, General Manager in 1974 and President and GM in 1979.
John Valentyn launched a weekly blues program. Bud Riley joined CJRT as news and public affairs director.
CJRT moved its antenna and transmitter from 50 Gould Street to the CBC tower at 354 Jarvis Street and the power was increased to 50,000 watts. Antenna height was 389 feet or 118.6 metres (EHAAT).
Tom Fulton took over On The Arts, becoming its highly respected host for nearly 25 years, during which time he conducted over 20,000 interviews with Canadian and international authors, artists, performers, etc.
Stories and Music for Children launched, the longest-running weekday children’s program in Canada (and at the time, one of the only ones).
Glen Woodcock began hosting a Big Band show, which was still running over 45 years later.
CJRT marked 30 years on the air. It got its start in November of 1949 from the old Ryerson Technical Institute, and was largely the result of the efforts of Eric Palin, John Barnes and engineer Andy Kufluk.
CJRT-FM received CRTC approval to relocate its antenna site to the CN Tower and to reduce effective radiated power from 50,000 watts to 40,000 watts.
The transmitter and antenna moved to the CN Tower, 301 Front Street West. Because of the antenna height (1,380 feet or 420.5 metres), power had to be reduced to 40,000 watts, but ERP was the equivalent of 100,000 watts. The signal became omnidirectional. To mark the move to the new site, the station celebrated with a party in the CN Tower’s “Sparkles” disco.
On January 11, the CRTC renewed CJRT-FM’s licence until September 30, 1985.
CJRT-FM met its objective of $140,000 – pledged by some 3,300 listeners – during a nine-day fund-raising drive. The non-commercial station received at this time about 60% of its financing from the Ontario government. The remaining 40% comes from listeners and corporate sponsors.
Joe Lewis’ “Folk Music & Folkways” program on CJRT added a ‘Blues’ hour, co-hosted by John Valenteyn.
Bud Riley did news at CJRT. Hugh Innis did commentary once a week on Bud’s news programme.
The promotion of Canadian music was a priority for CJRT. On December 1, the 55-piece CJRT Orchestra joined with the 22-member Boss Brass in a concert of music by six Canadian composers.
CJRT marked the 20th anniversary of Ted O’Reilly’s “Jazz Scene” with Jazz Jam at Harbourfront. The free show featured over 25 of the country’s top jazz musicians.
The station met its objective of $160,000 in a fall on-air fund raising drive. Some 3,500 listeners phoned in pledges during the ten day campaign. In return, CJRT played their musical requests.
News and public affairs director Bud Riley left CJRT in May.
CJRT-FM’s first satellite-to-cable coverage began in Dryden, Ontario. The signal eventually reached most of Ontario (“Kenora to Cornwall”), with the technical cooperation of TVOntario.
Peter Keigh received the Loewen Ondaatje, McCutcheon Award. The award was presented annually to the broadcaster who had done the most while at CJRT to encourage love of learning, either through personal attitude and achievement, or through assistance to others.
Andy Kufluk passed away August 11 at age 67. He retired in 1983 as an instructor in broadcast electronics at Ryerson. He joined the university in 1948 and helped put CJRT-FM on the air. The station’s morning man for the past 15 years – Peter Keigh – was Mr. Kufluk’s son.
Tom Fulton was at CJRT delivering the news between 6 and 9 a.m. He was also producer/host of “On The Arts”.
News director Bud Riley left CJRT after ten years.
Singer and actress Angela Fusco was now hosting a daily program on CJRT – Music For An Afternoon.
Professor May Maskow was named director of Open College. She replaced Margaret Norquay who founded the program in 1970. Open College was designed to provide university-level courses by radio.
President and GM Cam Finley was awarded the Pagurian Corporation Award for Excellence in Broadcasting, in recognition of outstanding effort and achievement while at CJRT-FM.
Bernard Webber became Chairman of the Board, having served as a member since 1994.
In July, CJRT’s studios and offices moved from 297 Victoria Street to 150 Mutual Street, on the third floor of the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson Polytechnic University. The move was paid for by a Province of Ontario capital grant. By this time, CJRT’s audience had surpassed 200,000.
Norma Beecroft became CJRT’s music director, replacing Paul Robinson who held the post for 20 years.
Trevor Joice joined the CJRT engineering team where Bill On was chief engineer. Bernie Webber joined the Board: he would become President six years later.
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters paid tribute to CJRT-FM for its ambitious and timely 12-hour series, “The History of Canada and Quebec”. The program involved more than 100 interviews.
In November, in a statement to the Ontario Legislature, the conservative government gave CJRT-FM notice that in four month’s time it was withdrawing its financial support of the station. This meant the loss of 40 per cent of the station’s revenue. The loss to the station and its staff of 33 would be $1.3 million to a total budget of $3 million. CJRT was in the middle of an on-air fundraising campaign and response to the announcement was strong.
Over the next three years, with a minimum of staff and programming cuts, CJRT-FM remained debt-free; fundraising revenue increased by over 35 per cent and Open College revenue by over 25 per cent. Open College also had the largest-ever number of student registrations. The expected annual deficits were covered by a surplus, which had been growing since incorporation in 1974. In that period the station went on the ExpressVu satellite service and was available across Canada.
Terrence Grier became CJRT’s chairman. The former MP was president of Ryerson Polytechnic University. Mary Alice Stuart became chairman emeritus.
CJRT was now on 30 Ontario cable systems and available on numerous low power transmitters in the province. The Anik E1 satellite signal that feeds this network could be picked up anywhere in Canada.
With Wally Crouter retired from CFRB, Peter Keigh now had the honor of hosting a Toronto radio morning show continuously for the longest time. He had been host of “Morningmusik” since 1970. Ted O’Reilly and Joe Lewis had also been with the station for a long time – 31 years each. Tom Fulton had been at CJRT-FM for 22 years, and Glen Woodcock for 20 years.
Open College’s immensely popular course, The History of Espionage with Wesley Wark, and two new music shows were launched: Music Without Borders with Kai Black (world music) and Absolutely Folk with singer/songwriter Cate Friesen.
CJRT was now being carried by ExpressVu satellite across Canada.
In March, Cam Finley retired after 34 years at CJRT-FM, of which 25 were as President.
In April, new Station Manager Chuck Camroux arrived; 24-hour-a-day broadcasting was introduced with syndicated jazz and classical music from the US overnight.
In June, veteran newscaster and On The Arts host Tom Fulton left the station.
On The Arts continued for another 8 months with reduced broadcast hours and was cancelled in February, 1999.
In August, The Jazz Scene moved to a live broadcast weekday afternoons replacing classical music. Mary Lou McCreechan and jazz musician Doug Watson began hosting jazz programs (Jazz with a Twist and Portraits in Jazz).
In October, the CRTC approved CJRT-FM Toronto’s application to remove the restriction on selling only 20 minutes of restricted advertising per broadcast week. CJRT-FM could now air up to 504 minutes weekly; a maximum of four minutes in any hour. Of those 504 minutes, only 126 could be devoted to conventional ads. The rest could only be simple statements of sponsorship.
Terry Williams was now at CJRT in sales & marketing.
In August, Open College continued on CJRT-FM from 6:00 am to 8:00am Sundays. However, the administration of Open College was handed over to Ryerson Polytechnic University, though courses continued to be broadcast.
Bernie Webber became Chairman of the Board of CJRT-FM.
In October, more non-jazz music programs were cancelled (folk, blues, world music, opera, etc.). At this time, the only news broadcasts on the station were from the BBC World News.
In January, the station went all-jazz, and relaunched as JAZZ.FM91 with a jazz format 24 hours a day.
This marked the end of classical music; veteran hosts Peter Keigh and Adriane Markow were terminated. The long-running Stories and Music for Children was also cancelled.
In May, more jazz programs were added: Brad Barker’s Dinner Jazz and Café Jazz with Ted Hasiuk, who was reputed to have the largest smooth jazz library in Canada.
In September, sponsorship of the long-running concert jazz series at the Ontario Science Centre was taken over by President’s Choice, after Rothmans, Benson & Hedges’ sponsorship was limited by federal legislation curbing advertising by tobacco companies.
Blues entertainer Danny Marks began hosting a four-hour blues program Saturday nights.
By the summer of 2001, the station was reaching 250,000 people with apparent considerable additional coverage in the U. S. judging by the financial support received from south of the border in the station’s funding drives.
Unhappy with many aspects of the station’s operation, Ted O’Reilly resigned after 37 years at the station, doing his final live broadcast on March 27th. He was replaced by Larry Green on the daily drive-home show. Mary Lou Creechan was let go by the station at around the same time.
Ross Porter, whose weeknight jazz programs on CBC radio had made him a national name, and who later helped CanWest launch COOL-TV and Cool.FM radio, was hired to replace Chuck Camroux in July, as President and CEO.
After nearly 14 years occupying Ryerson University property at 150 Mutual Street, CJRT began broadcasting April 3 from its new street front facilities at 4 Pardee Avenue, Unit 100, in the King & Dufferin area (Liberty Village). By now, new on-air personalities included TerryMcElligott, Ralph Benmergui, Heather Bambrick, Bill King, Jaymz Bee, Walter Venafro, Reiner Schwarz, Amanda Martinez and Danny Marks.
Early in 2007, Joelle Calof was added to the on-air staff to do mini-newscasts in morning and evening programming.
On August 28, the CRTC renewed the transitional digital radio licence of CJRT-DR-1.
Ruth Winker was the new Promotions Manager at JAZZ.FM91. She had been with Fan 590/Jack FM Toronto.
Trevor Joice, a long-time member of the Applied Electronics sales team in Toronto, retired following the 2010 NAB Show in Las Vegas. He began his 40-year broadcast career as a technician at CHUC Cobourg, then moved to CHIN Toronto where, in the course of 18 years with the operation, he became Chief Engineer. Joice then spent some time at CJRT Toronto before moving to Applied.
Tenor Ben Heppner hosted his own radio show on JAZZ.FM91 on August 1. He was one of more than 100 station supporters who donated to CJRT since the Fall of 2009 for the opportunity to host their own show on the station. Heppner recorded his show with JAZZ.FM91 president and CEO Ross Porter.
JAZZ.FM91 announced that Brad Barker would be the new host of “Afternoon Drive”, starting November 29, and heard weekdays from 2PM to 6PM. Barker had hosted the popular “Dinner Jazz” program on JAZZ.FM91 for nine years and catapulted the program to be one of the most popular shows on the station. He had been a strong presence on the station for over 10 years as operations manager, music director and on-air host.
JAZZ.FM91 also announced the launch of its new morning show, “Good Morning…with John Donabie”, beginning November 29th, from 6:00AM to 10:00AM. Donabie had been with CFRB 1010 until earlier in the year. Donabie succeeded Ralph Benmergui who moved to become Director of Communications for Ontario Minister for Research and Innovation Glen Murray.
Joe Fingered was now program director at JAZZ.FM91. He took over January 25 and had been one of the architects of the jazz programming on CBC Radio. He left a short time later to return to Edmonton.
Effective February 13, JAZZ.FM91 introduced “Commercial Free Sundays”. “We are delighted that JAZZ.FM91 is able to present an entire day of commercial free jazz programming. This is our way of thanking the loyal donors, volunteers, and partners whose generous support has allowed us to remain a vibrant and thriving not-for-profit Broadcaster and Arts Organization”, said Ross Porter, President and CEO. Later, Television Specialty Channels OasisHD and HiFiHD became sponsors of the commercial free Sundays.
In May, JAZZ.FM91 announced the appointment of Dave Charles as the station’s program director.
On July 29th, John Donabie ended his term as host of Good Morning with John Donabie. Heather Bambrick, who had been doing daytime weekend shows, moved over to the morning program, initially on a temporary basis. On September 19th, Heather became the permanent host of what would shortly be renamed Wake Up with Heather Bambrick. Jaymz Bee joined her each morning with local entertainment reports, as well as doing his own Jazz in the City show on Saturdays, 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
Dana Wigle was promoted from her account executive position to Director, Sales and Marketing at JAZZ.FM91. She succeeded Al Kingdon who left the station. Also at JAZZ.FM, Heather Bambrick was the station’s new morning host, succeeding John Donabie. Bambrick’s background included being a music educator, teaching at the University of Toronto and Humber College, a jazz vocalist, and various broadcast pursuits. John Devenish was the new Dinner Jazz host on JAZZ.FM91. His background included stage, film and television plus classical radio.
Terry McElligott hosted the weekday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm slot, while Brad Barker continued with his Afternoon Drive show. By September, John Devenish was hosting Dinner Jazz, 6:00 – 9:00pm weekdays, Juliet Dunn had her own Sunrise show on Saturdays and Sundays, 6:00 – 9:00 am, and Jazz with Bob Parlocha was heard nightly to 6:00 a.m. Walter Venafro hosted Saturday Afternoon Jazz, 12 noon – 3:00 pm, while Dani Elwell handled Sunday Afternoon Jazz, 12 noon – 4:00 pm.
President Ross Porter introduced Music to Listen to Jazz By on Saturdays, 9:00 – 11:00 am. David Basskin’s weekly show, Stolen Moments, played Friday nights, 10:00 pm – 1:00 am; Glen Woodcock’s Big Band Show, now in its 36th year, played Sundays 5:00 – 10:00 pm, while Danny Marks’ Bluz FM was heard Saturdays, 8:00 pm – midnight.
On August 31, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CJRT-DR-1 to April 30, 2012.
On April 23, the CRTC administratively renewed the broadcasting licence for digital radio programming undertaking CJRT-DR-1 until August 31, 2012.
Al Kingdon, former Director, Sales and Marketing at JAZZ91 FM was now with Durham Radio in a sales capacity.
The JAZZ.FM 91 broadcast studio was renamed The Allan Slaight Studio to celebrate the broadcasting pioneer’s legacy and love for jazz.
JAZZ.FM91 won Gold, Silver and Bronze at the 2017 New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programs Awards. The programs recognized included The Sound of Jazz (Gold); Music To Listen To Jazz By (Silver); and special Live to Air Tribute Concert to Leonard Cohen.
In June, Ross Porter stepped down as CEO of JAZZ.FM91 following a third-party workplace investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Porter was granted the honorary title of president emeritus and would continue to host his Saturday morning show Music to Listen to Jazz By until April 2019. Charles Cutts, former president and CEO of the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, was appointed interim CEO.
A short time later, the station cut four hosts – Jaymz Bee, Mark Wigmore, Walter Venafro and David Basskin. David Wall, director of community outreach and education, and two other employees were also affected. There was also a shake up at the boardroom level. Chair Renah Persofsky was replaced by David McGown.
In December of 2018 long time Midday host Terry McElligott resigned his position at the station.
At the end of 2018 a group of JAZZ.FM91 donors formed a group called “Save JAZZFM” and launched a campaign to hold an extraordinary meeting of the charity’s membership. Following a Ontario Court ruling granting access to the membership contact information to the Save JAZZFM under the leadership of Brian Hemming. A sufficient proportion of the membership signed a petition requiring the Board of Directors to call the extraordinary meeting.
An extraordinary meeting of membership took place on February 15, 2019 attended by over 100 members and with nearly 900 proxies tabled representing nearly half the official membership. The existing board was voted out by a slim majority and then in a second vote replaced by a slate proposed by the Save JAZZFM group with Brian Hemming taking over the role of board chair.
Following a successful fundraising campaign in March long-time senior Toronto radio exec Lorie Russell was appointed Vice-President and Managing Director, with former Fundraising and current Community Director Michael Booth taking over as Operations Director. In April Jaymz Bee, Walter Venafro and Heather Bambrick returned to the programming line-up. Former host Bill King returning to Host Soul Nation on Tuesday nights. Cafe Latino with Laura Fernandez expanded to three hours on Saturdays and Bluz.FM with Danny Marks increased to five hours on Saturday nights. New host Ronnie Littlejohn moved to a three-hour Friday night show Gumbo Kitchen.
In June former JAZZ.FM91 Promotions Director Sarah Stewart returned to the station as Director of New Business development.
Lorie Russell, Vice President and Managing Director of JAZZ.FM91 announced in September that she would be leaving the station in mid-December. In December, former JAZZ.FM Director of Sales and Marketing Dana Wigle rteturned to the station as General Manager.
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.