CFMK-FM, 96.3 Big FM, Kingston

Corus Entertainment Inc.

CFMK-FM200096.350,000Corus Entertainment Inc.
CFMK-FM198996.350,000Power Broadcasting Inc. (Power Corp.)
CFMK-FM198796.350,000Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (Desmarais Power Corp.)
CFMK-FM198396.350,000Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd.
CKWS-FM197796.32,700Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (Pratte-Desmarais)
CKWS-FM194796.3250Allied Broadcasting Corp. Ltd. (Thomson-Davies)


Northern Broadcasting opened CKWS on April 15. It was the first station in Canada to transmit its programs by FM. An FM transmitter (40 MHz) beamed the programs from the Kingston studios, across the water to the AM transmitter site on Wolfe Island. FM transmission was flat from 50 to 15,000 cycles, compared with the average transmission line, which cut off at 6,000 cycles. The company said, regardless of storms and subsequent wire breakdowns, the FM transmitter would carry on.


CKWR began operations May 14 at 4 p.m., on 96.3 MHz with 250 watts. CKWR rebroadcast CKWS-AM and was a CBC Trans-Canada affiliate. CKWR and CKWS were owned by Allied Broadcasting Corp. Ltd. (affiliated with The Kingston Whig-Standard). Studios were in the Whig-Standard building, 306 King Street, and the antenna was on top of that building.

CKWR changed call letters to CKWS-FM in October.


In the late spring, all programs aired on CKWS were now being broadcast over FM station CKWR at 96.3 Mhz.



CKWS-FM was using an RCA transmitter.


Approval was granted for the transfer of two shares in the Brookland Co. Ltd. (CKWS and CHEX) with no change of control.


Allied Broadcasting Corp. became Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd.

CKWS-FM’s power increased to 350 watts. 

With CKWS-TV scheduled to open in early 1955, the company was in the process of building a new facility that would combine radio and television under one roof on Queen Street. The new building would have some 22,000 square feet on two floors.


On May 27, the CKWS-AM and FM studios and FM transmitter moved to the new CKWS Radio & TV building at 170 Queen Street.


CKWS-FM was operating on 96.3 MHz with a power of 350 watts. CKWS-AM-FM was a CBC Trans-Canada network affiliate. Ownership of Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd.: W. R. Davies 50.9%, Robertson Davies 0.05%, A. L. Davies 0.05%, R. H. Thomson 1.0%, K. R. Thomson 16.0%, Mrs. I. J. Brydson 16.0%, Mrs. P. A. Campbell 16.0%.


The Trans-Canada and Dominion networks consolidated into a single service. CKWS was the Trans-Canada (main network) affiliate while CKLC was the Dominion station. After the merger, CKWS-AM remained a CBC affiliate while CKLC became an independent.


CKWS-FM offered programming separate from CKWS-AM from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. every day. The station broadcast in mono.


CKWS-FM 96.3 was authorized to increase effective radiated power from 350 to 2,700 watts and increase (omni-directional) antenna height from 100 to 500 feet (EHAAT).


On May 28, Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. was given approval to operate a standby transmitter for CKWS-FM at the main studio, on 96.3 MHz with effective radiated power of 350 watts with antenna height of 100 feet (non-directional).


D.R. Lawrie, director of broadcasting operations at Northern Broadcasting Ltd. announced the appointment of Allan J. Brooks as station manager (CKWS Radio & Television) as of February 1. He had been sales manager for CKWS-TV for seven years. He succeeded Roy Hoffstetter who retired as AM-FM-TV manager on January 31 after 27 years with Northern. 

It was announced that the broadcast interests of Lord Roy Thomson and the late Senator Rupert Davies’ families would be sold to Bushnell TV Co. Ltd. of Ottawa (CJOH-TV). The plan was subject to CRTC approval. The sale would include CKWS-AM-FM-TV Kingston, CHEX-AM-FM-TV Peterborough, CFCH-AM-TV North Bay, CKGB-AM-FM Timmins and CJKL Kirkland Lake. 


On July 6, the Thomson and Davies families were given permission to sell their stations to Bushnell Communications Ltd. of Ottawa. The sale included stations in Timmins, Peterborough, Kirkland Lake & New Liskeard, and North Bay. Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (CKWS-AM-FM-TV) was part of the deal. The sale was conditional on the transfer of CFCH-AM-TV North Bay & Cablevue to 
another party. The sale to Bushnell was never completed.


CKWS-FM became CFMK. 

CKWS-FM became CFMK, which at this time is carrying 50 hours a week of CBC network programming. CKWS-AM is carrying 21.5 hours a week of CBC programming.


A numbered company owned by Paul Desmarais, Claude Pratte and J. G. Porteous received CRTC approval to purchase Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (CKWS-AM-TV and CFMK-FM) and Kawartha Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (CHEX-AM-TV and CFMP-FM) from the Rupert Davies Estate (51%), and the Thomson Estate (49%). 

Don Lawrie became president of Katenac holdings, owner of Frontenac Broadcasting and Kawartha Broadcasting.


Dave Cunningham was at CFMK.


Jack Thompson left CFMK as program director to take up the same position at sister station CKWS 960. He was replaced at CFMK by Dave Cunningham. 


In the spring, Frontenac’s radio studios and offices moved to 479 Counter Street. CKWS-TV remained on Queen Street.

CFMK increased power in September from 5,400 to 50,000 watts, operating from a new antenna on the CKWS-TV tower on Wolfe Island, five miles south of Kingston.


On January 11, the CRTC renewed CFMK’s licence until September 30, 1985.

On February 13, the CRTC approved the application by Telemedia Communications Inc. for a licence for an English-language radio network that included CFMK-FM, for the purpose of broadcasting the hockey games of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1983-84 season of the National Hockey League. The Commission reminded the licensees of the FM radio stations affiliated with this network that no more than 50% of the station’s foreground programming should consist of play-by-play coverage of sporting events. 


On January 29, the CRTC approved the applications for authority to transfer effective control of Frontenac Broadcasting Company Limited and Kawartha Broadcasting Company Limited through the transfer of 200 common voting shares (100%) of Katenac Holdings Limited from Paul G. Desmarais (90), Claude Pratte (90) and three minority shareholders (20) to Power Corporation of Canada, which was indirectly controlled by Mr. Desmarais. As a result of this transaction, Power Corporation would acquire 100% control of Katenac Holdings Limited which held effective control of Frontenac Broadcasting Company Limited, licensee of CKWS, CFMK-FM and CKWS-TV Kingston and Kawartha Broadcasting Company Limited, licensee of CHEX, CHEX-TV, CFMP-FM Peterborough and two rebroadcasting stations, and CKCB Collingwood and CKBB Barrie. 

CKWS-AM became CFFX.


Don Lawrie retired as president of Katenac Holdings after almost 44 years in broadcasting. 

Power Corp. of Canada reorganized its radio and television assets. They would now be held in the new wholly-owned subsidiary, Power Broadcasting Inc. PBI would be based in Montreal. Andre Desmarais was named chairman and chief executive officer of the new unit. Peter Kruyt was president. Before now, Power’s seven AM, four FM and three TV stations were held by a number of subsidiaries in Ontario and Quebec. 

Dave Wing was an announcer at the station. 

CFMK had its licence renewed for only two and a half years as a result of shortfalls in its promise of performance – airing too many commercials, concentrating foreground material to Sunday and exceeding the hit ratio.


Donald R. Lawrie was appointed honorary director of Power Broadcasting Inc. The Rt. Hon. Jeanne Sauve and Anthony R. Graham were named directors.


Gerry Southcott was a CFMK announcer. 


John Tucker was appointed president of CFMK-FM, CFFX-AM and CKWS Television. Mike Tiernay was named retail sales manager.


Brian Hamilton was named vice president of sales for CFMK and CFFX.


Greg Multon was on-air at CFMK. 


On April 7, the CRTC approved the application to amend the licence for CFMK-FM, by adding a condition of licence, pursuant to Section 14 of the Radio Regulations 1986, authorizing the licensee to simulcast local newscasts of CFFX on its sister station CFMK-FM at 6.00 a.m., 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., Monday to Friday. The proposed newscasts were 10 minutes each, for a maximum weekly simulcast of 2 1/2 hours. In assessing this application, the Commission took into account the negative financial situation of both stations, the fact that the proposed simulcasting was for a limited time period over the broadcast week and that the licensee would continue to provide separate local newscasts on each station during the remainder of the broadcast week.

Robert Towner was named general sales manager at CFFX / CFMK-FM. He had been with the CHUM Group in Montreal and CHSJ Saint John. 


Claude Pratte died in Quebec City on July 15. He had been prominent in several Quebec-based broadcasting companies. Between 1977 and 1987, he was a part owner of Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd.


On January 9, the Wolfe Island tower that carried CKWS-TV and CFMK-FM was toppled in the ice storm of ’98. The 35 year old tower had as much as five inches of ice on some parts of it. The stations returned to the air January 15 with very low power. A new tower was eventually built.


On March 24, approval came for the sale of Power Broadcasting Inc. to Corus Entertainment Inc. by Power Corporation. Corus took control of the stations on April 13.


On November 28, CFMK was granted a power decrease from 50,000 to 14,000 watts.


In the summer, CFFX and CFMK moved back to the CKWS building at 170 Queen Street.


After 27 years of country programming, CFMK “Country 96” became “96.3 JOE-FM…Playing Anything” on February 6, at 5:00 p.m. The new format featured lots of 80s music as well as tunes from the 70s, 90s and new top 40 songs.


On June 28 at 4:00 p.m., CFMK became known as “Kingston’s FM 96 – The Greatest Rock & Roll Of All Time”. The new format was a hybrid classic rock, classic hits with a hint of oldies. The format had been Classic Hits as JOE FM. 


J.J. Johnson became general manager of Corus Radio in Cornwall, Kingston and Peterborough.

There were a number of changes at Corus Entertainment related to its organization review to streamline decision-making and clarify roles and mandates. Among the changes: Reporting to Hal Blackadar, Executive Vice President and interim President of Corus Radio – Suzanne Carpenter, VP/GM, Corus Radio, Eastern Ontario and VP/GM, CHEX TV Peterborough and CKWS-TV Kingston; JJ Johnston, GM, Corus Radio Cornwall, Kingston and Peterborough (was GM at Corus Radio Vancouver) and Michael Harris, GM, CKWS-TV and CHEX TV (was GM of CHEX TV only). Corus Radio-TV Kingston GM Mike Ferguson was no longer with the company. Former Corus Radio Peterborough GM Brian Armstrong became GSM.

Sister station CFFX returned to the CKWS call letters in August.

In December, Corus Entertainment announced the appointment of Suzanne Carpenter as general manager of the Corus Toronto radio stations, effective January 3, 2011. She had been vice president and general manager of Corus Radio Eastern Ontario, CHEX TV and CKWS TV. 


Grace La Rose, the former promotions director at Bell Media Radio Brockville, moved to Corus Radio Kingston in that same capacity.


Nancy Slater left FM96 to join the afternoon drive team at 104.7 Free FM in Grande Prairie. Tim Durkin joined the Quinte Broadcasting news department from his morning news spot at FM 96 Kingston. 


Norm (Harold) Haines died at age 73. He started his broadcast career as an announcer at CFTJ Galt in 1958 and worked at CKCR Kitchener, CFCO Chatham, CKWS-Radio-TV Kingston and CFOX Montreal. Haines moved to Calgary where he was president of Voice of the Prairies Ltd. (CFCN Radio). He took on CFCN in 1973, and in time, developed CJAY-FM, Canada’s first new generation FM station.

The new General Manager for Corus Entertainment’s Peterborough-Oshawa and Kingston operations, was Dave McCutcheon. He had been senior account manager at Corus Television Sales in Toronto. 


General Manager Dave McCutcheon added General Sales Manager duties following the departure of Tim Wieczorek.


In February, CFMK changed format from Classic Rock to Active Rock but kept the name FM96.

There was a bit of dead air at Noon, August 28 on FM96, designed to capture listeners’ attention. It heralded the departure of the Mainstream Rock format and the arrival of Big Hits/Real Classic Rock. FM96 became 96.3 Big 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.

Contact this station