CKWS-FM, Fresh Radio, Kingston

Corus Entertainment Inc.

CKWS-FM2010104.34,000Corus Entertainment Inc.
CFFX-FM2007104.34,000Corus Entertainment Inc.
CFFX-AM200096010,000/5,000Corus Entertainment Inc.
CFFX-AM198996010,000/5,000Power Broadcasting Inc. (Power Corp.)
CFFX-AM198796010,000/5,000Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (Desmarais Power Corp.)
CKWS-AM197796010,000/5,000Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (Pratte-Desmarais)
CKWS-AM196796010,000/5,000Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd.
CKWS-AM19469605,000Allied Broadcasting Corp Ltd.
CKWS-AM19429601,000Allied Broadcasting Corp. Ltd. (Thomson-Davies)


Allied Broadcasting Corp. (Northern Broadcasting & Publishing Ltd. – Senator Rupert Davies 60%, Roy Thomson 40%) opened CKWS-AM on August 31 with 1,000 watts of power at 960 on the dial. They had hoped to have the station on the air on April 15 but things didn’t work out that way. Studios were in The Whig-Standard Building at 306 King Street East, at Clarence. The transmitter was on Wolfe Island. CKWS was a CBC affiliate. CFRC had been the CBC affiliate in the city. The “KWS” in the call letters represented the co-owned newspaper: Kingston Whig-Standard. 

CKWS 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. CKWS had the latest RCA equipment and the directional antenna array meant a signal equal to 2,700 watts. 

CKWS officially opened on September 1, under the management of Jack Davidson, formerly of sister station CHEX in Peterborough. Staff included: Harold Burley, Roy Hofstetter, Hugh Gage, Bill Reid, Bruce Tremeer, Orville Stone, Harry McLay, Charles Miller, Jerry Kelly, Marvin Stroh and Anne Wlasi. Gerry Carter joined Frontenac Broadcasting Co. where he would be in charge of a new department offering agencies transcription and production services. He had been with Exclusive Radio Features Ltd. 

CKWS salesman Roy Hoff was appointed commercial manager. Bill Aldrich joined the CKWS sales staff from CKGB in Timmins.


Roy H. Thomson & Jack K. Cooke formed National Broadcast Sales to represent CKGB, CJKL, CFCH, CKRN, CKVD, CHAD, CHEX and CKWS.

George E. McCurdy, with the Thompson group of stations since 1940, and with CKWS since it opened, left for Toronto to help Thompson to establish more radio stations. (In 1948, he would start McCurdy Radio Industries which would become a major supplier of audio equipment to broadcasters.)

Senator W. Rupert Davies made his maiden speech in the Senate on February 2.



Jack Davidson, manager of CKWS, was appointed supervisor of stations operated by Northern Broadcasting & Publishing (CKGB, CJKL, CFCH, CHEX and CKWS). Roy Hoff would take over from Davidson at CKWS. Hoff had been manager of the Montreal office of National Broadcast Sales and at one time was commercial manager at CKWS.

Gordon Jones became chief engineer at CKWS. He had been with Northern Broadcasting’s engineering office in Toronto. Roy Hoff was manager and Harry Edgar was commercial manager. 

Ron Grant joined the CKWS announce staff. He had worked in the past for CFRB and CFCH. Frank Shoales, chief operator at CKWS was transferred to CHEX Peterborough. Bruce Alston joined the station as an operator. He was new to the business. Russ Baer joined the CKWS production department after four years in the air force. He had worked in the past with CJKL Kirkland Lake and CKGB Timmins. Bill Brennan joined the CKWS production department after serving with the navy. 

Roy H. Thomson was president of Northern Broadcasting & Publishing Ltd. S.F. Chapman was secretary treasurer. Roy Hoff was CKWS’s manager, Charles Millar was program director, and Harry Edgar was commercial manager. Jack Davidson was supervisor of the Northern stations.


CKWS was on the air daily from 6:30 a.m. to 12:10 a.m.

Bob Lee left the CKWS commercial department for the music library at Toronto’s CKEY. Al Collins joined the CKWS announcing staff from Wingham’s CKNX. Doug Baker (new to radio) joined the commercial department. Harry Edgar left CKWS to become commercial manager at CKGB Timmins. Program director Russ Baer was named commercial manager. 

CKWS increased power from 1,000 watts to 5,000 watts on November 30. A dedication broadcast from Kingston was heard over the CBC Trans-Canada network. CKWS had the same directional pattern for daytime and night-time operation, using three 175 foot towers located on Wolfe Island, south of the city.  The new coverage area stretched from Trenton, past Brockville to Dundas County, and north as far as Carleton County. There was also penetration into Northern New York State. 


CKWS was granted a commercial licence for an FM station on 96.3 MHz. The new station was expected to be operational later in the year. Allied Broadcasting launched the FM station – CKWR – on May 14. All programs aired on CKWS were now being broadcast over the FM outlet.

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


Russ Baer was commercial manager. 

The FM call letters changed to CKWS-FM in October. 


Roy Hofstetter was manager. 


Anita Thompson became women’s editor at CKWS. She had been with CFNB Fredericton. Doug Whelan left CKWS to become an announcer at the soon to open CKY in Winnipeg. Roy Hoffstetter was manager and Gordon Sweetman was commercial manager.

Slogan: CKWS…the Strong Link between Toronto and Montreal. 


Commercial manager Karl Monk left CKWS to become manager of CHOK in Sarnia.


Approval was given for the transfer of 2 shares in the Brookland Co. Ltd. (CHEX and CKWS) – with no change of control.


Slogan: Sell abundant Eastern Ontario with CKWS Kingston.

The CBC Board approved the application for the recapitalization of the Brookland Co. Ltd. (CHEX, CKWS) – going to 7,500 preferred and 10,000 common shares from 10,000 common and 4,000 preferred shares. 


Jack Pellie was promotion manager. 

The CBC approved the issuance of 1,000 preferred shares and the transfer of 240 3/10 preferred shares in the Brookland Co. Ltd.


Harvey C. Freeman was appointed station supervisor of Northern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. For the past 11 years he had been manager of CKGB Timmins. Succeeding him as CKGB’s manager was Jack Pollie, program director and recently promotion manager of CKWS Kingston. Pollie had started in radio in Ottawa and returned home to Kingston 8 years ago and had been associated with CKWS over the time. Northern’s general manager, Jack Davidson, would continue in that position along with his duties as executive assistant to the president of the Thomson Co. Ltd., which controlled by Roy Thomson’s publishing interests.

Roy Hoffstetter, manager of CKWS, announced his company was ready to enter the television field as soon as permission was forthcoming from the CBC. He said his company was prepared to go ahead as soon as the board was ready to consider an application. The Brookland Co. Ltd. applied for TV licences in Kingston (CKWS) and Peterborough (CHEX). The Kingston application was approved but the Peterborough application was deferred.

The CBC Board approved the transfer of CKWS from the Brookland Co. Ltd. to Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (no change of control).


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. 

Jack Davidson was manager of both CHEX Peterborough and CKWS Kingston.

CKWS Television officially signed on the air on December 15.

Allied Broadcasting Corp. became Frontenac Broadcasting Co. Ltd. 

Slogan: Kingston’s 5000 watt station. 


The revocation of NABET as bargaining agent for the employees of CKWS Radio was approved. The employees had applied for the decertification, originally put in place in March of 1953. 


On May 27, the studios and offices moved to the new CKWS Radio and Television building at 170 Queen Street. 

Doug Scanlan was manager of radio and Roy Hofstetter was TV manager.

Ad: CKWS Radio Kingston – Eastern Ontario – serving and selling in Napanee, Gananoque, Picton, Belleville, Smiths Falls, Perth, Kingston and in scores of rural communities throughout Eastern Ontario. CKWS – 5000 watts on 960 kc’s. The Eastern Ontario station located in Kingston.

Pete Handley was a sportscaster at CKWS.


Vern Rombough joined the CKWS air staff.


Wally Rewegan was appointed manager of CKWS Radio. He had been transferred here by Northern Broadcasting Ltd. from the company’s CKGB in Timmins. Doug Scanlan had been manager of CKWS. He joined Northern’s head office as sales promotion director.

CKWS 960 began broadcasting 24 hours a day with the addition of the overnight “Nightwatchman” program hosted by Brian Olney.

CKWS was a CBC Trans-Canada network affiliate. Power was 5,000 watts with a single directional pattern for day and night operation. 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%. Senator W. R. Davies was president of the company. Wally Rewegan was CKWS’s manager, and Allan Brooks was program director. 

Floyd Patterson and Brian Olney were announcers. Ken Peebles was an operator. 


Max Jackson was named sports director of CKWS-AM-TV, succeeding Pete Handley who joined CFCH North Bay in a similar capacity. Chuck Davis joined the CKWS announce staff from CJKL in Kirkland Lake.

Ad slogans: CKWS Radio gives you the most effective, most economical coverage of this rich market – 320,000 listeners in Eastern Ontario…plus 97,000 “bonus” listeners across the border. / In the lucrative Kingston area, the hot selling is done via CKWS-Radio and CKWS-TV.


A. G. Cobb left CKWS Radio & Television for the new CJAY-TV in Winnipeg. He had been associated with the Kingston stations for the past ten years.


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

Ken Horton was morning man (6-9) at CKWS. Gerry Timlin was on 9-noon, Bryan Olney noon-1, Vern Rombough 1-2, Ken Horton 2-4, Bryan Olney 4-7, on Tuesdays Onley was also on 8-10 and Fridays Timlin was on 7:30 to 10. Art Watkins came on the air at 11 p.m. Larry Wilson was a weekend announcer and newscaster. Rick Hart did commentaries. Max Jackson handled sports and Lloyd Cowle was farm director. The program director was Carl Cogan.


Senator Rupert Davies was president of the company and Roy Hofstetter was manager of CKWS. Brian Olney was chief announcer. Ken Horton was morning man and farm director. Carl Cogan was music director. Floyd Patterson was news director while Max Jackson was sports director. 

Don Leger left CKWS for the news department at Ottawa’s CFRA.


Paul Godfrey joined from CKLY in Lindsay.


On January 16, CKWS increased power to 10,000 watts day and 5,000 watts night (two directional patterns), using four 180 foot towers at the Wolfe Island site.

Paul Godfrey left for CFCO in Chatham. 


Carl Cogan was program director.


Roy Hofstetter retired on January 31, after 27 years in the business. He had been manager since 1945. Hofstetter started in radio at CKGB in 1941, transferred to CKWS when it opened in 1942, then became a national sales rep in Montreal for a time, returning to CKWS in 1945 as manager. 

Announcers included Greg Stewart (4-8:30 p.m.), George Brown (midday call-in show), and Max Jackson (sports).

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.

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. CKWS was one of those stations.


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. 


Brother John, Bryan Olney, Floyd Patterson, and Neil Kirby were among the on-air names at CKWS.


Talk show host George Brown left the station.


Ron Fitzpatrick joined in September from CHLO St. Thomas. Greg Stewart was at CKWS.


Rick Hunter joined. Floyd Patterson was now hosting the mid-day call-in how. Steve Bolton joined ‘WS in April. Al Pooley was now at 960. 


CKWS-FM became CFMK in 1976.

CKWS-AM has been carrying 21.5 hours a week of CBC network programming since 1973, mainly between 6 p.m. and midnight. CFMK-FM is carrying 50 hours a week of CBC programming. 

Rick Hunter left CKWS. John Crawford joined the news department in July from CHNR Simcoe.


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. 

Gary Mercer was morning man. John Crawford left in January for CHYM Kitchener.


CKWS lost two of its six towers on a windy day in April. The station remained on the air under federal authority to use its nighttime pattern. Manager Don Lawrie reports the guy anchors came loose on two of three towers installed about twelve years ago. Each of the 170 foot towers came down independently of the other.

CKWS received permission to disaffiliate from the CBC Radio network. Programming was now available in the Kingston area from the CBC’s own transmitter – CBCK-FM. 

Dave Steele and Greg Shaugnessy were now CKWS announcers. 


Norm Foster replaced Gary Mercer as morning man. Neil Kirby was back at CKWS.


Chief engineer Larry Cameron reported that a new transmitter building would be completed in the summer and new AM studios were scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Wayne Matthews was morning host. Max Jackson did sports. Ron Fitzpatrick was on the air. 


Ron Fitzpatrick left for CFTJ Cambridge. 


Barry Thompson was manager of CKWS. Jack Thompson became program director. He had held the same position at sister station CFMK-FM. 

Greg Shaugnessy hosted the mid-day show.


In the spring of 1983, Frontenac’s radio studios and offices moved to 479 Counter Street. CKWS-TV remained on Queen Street. 

Todd Howard (Howard Cogan) joined the station.


On August 20, CKWS began broadcasting in stereo, using the Motorola C-Quam system. 

Lee Steri hosted the morning show. Todd Howard left.


CKWS promoted John Ferguson vice president of programming. He was succeeded as music director by Lorne Matthews.

Lee Steri was on-air. Gerrard Campbell joined the news department from CFRA Ottawa.


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.

In September, CKWS became “The Fox”, CFFX with an adult contemporary/gold format (60s, 70s and today). 

Joe Leone was now vice-president of programming at CKWS. He had been with CFCF-AM Montreal.

Lorne Matthews did mornings. Lee Steri hosted the afternoon show. Chris Eagle was on-air at night. Paul Laing was also on air. Carter Brown was later doing evenings.


On-air: Lorne Matthews (AM Drive), Joe Leone (mid-days and program director), Lee Steri (afternoons), Carter Brown (evenings), Dave Holmes (evenings). Weekends: Paul Laing, Jamie Clow. Notes: Laing and Clow departed, replaced by Steve Doucette, Doug Thorne.


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. 

Doug Thorne, Dean Hegopian, and Lorne Matthews were on the air.


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


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

Lorne Matthews (mornings), Gerrard Campbell (news), Tim Bennett and Dave Holmes were on the air.


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


On-air: Dave Holmes (mid-days), Tim Bennett (afternoons), Gerrard Campbell (news).

On September 1, CFFX began picking up most of its programming from the Good Time Oldies network (Satellite Radio Network owned by Rogers and based in Vancouver). Local production was limited to the Monday through Friday morning snow, news, weather, advertising and promotion. The same changes went into effect at Power-owned CKDO Oshawa and CKRU Peterborough (formerly CHEX). CFFX had an oldies format prior to the change.


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

Tim Bennett hosted the morning show. Gerrard Campbell did news.


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.


Russ Leblanc hosted afternoon drive. 


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. 


In February, Corus created a six station Ontario talk network consisting of CHML 900 Hamilton, CFPL 980 London, CKDO 1350 Oshawa, CKRU 980 Peterborough, CFFX 960 Kingston and CJOY 1460 Guelph. Talkshows from CHML and CFPL were simulcast on the network during certain dayparts, seven days a week. The network began on CHML and CFPL, February 12 with the other stations joining later in the month. Other than London and Hamilton, the network was pretty much disbanded by the summer.


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


On February 14, the CRTC denied the application by 591989 B.C. Ltd. (Corus) to amend the licence for CFFX, in order to add a low power FM transmitter in Kingston. The proposed transmitter would have operated at 93.7 MHz (channel 229LP) with an effective radiated power of 50 watts. The applicant indicated that approval of its proposal would improve the quality of CFFX’s signal in Kingston’s downtown core. Corus stated that in the central core area of Kingston, the CFFX signal dropped significantly in volume and that it was weak, or very weak, in shopping centres. The licensee further stated that while both AM and FM signals would experience signal degradation in downtown areas, AM signals were significantly more susceptible to electrical noise and interference from computers and similar devices. Corus stated, with respect to the use of the FM spectrum, that it had evaluated the availability of low-power FM frequencies, and found that numerous channels of that type were available for use in Kingston. 


On August 28, Corus received approval to move CFFX to the FM band, operating on 104.3 MHz with an average effective radiated power of 4,000 watts. The existing CFFX Oldies music format would be retained. 

At 12:05 p.m., October 15, CFFX-FM “Lite 104.3” signed on the air. The format featured contemporary light rock songs along with favourites from the late 50s to the 70s.


CFFX 960 left the air forever on January 15, having completed its move to FM and the transformation into AC “LITE 104.3”. 


LITE 104.3 Kingston re-launched As CKWS-FM – Greatest Hits (from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s) in August. This returned the CKWS call letters to radio for the first time in many years. To celebrate the re-birth of CKWS, a free concert was to be held in Springer Market Square on September 3 at 7 p.m., featuring Honeymoon Suite and tributes to ABBA and The Bee Gees. CKWS-AM was on the air from 1942 through 1987, when it became CFFX. The station’s ID was now “The station you grew up with”, the CKWS FM 104.3 sell line: “Playing the greatest Hits of All Time”.

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.


Suzanne Carpenter became GM at Corus Radio Toronto on January 3. She also retained her VP role at Corus Entertainment. Carpenter had been VP/GM, Corus Radio Eastern Ontario, CHEX-TV Peterborough and CKWS-TV Kingston. Brad Gibb, program director of Classic Rock FM 96 CKWS-FM since March of 2008, left for sister station CFPL-FM96 as of February 7. Steph Hunter became PD at CKWS-FM, moving from sister Corus station Q107 Toronto where she was producer of The Kim Mitchell Show and the programming assistant. Grace La Rose, the former promotions director at Bell Media Radio Brockville, moved to Corus Radio Kingston in that same capacity.


Norm (Gilbey) Bonnell died at age 80. He started his career at CKWS in 1953 and left two years later for Paul Mulvihill Ltd. in Toronto.

Monica Lapajne joined CKWS 104.3 as midday announcer/Music Assistant. She had been with Corus Radio Hamilton.


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 March, CKWS became Hits 104.3 and moved away from Oldies.


Hits 104.3 was rebranded as the new Fresh Radio.


In February, CKWS changed from Classic Hits HITS 104.3 to Adult Contemporary FRESH RADIO.

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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