CKCY-AM  , Sault Ste. Marie

Left the Air

CKCY-AM199292010,000Left the Air
CKCY-AM199292010,000/5,000Pelmorex Broadcasting Ltd.
CKCY-AM1955140025Algonquin Radio & TV Ltd.


The CBC received two applications for a new AM station at Sault Ste. Marie. The applications were deferred by the CBC board and finally heard later in the year. The applicants were John Lionel Cohen (with Ilvio Anthony Vannini) and Carmen Primo Greco. Both were seeking a 250 watt operation on 1400 kHz. The applications were again deferred. 


The CBC Board of Governors finally approved the application for a new AM station at Sault Ste. Marie. It would go to Algonquin radio Co. Ltd., headed by Carmen P. Greco (president). The new station would broadcast on a frequency of 1400 kHz and have a full-time power of 250 watts (non-directional). The competing application by John Lionel Cohen was denied. Grant Hyland, owner of the city’s existing station – CJIC – objected to the applications, claiming a second station in the city, competing with television too, would lose money. Greco claimed there was not enough ad time on the other station (CJIC) to fill the demand in the market.

Carmen Greco’s CKCY opened on May 25. Studios and offices were at 254 Queen Street East – across from the Memorial Gardens. The transmitter and single tower were located on the northeast quarter, section 31, Tarentorus Township. CKCY was the city’s second radio station. CJIC had been on the air since 1934.

Doug McGowan was news editor.

Slogans: CKCY Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario – In a restricted two network station area – a new “independent” voice now serves over 75,000 listeners. / High in results – Low in rates – CKCY Sault Ste. Marie. 


Algonquin Radio-TV Co. Ltd. was owned as follows: Carmen P. Greco 39.98%, A. Spadoni 39.98%, J.G. Marcon 19.99%, and J.G. Pilo 0.05%. CKCY was an independent station with no network affiliation.

Carmen P. Greco was president of the company. Al Bestall was manager and commercial manager. Ken Duke was program director. David Carter was news director.

Since CKCY went on the air two years ago, it organized the city’s first symphony orchestra. It also formed the Housewives League of Canada from the regular listeners to its “Your Neighbours” program. “Your Neighbours” was a phone in talk show, started in 1955 and actually originated by the Bestall’s in 1953 on CHLO in St. Thomas.


CJIC was authorized to increase power from 250 watts to 10,000 during the day and 2,500 at night. CKCY had asked for deferment of this application until it had time to complete its own power increase application. Both stations were now operating at 250 watts and CKCY argued that allowing CJIC to increase power first would give that station a competitive advantage. 

Mike Sharpe was news editor. 


On May 12, CKCY increased power to 10,000 watts day and 5,000 watts night on 920 kHz. Four 224 foot towers were used for directional operation.


Both CKCY and CJIC introduced FM to the Sault.


C. P. Greco was president of the company and Al Bestall was manager and commercial manager of CKCY. Karl Sepkowski was program and news director. Dave Carter was morning man. Russ Hilderley became News Director following the departure of Karl Sepkowski. 


Scott Alexander joined CKCY as Top 40 evening announcer. 


Steve Ray joined CKCY from CJNR Blind River/CJWA Wawa. Scott Alexander left CKCY for CKPT in Peterborough.


Steve Ray left CKCY for CFRA Ottawa.


Steve Ray returned to CKCY (as news director) from CFRA. 

Between 1967 and 1970, Russ Hilderley alternated as host of OPEN MIKE, with Harry Wolfe…with the departure of Al Bestall.


Russ Hilderley became Operations Manager. 


Steve Ray moved over to CJIC-TV.


Applications were submitted to the CRTC by Huron Broadcasting Ltd., a new syndicate headed by Carmen Greco, owner of CKCY, to acquire all of the broadcast facilities in the Sault Ste. Marie area. The new company would purchase Hyland Radio-TV (CJIC-AM-FM-TV and CJWA Wawa) and Algonquin Radio-TV (CKCY-AM-FM, CJNR Blind River, CKNR Elliot Lake and CKNS Espanola). Huron would then sell CJIC-AM-FM to a group headed by Russ Hilderley, the present program director of CKCY. CJIC-AM-FM would assume new call letters while CJWA would become part of the CKCY network. CJIC-TV would continue as a CBC affiliate and Huron would seek a twin stick operation with a new station to be known as CKCY-TV to bring CTV service to the area.

The CRTC approved the applications by Huron for changes in broadcast facilities in the Soo. The approval was conditional on Huron agreeing to provide CTV service no later than September 1, 1978. Huron was warned it must meet its commitments to provide better TV news and public affairs programming. CJWA was to become a full CBC affiliate with separate programming from Wawa.


Gilder Broadcasting Ltd. was authorized to purchase CFYN-AM and FM from Huron Broadcasting. Gilder was headed by longtime CKCY personality (and most recently, program director) Russ Hilderly. CJIC-AM became CFYN, CJIC-FM changed to CHAS-FM, and CKCY-FM became CJQM-FM. Huron Broadcasting launched CKCY-TV (channel 2), a CTV affiliate. The CBC affiliate, CJIC-TV, moved from channel 2 to channel 5. 


Huron Broadcasting employees became unionized in June.


Bill Schofield became director of engineering. He had been with the CKSO stations in Sudbury. Schofield replaced Stan Corbett who had retired.

CKCY received permission to change frequency from 920 kHz to 540 kHz. Power would change from 10,000 watts day / 5,000 watts night to 15,000 watts day / 2,500 watts night. A new antenna site would be used.


On February 7, Huron Broadcasting Ltd. was given until April 30 to complete the change of frequency for CKCY from 920 kHz to 540 kHz, to increase day-time power from 10,000 watts to 15,000 watts, decrease night-time power from 5,000 watts to 2,500 watts, and to relocate the antenna site.

On March 21, the CRTC approved the transfer effective control of Huron Broadcasting Ltd., licensee of CJIC-TV, CKCY-TV, CJQM-FM, CKCY Sault Ste. Marie, CKNR Elliot Lake, CKNS Espanola, CJNR Blind River, CJWA Wawa, and its Sault Ste. Marie cable operation, through the transfer of 1,000 common shares (16.7%) from each of J.S. Hinds, J.O. Hinds and P.D. Edwards to Soo Mill Holdings Limited, the transfer of 1,000 common shares from C.P. Greco and 400 common shares from G.E. Nori (16.7% and 6.7% respectively) to James R. McAuley Investments Inc. and the transfer of 600 common shares (10.0%) from G.E. Nori to James F. Kelleher (in trust for a company to be incorporated), Patrick J. Mahon and Joseph Anthony Martella. As a result of these proposed share transfers, Huron would be owned as follows: Soo Mill Holdings Limited 50.0%, James R. McAuley Investments Inc. 23.3%, W.A. Elgie 16.7%, F. KelLeher, OBCI 5.8%, Patrick J. Mahon 2.1% and Anthony Martella 2.1%. Soo Mill Holdings Limited was owned by three trusts, each having an equal interest and having as its beneficiary one of three brothers, Fremlin Simpson Hollingsworth, Edward Hollingsworth and Ian Woolner Hollingsworth, all of whom were residents of Sault Ste. Marie. James R. McAuley Investments Inc. was effectively controlled by James R. McAuley of Sault Ste. Marie. The Commission considered that approval of these applications would result in a substantial increase in the amount of local ownership in Huron from 50 to 100 per cent.


On January 30, CKCY 920 Ltd. was authorized to purchase CKCY-AM, CJQM-FM and Wawa’s CJWA-AM from Huron Broadcasting Ltd. CKCY 920 Ltd. was equally owned by four Sault Ste. Marie residents – Paul Fockler, John Meadows, Basil Carruthers and John Dacey. Fockler and Meadows were Huron employees. CKCY 920 Ltd. had applied in 1984 to purchase these stations. That application was denied July 19, 1984. 


Mike Brillinger became news director at CKCY.


News director Mike Brillinger left the business. He was replaced by Bernie Stuetz who had held another position with the station.

Paul Fockler was general manager of CKCY and Q104.


On August 31, the CRTC approved the sale of CKCY 920 Ltd. through the transfer of all of the outstanding shares of the licensee company from the existing shareholders (Paul Fockler, John Meadows, Jack Dacey and Basil Carruthers) to Mid-Canada Communications (Canada) Corp. Mid-Canada proposed to purchase 100% of the outstanding shares of CKCY. Mid-Canada was a subsidiary of Northern Cable Services Ltd. 


On July 26, Pelmorex Broadcasting Inc. was given approval to acquire effective control of Mid-Canada Radio Inc. through the transfer of 100% of that company’s issued and outstanding common voting shares from Northern Cable Holdings Limited. Mid-Canada was a company formed from the amalgamation of CKCY 920 Ltd. with The Ottawa Valley Broadcasting Company Limited in January 1990. It was licensee of 14 radio stations in northeastern Ontario. Northern was also the 100% shareholder of Mid-Canada Communications (Canada) Corp. the licensee of 7 television stations and their rebroadcasters in northeastern Ontario, including CBC and CTV twin-stick operations at Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins. 


There were now four radio stations in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and the CBC had added its own radio rebroadcasters in the area. Because of the fragmentation of the audience, CKCY-AM and CFYN-AM had become unprofitable (a combined loss of a million dollars in 1991). A severe recession was also underway. As a result, Pelmorex (CKCY) and Telemedia (CKCY) decided to pull the plug on their AM operations in the city. That happened on August 30. Both companies would concentrate on their FM operations – CHAS (Telemedia) and CJQM (Pelmorex). The two companies agreed to enter a service agreement that would merge their FM operations into the Pelmorex facilities. CHAS-FM would move to the Pelmorex premises and be managed by that company, on behalf of Telemedia. 


Carmen P. Greco died on August 2. He founded CKCY in 1955, later obtained an FM licence, and was prominent in local broadcasting and numerous community organizations. 

The story continues elsewhere…
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