CFGX-FM, The Fox 99.9, Sarnia

Blackburn Radio Inc.

CFGX-FM199499.926,000Blackburn Radio Inc.
CFGX-FM198899.926,000Blue Water Broadcasting Ltd.
CJFI-FM198799.926,000Blue Water Broadcasting Ltd.
CJFI-FM198199.926,000Rogers Radio Broadcasting Ltd.


Sarnia’s first commercial FM station was licenced to Rogers Radio Broadcasting Ltd., owner of CKJD-AM. It would broadcast with an effective radiated power of 26,000 watts on a frequency of 99.9 MHz. A competing application by Sarnia Broadcasters Ltd. (CHOK-AM) was denied. Programming on the new station would be geared to adults, and offer an alternative to existing FM stations received in the area. There would be an emphasis on local news and information. To help develop local talent, Rogers would provide a professional recording studio in downtown Sarnia.


CJFI-FM began broadcasting on September 14. Studios and offices were co-located with CKJD-AM at 546 North Christina Street. Harris Corp. supplied two 10 kw FM transmitters, stereo generators and antenna. Announcers included Brian Nuttall (mornings) who joined from CKNX-FM Wingham. Derek Botten was swing announcer.


Peggy Colston-Weir became program director for CJFI-FM and Toronto’s CHFI-FM. She also became a vice president of Rogers Radio.

Brian Nuttall left for CFPL London. Derek Botten left for CKSL London.


Cyd Vandenberg (midday announcer and program director) joined from CKJD-AM.


Rogers Radio Broadcasting Ltd. became Rogers Broadcasting Limited. 

Kori Skinner was working on-air at CJFI-FM.


On the air: Dave Edwards (mornings), Cyd Vandenberg (middays), Mike Nisbet (middays), Ray Gordon (afternoons), Leigh Reid (evenings) and Jon Bond (overnights). Reid was replaced in in the spring of ’87 by Cindy McLaughlin. Vandenberg left for CHFI Toronto in 1987.

Gerry Kennedy named Don Chamberlain manager of CFGX/CKJD and Leamington’s CHYR.


Gerald Kennedy of Eastern Broadcasting in Moncton, New Brunswick, filed an application to acquire CJFI / CKJD and Leamington’s CHYR / CHYR-7 from Rogers. Kennedy would move to Sarnia to manage those stations. Lou Tomasi, who had been with CHYR since it went on the air in 1955, would continue to manage that station.

Kennedy withdrew his application to acquire the Leamington and Sarnia stations. A new application was filed, with Maclean-Hunter being the controlling shareholder. Kennedy would hold a minor interest.

Approval was granted July 16 for Rogers to sell CJFI / CKJD along with CHYR / CHYR-7 to Blue Water Broadcasting Ltd. (67% owned by Eastern Broadcasting, 24% by Don Chamberlain and 9% by Gerald Kennedy). Eastern was 90% Owned by Maritime Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Maclean-Hunter Limited.


Donald Chamberlain became president of Key Radio’s CKJD-AM / CJFI-FM. Pat St. John was named vice president and general manager. 

Gerry Kennedy retired. Pat St. John was named to replace him as general manager for CJFI/CKJD. Part-owner Don Chamberlain ws general sales manager.


In late 1987, with CKJD and CJFI under new ownership, it was decided to find a new home for the stations. The lease on the current facility in a high-rise on Christina Street was about to expire. A location was found on London Road, the city’s busiest artery. Shovels went into the ground in mid-February of 1988. The new facility featured 8,000 square feet and four studios. Ward-Beck Systems 14-input audio consoles were installed. The AM station was able to cut over to the new facility for the afternoon drive show on May 26. At about 1:00 p.m. on the 28th, FM was able to cut to their new control room. On May 31, the news room was the final cut and by 10:00 a.m., the entire staff was operating from the new building. The old building was completely vacated by 1:00 p.m. on June 1. The new address: 1415 London Road (in Clearwater).

Before the stations moved to their new home, they got a change of name. On February 26, CKJD became CKTY “Country 1110” (the “CTY” for Country) with a country format and CJFI-FM became CFGX “The Fox” (the FX for FOX) with an adult contemporary format. The old CKJD had a Contemporary music format.

Don Chamberlain was president of Bluewater Broadcasting and Pat St. John was general manager of the Sarnia stations. 


Announcers: John Harada (mornings), Ron Dann (middays), George Hayes (afternoons), Mike Nisbet / Leah Reid (evenings), Deb Pigden (weekends). Harada was program director and Dann was music director. Harada and Dann joined from CKJD-AM as it converted to the FM dial. Nisbet left in February 1989. Jerry Butler did PM Drive briefly before George Hayes took over.


Brian Hinz, formerly with CKO, joined CFGX-CKTY as engineering manager.


Jim Ducharme joined from CIWW Ottawa.


Jim Ducharme left.




On December 19, the purchase of Maclean-Hunter Ltd. by Rogers Communications Inc. and the spin-off of Blue Water Broadcasting Ltd. (CKTY-CFGX Sarnia, CFCO Chatham and CHYR Leamington) to Blackburn Radio Inc. was approved. 


Sarnia’s three radio stations were moved together as part of a Local Management Agreement between Sarnia Broadcasters (CHOK) and Blackburn Radio (CKTY and CFGX-FM). The move saw CHOK moving from its downtown building to Blackburn’s relatively new facility at 1415 London Road in Clearwater. CHOK president Wayne Steele was running all three stations. At this time CFGX had an Adult Contemporary format while CKTY was a Country music station. CHOK offered news, information, sports and, Oldies music.


General manager John Divinski left CFGX/CKTY to become operations manager at CJSS/CFLG in Cornwall.


In February, CKJD-AM became CKTY.

On December 18, the sale of Sarnia Broadcasters (1993) Ltd., by Penway Radio Holdings Ltd. and Wayne W. Steele to Blackburn Group Inc. was approved. Blackburn was the owner of Sarnia’s two other commercial stations – CFGX-FM and CKTY. Blackburn would own all three commercial radio stations in the market. The three stations had been part of an LMA since 1996.

R.A. (Sandy) Green was president of Blackburn Radio.


Following the purchase of CHOK by Blackburn Radio, Terry Regier became general manager of all of the new Radio Sarnia-Lambton (CHOK, CKTY and CFGX) stations.

Blackburn received approval for a second FM station in Sarnia. A new tower was built to accommodate the new station as well as CFGX-FM.

CHKS-FM was launched June 16. It replaced CKTY 1110.

In the first BBM ratings after the launch of CHKS, the station finished with a 14 share overall 12+, CFGX had a 16 share and CHOK, an 18 share. The combined group had a 49% market share. 

Dave Curtis was sales coordinator.


On March 17, the sale of CFGX, CHKS and CHOK (and several other stations) by Blackburn Group Inc. to Affinity Radio Group Inc. (subsidiary of Radiont Inc.) was approved. On May 29, Affinity announced that it would not be able to close on the purchase. The stations would remain in the hands of Blackburn.

CFGX and CHKS were operating with live staff 24/7.

In June, Blackburn decided to totally refurbish the Sarnia broadcast facility. All three stations were converted from analog to digital.

George Hayes and Karen Kennedy were hired as the FOX morning team.

In the Fall BBM’s – CHKS increased its share from 14 to 19, CFGX went from a 16 to an 18 share, and CHOK had a 16 share. Total 12+ for the three had increased from 49% to 53%.

Ron Dann was program director for all three stations.


On March 22, a change in control of Blackburn Radio Inc. through the transfer of all of the issued and outstanding shares of Blackburn Group Incorporated (the parent corporation) from the Estate of Martha G. Blackburn to a corporation controlled by her son, Richard Costley-White, was approved. 


CFGX received CRTC approval to increase effective radiated power from 26,000 watts to an average ERP of 27,000 watts, and to increase effective antenna height. The changes would improve the station’s signal in the core of Sarnia and address the coverage issues experienced by this growing community. 


On October 5, the CRTC renewed the licences for Blackburn Radio Inc. stations CFGX-FM Sarnia, CHKS-FM Sarnia, CHOK Sarnia and its transmitter CHOK-FM-1 Sarnia, CKNX Wingham, CKNX-FM Wingham and its transmitter CKNX-FM-2 Centreville, CKUE-FM Chatham and its transmitter CKUE-FM-1 Windsor and CFCO Chatham and its transmitter CFCO-1-FM Chatham, from 1 December 2010 to 31 August 2014. This short-term renewal would enable the Commission to review, at an earlier date, the licensee’s compliance with the Radio Regulations, 1986 and with its conditions of licence.


Don Chamberlain died at age 73 on January 26. The Saint John native began his broadcast career in Atlantic Canada and became a part-owner of CHYR Leamington and CKJD/CJFI Sarnia and, later, a part-owner of CJBK/CJBX London. Earlier, Chamberlain played an integral role in Jack Schoone’s Eastern Broadcasting chain of stations. Schoone was his majority partner in the Sarnia and London stations. Chamberlain was also the son of Charlie Chamberlain, long an entertainer on the old CBC-TV show, Don Messer’s Jubilee.

After 39 years in Sarnia, Blackburn Radio news director Larry Gordon hung up his headphones April 26. Gordon began as a part-time operator at CKWW Kitchener while attending Conestoga College. His first full-time gig was at CKAR Huntsville/CKAR-1 Parry Sound. In 1974, he moved to CJCS Stratford and then to CHOK. He became CHOK News Director in 1978 and, as they became part of the Sarnia ownership, ND for CFGX-FM and CHKS-FM.

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