CJBK-AM, News Talk 1290 CJBK, London
|Astral Media Inc
|Standard Radio Inc.
|Telemedia Radio Inc.
|Middlesex-Lambton Communications Ltd.
|Middlesex Broadcasters Ltd. (Rick Richardson)
|Middlesex Broadcasters Ltd.
In September, Middlesex Broadcasters Ltd., headed by London businessman H. J. “Joe” McManus, received a licence to operate a new AM station in the city. McManus proposed to operate the station on a frequency of 1290 kHz with power of 5,000 watts (same directional pattern for day and night operation), using nine 211 foot towers in Westminster Township. The 1290 frequency had been used by CKSL in London up until September 12, 1964 when it moved to 1410 kHz.
1290 CJOE’s first day on the air was January 25. The station actually operated with a power of 10,000 watts full-time (same pattern day and night) rather than the originally proposed 5,000 watts. Studios were in room 309 of Hotel London, 279 Dundas Street. The transmitter and nine 193.5 foot towers were located on some swamp land about six miles south of London, along White Oak Side Road, Westminster Township (modern day address is 6100 White Oak Road). The “JOE” in the call letters: Joe McManus.
Len Evans was named general manager of CJOE effective October 1. In the past he had managed CKKW and CKLB-CKQS.
William E. Ballantyne was at CJOE.
CJOE began airing rock music at night (7 p.m. to midnight) with hopes of eating into CHLO’s teen audience. The St. Thomas station had been doing Top 40 since 1966. Originally CJOE had a format that featured “elevator” music and this was likely the main reason the station did not make money.
CJOE then went rock in all time periods (24/7). They started out by relying heavily on “underground” album cuts then CHLO started mixing in album cuts as well. CJOE then fought back by playing more hit singles mixed with album cuts.
Joe McManus decided to sell Middlesex Broadcasters Ltd. on September 18, to Shoreacres Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (Maclean-Hunter), owner of CKEY Toronto.
The CRTC denied the Shoreacres application to buy CJOE on February 22 because approval would have resulted in concentration of ownership issues.
CJOE moved to new studios and offices located on the second floor of 400 Dundas Street on March 17. All of the original equipment was moved to the new location from the Hotel London facility.
By the summer, both CJOE and CHLO were sounding very similar in their rock war. Both were playing a mix of top 30 singles and progressive album cuts. In fact, all four AM stations in the London-St. Thomas market were now airing some form of contemporary music.
Even though Joe McManus was not given approval to sell CJOE to Shoreacres, he still wanted to unload the station. Rick Richardson came into the picture and convinced McManus to sell the station to him. Over the years, Richardson had worked at CHNS Halifax, CKGM-CHOM-FM Montreal and CKWW-CJOM-FM Windsor. Richardson (Baron Communications Ltd. 2/3 and Bruce Communications Ltd. 1/3 interest) received regulatory approval on July 26 to purchase CJOE. Despite Richardson’s radio background, this was his first venture in broadcast ownership.
Rick Richardson took over operation of CJOE on September 4.
On September 6 at 12:00 a.m., “The Big Switch” took place in conjunction with the opening of the Western Fair … CJOE became CJBK. Why CJBK? Richardson wanted call letters that began with “CJ” to differentiate the station as much as possible from competitors CFPL and CKSL. Otherwise, the call letters did not have any specific meaning. Some however believe that Mr. Richardson was a fan of WJBK-AM Detroit when he was working at a Windsor radio station. As a result, he chose the “JBK” from WJBK for CJBK.
CJBK had a fast-paced “hit” sound that emphasized music from its “All Hit 29” chart. The hits were augmented with about 15 extra tunes and the balance was gold (about one in 3). The station wasn’t using jingles at this time. CJBK was not just aiming for the teen market but going after all listeners under the age of 40.
Jerry Stevens left CHLO as music director to become CJBK’s first program director. CHLO had now decided to go with album cuts full time and CJBK dropped albums to concentrate on hit singles.
Jeffrey Guy was appointed vice-president, engineering for CJBK. He had been the station’s chief engineer since 1967.
John Mackie was replaced by John Rae as program director. Steve Garrison joined the on-air staff on September 19.
Studios and offices moved from 400 Dundas Street to a brand new facility at 743 Wellington Road South on March 18 at 12:00 a.m. (almost five years to the day that Hotel London burnt down). The new facility was very unique in design. From the front, it looked like a big, single story home with an unusual roof, but inside it actually had three levels. The design was chosen so the building would blend in with its surroundings. When Rick Richardson acquired the station in 1972, the staff of 19 was housed in 3,200 square feet. The new facility featured 8,700 square feet and a staff of 42. The property (1.1 acres) was a small farm when Rick Richardson purchased it. The entire project took 137 days to complete. 743 Wellington provided lots of room for the existing staff and had plenty of room for expansion. With the move, CJBK now fed its programming to the transmitter site via STL.
More than 120 guests gathered for the grand opening of Wellington Rd. facility on April 30. CJBK departed from the usual ribbon cutting and instead presented the citizens of London with “The London Connection” – an English double decker bus (the bus was used right up to about 2003 when the city replaced it with a new one).
Baron Communications was given approval to transfer two-thirds control of Middlesex Broadcasters Ltd. (66 2/3% of the common and 66 2/3% preferred shares) to Bruce Communications. As a result, Bruce increased the local ownership of the company from 33% to 100%.
Later in the year, CJBK received approval to make changes to its daytime pattern.
After a complete rebuild of the antenna phasing system and replacement of all nine towers, CJBK went from the same directional pattern for day and night operation to different patterns for day and night on August 2. CJBK continued to operate on 1290 kHz with 10,000 watts.
Jim Boyle was appointed vice president and general manager.
Joe Duchesne left CJBK on September 14. He had been the station’s morning man since 1974. He left town to take over ownership of Muskoka-Parry Sound Broadcasting (CFBK and CFBQ) in Huntsville and Parry Sound. He was replaced in morning drive by long-time CFGM Toronto personality Mike McMan. His run at CJBK was short though, as he just didn’t fit with the station’s sound. In December, long-time London radio and television personality Dick Williams took over AM Drive. He had been at CJBK for a few years, most recently as the midday person. Long-time CJBK newsman Bob Smith departed for CFPL-TV.
Fred Denny joined early in the year to take over the morning show. Dick Williams returned to his midday show.
On March 3, CJBK’s sister station CJBX-FM signed on the air. An addition was built on to CJBK’s Wellington Road facility to house the new station. The two stations were only connected via the main hallway, basement and newsroom. In all other ways, CJBK and CJBX were two separate entities…entirely separate staff and management…they competed against each other as if they had different owners. The two stations even had separate reception areas, switchboards and phone numbers. The only things they had in common was ownership, accounting and engineering.
Georgie Binks left for CKO in Toronto. She had been hosting “Dialogue” and “Georgie’s London” on CJBK and had been with the station since 1978.
In London radio for some time, Janice Zolf made the move to CJBK this year. She would later serve as entertainment reporter on CFPL-TV for many years. Michael Dee Graham joined the air-staff in June from CKGM Montreal. Don “Beau” Dean later replaced Dick Williams & Janice Zolf in AM Drive.
John E. Mackey was appointed VP/GM and PD of CJBK. He had been general manager of Montreal’s CKGM/CHOM. Jim Boyle continued on as GM CJBX and sales manager for both stations.
Michael Dee Graham left for sister station CJBX-FM. In the spring BBM ratings, CJBK has the second highest total audience in the London market, with 164,700 listeners, only behind co-owned CJBX-FM. In the fall ratings, CJBK dropped to fourth place with 143,000 listeners, while CFPL 980 surged ahead to first place.
In a host shuffle on January 9, Michael Dee, CJBK’s music director and mid-day host, moves to CJBX-FM and is replaced by CJBK promotions manager Steve Garrison, who has been hosting consistently on CJBK ever since. Don “Beau” Dean becomes music director and moves from the morning timeslot to afternoons, with Cliff Jackson taking over the morning slot. Former news director John Rea became marketing manager for Broadcast News.
Bill Townsend became sales manager at CJBK.
CJBK program director Charlie O’Brien left for CKLW Windsor.
On April 14, the sale of Middlesex Broadcasters Limited (CJBK and CJBX-FM London and of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sarnia Broadcasters Limited, licensee of CHOK Sarnia) by Rick Richardson, to Middlesex Lambton Communications Limited was approved. Middlesex Lambton was controlled by Don Patten and Walter and Tony Zwig. Mr. Richardson, who had built up the stations over a period of fifteen years, continued to serve as Chairman of the Board for the new company. The purchaser proposed to improve the transmitter and ground system and studios for CJBK, purchase a back-up transmitter for CJBX and replace CHOK’s transmitter. The sale closed on May 3. Gary Parsons replaced Jim Buick in AM Drive. Former CJBK-CJBX (and CHOK Sarnia) owner Rick Richardson was now chairman of the board of Middlesex Lambton Communications, the company that purchased the stations. The company, owned by the Zwig Family Trust, held a ‘New Beginnings’ party at the London studios on June 23. On August 14, CJBK changed formats from contemporary hits to light rock.
The new owners of CJBK and Sarnia’s CHOK announced plans to convert those stations to stereo. Middlesex Lambton Communications planned to spend $1.06 million on the project. Linda Tracey left her part-time work at CJBK for CHOK in Sarnia.
In 1988, it was decided that CJBK needed to make some technical improvements. The transmitter site was in bad shape and the station’s signal was not great. Following extensive engineering studies it was found that CJBK could greatly improve its coverage area, especially since CHAM Hamilton had moved from adjacent frequency 1280 kHz (to 820) in 1985. All nine towers were cut down and replaced by eight new ones at the same site (four would be used during the day and six at night). In addition, the ground system was replaced, a new transmitter was purchased and the studios were equipped with brand new stereo equipment. CJBK began broadcasting in stereo using all of this new equipment (including 8 towers, instead of 9) on September 9, 1989. Dave Sturgeon joined to do mornings.
D.J. (Don) Peter was appointed general sales manager for CJBK and BX93. Dave Sturgeon did AM Drive until May. Before leaving, Heather Hiscox joined Dave as morning co-host in March. More than 65 private radio stations, including the Telemedia Sports Network, celebrated Canada Day by simultaneously airing the national anthem on July 1. Warren Cosford of CJBK/CJBX initiated the project.
Long-time CJBK personality Steve Garrison took over the morning show. Heather Hiscox continued as morning show co-host. Heather would later become a reporter and anchor for CBC Television. Anne Marie DeCicco left CJBK’s news department for a position on city council. In a few years, she would become the mayor of London.
An oldies format was adopted early in the year.
On September 2, the CRTC approved the purchase of CJBK and CJBX by London Communications Inc. from Middlesex Lambton Communications Corp. London Communications was owned by Jack W. Schoone and Irving Zucker.
Bob Sherwin joined from CKOC Hamilton as program director and morning man. Steve Garrison moved to midday’s.
CJBK reported a 100% increase (BBM full coverage area) for its morning show hosted by Steve Garrison who returned to the station earlier in the year. Randy Timmins left CJBK/CJBX-FM where he had been director of marketing.
CJBK switched from an oldies format to news-talk on August 12.
In addition to program director duties at Hamilton’s CKOC, Nevin Grant was also programming talk-formatted CJBK. CJBK had picked up talk after CKSL dropped it. Dr. Laura was among the shows on ‘BK. There was a news hour between 5:00-6:00 p.m. The station was heavy on sports at night. The morning show was not talk. It was still full-service with oldies music.
Doug Chard, former general sales manager at CHEZ-FM Ottawa, took up the same post at CJBK/BX93 London effective September 1.
On July 14, approval came for the purchase of CJBK and CJBX by London Communications Ltd. to Telemedia Radio Inc. Telemedia already owned CIQM-FM London and took possession of CJBK-CJBX on September 1.
Program director Rick Walters left the station May 3. CIQM-FM operations manager, Barry Smith became PD for all four Telemedia London stations on that date. Deacon Richie was assistant PD & production manager. Mike Stubbs joined in August or September for the 4-6 p.m. show. As a result of the now common ownership of four stations in the London market (CJBK, CJBX, CIQM, and CKSL – Telemedia had repurchased CKSL on October 16), it was decided that the 743 Wellington Road facility would be expanded to also house CIQM and CKSL. CIQM began broadcasting from this location on June 10 and CKSL on November 30.
Jeff Guy retired from Telemedia London on January 26. He had spent 33 years and 3 months with CJBK (and CJOE). Guy was succeeded by Bill Tofflemire who joined CKSL in 1985. Telemedia Radio VP Braden Doerr, most recently vice president of the Ontario regional group, assumed responsibility for the Southern Ontario cluster (London, Hamilton and St. Catharines). Rick Doughty, VP of Telemedia Northern Ontario (Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Pembroke and Orillia) would continue in that assignment but also added responsibilities as a member of the executive committee of the Ontario division, reporting to Claude Beaudoin, Telemedia executive VP for Ontario region. Tom Cooke was named to succeed Jim MacLeod as GM of Telemedia’s three Hamilton stations. He had been Assistant GM at the company’s four London stations.
On April 19, the CRTC approved the purchase of several radio and television stations by Standard Radio Inc. from Telemedia. Standard in turn sold a number of stations to Rogers Broadcasting and NewCap Broadcasting. The four London stations were among those that Standard retained.
In May, Standard Radio announced that popular CJBK talk-show host Jim Chapman would not have his contract renewed when it expired on June 30. Chapman had hosted Talk of the Town on CJBK from 9-12 weekday mornings since 1996, following several years at CKSL. The decision touched off much controversy among listeners, with several letters of protest being published in the London Free Press. Standard did not change its mind, and Chapman’s time slot was replaced by Megan and Morris in the Morning, hosted by well-known Londoners Megan Walker and Morris Dalla Costa.
Megan and Morris in the Morning was replaced by NewsTalk 1290 Today in February, hosted by Scott Kitching and Shauna Rae. Later in the year, Kitching moved back to news and Rae would continue to host her own talk show weekdays from 10-noon. Andy Oudman would now host NewsTalk 1290 Today, which would air in the 9-10 time slot.
On September 27, Astral Media Radio G.P. received CRTC approval to acquire the assets of the radio and TV undertakings owned by Standard Radio Ltd., subject to certain conditions. The purchase included CJBX-FM, CIQM-FM, CJBK-AM and CKSL-AM.
Barry Smith was let go by Astral Media Radio London where he had been brand director (operations manager) for several years. He was replaced by Al Smith, a former London program director who had been working at CHUM Group Radio in Ottawa for the last few years. Barry Smith had worked for London’s Blackburn Radio in the early 1980’s and eventually moved over the competition (now Astral). Astral London chief engineer Bill Tofflemire retired after 25 years with the stations. Tom Cooke was vice president and general manager for Astral Media Radio London. Jim Boyle passed away after a lengthily illness. Boyle was General Sales Manager at CJBK until illness forced his early retirement in 1995.
Astral London let six staffers go, including long-time CJBK Assistant Program Director Deacon Ritchie and Chief Engineer Hector Card. Two people in traffic were gone as were one each in news and creative. The traffic function was centralized and is being performed by Astral Hamilton.
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. On June 27, 2013, after a previous such application had been denied in 2012, the CRTC approved an application by Astral Media Inc. to sell its pay and specialty television channels, conventional television stations and radio stations to BCE Inc., including CJBK. It was announced that Tom Cooke, Vice President and General Manager of Bell Media’s London radio stations would leave August 30. Don Mumford, regional VP, radio and TV operations, Southwestern Ontario and based in London, added Cooke’s VP/GSM role at the four radio stations to his own.
After almost 30 years with CJBK, most of them as morning host, Steve Garrison moved to the 9-10 a.m. time slot. The morning show was now hosted by former afternoon driver Mike Stubbs, and news anchor Lisa Brandt, who had been with Free FM in London.
As part of restructuring in November, CJBK’s Steve Garrison left the company. Until this past August he’d been the 27-year host of CJBK mornings and was a 13-year staff announcer before that. Since August, Garrison had been doing an hour-long show that began at 9:00 a.m. Bell Media London Operations Manager Al Smith, a five-year staffer, was also let go, as were 16 others who had various job descriptions.
Steve Garrison didn’t get to do a last show on CJBK when he was let go after 40 years with the station. On December 11, competitor Corus-owned CFPL-AM gave Garrison his chance to do that last show. It aired between noon and 1:00 p.m. – his old CJBK time slot. He described the air time as a gift – a show to say goodbye to listeners, the show he didn’t have the opportunity to do on CJBK.
Former CJBK/CJOE announcer Larry Broadley (67) passed away in August.
Jodi Taylor Orr passed away August 18 at the age of 53. Jodi had been doing fill-in swing and news at BX93 and CJBK for the last two and a half years. From 2001 to 2014, she was the midday host CHST, and prior to that was marketing and promotions director at CFPL-AM.
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.