Our first trip outside the US for the cassette digitizing project heads north of the border.  Unlike the US, where most large market AM top 40 outlets changed formats in the late 1970s/early 1980s as the format moved to FM, top 40 on AM survived in many Canadian markets until the 1990s.  AM top 40s survived because the CRTC, the Canadian government regulator over broadcast stations, had rules requiring a certain amount of Canadian content and restrictions on the broadcast of “hits” by English-language commercial FM radio stations that effectively blocked top 40 on FM signals until then.

CKZZ 95.3 “Z95.3” Vancouver

CKZZ signed on the air May 23 1991.  It was licensed by the CRTC to be a dance music outlet.  This aircheck, which I made while visiting Seattle and Vancouver in August 1994, shows “Z95.3” as still leaning rhythmic, but playing a few rock tracks.

CKZZIn 2004, CKZZ shifted from top 40 to hot AC “Z95-3.”  In June 2007, CKZZ shifted to a more goal-based rhythmic AC as “95 Crave.”  It went back to hot AC as “Virgin Radio 95-3” January 2009.  Earlier this year, after a sale to Newcap, CKZZ returned to its “Z95-3” branding.

CKZZ 95.3 Vancouver “Z95.3, Vancouver’s Hottest Music.” 19 August 1994.  DJs: Buzz Bishop, Curtis Strange.

CFGO 1200 “Hot New Energy 1200” Ottawa

Today’s CFGO Ottawa originally signed on the air in 1964 at 1440 kHz as CKPM, playing a “good music” (standards) format.   It changed to top 40 CFGO in 1972.  CFGO moved from 1440 to 1200 on January 5 1986.  During the early to mid-1980s, CFGO had a run with adult contemporary.  On March 8 1992, CFGO changed to top 40 “Energy 1200.”  The aircheck below comes from near the end of its top 40 run.  At the end of 1997, CFGO became modern rock-leaning top 40 CJBZ “the Buzz.”  Less than a year later, on September 9 1988, CJBZ flipped to sports “OSR1200, Ottawa Sports Radio.”  It returned to the CFGO calls in 1999.  The sports format still remains today, though it has rebranded a few times: from “OSR1200” to “Team 1200” (1999) and to its present day “TSN Radio 1200” (2013) handle.

CFGO 1200 Ottawa “Hot New Energy 1200.” 03 May 1997.  DJ: D’Arcy McGee.

CFCN 1060 “All Hits AM106” Calgary

CFCN signed on in Calgary on May 18 1922 on 1010 kHz, sharing time with another station, CKCX.  CFCN’s heritage actually dates back a couple of years earlier to CYAA Morley AB, which moved to High River AB, and then to Calgary.  In the 1920s, it would end up sharing the 1010 spot with several radio stations.  Over the years, CFCN would move to several spots on the radio dial during the 1920s and 1930s: first to 690 kHz, then 985 kHz, then 1030 kHz, and then back to 1010 kHz in 1941.  The Canadian government eyed the 1010 dial position for a CBC station (present day CBR, a CBC Radio One station) and CFCN moved to 1060 kHz in 1947.
CFCN’s top 40 days ended in 1993, when it flipped to hot AC “Mix 1060.”  It changed calls to its present day CKMX calls in 1994.  It would flip formats again in 1996 to standards and again in 2005 to classic country “Classic Country AM1060.”  In September 2013, CKMX changed formats again to its present day all-comedy “Funny 1060AM” incarnation. 

CFCN 1060 Calgary “All Hits AM106.” 14 April 1988. DJ: Dan Freeman.

CHED 630 “630 Ched” Edmonton

CHED signed on the air on March 3 1954 on 1080 kHz.  CHED adopted a top 40 in 1957.  In its top 40 days, CHED was enormously popular and had a dominant share of the Edmonton audience.  It had a long-running battle with top 40 competitor CJCA 930.  CHED switched to its current 630 kHz dial position in May 1963.  After changing from top 40 to oldies, CHED changed formats to news/talk/sports December 1 1993, which it remains today.  CJCA had moved to a talk format in the 1980s, but went bankrupt and signed off the air at the same time, allowing CHED to pick up some of the assets for its new format.  Now the long-time flagship of the Edmonton Oilers, CHED still performs well in the Edmonton ratings.

CHED 630 Edmonton “630 Ched.” 05 April 1988. DJ: Rob Christie & The Ched Morning Crew.

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