| The Southern Ontario/WNY Radio-TV Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

June 15, 2018 7:46 am  #1

Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

The radio station that once occupied the 1430 spot on the dial was legendary. CKFH was started by none other than the real “FH” himself – Foster Hewitt. For a while in the late 60s and early 70s, it was a small challenger to CHUM, boasting some great talent. Over the years, the owners tried it all, including country, and for a very brief moment in the early 80s as the newly named CJCL – a weird hybrid of talk and music.
It was a time before the former was seen as a really viable format here and the man who helped come up with it was familiar with the spoken word – the great Robert Holiday, formerly news director of CFTR.
As radio legend Leslie Sole points out in this terrific piece, it wound up being “the greatest station no one ever heard.”
He estimates putting together the line-up of talent it had would cost over a million dollars today. People like (Jim) Brady In The Morning (and later Dave Patrick from Montreal), Andy Barrie, John Oakley, Tom Fulton and of course, SOWNY board contributor John Donabie. Just to name a few.
So what happened? For one thing, the signal went straight into the lake. For another, it wasn’t exactly sold in the most compelling way, as the ads below show.

For a time, it was called “Metro 1430,” imaging that was completely abandoned soon after.

The format was expensive and with few revenue makers beyond the Leafs and Jays, the end came in 1983. Here’s something most have rarely seen – the memo to the staff advising them of “changes” coming to the Telemedia owned outlet. That change was a synonym for “fired.”
Out the door went half the staff, in a switch to Music of Your Life.

But that wasn’t exactly successful, either and the cast kept changing.

By 1985, there were new voices:

And new contests:

None of it really worked. And by 1990, the first vestiges of what would eventually come started to emerge with an emphasis on sports.

Finally, in Sept. 1992, the decision was made: CJCL would abandon music entirely to become Canada’s first all sports station. Eventually, they would leave the signal-into-the-lake and trade up to the far better 590 frequency, where it remains today. Here’s one of the early line-ups.

Would the early talk format of CJCL work today? The first version of CFRB as a talk station borrowed a lot from 1430, but the former was too far ahead of its time, on too lousy a signal and it mixed too much music with too much talk. But it was a pioneer – one that very few of us ever heard.


June 15, 2018 9:54 am  #2

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

Really interesting trip down memory lane, RA. Thanks very much for posting this. I remember all the format changes they went through, going back to the early 70s. I first discovered CKFH as a child because of them being the Leafs' broadcaster, but then found that I liked them better than CHUM -- that is, until they went country. I still remember the morning I woke up to that, and my disappointment at losing my favourite station ... although I realized even back then that they just weren't getting good enough ratings with what they were doing. I did like their attempts to mix music, talk, and sports, but I could also understand why it ultimately made more sense for them to go all-sports.

In addition, I think this ties in well with another post you made elsewhere recently. All those things that they tried back then were a lot more interesting to me than the way radio tends to be now. And I understand that this is just a natural evolution of the business, but as you said, with a lot of stations there just isn't as much to discuss now that is all that meaningful to many people like myself. 


June 15, 2018 10:18 am  #3

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

Here are a few classic artifacts from CKFH.

The first is from just before they introduced their own Top 30 chart in January 1970. Joey Cee was the guy on the cover. a figure who'd been involved in Canadian music since the 1950s. I'm not entirely sure if he ever actually worked at FH. But he appeared on their "Keeping Track" covers for at least a year. This one is from 1969:

There are still lots of CKFH charts hanging around, but here's one that's really different. It looks like the usual thing, but it wasn't actually a chart at all - it was for the old Mariposa Festival that was held on Toronto Island. I'm guessing the station may have been a sponsor.

     Thread Starter

June 15, 2018 10:26 am  #4

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

And I agree. For a time after CHUM went to the Drake format, I thought CKFH really was the better Top 40 station in Toronto.

Here's one more:

If memory serves, the people on this cover are (in order) Duff Roman, Mike Williams, John Donabie, Mal Faris and Tom Fulton.


     Thread Starter

June 15, 2018 11:42 am  #5

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

Hey RA. I am definitely enjoying your Friday Flashback feature. Hopefully you have enough material to entertain us for the foreseeable future. Regarding 1430's "into the lake" signal, I can identify with that. Growing up in Oakville as a teen, I listened to 1430 when CKFH "attempted" to compete with CHUM in the top 40 game. Their 10000 watt daytime signal was fine. When they dropped their power to 5000 watts at night, their signal reached maybe QEW/Southdown Rd. Listening to Leaf games at night were almost always overpowered by WIRE [now WNXT] in Indianapolis. Even when they went to 50K in 1971, their nightime signal in Oakville , while improved, was still not great.


June 15, 2018 11:52 am  #6

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

There was a Chart version of that Mariposa promo and here it is:

Cool Airchecks and More:

June 15, 2018 12:01 pm  #7

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

RA. Re the CKFH chart you posted above: That chart format was first published in Jan 1970 and was sent out to record stores as was charts from CHUM, CKOC and CHAM/CJJD, However, CKFH also had a chart in 1968 only available at 1 Grenville St. that listed songs from 2-36. They were number two radio. Everybody else was Number One! Hence, no number one song. I am sure Dale Patterson is aware of this. He may even have some of those charts. I have a number of them from June/July/August of 68. Their "hitbound" portion of the chart was called "Growin' Wild" and usually consisted of ten songs. The chart wasn't very professional looking, compared to CHUM. It looked like it was done on an Underwood typewriter and then mimiographed. They did manage to change the colour of the paper used each week.


June 15, 2018 12:07 pm  #8

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

Didn't know about the original #2 chart. That's interesting. I have every one of the 70s charts for about the first year or so, then I stopped for some reason. (We used to get them at Music World at Yorkdale, which was near my parent's house.)  They were never as detailed or professional looking as CHUM, but that only gave them a kind of charm that 1050's more slick freebie might have been lacking.  

     Thread Starter

June 15, 2018 12:40 pm  #9

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

I did not know about the #2 Chart either until Dale posted this a while back:


Last edited by Fitz (June 15, 2018 2:13 pm)

Cool Airchecks and More:

June 15, 2018 10:13 pm  #10

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

wow... you guys are OLD!  i recall when a ststion woul play crowded house and motley crue in the same set...


June 15, 2018 10:38 pm  #11

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

splunge wrote:

wow... you guys are OLD! i recall when a ststion woul play crowded house and motley crue in the same set...

A better set would be Crowded House and Split Enz as there was a Finn Brothers connection there.

Last edited by Fitz (June 15, 2018 10:44 pm)

Cool Airchecks and More:

June 15, 2018 11:49 pm  #12

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

such was 80s radio in  small markets.  chicago + poison + whitney houston....


June 16, 2018 9:44 am  #13

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

Thank you Radio Active.  I had some great time there; until Music of Your Life came in and then I was off to CFGM to work for Greg Slaight.  Thanks again for the memories.  Couldn't have picked a better day to see this.


June 16, 2018 10:11 am  #14

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

splunge wrote:

such was 80s radio in small markets. chicago + poison + whitney houston....

At AM 96 in Cambridge, we ran a hybrid AC/CHR format in 1991.  It was AC from 4am to 6pm.  The nights included Micheal Bolton, KLF, Lisa Stansfield and Tara Kemp - all in the same breath! ..... I kinda miss it.

And yes, just to give Mark a reason to jest at my expense.  A Motorola C-QUAM encoder was active on our signal
(just be gentle with the teasing

Jody Thornton

June 16, 2018 11:21 am  #15

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

Re Joey Cee. I believe that he was the Music Director @ CKFH when it went Top Forty.


June 16, 2018 5:52 pm  #16

Re: Friday Flashback: CJCL & The Great Talk Experiment

Chuck99 wrote:

The 1430 playlist definitely had an edge compared to that of 1050 CHUM circa 1970.  I remember hearing 30 Days in the Hole by Humble Pie and Cold Turkey by John Lennon, songs that were not played on most Top 40 stations.

As far as the signal issues were concerned, the transmitter was located on Toronto Island and according to the Canadian Communications Foundation site, copper theft was a real issue.  Repairs were not made promptly because of the financial situation of the station.

Definitely had a more diverse playlist. I think it was the first place I heard the Move. A great group which I later heard a lot on progressive FM. Very eclectic influenced by the Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds, Moby Grape and more. Were led initially by Roy Wood and then Jeff Lynne joined a later incarnation, Esentially the last incarnation of the Move morphed into the Electric Light Orchestra. The first ELO album with both Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne was the best. The Move track Brontosaurus was hit-bound on CKFH and probably my intro to the group:


Last edited by Fitz (June 16, 2018 5:53 pm)

Cool Airchecks and More: