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November 27, 2022 2:31 pm  #1


The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

It started back on April 20, 2016, when the CRTC released its decision about a proposed new AM station on 1220 AM in St. Catharines, replacing the shuttered CHSC. It took a while, but a post on SOWNY on Feb. 11, 2020 revealed that someone had heard a test signal for the first time from the newcomer.  

A lot of people wondered then who would think a mono all-oldies station on a relatively weak signal from the Niagara area was a good idea, but the Commission gave it the go-ahead in any case. 

Since then, CFAJ has gone into what has to be the longest testing mode in the history of broadcasting. We are now just under two years and counting from that first day, and still nothing about what's going on at the place. 

I listened to them non-stop for about an hour on Saturday, just to see what they were up to. Sure enough, it remains a wall-to-wall jukebox, with no news, no weather, no announcers beyond apparently sole employee Peter Borberly reading pre-recorded liners and perhaps, the real troublesome sign - not a single paid spot or show. Not one in two years. I think I've heard the occasional PSA but they don't pay the bills. 

And there surely must be bills. Even with nothing but automation software running, they have to pay the electricity bill to keep the equipment and the transmitter running. And they certainly have to fork over money to Socan and others to play the music. Plus they owe a few grand to help pay for Canadian content. 

Their moribund webpage lists the songs they've played (it's the only way to find out, since there's no on-air identification) and does have what looks to be auto-filled news entries, but there's very little else there. (In fact, while they have had an un-updated Facebook page for more than a year, their other links to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+ simply lead back to the original website.)

So my question: how is this station still on the air after two years without, presumably, making a single cent? It's baffling to me, especially if you look at what they promised the CRTC six years ago, when they got the licence:

"The station...would broadcast 126 hours of locally produced programming each broadcast week, including 2 hours of news, weather and sports.

In addition to local, regional, national and some international news, the station would offer community-focused programming, such as weather and traffic reports, community billboards and talk shows promoting local events from charities and not-for-profit groups, for a total of 10 hours and 25 minutes of spoken word programming each week."


Not only have all of those promises seemingly gone by the wayside, they barely have 60 minutes of spoken word programming in an entire week. And those are the endlessly repeating liners. They give out an email address for "your questions and concerns" but never answer them. (At least mine have gone unanswered for months.)

A provided phone number (with a 416 area code no less, which is not St. Catharines) gives you a recording asking you to leave a message and promising a reply which never comes. 

Some have suggested this is a tax write-off for the owners and I have no idea if that's true. Either way, something has to give. According to the CRTC, the licence, awarded so long ago, was up for renewal last August. Still nothing. I'm presuming they must have gotten an extension. But to paraphrase the old Ace hit (which they might even play someday) How Long Can This Keep Going On?

If anyone knows what's up with this place, please spill the details here. This is one of the strangest local radio circumstances I can ever recall.  

https://i.postimg.cc/65BTRhVH/cfaj.jpg

 

November 27, 2022 2:42 pm  #2


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

RadioActive wrote:

    Some have suggested this is a tax write-off for the owners   

A loss can be applied to taxable profit earned elsewhere in a similar business.  What is the nature of the owner of CFAJ's other successful/profitable operating businesses?



 

 

November 27, 2022 2:50 pm  #3


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Regardless, one would easily think to round up some interns just to have some news voices up and running, at least, no? 


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.

 
 

November 27, 2022 3:11 pm  #4


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

2:00 PM, Sunday. Just tried it here in London ON. Just some really weak, fluttery audio. Not sure if it's from them or from someone else.

https://i.ibb.co/3rFJx96/100-1768.jpg


You don't have to be a good sport to be a mad one.
 

November 27, 2022 4:12 pm  #5


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

You may be getting Cleveland in London. That would be my guess. Did you hear music or preaching of some kind? Because the Ohio station is all religious. 

     Thread Starter
 

November 27, 2022 4:24 pm  #6


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

RadioActive wrote:

You may be getting Cleveland in London. That would be my guess. Did you hear music or preaching of some kind? Because the Ohio station is all religious. 

It wasn't Cleveland. When I turned the directional loop antenna toward Cleveland, the signal went away.

It was music but it was so week I couldn't recognize what it wasa
 


You don't have to be a good sport to be a mad one.
 

November 27, 2022 5:11 pm  #7


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Ms. C. wrote:

RadioActive wrote:

    Some have suggested this is a tax write-off for the owners   

A loss can be applied to taxable profit earned elsewhere in a similar business.  What is the nature of the owner of CFAJ's other successful/profitable operating businesses?



 

Immigration is their main business in Mississauga.

 

November 27, 2022 5:19 pm  #8


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

The address listed on their website appears to not exist?

2345 Divi Rd. #100
St.Catharines, ON CA

 

November 27, 2022 5:35 pm  #9


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

RadioAaron wrote:

The address listed on their website appears to not exist?

2345 Divi Rd. #100
St.Catharines, ON CA

I can't seem to get a google map view of the place.  


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.

 
 

November 27, 2022 5:45 pm  #10


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

turkeytop wrote:

RadioActive wrote:

You may be getting Cleveland in London. That would be my guess. Did you hear music or preaching of some kind? Because the Ohio station is all religious. 

It wasn't Cleveland. When I turned the directional loop antenna toward Cleveland, the signal went away.

It was music but it was so week I couldn't recognize what it was

You could always go to their website and see if what they're playing matches what you're hearing. Streaming on the web is one of the few things they seem to have gotten right. 

     Thread Starter
 

November 27, 2022 6:33 pm  #11


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

turkeytop wrote:

2:00 PM, Sunday. Just tried it here in London ON. Just some really weak, fluttery audio. Not sure if it's from them or from someone else.

https://i.ibb.co/3rFJx96/100-1768.jpg

Cool looking AM loop antenna. I saw a good review of this one on YT. 
 


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/
 

November 27, 2022 6:49 pm  #12


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

RadioAaron wrote:

The address listed on their website appears to not exist?

2345 Divi Rd. #100
St.Catharines, ON CA

Looks like "2345 Divi Rd. #100 / San Francisco, CA" is tied to hundreds of websites (like this one) but doesn't appear to be real for San Francisco either. I presume it's a dummy/templated postal address for the website theme/content management software that all these places are using in common and the intention is the client changes it to their real one when they publish out their web presence.

I suspect 1220 changed the city, province and country part of things for the template but never bothered with a street or postal box one beyond that. World-class operation clearly! ;)

 

November 27, 2022 6:58 pm  #13


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Ms. C. wrote:

RadioActive wrote:

    Some have suggested this is a tax write-off for the owners   

A loss can be applied to taxable profit earned elsewhere in a similar business.  What is the nature of the owner of CFAJ's other successful/profitable operating businesses?



 

Thank-you Mrs. Carlson... 

 

November 27, 2022 7:24 pm  #14


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Fitz wrote:

Cool looking AM loop antenna. I saw a good review of this one on YT. 
 

It's amazing. And I got it for free. I ordered a radio from Universal Radio and they were throwing one of those in as a bonus.

After trying it, I liked it so much, I ordered and paid for a second one. I keep one here and the other one at our place in Florida.


You don't have to be a good sport to be a mad one.
 

November 27, 2022 10:00 pm  #15


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Great playlist and not that repetitive. I really enjoy listening to the station.

 

November 27, 2022 10:28 pm  #16


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Yes, they have a much wider playlist than most oldies stations. And that could be their strength, despite the lousy AM signal. But how long can they afford to play anything with no money coming in to the station? In almost two years, not a single sponsor. On the plus side, no commercials is great for whatever listeners they have. 

     Thread Starter
 

November 27, 2022 10:48 pm  #17


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Reception is good in Burlington. The station is quite a relief from all the talkers.

 

November 27, 2022 11:53 pm  #18


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

67GreenRambler wrote:

Reception is good in Burlington. The station is quite a relief from all the talkers.

Our son lives in Burlingto. I'll have him check it out for me. He knows what the Old Man likes.
 


You don't have to be a good sport to be a mad one.
 

November 28, 2022 2:20 pm  #19


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

RadioActive wrote:

Yes, they have a much wider playlist than most oldies stations. And that could be their strength,

Until they finally do launch and realize that they'll have to play 35-40% Can Con.
Then what? 
Then there will suddenly be a lot more (Canadian) repeats on the playlist, no doubt.


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.

 
 

November 28, 2022 2:39 pm  #20


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Looks like they're already playing the required Cancon.

 

November 28, 2022 2:43 pm  #21


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

They are already playing lots of cancon.  Don't know if it is 35% and they may only need to play 30% when they finally sign on. Right now CFAJ doesn't need to play any since they are not officially on the air.   The owners would have known all about cancon requirements when they applied for the license, so this is no surprise. CFAJ could be following their planned music format right now. 

 

November 28, 2022 3:11 pm  #22


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

paterson1 wrote:

They are already playing lots of cancon.  Don't know if it is 35% and they may only need to play 30% when they finally sign on. Right now CFAJ doesn't need to play any since they are not officially on the air.   The owners would have known all about cancon requirements when they applied for the license, so this is no surprise. CFAJ could be following their planned music format right now. 

Did  quick calculation based on the last 43 tracks played as listed on their web site and I think they played just above 20 % cannon in that period so It should not be that hard to reach 30 % and perhaps they do already during certain periods.
 

Last edited by Fitz (November 28, 2022 3:14 pm)


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/
 

November 28, 2022 3:49 pm  #23


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

I've noticed a fair amount of Cancon whenever I've tuned them in. What's great about it is that they don't fall back on the same old-same old (Lighthouse, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot and the usual suspects, although they are there on occasion.) That in itself is refreshing.

If you have to play it, you might as well select some of the obscure stuff that hasn't been heard in a while. Not sure who's picking the music, but it's definitely different from most of the other oldies outlets.

     Thread Starter
 

November 28, 2022 4:03 pm  #24


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

You can play whatever you want when you're not rated and have no advertisers.

 

November 28, 2022 4:47 pm  #25


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

RadioAaron wrote:

You can play whatever you want when you're not rated and have no advertisers.

& it's also wrong to assume, which is what I may have been doing. 
I did not do the proper work of verifying how much Can Con is actually being played.

You are correct that a "test" does not have to have the Can Con, but good practice for the real thing is always smart.

 


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.

 
 

November 28, 2022 5:28 pm  #26


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Tried it agin today with the same setup as yesterday. The Sangean radio outdoors with the directional loop antenna. Still nothing.

I then tried with my good desk top radio indoors. I didn't get it there either, but I learned something surprising. The Cleveland station is away off frequency. It's actually 1218.5 KHZ.


You don't have to be a good sport to be a mad one.
 

November 28, 2022 5:29 pm  #27


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

The odd thing is they no longer say they're "testing" in their pre-recorded announcements. There are now no references to it at all. So I have no idea if they're still in "test" mode, hence all the Cancon may be necessary.

Whatever they're doing, there are still no sponsors, any kind of morning show, news or any other commitments being kept. So it's kind of hard to say what's going on over there. 

I know of a few people who have tried to get in touch with them about possible employment, but they've never heard a word back. I guess you don't need anyone if all you're doing is being a jukebox. Except in this case, no one is inserting any quarters! 

     Thread Starter
 

November 28, 2022 5:42 pm  #28


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

It gets even weirder.....The CRTC has posted their renewal application with a deficiency letter attached. The CRTC notice (Part I licence renewals) states that there is apparent compliance.  But the letter from the CRTC to the licensee suggests the opposite.  In fact no response letter was posted on the CRTC's website.   So....does the CRTC now think they are in compliance, or are they in non-compliance?  There is also a phone # on the application...647-654-5824

 https://i.ibb.co/v10PLjF/DM-4266448-R-ponse-Response-DOCS-4239589-v1-A-2022-0778-7-CFAJ-St-Catharines-RFI.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/f1H1bPw/DM-4233964-APP-Application-licence-renewal-PDF.jpg


=14px0070394 Canada Inc.

=14pxRadio (commercial)
Renewal - apparent compliance
=14pxRenewal of licence 

=14pxSt. Catharines, ON

=14pxCFAJ

2022-0778-7

=14pxOpen application for applicant contact information.

 

November 28, 2022 5:58 pm  #29


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

The most interesting part of that to me is this small section located in Part 5:

"After a period of non-commercial music programming intended to establish and maintain our initial on-air presence, while allowing us time to plan for our full commercial launch, we intend to move to a more complete broadcast schedule, including all elements of local programming, in the coming months of the current year."

This would certainly indicate that they actually do plan to act like a real radio station, living up to their Cancon funding, news and programming commitments. What it does not say is perhaps the most important thing - when! Isn't two years enough to "establish and maintain an on-air presence?" How long do they need? 

It means those who were looking for a gig should not stop trying. Unless they've already decided on who they have in mind. 

     Thread Starter
 

November 28, 2022 8:36 pm  #30


Re: The Bizarre & Ongoing Mystery Of 1220 CFAJ St. Catharines

Only the CCD requirements are actual conditions of license. 

Asking about local programming/news in regards to past and present performance is standard for a renewal. I've filled out 'none' on the news one more than once; it doesn't matter.

Last edited by RadioAaron (November 28, 2022 8:36 pm)