On January 22, the CRTC approved the application by London Broadcasters Limited for a licence to operate an English-language FM radio station at London on the frequency 103.1 MHz, channel 276, with an effective radiated power of 9,400 watts. The Commission issued a licence expiring September 30, 1990. London Broadcasters held the licence for CKSL-AM which had served the London area for some thirty years. The Commission noted that the station would be operated in the "Group I" music format. The applicant proposed an "Adult FM" sound, which it defined as a gentle blend of pop adult, easy listening and very soft rock, aimed primarily at the 35 to 59 age group. The Commission noted that this softer orientation was one of a variety of distinct sounds encompassed in the "Group I" format and would enable LBL to contribute to the diversity of radio service in the London market. At the public hearing, LBL pointed out that its proposed music mix would not duplicate any of the services already available in London and that, over the past three years, there had been a 17% decline in the number of adults over 35 years of age listening to London radio stations, with a 32% increase in "out-of-market tuning". LBL also planned to include the broadcast each weekday of two public affairs magazine programs: "Midday Magazine", a 75-minute presentation focusing on local personalities and "Upfront", a 30-minute program providing in-depth treatment of local issues. The Commission acknowledged LBL's commitment to broadcast 8 hours per week of Music-Traditional and Special Interest (category 6) programming and a wide range of specialty programming. The Commission took particular note of two proposed presentations: "The Canadian Connection" and "Theatre of the Mind". The former was designed to enhance London and area listeners' knowledge of the Province of Quebec and was to be produced in Quebec once a month either as part of a program exchange or by a free-lancer. The program would feature French-Canadian music with back-grounding information in English. "Theatre of the Mind" would be a 60-minute weekly presentation devoted to theatre and comedy and would feature both local productions and syndicated material. The Commission commended the licensee's interesting programming initiatives.
Gord Hume, vice president and general manager of the company's CKSL-AM, said extensive research indicated a need for a quality music adult station. Local musical talent would be encouraged to the tune of $28,000 a year. $45,000 would be spent on new recording equipment over the next five years. Cost of the new station would be close to $1 million, and it would create 30 new full-time and part-time positions. Studios and offices would be adjacent to CKSL in the City Centre complex.
On August 26, approval was given for a decrease in effective radiated power, from 9,400 watts to 9,000 watts.
CIQM-FM "Q103" signed on the air at 1:00 p.m., June 1. Studios and offices were in Canada Trust Tower A, City Centre London (Mezzanine Level), 380 Wellington Street. The antenna was 289 feet high and located on the roof of the same building. CKSL-AM also operated from this building. The opening ceremonies for CIQM-FM were telecast on Cable 13, the city's community channel. This was followed by a half hour documentary on the building of CIQM-FM. Production was by Richard Harding, program director of Cable 13, and George Gordon, public affairs director of CIQM.
CIQM-FM was described as Canada's first ‘AFM' (adult FM) station. It had a staff of 20. The $1 million facility included three studios, news production studio, five compact disc players, music computer system, and portable recording facilities.
The on-air team included Sandy Thompson (mornings), Dick Williams (mid-days), Mitch O'Connor, Bob Sutherland, Andy Oudman (news), Heather Mitchell (news) and Fred Langman (sports). Jerry Stevens was program director and Al Gibson was news director. Other staffers: Mark Rogers (general sales manager), Jan White (creative director), and Nancy Matheson (community relations manager).
Al Gibson was news director for CIQM/CKSL.
Mark Rogers left CIQM/CKSL as general sales manager to take up the same post at CHAM in Hamilton.
Tom Harkness became general sales manager for CIQM/CKSL. He had been senior sales rep at CFTR in Toronto.
George Gordon was named news director of CIQM/CKSL replacing Al Gibson who moved to Toronto's CKEY.
On April 21, the CRTC turned down an application by Telemedia Communications to acquire CIQM and CKSL. If the application had been approved Telemedia had proposed the creation of a local advisory board, to add a weekly one hour program of Canadian content on CKSL, and to syndicate new programs produced in London. It also planned to spend $1 million to upgrade the AM transmitter facilities.
Braden Doerr was program director for CIQM and CKSL.
Telemedia Communications Ontario Inc. did not give up on its attempts to acquire CIQM and CKSL. Early in the year it signed a letter of agreement with London Broadcasters to again try to purchase the stations. Telemedia was successful with this attempt as the CRTC approved the purchase of the London stations on July 28. The major initiative proposed by the purchaser this time was "Canadian Investment in Quality Music" - CIQM for short. It would support Canadian orchestras and artists through recording, syndication and various subsidies.
On December 5, approval came for a change of corporate name for Telemedia subsidiary London Broadcasters Ltd. It would now be known as London Broadcasters Inc.
Braden Doerr was appointed general manager of CIQM and CKSL.
Doug Ackhurst was promoted to the post of group vice president. He would be responsible for the London stations, CJCL Toronto and CJCS Stratford. Gord Hume was appointed vice-president.
Pat St. John became operations manager for CIQM and CKSL.
Dave Collins & Jacquie Gauthier took over the morning show.
Tom Cooke was appointed general sales manager of Q103 and CKSL.
Al Smith replaced Mitch O'Connor in afternoon drive.
On January 18, CIQM was granted a change of frequency from 103.1 MHz to 97.5 MHz and an increase in effective radiated power from 9,000 watts average / 14,000 watts maximum to 50,000 watts, and the relocation of the transmitter site to a location approximately 9.6 kilometres southwest of the existing one. 97.5 MHz had belonged to the former CKO-FM and CIQM would now broadcast from the old CKO antenna location on the TV Ontario-CBC tower at Byron. On 103.1 MHz, CIQM had transmitted from atop the City Centre building in downtown London. Antenna height would increase from 116 metres to 141 metres and the antenna pattern would go from directional to non-directional. General manager Braden Doerr said the change would increase the station's potential audience from 432,000 to 605,000. A competing application by CHLO St. Thomas for 97.5 MHz was denied. It was suggested that CHLO consider the 103.1 MHz frequency being vacated by CIQM.
CIQM-FM began testing on 97.5 MHz in mid-August, and officially signed on as "Q97.5" on September 1.
On March 7, Dave & Jacquie moved from CIQM to CKSL. Rich Greven (from CKSL) and Elaine Sawyer took over Q97.5's morning show.
CIQM/CKSL general sales manager Tom Cooke became general manager of the stations.
Barry Smith was operations manager of Q 97.5.
In April, construction to expand the CJBK-CJBX facility at 743 Wellington Road began...to make room for CIQM 97.5. CIQM moved to this location in June.
CIQM got its old sister station back when Telemedia re-purchased CKSL 1410 from Radio Group Inc.
CIQM's operations manager, Barry Smith, became program director for all four Telemedia London sations on May 3. Al Smith was Assistant PD.
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 June 29 the CRTC renewed CIQM-FM's licence until August 31, 2012.
In early September, longtime London radio personality Rich Greven left the air as 97.5 EZ Rock announced it was making some changes to its format. Greven, known as the city's longest-serving radio host, apparently did not want to be part of the new sound. On Labour Day, CIQM tweaked its format, changed its logo and moved in some new announcers. The station moved from its long-time adult contemporary format to a Hot Adult Contemporary (half Pop, half Rock) sound, featuring current pop hits mixed with hits from the 1980's and '90's. The target demo was changed from Women 35-54 to Women 25-44. The station was now known as EZ Rock 97.5. Brand Director Barry Smith said the new sound had "a stronger and more relevant identity on and off air" and was more upbeat and energetic. Mark LaPointe moved to mornings.
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 to the competition (now Astral). Long-time chief engineer Bill Tofflemire retired after 25 years with the Astral London stations. Tom Cooke was vice president and general manager for Astral Media Radio London.
Colin Botten, program director at Corus London's 1031 Fresh FM/103.9 The Hawk since 2006, resigned. On February 22, he moved to 97.5 EZ Rock as morning co-Host. Kim Woodbridge, moved from co-host at BX93's morning show, joining Botten as his co-host at EZ Rock. Mark LaPointe, who had been doing the EZ Rock morning show on an interim basis returned to afternoon drive. Catharine McCutcheon was no longer with EZ Rock and Kelly Peter was the new EZ Mid-day show host. Hector Card was the new chief engineer at Astral Radio London, as of April 4. He had been with BOB FM London.
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.
On August 8, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CIQM-FM until August 31, 2013.
On August 17 at 8:00 a.m., CIQM changed format from Hot Adult Contemporary as EZ Rock 97.5, to Contemporary Hits, as Virgin Radio 97-5 FM London's New #1 Hit Music Station. The changes began August 13 when CIQM dropped its announcers and only played music and commercials. The station's website only featured a countdown clock to the new format. The station remained without announcers under the new format in the early going.
On September 4, Scott Tucker (formerly with FM96 - CFPL-FM) and Sarah Kelly debuted in morning drive on Virgin.
Astral Radio London changes in light of rebranding EZ Rock to Virgin Radio included Virgin Mornings with Tucker & Sarah. Scott Tucker completed his six month non-compete agreement with Corus London. Sarah Kelly moved from The Bear Ottawa. Assistant Brand Director/Music Director was Jeff Kelly, formerly of Boom 99.7 Ottawa. Gary Grivich moved from Assistant Brand Director/Music Director of the former EZ Rock format to ABD/MD/afternoon drive at BX93.
Colin Botten was appointed Director of Marketing at Astral Radio London. Botten had 24 years in the London market, including 10 years on-air in five formats, radio sales for nine years and five years as Program Director at Corus London. He succeeded Elaine Sawyer who was no longer with Astral London.
Written by Bill Dulmage - Updated May 2013