Ontario, City of Toronto
CKO-FM, Toronto, Canada All News Radio Ltd. / Left the Air
A competing application by Shoreacres Broadcasting, owner of CKEY 590 in Toronto, was denied. MacLean Hunter, owner of Shoreacres, had wanted an all news station in Toronto for a long time. CFGM Broadcasting Ltd. also wanted 99.1 MHz for a new station. Its application was approved but an alternate frequency had to be found. All other competing applications were turned down.
The company was originally going to be called Canadian News Radio. David Ruskin was president of the company, and had worked for the CBC, CJOH-TV in Ottawa and Toronto's CITY-TV. Others involved in the company were engineering consultant Israel Switzer and lawyer Jerry Grafstein (both also involved with CITY-TV). Agra Industries financed the company and was a major shareholder (45%). B. B. Torchinsky would by the company's chairman.
The Toronto transmitter would not operate from the CN Tower. The company felt it was too expensive and that money could be better spent on programming.
The company also originally planned to contract with NBC's News & Information Service, an all news network provided by the American broadcaster. However, NIS would fold before CKO went on the air.
CKO-FM-3 London was authorized to use the frequency of 97.5 MHz. The original 93.5 MHz frequency was assigned to the CBC for CBCL-FM.
CKO-FM-1 Ottawa and CKO-FM-2 Toronto signed on the air on Canada Day - July 1.
Ottawa studios were at 69 Sparks Street. Master control was located here for both network and local production. The transmitter was at Camp Fortune, Quebec. CKO shared a Shively antenna with CHEZ-FM and both stations used CSI transmitters located in the Radio-Quebec transmitter building.
Toronto studios were at 65 Adelaide Street East, near Church Street. The transmitter was located atop the 73-storey First Canadian Place (Bank of Montreal Building) at King and Bay Streets. Antenna height was 860 feet. Initially CKO Toronto would operate with 10,000 watts ERP, circularly polarized, using a 50 foot tower. Authorized power of 100,000 watts would be operational in the next year, using a 175 foot tower. Two AEL 15,000 watt transmitters each feed half of a vertically-split antenna - with each half capable of independent operation
Program lines were leased from CN/CP Telecommunications, including a two way link between Ottawa and Toronto. Origination facilities were monaural with a stereo synthesizer at each transmitter.
Bob Irvine (former general manager of CJJD Hamilton) was in charge of time sales for CKO. Anne Arsenault (formerly with CTV) handled promotion & publicity. News consultant Frank George organized the news area. Don Foley was national news director (Ottawa) and Terry McInnes was Toronto news director.
Canada All-News Radio Ltd. received approval to purchase CFOX-AM Pointe Claire-Montreal and to change the programming format to all-news. The station was acquired from Allan Slaight's IWC Communications Ltd. and would operate under the Canada All-News Radio (Quebec) Ltd. banner. CFOX broadcast at 1470 kHz and had a daytime power of 10,000 watts and night-time power of 5,000 watts. The station's three towers were located at Chateauguay. Studios and offices were in Pointe Claire, at 203 Hymus Boulevard. On the day the CRTC approved the sale, CKO also received approval to increase power on 1470 kHz to 50,000 watts day and night - to be implemented in 1980.
CKO 1470 replaced CFOX on September 19. The old CFOX studios were renovated for all-news operations
CKO-FM-3 London opened on October 21 and operated on a frequency of 97.5 MHz with 50,000 watts of effective radiated power, from a 497 foot tower and CCA transmitter located at Byron. Studios were at 380 Ridout Street North.
CKO-FM-5 Calgary started operations on November 7. It operated on a frequency of 103.1 MHz with effective radiated power of 100,000 watts. Antenna height was 480 feet. Studios and offices were located at 332 17th Avenue South West.
CKO-FM-4 Vancouver signed on the air November 21. The frequency was 96.1 MHz, and effective radiated power was 100,000 watts. Antenna height was 2,260 feet with the tower located on Grouse Mountain. Studios and offices were at 2780 East Broadway.
Timetable for other CKO transmitters: Edmonton expected on-air in February, 1978 (105.9 MHz, 100,000 watts), Regina - March '78 (94.5 MHz, 100,000 watts),
The CKO London bureau closed due to lack of ad revenues.
CKO-FM-6 Edmonton was authorized to move from 105.9 MHz to 101.9 MHz and to increase effective radiated power from 64,000 watts to 100,000 watts, using a new antenna site.
It was hoped that construction of the 50,000 watt antenna site for CKO-AM Montreal would get underway in early summer.
The CRTC has ruled that live sports coverage was compatible with the all-news format of CKO. The decision followed a complaint lodged by CKFH, which CKO outbid for Toronto Maple Leaf hockey games. CKO also carried NFL football and harness racing. With regard to operations at London, where CKO was now feeding a reduced amount of local interest programming from Toronto, the CRTC reminded the licensee that service was to be fully implemented by the fall of 1979.
Approval was given for CKO to use 103.5 MHz at Halifax. The CBC advised it no longer required this frequency - the one originally sought for CKO-FM-9.
The Ottawa studios moved to 150 Wellington Street.
CKO-FM-2 Toronto received approval to increase effective radiated power to 47,300 watts. The station had been operating at only 10,000 watts, although it was authorized to use 100,000 watts.
Bob Komsic left CKO for Phil Ross' newsroom at CHFI-FM. Bill Sheppard left CKFH where he was news director, to become news director and program director at CKO Toronto.
Steve Harris, formerly with the CRTC and most recently a vice president with Telemedia Ontario, was named v. p. and general manager of CKO.
The CRTC held a hearing to consider whether the CKO licenses should be renewed or not. Because a number of the FM stations that were to be on the air by the fall of 1978 were still silent, the CRTC required CKO to show cause why the licenses should be renewed. The commission found the stations were now controlled by Research Foods (1976) Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Agra Industries Ltd. Agra initially had a 45% interest in Canada All-News Radio Ltd. The CRTC said the changes in ownership and control had occurred without prior commission approval. The network was strongly encouraged to get the remaining stations on the air. The licensee said it hoped to build the remaining stations at a rate of one a year over the next five years. CKO claimed it had lost nearly $14 million since being licensed in 1976. Ben Torchinsky, chairman of parent company Agra Industries, blamed inexperienced staff for the network's crippled state which drove Agra to try to sell the network to Allarco Broadcasting of Edmonton last year.
The following on-air people joined CKO: Al Michaels, Glen Stone (from CJCL Toronto), and Georgie Binks (from CJBK London). Bill Sheppard left to teach at Loyalist College in Belleville. He returned to CKO later in the year.
The Montreal studios moved to 2085 Union Street.
The Vancouver antenna was moved to Mount Seymour - co-sited with CHAN-TV and CJAZ-FM.
CKO added its first non-owned and operated affiliate: CKRW Whitehorse, Yukon.
CKO Halifax was ready to go on the air but was still working out an arrangement to use the CBC transmission tower.
CKO was now being heard in a growing number of northern and remove communities across the country thanks to the Cancom satellite radio package.
Tayler (Hap) Parnaby was president of CKO. Howard English was executive editor, programming. Jim Frolich was vice president of sales and marketing. Gary Greenway was in charge of national sales while Frank Gardner headed Toronto sales. Dave Lafave was operations manager. Ian Brownlee was news director.
J. Michael Phillips was now at CKO Toronto. He had been with CJCL. Former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis was also now at CKO. Stan Larke was now doing a gardening feature for the station.
John Gilbert's Toronto talk show was now being heard on CKO stations in Ottawa, London and Montreal.
David Onley was doing space and technology reports on CKO.
Michael Magee (aka Fred C. Dobbs) joined CKO's morning show to do a daily 8:15 feature.
Dave LeFave was to be in charge of CKO Halifax when it signed on.
Bernie McNamee left CKO to become a reporter at CFTO.
Bert Dailley became sports director for CKO Calgary
Stan Stewart of Beutel-Goodman, the investment firm that owned 51% of CKO, was now CEO. Tayler 'Hap' Parnaby remained CKO's president.
Ian Brownlea left CKO-FM.
Lynne Gordon (entertainment editor) took a six month leave of absence to write her autobiography. She would continue on CFTO's "Toronto Today" though.
Glen Stone (Phil's son) was promoted to overnight managing editor.
David Onley (ex of CKO) was now doing weather at CITY-TV.
CKO Halifax (8th station) opened. Daryl Hubley was in charge.
CKO-FM-7 opened in Halifax on January 1, on 103.5 MHz with 100,000 watts of effective radiated power. Studios were in the Cogswell Tower, 2000 Barrington Street. It was the first Atlantic outlet for the eight-station national radio news network.
The Montreal studios moved to 550 Sherbrooke Street West. Ken Cox joined from CFRB 1010. David Onley left for CITY-TV. Murray Smith left for CFRB.
Tayler Parnaby relinquished the title of president at CKO. He was now editor in chief, assisted by Bob Holliday.
Stan Stewart who joined CKO in 1984 as CEO was now president. John Gilbert was program director.
Murray Smith left for CFRB to become entertainment editor. Bob Bales did reports on advertising for CKO.
Travel expert Walter Kanitz died at his Toronto home on February 7. He was 75. He came to Canada in the 1940's from Austria and began his broadcasting career with CBC Montreal. He later worked at CHUM and CFRB, and then did a travel show on CKO-FM for a number of years.
CKO was given a short-term licence renewal to March 31, 1988. The CRTC called for effective action to increase local production at each station. It also re-iterated that CKO must remain a news and information service, with spoken-word content only, and sports play-by-play was restricted to an average of 10.5 hours weekly on each station. CKO president Stan Stewart pointed out that CKO's programming costs were 2-3 times that of other stations. He said the network's mandate was primarily a national one, with local programming subordinate.
CKO appointments: Peter Jackman to executive vice president, Robin Glenny to vice president of sales & marketing for Toronto-London, Paul Dodson to general manager for Ottawa-Montreal, Gordon Butler to promotion manager, Pamela Kern to Eastern Canada and Montreal bureau chief, Bob McMillan to managing editor, and Jim Morris to Toronto news director.
Ken Cassavoy joined "Good Morning Toronto" as co-host and executive producer.
Susan Fory and Frank Switzer joined the CKO Ottawa news staff.
Ken Cox became CKO's Quebec correspondent. He had been with CFRB.
CKO appointments: Peter Jackman, former vice president for western Canada, to executive vice president. Robin Glenny, director of sales and marketing to vice president. Paul Dodson, London sales manager, to Ottawa general manager. Announcer Gordon Butler became promotion manager.
At CKO Calgary, Jane Arnall became manager, Robert Aboott was named program director, Gary Freeman became news director and Doug Gossen was now sports director.
Bruce Barker was at CKO.
Robin Glenny, with CKO for about four years, moved from vice president of sales and marketing to vice president, manager of the new network/national sales division. After about two years with CKO, Bob Paterson was named Toronto general sales manager.
The corporate name changed from Western Caissons Ltd. to CKO Radio Partnership (no change in ownership).
Susan Flory left CKO.
CKO discontinued the Canadian Press wire service, and there was now a possibility that it would develop the country's third broadcast wire service (after Broadcast News and Standard Broadcast Wire). Sources would include many of the Newsradio subscriber stations, in addition to the 12 bureaus which CKO would operate in major cities across Canada.
Toronto stations CKO-FM and CKEY (AM) proposed to swap frequencies. CKO would be paid $4 million to move to 590 kHz, allowing CKEY to move to 99.1 MHz on the FM band. The deal would give CKO the money it needed to start operations in Regina, Winnipeg, Saint John and St. John's.
Harvey Kirck joined CKO as afternoon news anchor.
Glen Stone became Ottawa bureau chief for CKO. He had been co-anchor with Dennis Woolings of the National News Hour.
CKO had plans to expand and renovate its Ottawa facilities.
Jim Connell was CKO network program director.
Peter Jackman was appointed president and chief general manager of CKO Inc. Robert Keegan became senior vice-president, finance and administration. John McCann was named director of sales. Robin Glenny became national sales co-ordinator.
On April 25, the CRTC turned down proposals by CKO Radio Partnership and Key Radio Ltd. that would have seen CKO-FM-2 and CKEY-AM (both Toronto) swap dial positions. CKO's all news format would have moved to 590 kHz and CKEY's adult contemporary format would have moved to 99.1 MHz. In addition to getting the 590 AM frequency, CKEY owner Maclean-Hunter would also have given CKO $4 million. It made sense to make better use of the two channels by moving the music format of CKEY to FM and the CKO news format to AM. The Commission was not impressed that CKO would use the money to build four stations for which it had licenses. The CRTC also said that the format that CKEY had was not substantially different from what was already available on Toronto FM.
Bob Rice was named travel editor at CKO. He would host The Travelling Show, a weekly half hour, as well as the daily Travel Check, heard three times a day, Monday through Friday. Rice was well known for his helicopter traffic reports on CKEY. He has written on travel and was host and producer of the TV show, "Destinations".
Peter Jackman was named executive vice-president and general manager - the senior executive in charge of day-to-day operations. Tayler Parnaby became president of Newsradio. Jim Connell became the CKO network's program director. Robert Keegan was named vice-president of finance and administration.
John Anderson moved back to Toronto to host the CKO Radio Network's 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern) program on the full network. The six-year CKO veteran had hosted a national show from Vancouver for the past year. He was replaced in Vancouver by Bob Morris, a west coast talk-show host and consultant. The nationally-heard Newshour was moved to 6:00 p.m. Eastern and Glen Stone was transferred from Montreal to Toronto to co-host the hour-long program with Denis Wollings. Stone would also become CKO's science editor.
Peter McCarthy was appointed general sales manager of CKO Montreal.
Ted Tevan joined the network as host of a coast-to-coast phone-in talk show.
Arnis Peterson was appointed business editor and Glen Gingerich became sports editor (both at the network level).
Marianne Summers was named co-host of Good Morning Toronto, joining Denis Woolings on the 5:00 to 9:00 a.m. program.
Frank Allinson (news) left for CHAY-FM in Barrie, Pat Burns (talk show) joined from CJOR Vancouver, Glen Gingerige (sports) joined from CKFM-FM Toronto, Arnis Peterson (business) joined from CHAY Barrie, Mike Roberts joined from Windsor's CKLW, talk show host Ted Tevan joined and then left, Peter Varley (talk) left, Maryanne Summers (news) joined from CKFM Toronto. CKO's Jamie Wayne is the son of comedian Johnny Wayne. At this time, Denis Woolings and Maryanne Summers handled morning drive (5:00-9:00) and John Anderson did afternoon drive (2:00-6:00). The schedule contained a large amount of talk show content.
Agra Industries announced it was selling CKO but still keeping it in the family. Agra reached an agreement in principle to sell its 99% stake in the network to Cybermedix Inc. Agra owned about 52% of Cybermedix's stock (63% voting stake). Both companies were headed by B.B. (Ben) Torchinsky. Cybermedix president Stanley Stewart was also CEO of CKO. CKO had suffered heavy losses in its 11 years of operation, with some estimates putting the losses at as much as $30 million.
Frank Allinson and Arnis Peterson left CKO for Barrie's CHAY-FM.
Peter Jackman became president and chief general manager of CKO. John McCann was appointed director of sales. Robin Glenny was named national sales co-ordinator. Robert Keegan became a senior vice president.
Bob McMillan left CKO for England. Erin Davis left for CJEZ-FM.
Bob Rice was hosting "The Travelling Show" on CKO.
Peter McCarthy was appointed general sales manager for CKO Montreal.
Malcolm Bernard left CKO Montreal as a news anchor, to work for Broadcast News in Toronto.
Don Foley, at one time CKO's executive news editor, died at the age of 48.
Former Newsradio general manager Kim Blue was transferred to CKO Alberta.
On April 26, CKO-FM-7 Winnipeg was given approval to decrease effective radiated power from 180,000 to 14,000 watts for an interim period until the permanent transmitting facilities at Starbuck were operational.
CKO-FM-7 Winnipeg opened on 99.1 MHz. Effective radiated power was 14,000 watts.
On June 20, CKO-AM Montreal was given approval to change frequency from 1470 to 650 kHz and decrease power from 50,000 watts to 10,000 day and 2,500 at night. This change was never implemented.
Kathy Coulombe and Jim Connell were named co-hosts and Malanie Reffes, producer of Good Morning Canada, which was now originating from Montreal.
Greg Hanbuch was appointed sales manager for CKO London.
Paul Dodson was appointed general manager, central region (Toronto-London).
The eight-station CKO network was put on the block as a result of the decision by Agra Industries to put Cybermedix up for sale. Cybermedix's principle asset was cable systems in Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Perennial money-loser CKO and interests in clinical medical labs made up the rest of the Cybermedix holdings. Agra controlled about 53.3% of the 12.3 million Cybermedix shares outstanding.
John McFadyen was appointed to the newly created post of general manager, news and programming. Frank Switzer was named news director for Newsradio. Karen Bodirsky was appointed news director for the CKO Network.
On August 30, CKO had its licenses renewed. At the renewal hearing, the company committed to have its Regina transmitter on the air by August 21, 1989, and the St. John's and Saint John transmitters on the air by August 21, 1990. The CRTC also approved a temporary transmission site to be utilized at Winnipeg until the CBC (with whom CKO would co-locate) resolves technical problems related to its proposed Starbuck transmitter site. The CRTC, clearly anticipating a change of ownership, said in its decision that any application related to ownership and control of CKO should clearly address the implementation of the coast-to-coast radio network. All eleven stations were originally to have been operational by the fall of 1979.
The CRTC approved the application by CKO-FM-8 Regina by relocating the transmitter site to a location approximately 45 kilometres northwest of the currently authorized site and by changing the frequency from 94.5 MHz to 100.7 MHz.
Cogeco Inc. announced that it struck a deal to acquire Cybermedix Inc., owner of a number of cable systems, the CKO radio network, and medical testing labratories in Canada and the U.S. The move came after Agra Industries Ltd. agreed to sell its 53.3% holding in Cybermedix. Cogeco would sell of the medical labs but keep the ten CKO-FM stations and the cable TV operations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
On September 8, Agra Industries agreed to sell CKO's parent, Cablenet (owned by Cybermedix) to Cogeco Inc. of Montreal. The deal needed CRTC approval.
CKO closed its network and stations during the noon newscast (Eastern time) on November 10. This followed losses estimated at $55 million. Management said the sudden move was because there was little hope of stemming the red ink. President Stan Stewart said CKO had lost $1.5 million alone in the two months prior to the closing. There was little warning the end was coming. Stewart was telling employees that CKO was closing its doors and would return its licenses because it had run out of time and money. While the announcement was being made, the network went off the air. Some 225 journalists, technicians, sales staff, copywriters, clerical/ secretarial staff were left jobless. The end came just two months after Cogeco Inc. bought Cybermedix, CKO's parent company, from Agra Industries. The cable operations (Cablenet) were the core operations sought by Cogeco. Cogeco would not be allowed to run CKO until the CRTC approved the sale. Agra made the decision to close CKO, not Cogeco.
Even though CKO closed, the Newsradio news service remained operational until later in the month. It was hoped a buyer could be found for the service. Newsradio provided voice and written news for about 100 radio stations and 80 other clients across the country.
The CKO transmitters at St. John's, Saint John, and Regina never got on the air. All CKO frequencies have since been replaced by other stations.
Among the voices on CKO in it's last year of its life: Anchors: Norm Byat, Kathy Colombe, Bob Comsick, Jim Connell, Ken Day, George Franks, Phil Godin, Betty Harrison, Robert Holiday, Richard Hustwick, Bob MacLean, John McFadyen, Al Michaels, Shawn Murray, Helen Pierce, Allan Richards, Mike Robbins, David Schatzky, Glen Stone, Marianne Summers, Denis Woollings. Reporters: Rod Pasic, Wayne Wood. Sports: Barry Aldrich, Squire Barnes, Glen Gingerige. Traffic: Jane Browne, Anita Kartalija, Karen Horsman. Others: Pat Burns (talk), John Bradshaw (gardening), Arnis Peterson (business), Sheila Kieran (entertainment), Harvey Kirck (features). Notes: John McFadyen joined from CFRB, David Schatszky joined from CBL. Sheila Kieran was new to the staff.
Peter Jackman joined CKCO-TV in Kitchener as station manager and general sales manager. He had been with CKO since 1985 as general manager; Vancouver, vice president; Western Region, executive vice president; and finally president and general manager since February 1988 in Toronto.
Written by Bill Dulmage - Updated Janury, 2011