The Phantom Stations

A "Phantom Radio Station" was one which did not own or operate a radio transmitter and was licensed to broadcast only over an existing physical station. The phantom's licensee's assigned station call was used only during the period of time where the facilities of the physical station were leased.

The physical station ostensibly "signed off" and the call letters of the phantom station were announced and possibly used throughout the period. At the conclusion of the leased time, the phantom "signed off" and the physical station "signed on" again.

The one entity that used phantom stations extensively was the Canadian National Railway which provided live Canadian programs over its intercity telegraph lines, and also did some live local programming. The CNR owned only three stations - CNRA Moncton, CNRO Ottawa and CNRV Vancouver.

The Hamilton Spectator (newspaper) station CHCS started with a 10 watt transmitter in 1926, but discarded it in 1930 for leased time on CKOC. The Canadian Pacific Railway held one phantom license in Toronto (CPRY) and used the facilities of CKGW.

The following is a list of some of the licensed phantom stations and the physical stations they used:

CNRC Calgary CFAC      CHCA Calgary CJCJ
CNRE Edmonton CJCA      CHCT Red Deer CKLC
CNRW Winnipeg CKY      CHLS Vancouver CKCD
CNRT Toronto CFCA      CJSC Toronto CKCL
CNRM Montreal CKAC      CHNC Toronto CKNC
CNRQ Quebec CKCV      CJBR Regina CKCK
CNRR Regina CKCK      CHCS Hamilton CKOC
CNRS Saskatoon CFQC      CKCI Quebec CHRC
CNRD Red Deer CKLC      CHYC Montreal CKAC
CNRL London CJGC      CJYC Scarborough CFCA
CNRH Halifax CHNS      CFRC Regina CHWC
CNRX Toronto CFRB      CPRY Toronto CKGW

During these early years, "physical" stations were usually only operating a few hours each day, and were happy to have the additional hours of programming so that prospective listeners would be encouraged to buy receivers.

The Phantom stations disappeared in the early 1930s. Of the physical stations listed, the following ceased operations: CFCA Toronto, CKLC Red Deer, CJGC London, CKCD Vancouver and CHWC Regina.

CKY Winnipeg was sold by Manitoba Government Telephones to the CBC to become CBW. (Lloyd Moffat picked up the discarded CKY call sign when he launched a new station in Winnipeg in 1949). CJCJ Calgary was sold and became CKXL. Jack Kent Cooke bought CKCL Toronto and switched the call sign to CKEY. CKNC and CKGW, both in Toronto, were bought by the CBC. CKNC became CRCY, then CBY and finally CJBC. CKGW's call sign was replaced by CRCT and then CBL.

J. Lyman Potts - December, 1997

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