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September 20, 2018 11:01 pm  #1


Friday Flashback: When Radio Stations Advertised Radio Stations

When was the last time you saw an actual ad for a radio station in a newspaper? The truth is that while the Internet has hit radio hard, it’s been devastating for the print world. Radio stations don’t seem to advertise as much as they used to. In the last few years, the only ones I can recall seeing are the BOOM 97.3 crosstics and CHUM-FM’s new Make Toronto Pop. And both of those seem to be only visible at transit shelters, while Kiss-FM’s morning team makes the side of some buses.
 
But there was a time when print ads were common for radio stations, especially if they had something special to promote like a new contest, a format change or a big newsroom expansion. Here’s a look back at some of them.
 
The “Key” To The City 
 
The now defunct CKEY seemed to spout a lot of advertising back in the 70s, as it tried to capture some of CFRB’s older audience with its beautiful music format. Here’s one that highlights the number of people working in the ’EY newsroom, pretty big even in those days.
 
Notice names like Joe Morgan (more on him in a moment) Robert Payne (who literally conducted the news like a band leader with his arms waving during his read) Jim Hunt on sports, Charles Templeton doing mornings (and later doing “Dialogue” with Pierre Berton) and Tayler Parnaby in Ottawa (soon to be ’EY’s news director.)
 
Still I think it’s a bit rich to list Walter Cronkite among the reporters!
 
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Joe Morgan was the type of character you might have seen in an old Hollywood movie. He could be crusty, irascible, and downright annoying. And those were his good qualities! I only ever met him once. It turns out my grandmother once told me that Morgan had stayed in her mother’s rooming house on Parliament St. long before he got into radio. She called him a “bum” and expressed bewilderment that he was on the radio.
 
When I mentioned this anecdote to him (minus the “bum” comment) during a brief meeting I had at CKEY, he looked down at me and yelled, “I never stayed in the slums!” And then he walked to the men’s room, boldly declaring, “I’m going to the shithouse!” and I never saw him again. But the station promoted him as a big star and he did the all-important 7 AM newscast.
 
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CKEY was famous for its traffic copter. Not only was Bob Rice a pioneer in and on the air, Dini Petty famously had her chopper coloured pink. But before Dini took off, there was another “D.P.” in the sky. Her name?  Dianne Pepper.
 
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The planes were so much a part of the station’s personality, they even appeared on its letterhead.
 
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Back in the days before the web, ’EY tried to create a “mail-in suggestion box,” supposedly because they were listening to their listeners.
 
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A few stations still occasionally place ads on city buses, but back in the 70s that was a lot more common. Here’s one featuring Jim Paulson.
 
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CBC Gets In On The Ad Act
 
It wasn’t just CKEY that was selling itself. The CBC was also letting you know about its offerings, back then on 740. If it was enough to drive you to drink, then this show was for you.
 
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I’m not sure if this was a national show, but long before there was a Metro Morning, there was this:
 
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And finally, a certain now well known personality used to front CBC Radio’s high profile “Quirks & Quarks.”
 
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The Best Of CHUMs 
 
CHUM was no slouch when it came to self promotion – on either side of the dial.
 
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CFRB Sets A “Standard”
 
Back before Bell got its mitts on it, CFRB was owned by Standard Broadcasting. I remember their logo, which if memory serves, was on the outside of the building at 2 St. Clair Ave. W. during the years they were there. But what, exactly, was that thing in the middle?
 
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Here’s a real rarity: a log from Earl Warren’s morning show on 1010 back in 1974. I’d long forgotten what an eclectic music mix they used back when they were still spinning discs. From Tony Orlando and Dawn, Ringo Starr and Olivia Newton-John to Bert Kaempfert, they had a line-up of songs that today wouldn’t please anybody. But somehow they remained #1.
 
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While we’re on the subject of ’RB, here’s one of their commercial logs from 1972. (Judging by that last list, the spots were better than the music! And there was no Tom’s Place or Frank Leo in sight!) Note the Dominion Store spot that sponsored Gordon Sinclair’s highly rated nightly 5:50 PM newscast.
 
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Standard’s CJAD in Montreal once managed to use a competitor’s success to their own “ad”-vantage.
 
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Meanwhile, over on the FM side, CKFM was making a name for itself as the “Sound of Our Toronto.”
 
There have been a lot of changes for the radio station at 99.9 FM in Toronto, but for many years CKFM was an incredible success with that branding. And with the likes of Carl Banas, Don Daynard, Henry Morgan and stories from Fred Napoli, it lived up to that moniker.
 
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Years later, it would re-emerge as Mix 99.9, one of about 150,000 radio outlets that would capitalize on the “Mix” craze.
 
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After all these years, it’s no longer a radio Virgin. Except, of course, it still is.
 
CHFI: For The Record
 
It’s been #1 in the ratings for years, and CHFI was one of the city’s first FM stations. It’s been around so long, it actually used to play real records.
 
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Some Country In The City
 
Finally, I used to think of CFGM as a lone voice in the wilderness. While everyone else was playing Top 40, beautiful music or progressive rock, there was the little Richmond Hill station located above a restaurant (or so I’ve been told) quietly plugging away at bringing country to the city.
 
It occupied a number of spots on the dial, at 1310 and 1320 and finally at 640, the location now owned by Corus.
 
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I didn’t realize it had some kind of affiliation with CFOX in Montreal, but this ad seems to indicate a tie-in.
 
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The days of radio ads airing on TV or in newspapers appear to be all but over. But as a radio obsessed kid, they always got my attention.
 
Even if they rarely made me tune in.