CFRB Radio Station History

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History of CFRB CFRB is Toronto’s oldest and longest running radio station. It was founded by Roger’s communication giant Ted Roger’s in the year 1927, and is still going strong to this date. Even through many programming changes, countless numbers of different hosts, and several different formats, they have still managed to remain a powerhouse in the Toronto market.

The history of the station is very interesting, and is the reason radio is the way it is to this date. In the year 1925, the demand for a new and more powerful way of receiving and transmitting radio was needed.

Ted Rogers, founder of CFRB invented the first batteryless radio receiver, which was a revolution at the time. The machine was designed with the purpose of using an ordinary electric current, and converting it into an energy source that could transmit radio.

To demonstrate the power of this device, Rogers put forth an experimental radio station in the year 1927. The station was called “9RB” and would launch in February of that year for three hours. Within the three hours of the scheduled programming, there was an opening speech from Attorney General W.

H price, and a live performance of Jack Arthur Conducting an orchestra from within the city. That night, “9RB” became CFRB, standing for “Canada’s First Roger’s Batteryless”. The station originally began on the frequency of 1030kHz, but moved to 960kHz in the March of the same year.

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At the time the station shared frequency with CKGW, a Christian Radio station. As time progressed, it would be clear that CFRB was dominating the signal, and CKGW would move to another frequency. February 19, 1927 marked the starting point of a historic powerhouse radio station.

Over the years that CFRB has been running, they have seen many strong talents pass over their airwaves. One of the earliest talents that they hired was Wes McKnight. Wes McKnight began in the station as their lead sportscaster. He joined the station in 1928, just one year after it began, and did sports broadcasts for over thirty years. He was the voice of the Toronto Argonauts during his time period at the station, and covered all of the Grey Cup games that took place. He hosted such shows as “Sports Commentary“ and conducted many sports interviews for the station. He would later go on to become program for station.

Another notable talent for the station was Jim Hunter. He was the stations first full time newscaster, and delivered the news every day on the station until his death in 1949. Hunter was best noted for his coverage of the collapse of the Moose River mine in Halifax. He updated the public every 20 minutes about the collapse, for a total of 129 hours. He continued his updates until the 3 men trapped were saved, 3 days later. One of the most esteemed and profound announcers to be with CFRB was Wally Crouter. He joined the station in 1946, and stayed with the station for 50 years, until his retirement in 1996.

He always had something to keep the listener`s attention, and remained interesting by having special guests on the show, and attempting to ease the listener into their day, with informative but less harsh news and information. He did this by staying away from the more racy subject such as sex, politics, and religion. One of his most esteemed moments in the radio stations history, was when he covered Hurricane Hazel devastating Southern Ontario. Even though thousands of people were left homeless and hundreds dead, Crouter still managed to make it to the station by 6 am, and begin his broadcast day.

He helped thousands of listeners maintain hope, and gave constant updates on to where help could be found, and which offices and schools were closed etc. Crouter became known as a family man, and became a very prominent figure in CFRB`s history. When he retired on November 1, 1996, it was announced as Wally Crouter day, and a huge retirement party was thrown in his effort. The station took a hard hit that day, and it was some time before they found stability in the market again. A great quote from Wally Crouter, that states exactly who he is and what he stood for was: “I always tried to put myself in the place of the listener… t’s the most personal time of the day. The radio is on while you’re doing your morning ablutions, getting dressed, having breakfast with the kids coming to the table… I’ve had a surgeon write me to tell me that, when he had three serious operations to do in a day, he started off by listening to my show so he could achieve the right relaxation and focus he needed. ” Overall, CFRB had many interesting hosts on the show, and managed to keep their listeners attention with a variety of informative and provocative news. In terms of formatting, CFRB was always a very malleable and changing station.

With each addition of a new host, or a new feature, the I. D of the station seemed to change as well. When the station first began, it was seen as mainly and news and sports station. It shared signals with the Canadian National Railway, and often did live coverages of orchestras, symphonies, and musical theatre. From the 40`s to the 80`s the programming was all over the place, with sports broadcasts, news, and different special events within the city and Canada. As the 80`s progressed, it was clear that they needed to find a niche format. The establishment of AM640, the Fan590, and 680 News, made this clear.

CFRB could no longer cover all aspects of radio, with so many other stations establishing themselves as leaders within certain sections (sports, weather, traffic etc. ). By the 90`s, the station had become fully news/talk. Once again, the station began to find its niche with the Toronto market, still hanging on to many of the listeners that they had had early in their career. They again stabilized their lineups, with such hosts as Mike Stafford, John Oakley, the Motts, and Bill Carroll. As the 90’s progressed, CFRB had begun to hit another rut.

The majority of the listeners that had been loyal to the station for over 50 years, were now in their 60’s. They were no longer spending money, and CFRB was losing money on advertising. In August of 2009, the station announced that it was about to undergo some major programming, and scheduling changes. In September of 2010, the station announced that it would be therein known as “Newstalk 1010”. Many of the long time staff members were fired, with the exception of Bill Carroll. The new line-up consisted of John Moore, Jim Richards, former conservative leader John Tory.

Bill Carroll later left the station in February of 2010, and was replaced by Jerry Agar, a well known Canadian talk show host that worked mostly in the states. Mike Bullard would later join the show, who is a well known comedian. Overall CFRB went through many format changes, all in an effort to meet their target demographic. The target demographic for CFRB has never changed, nor has the target audience. The station however had to go through many format changes in order to meet these needs. The target listener were males and females aged 25-54, with medium incomes.

As time by though, the 25-54 years olds had either died off, or were getting closer and closer to the 54 aged range. This was bad news for CFRB, as they were losing thousands of dollars on advertising. They could no longer support the 54 and up listeners, and had to re-amp again to meet the needs of the 25 year olds. This is the main reason as to why CFRB labelled themselves at Newstalk 1010, and changed most of their talent bank. In the last BBM rating chart, Newstalk 1010 held up fifth spot in the Toronto market, as opposed to the number one spot that they had held for over sixty years.

They currently hold a 4. 1% share of the Toronto market, with a total Cume of 1,080,700 listeners. In terms of other news stations, they trailed behind CBC Radio 1, and 680 News, who held 7. 0% and 7. 1% of the Toronto market respectively. They each had a total cume of around 1,800,000 people. The other news station that CFRB was ahead of in the last BBM ratings chart was AM640. AM640 held a mere 2. 3% of the Toronto market, and had a total cume of 1,032,700 people during the designated listening period. The new target demographic for CFRB is males aged 25-54, which is only somewhat successful so far.

Overall, CFRB has always been going after the same demographic, but has had to re-amp and change the format of their station, programming, and talent several times in order to do so. In the next few years, it is clear that Newstalk 1010 is going to have to go through some more major changes. They have taken a hard hit in the last little while with all of the programming changes, and with the loss of Wally Crouter in the last decade. They must make a conscious effort to earn more time spent listening with their audience, in an attempt to beat 680News and CBC radio 1.

The reason 680 news has a higher average quarter minute, is because people are constantly tuning in and out of their station. They have a very well known hot clock, and people know exactly when to tune in for weather and traffic. Newstalk 1010 must establish themselves as well as 680news, and find a niche within their target audience. Since they had been so well known for so long, and then re-amped out of the blue, their loyal listeners find it hard to trust the station since they have morphed so many times. Lately, Astral as a whole has been a major part of the Toronto community and has helped out with donations to many world effort reliefs.

One of their biggest acts in the last year or so, was helping with the relief of the Haiti earthquake. In order to boost their ratings, and get back into the jockey for top news station again, CFRB Newstalk 1010 is going to have to go through some major changes, and keep up the strong effort they have been displaying within the last decade or so. Overall, it is clear to see that CFRB has been a very influential station within the Toronto market. They have seen many great talents pass over their airwaves, including such radio hosts as Wally Crouter, John Oakley, Mike Stafford, Jim Hunter, Gordon Sinclair, and Wes McKnight.

Wally Crouter remained a strong morning show host for fifty years on the station, and Wes McKnight is best known as their main sportscaster. The station has progressed through a variety of formatting as well. With more and more stations popping up in the Toronto market, it was clear that they needed to establish themselves within a niche. They could no longer cover sports, news, and local events. By the nineties they had become an all news/talk station. Overall, they are fighting for the number one news station with the CBC and 680 News.

In order to gain the top spot, they must build their listenership up again, and gain a loyal fan base as they had in the past. Overall, it is still considered and fine radio station and one of the best of its kind.

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Sources: top_line_radio_reports_-_toronto_10-07-2010. pdf (application/pdf Object) Canadian Communications Foundation – Fondation Des Communications Canadiennes CFRB – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Rogers Recollections: A Chronicle of Excellence and Achievement Vintage Toronto Ads: Wally's World – Torontoist Rock Radio Scrapbook: Aircheck of the Week

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CFRB Radio Station History. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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