March 5, 2024


Radio and TV news

Radio station profile of the week

6 min read
The profile discusses CFOX, or 99.3 The Fox, a radio station launched in 1964 initially under the name CKLG. Known for trialing rock music at night and eventually becoming Canada's first full-time FM rock station in 1968, the station went through numerous transitions and ownerships. Its format gradually shifted to progressive rock, alternative rock, and a combination of hard rock, heavy metal, and alternative rock. Despite competition, CFOX remained a major player in Vancouver's rock scene.

This week the radio station I am going to profile was one of my favourite stations growing up. I still listen to it now but not as frequently as I used to. That station is CFOX or as I still call it, 99.3 The Fox. First let’s dive into a little history of the station from the stations Wikipedia page.

CFOX began broadcasting on October 15, 1964, on 99.3 MHz with 100,000 watts, under the call sign CKLG-FM (not to be confused with the new “LG” in Vancouver CHLG-FM on 104.3 MHz.). Transmissions originally came from the south slope of Fromme Mountain in North Vancouver.

CKLG initially began with an easy listening format, but in the fall of 1967, it started experimenting with rock music at night. In October that year, CKLG program director Frank Callaghan hired record store owner Bill Reiter (who later went on to become part of the Dr. Bundolo’s Pandemonium Medicine Show comedy troupe) to host the jazz/blues program Groovin’ Blue on Saturday evenings. CKLG-FM soon shifted to become Canada’s first full-time FM rock station on March 16, 1968, with the expansion of Groovin’ Blue to six nights a week and the addition of tracks from rock, folk and popular albums. In 1970, CKLG-FM added a two-hour daily talk show hosted by Allen Garr, which ran on the station until 1975. By 1973, CKLG-FM had compiled a library of 3000 albums, and all its programming was aired live except on Sunday mornings, with special programming on the station including the Allen Garr talk show, live concerts and a Saturday sock-hop program. In 1976, under the guidance of new program director Roy Hennessy (a former morning host on CKLG-AM), the FM station made the gradual transition to a progressive rock format.

At noon on January 6, 1979, CKLG changed to CFOX-FM, a call sign first used by a defunct AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec in the 1960s and 1970s. The switch was marked by The Beatles song “The End”, followed by “The End” by The Doors, concluding with three minutes of the sound of a scratching record commonly referred to as “playing the label”. The first song on the “new” CFOX was Steely Dan’s “FM (No Static at All)”.

In 1984, CFOX moved its transmitter to the Rogers Broadcast multiplex on nearby Mount Seymour to reduce multipath reception problems.

On August 20, 1992, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the sale of CFOX and CKLG from Moffat Communications Ltd. to Shaw Communications. This was part of Moffat’s sale of its radio division. Transfer of CKLG/CFOX to Shaw was completed on September 1, 1992. Shaw’s broadcasting division became Corus Entertainment in 1999. When Western International Communications, owner of classic rocker CFMI, sold its radio stations to Corus in 2000, CFOX shifted from album oriented rock to alternative rock, aiming at Rogers’ former alternative rocker 104.9 Xfm (CKVX-FM), which signed on December 31, 1999.

In 1998, the station received approval to add a transmitter at Whistler to operate on the frequency 92.3 MHz with the callsign CFOX-FM-1.

Rogers changed CKVX from alternative rock to a smooth jazz/adult contemporary hybrid as CKCL on December 26, 2003, making CFOX the lone alternative rocker in Vancouver. CFOX soon returned to an active rock format, mixing in classic hard rock and heavy metal music, but continues to lean alternative rock. Most alternative songs were toned down when CKPK-FM signed on in 2008. By 2011, the station returned to alternative. On July 14, 2011, the CRTC approved Corus’s application to increase the average effective radiated power (ERP) from 35,200 to 51,000 watts (maximum ERP from 75,000 to 100,000 watts).

To add onto the history of the station, On October 23, 2008, The Jim Pattison Group flipped AM 600 to an FM Station at 100.5 (later 102.7). The station launched as an Adult Album Alternative or AAA format, and less than a year later Shore Media Group launched Shore 104 at 104.1FM. Both stations tried to compete with CFOX, and although both stations did ok they couldn’t compete with the might CFOX. In February of 2012 Shore changed the website and let go of all the on air staff, leading to speculation of a format change. The website simply stated “We’re making changes to make Shore FM a better radio station. We appreciate your patience. For now, we’re playing even more of your favourite Shore music…” On April 6, 2012, after two months without DJs, the station updated its logo and slogan from “Music First!” to “Vancouver’s Adult Alternative.” Astral (new ownership group) also announced DJs would return on April 16. In June 2014, the call letters were changed to CHLG-FM. After letting go much of the on-air staff, CHLG changed formats to classic hits as LG 104.3 at 12:02 a.m. on June 20. So the experiment of competing with CFOX was officially over. The station had a rough couple years by having 4 owners in 2 years. As well a lot of turnover with on air staff. Shore never really got the ball rolling to attract enough listeners away, even after hiring some former CFOX or Rock 101 on air staff.

On May 30, 2008, CKBD was given approval by the CRTC to move to 100.5 MHz on the FM dial. As part of its move to FM, CKBD planned to switch from adult standards to adult album alternative (AAA) with a new call sign, CKPK-FM. On October 23, 2008, the FM station signed on for testing. The transmitter on 600 AM was shut down on November 13, 2008. The last program was a 25-minute summary of the station’s 84-year history on the AM band, followed by “Thanks for the Memory” by Bob Hope. Astral Media’s CISL had flipped from oldies to adult standards just days before to take advantage of the move. At 7:20 that same evening, at a live party at the Seasons in the Park restaurant, “100.5 The Peak” launched with U2’s “Elevation.”

CKPK-FM received a new competitor on Canada Day, 2009, when CHHR-FM began airing a AAA format. CHHR (now CHLG-FM) would change formats to classic hits on June 20, 2014.

On December 9, 2010, the Jim Pattison Group applied to exchange frequencies with non-commercial community radio station CFRO-FM, which then operated at 102.7 MHz. The application was approved on September 9, 2011. The swap took place almost a year later on September 10, 2012.

During the summer of 2015, CKPK began evolving towards a more modern rock format. Eventually, CKPK began reporting on the Mediabase Canadian alternative rock panel. The Peak in its time, as a competitor to CFOX, had cycled through many on air staff, and made slight tweaks to the format trying to gain a higher ratings share and to fully compete with CFOX. All CFOX did was tweak the playlist over the years to add more songs and more bands that were not played on either The Peak or Shore 104. The Peak tried to capitalize on popularity of former CFOX hosts, by hiring Jeremy Baker and Charis, for the morning show. Charis had been a part of the Jeff O’Neill show for years and Jeremy Baker was an afternoon host at CFOX for a few years. But even with the popularity of those hosts they did not gain the ratings the station was hoping for. On July 25 2022, The Peak moved fully to HD-2 and the main 102.7 frequency became Now Radio. The format is a conversation station that plays mostly pop music with some rock mixed in and even some country and folk and blues and whatever else during the Takeover show. Once The Peak flipped to Now, CFOX lost its longest competitor but there is a new competitor in town. It actually launched prior to The Peak moving to HD-2 and Now radio coming in. On June 30, 2022 104.9 returned to an Alternative rock format known as Sonic radio. It follows the Sonic format in Edmonton quite closely. Although technically Shore 104, The Peak and now Sonic, don’t fully compete with CFOX, there is a lot of overlap with the formats that it has caused some changes in the ratings but overall CFOX has always remained king of the rock formats in Vancouver.

If you like this post, let me know in the comments as I plan to do this feature weekly. Also, if you have suggestions for stations to profile let me know. I do plan to expand the history of certain stations, as there is clearly some connection between stations, as mentioned in this post, there is a clear connection between what used to be The Peak, what used to be Shore 104 and what is now Sonic, which at one point also used to be XFM as well as a few other stations in that time. I will even discuss more of the former on air lineups at stations and who may have worked at competing stations, similar to when Jeremy Baker and Charis both worked for CFOX and later The Peak.

3 thoughts on “Radio station profile of the week

  1. This station had some great on air staff over the years and some cool features. Live songs and double shots, Bruce Alan doing his show.
    Larry and Willy were the best morning show for this station. Todd Hancock, Neil Morrison, Danger, Bill Courage. Pam Stevens. Lots of great names called the station home

  2. I remember some of the greats at CFOX. Larry and Willy of course, Robin Larose, Liz Makinney in the afternoon with Manny Bazoonis reading the news was simply awesome. Still enjoy the morning show.

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