Originally published on Torontoist on March 2, 2007.
Source: Toronto Life, April 1972.
Ah, “beautiful music.” A term rarely attached to current radio formats, this middle-of-the-road mix was the mainstay of many powerhouse radio stations in the 1970s. Two versions of the format tended to exist:
- Stations that played mainly light instrumentals, covers of popular tunes, Mantovani and Percy Faith, all to be used as inoffensive background music. In Toronto, CHFI was one of the best-known purveyors of this style.
- Stations that mixed these tunes with Broadway selections, crooners, lighter pop acts and heavy servings of news, sports, weather and commentary—this type was also known as a “full service” station.
CKEY was among the stations that waded into the full service battlefield. With all the references to “cheery,” “smile,” and “warm,” don’t you want to flip on the radio to feel all fuzzy as you’re sitting in traffic on the Don Valley Parking Lot?
After attempts to compete with CHUM for Top 40 listeners in the late 1950s/early 1960s, CKEY switched formats in the mid-1960s, battling for an older audience with CFRB. Keith Rich was morning man for most of the station’s full service days, from 1965 through 1986. The station switched to oldies in 1984, then country (as CKYC, aka “Country 59”) in 1991. The station’s format and call letters were switched with all-sports CJCL 1430 in 1995, leading to today’s Fan 590.
Number One Yonge Street was a month away from its official opening when this ad appeared. Its prime (and current) tenant, the Toronto Star, had moved its operations over in December. Note the limited number of modern skyscrapers in the two skyline views—the boom was about to get underway (including the Star’s old site, soon to become First Canadian Place).
Source: Toronto Life, April 1972.
The original post didn’t include the accompanying ad for CKEY which spotlighted former evangelist/provincial politician/Maclean’s editor Charles Templeton (you can click on either image to see larger versions of them). Templeton joined CKEY in 1970, for reasons outlined in the Globe and Mail:
Templeton will become the creator and presenter of CKEY’s 8 a.m. news. CKEY wanted him because it needed a big name–which he certainly is–to battle CFRB’s Jack Dennett, and it wanted someone who would give the news a personal twist rather than a straight factual presentation. Surveys say that’s what the public wants.
In the first ratings released following Templeton’s hiring, released in December 1970, CKEY only added 11,000 more listeners at 8 a.m., placing the station in third place at that hour (Dennett, who picked up 58,000 listeners from a year earlier, remained in first, while CHUM-AM’s Dick Smyth came in second). CKEY did double its 10:00 a.m. audience with a Templeton-Pierre Berton commentary spot which had previously aired on CFRB.
Templeton’s ratings gradually grew so that by the time he left his morning newscast in September 1976, his audience grew from 89,000 listener to 158,800. He told the Star that, as his passion for writing books grew, getting up at 5:45 every morning had lost its appeal.
Source: Globe and Mail, October 3, 1977.
In a 1972 interview with the Star, Rich compared his morning show to the city’s reigning morning man at the time, CFRB’s Wally Crouter.
At CKEY we try to be tighter, more concise than CFRB. We play more music, offer more services such as traffic reports. Our sound as a result isn’t as relaxed as Wally’s. Up here we are as regular as a bloody music clock.
Illustration by Andy Donato. Source: Globe and Mail, September 22, 1981
In March 1986, Rich was lured away by CJCL 1430, the ancestor of the station which currently occupies CKEY’s old frequency, Fan 590. Rich’s new home had been trying to woo him for awhile, until its financial offer was too good to resist. Rich told the Star his departure from CKEY was “entirely amicable” and that his new home would be “a nice way to wrap up my career.” Rich continued at CKEY until the end of May, and was replaced by longtime CHUM personality Jay Nelson.
During the three months between stations, Rich’s upcoming employment at CJCL couldn’t be mentioned in advertising. But the station came up with a workaround. A campaign which debuted in June 1986 depicted Rich dressed as a Blue Jay, chef, Hollywood executive, and other occupations, under the headline “D.J. AVAILABLE. WILL DO ALMOST ANYTHING.” Those who phoned the number included in the ads heard a recording of Rich: “You know that I’m looking for ideas to keep me busy until I join the CJCL morning team in September.” Callers were asked to suggest jobs, and promised they would receive a written reply from Rich.
Rich stayed with CJCL until he announced his retirement in October 1990. His final show was broadcast from the lobby of the Royal York Hotel. He passed away in 2007.
Additional material from the September 7, 1970 edition of the Globe and Mail, and the December 19, 1970, June 3, 1972, September 8, 1976, March 12, 1986, and June 6, 1986 editions of the Toronto Star.