… The Big 8?
Earlier this week, I had an online interaction with Jane Mitchinson. I had run across a story about the reaction to Windows 95 and she indicated that she had covered it as a reporter for CFTR Radio. That brought back nice memories from commuting from Kitchener to Toronto to attend the Faculty of Education. My car at the time only had an AM radio. That was OK because I only had it set to one station – CFTR. During the morning commute, I’d listen to Jim Brady play the music and always got a kick from listening to Russ Holden and Darryl Dahmer do the traffic from helicopters. I don’t know how they did it; but just envisioned them flying in a helicopter and putting it on autopilot or something to do their reports. It was a regular routine. Of course, once I got to where I lived in Toronto, the in room radio was changed to the FM band and CHUM-FM.
But long before that, CFTR wasn’t on the dial. Growing up, there was only one channel – CKLW, The Big 8. It played the best music of the day and was on everywhere we went. One weekend drives with friends, it was cranked up really loudly and we enjoyed the expertise of such disk jockeys as Pat Holiday, Jim Edwards, Gary Burbank, Charlie O’Brien and I’m sure I could remember other names if I remember. It broadcasted from Windsor, Ontario but you never really got the sense that it was a Canadian radio station. All the advertising and traffic reports that I can remember were from Detroit, Michigan. Given the location, I know that it was high on the charts all across Michigan and into Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio. At night, the signal got ever clearer and more powerful and I remember hearing once that it was number 1 in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday nights. CKLW was one of those stations that were termed “Border Blasters” as they were in one country essentially broadcasting to another.
Who could forget the “Million Dollar Weekend”?
If you were waiting to hear a favourite song, you didn’t have to wait too long – there wasn’t a huge playlist. When Canadian content laws came into effect, the playlist changed dramatically.
AM radio became a victim of the improvement in technology. With FM radio delivering stereo and a much cleaner signal, discriminating ears changed their dials and I’ll confess to being one of those. The music just sounded so much better.
Eventually, CKLW changed format looking for something to retain listeners. I remember changing the dial one day to hear the “Music of Your Life”. I didn’t stay long; this wasn’t the music of “my life”. Today, it’s taken a talk and news radio format like so many AM stations. Traffic reports from Windsor streets and Windsor weather make it a station to listen to in the morning to find out what’s going on. And, you can listen online.
But, I still have fond memories of driving around with friends listening to great music.
So now, it’s your turn…
- Did you ever listen to The Big 8?
- Do you have a favourite radio station from your past? Is it still in operation?
- Have you stopped listening to AM radio and switched to FM or Satellite radio? How about online radio?
- How do you get the morning news and traffic where you live?
- Did you ever own a car that only had the AM band on your radio?
As always on a Sunday, I’m curious to hear your thoughts
Please share them via comment below.
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