North East RadioWatch: July 21, 1999

NERW On The Road: Sudbury to Owen Sound

by Scott Fybush

Hello again from Canada, where the Wednesday portion of our Ontario/Michigan road trip brought some surprises, a few disappointments, and a treat or two.

We left you Tuesday night way up in the nickel-mining town of Sudbury, and Wednesday morning found us airchecking the local radio dial. Here's what it sounded like:

Telemedia owns three Sudbury stations, country CIGM (790), rock CJRQ ("Q92.7"), and CJMX (105.3), which it recently purchased from Pelmorex. Like so many Telemedia outlets, CJMX now runs the "EZ Rock" format, which is a sort of modern AC. Across town, Pelmorex still owns oldies CHNO (550) and French AC CJYC (900), which have moved from the address M Street gave on Victoria Ave. to new digs at 493 Barry Downe Rd. (you taking notes, Tom Taylor?)

The CBC has a production facility in town that offers "Morning North" via CBCS (99.9) and transmitters in North Bay, Timmins, and a few other towns in the region, as well as "Summer North" in the afternoons via CBCS as well as the Thunder Bay area transmitters fed from CBQ (101.7) up there. And because Thunder Bay is in the Central time zone, it joins the afternoon show an hour late, and we suspect reruns the first hour at 5 PM Central, after CBCS has gone into "The World at Six." For French-speakers, Sudbury is the hub for CBON (98.1) and its network of relays.

There are two lower-power services as well: religious CJTK (95.5) and Laurentian University's CKLU (96.7).

On TV, it's "Mid-Canada TV," or MCTV, which is owned by CTV and runs CTV affiliate CICI (Channel 5), as well as CBC affiliate CKNC (Channel 9). MCTV does the same sort of two-channel thing in Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, and North Bay as well.

But before we could explore Sudbury, we drove 90 minutes east to North Bay, where we found a smaller version of Sudbury. Telemedia now owns all the radio stations: country CKAT (600), rock CKFX (101.9, "the Fox"), and CHUR (100.5), which used to be owned by Pelmorex and used to be on 840. Like CJMX, CHUR switched from "Mix" to "EZ Rock" sometime last year. Its old studios sit next to the MCTV studios, home to CHNB (Channel 4, CTV) and CKNY (Channel 10, CBC). We found the CKAT transmitter south of town alongside Lake Nipissing, with the old CFCH calls covered with a smaller banner placed there when the CKAT calls moved from 101.9. An old CKAT-FM sticker still sits on the door of the 101.9 transmitter, on a hill east of town with the CBC transmitters on 95.1 (CBON-11) and 96.1 (CBCN). And the MCTV outlets, along with a TVOntario channel 6 (CICA-TV-6) and CHUR-FM, are on a hill south of the AM 600 sticks.

Then it was back to Sudbury to check out the studios -- followed by a most unusual tourist attraction: a 27 foot tall model of the 1951 Canadian nickel, which marks the Big Nickel Mine southeast of Sudbury. As neat as that was, all that driving caused us to miss our chance to make the drive over to Manitoulin Island to take the ferry south to the Bruce Peninsula...which meant the 4-hour-plus drive back down highway 69 and 400 instead.

There's really just one note to offer from that trip: as we headed towards Owen Sound, we again heard the newest station in Barrie. CJLF (100.3) is now testing with a loop consisting of one gospel song and a message giving an address, phone number, and a Web site.

And so here we are in Owen Sound, getting ready for another day of radio tomorrow. We'll see you then!

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