North East RadioWatch: July 22, 1999

NERW On The Road: Owen Sound to Chatham

by Scott Fybush

Hello again from Canada -- albeit much further south than our trip has taken us thus far.

You'll recall that we left you Wednesday night in Owen Sound, at the base of the Bruce Peninsula, which divides Lake Huron from Georgian Bay. From the hotel room, the radio was picking up everything from North Bay to the northeast to Little Current to the north to Traverse City, Michigan to the west, to Buffalo far to the south -- distances in each case of well over 120 miles. As for local radio in Owen Sound, there's just the Bayshore Broadcasting duo of oldies CFOS (560) and AC "Mix" CIKX (106.5).

Thursday morning found us heading north up the Bruce Peninsula, a 90-minute drive to the village of Tobermory, where the ferry we missed on Wednesday would have deposited us. Ferry information is provided by CHEE (89.9), a very-low-power station with a radius of perhaps one block. A few miles south, Bruce Peninsula National Park is served by CBPS (90.7), which gets out for a few miles from its tower next to a campground. What we didn't hear at all was CHFN (100.3), which is supposed to broadcast from a First Nations (what we in the States call Native American) reservation about halfway down the Peninsula. Instead, 100.3 was a fight between the new religious station in Barrie and a country station in northern Michigan.

At the south end of the peninsula, CIXK shares the CBC tower, whose primary occupants are CBCB (98.7) and the CBLT relay on channel 20.

Returning to Owen Sound, we found the CFOS/CIXK studios, where "Mix 106" license plate frames were the promo item du jour, and south of town saw the CFOS transmitter, with five towers in an "X" shape.

CFOS has a relay station in Port Elgin, some 25 miles west, and so we then drove in that direction to see and hear CFPS (1490), which operates from a top-loaded tower that can't be much more than 70 feet tall. Even so, it gets out quite well with its CFOS simulcast.

The long drive south began with several stops in and around Wingham, a very small town that just happens to be in a central spot in southwest Ontario, which is why CKNX radio, and later TV, settled there.

The CKNX-TV and CKNX-FM tower can be seen for miles heading south. Once we found the spot, some 15 miles north of Wingham, we found a nice brick building with the old CKNX logo in front. The TV side is no longer co-owned, and is instead part of the CHUM Group's independent operation based at CFPL-TV in London. There are newsrooms for "The New NX" in Owen Sound and Wingham, though, and we found the latter atop a hill a few blocks east of downtown, still sharing space with the radio stations. The building itself is a classic 1950s broadcast station, by the way, and there were bumper stickers for AM 920, which is a country outlet. (The FM, which goes by "FM-102," was doing a pretty diverse mix of AC on its big 101.7 signal.)

The CKNX(AM) towers are south of town, three in a row and a fourth offset at the end of the array. The transmitter building has two large picture windows in front, nicely displaying the vintage Collins transmitter. It's a long way from anywhere, but Wingham was definitely worth the trip...

After that, it was on to London, where CKSL (1410) is now doing soft AC as "the River" from new studios in the Canada Trust building downtown, which is crowned with the transmitter of sister station CIQM (97.5). An hour down the road brought us to Chatham, which is where we stopped for the night after seeing the towers just east of town, one of which is home to CKSY (95.1), and the other to CBC Radio 1 outlet CBEE (88.1) as well as CBC TV relays CBLN-TV-3 (channel 64) and CBLFT-10 (channel 48) and TVOntario's CICO-TV-59 (channel 59).

That's it for tonight...tomorrow, it's up to Sarnia to see if the CKTY towers are still standing, followed by the crossing of the border and a survey of the Flint, Michigan market. We'll check in from Flint Friday night!

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