Musée du son
Sauvegarder, documenter et diffuser le patrimoine sonore
|English Radio in Quebec|
by Melanie Fishbane and Mary Vipond
J. Arthur Dupont, founder of CJAD (181 K)
English radio in Montreal has a special and unique history that
from that of English radio stations in the rest of Canada.
While radio stations in other Canadian cities such as Toronto
Vancouver have to worry about the changing listening preferences of
audiences, English radio stations in Montreal have the additional
of being attuned to the specific needs of an anglophone audience in a
French society and culture. While
the francophone founder of CJAD, J. Arthur Dupont, was conscious of
this in the
1940s, it has become even more evident since, as the English community
become increasingly aware of itself as a minority.
This point should not be exaggerated, however.
The format evolution of CJAD has generally paralleled that of
stations in Canada, and its emphasis on the station’s role at the heart
community is not unusual. Indeed,
from the time of the first Broadcasting Act in 1932, local stations
mandated to stress their local service, while the CBC/Radio-Canada was
responsibility for the national network. Nevertheless,
CJAD does have the distinction of having risen to a position of
dominance in the
English-language radio market in Montreal which is rather atypical.
Its management has been successful in positioning the station as
“Heritage Station,” the station English-speaking Montrealers can trust
“through the good times ... and the bad....” (CJAD in Brief,
most radio stations of its day, at the time of its founding CJAD
provided Montrealers with current news, weather and commentary as well
popular entertainment programs geared to audiences of all ages.
In other words, it tried to be “all things to all people,”
diverse mix of programs that would attract the largest possible total
Over the years, however, the station’s programming has had to
with the times. With the rise of
distinct FM formats in the mid-1970s, and the creation of its sister
CJFM-FM (Mix 96), CJAD-AM had to “narrow” its programming and
upon what it could do best, namely current affairs and other
programs, while leaving the popular music to the FM station.
The two stations remain in essence siblings in a large radio
Standard Broadcasting, with stations not only in Montreal but in
Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
CJAD-AM continues to be oriented to the spoken-word format
while CJFM-FM is geared to the mainstream music scene that tends to be
popular with current audiences. Even
so, because these two stations broadcast only in English, their
the same in the sense that they aim to provide anglophone Montrealers
public voice that helps create a sense of community.
By using these two divergent formats, the current owners of the
can ensure that they are reaching English-speaking Montrealers from a
different economic, age demographic and cultural communities.
This article will examine, in brief, the history of CJAD and
focus on the
evolution of its programming. By
doing so it will show how CJAD exemplifies both the evolution of AM
radio in the
years since the Second World War and also the unique nature of English
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information available on
years of CJAD. In this way CJAD is
typical rather than unique. Radio
people are not very good at saving the voluminous and ephemeral
produce; they often work in straitened circumstances and tightly
Moreover, as happened with CJAD, fires can easily sweep
boxes of old paper. As a result,
most of the following comes from the CJAD files in the National
Canada, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) files, and
tape CJAD staff made at the time of the station’s fiftieth anniversary
It is important to recognize that the material provided by those
interviewed is from their own personal experience and often cannot be
by any written documentation. This,
however, does not make their comments any less valid than those sources
archives. In fact, the testimonies
of the previous employees can tell us much about the “nature” of the
and those who worked for it.
Since the early days of radio, CJAD has tried to project a certain kind of reputation. In a 1985 brief to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Allan Slaight, the owner of CJAD and CJFM, claimed that one of the strongest aspects of the station was “its outstanding professional staff and personalities who produced rare excellence in news and public affairs programming.” He believed that Montrealers could look to CJAD for “balanced coverage and exposition of public values.” (Slaight, 1985, 26) Obviously Slaight was making this point to the commission for the specific purposes of demonstrating why CJAD’s licence should be renewed and of defending his recent controversial purchase of the station. But this accent on CJAD’s strength in news and professionalism was not new; it was part of the personality of the station that had been constructed since 1945. Brian Nelson, one of CJAD’s former broadcasters, commented upon how he felt when he began to work there:
The day that
the microphone opened up for the first
time, my heart just about leaped outside my body, because I had known
the station was and I was well aware of the traditions of people like
who were there. So, I had great
trepidation in going ahead and accepting this job once I had (laughs)
agreed to do it. But I managed to
work my way into it and it was a lot of fun. (Holder and Walter, 1995,
of CJAD when she arrived there also reflects
the big time. CJAD meant that I had made
I was on CJAD and this was real radio as compared to some of the
radio that I had done. And I was
scared out of my mind. I wanted to
say the right thing and do the right thing and I think I was probably
frightened to have said anything coherent the first time I came on the
and Walter, 1995, side 2)
example of the same sentiment came from
Dave Patrick, who moved from CJOH-TV in Ottawa to CJAD:
think that I would have moved from TV back to
radio for any station except CJAD. It
was a “big deal” station. It
had the reputation of being just a really solid solid shop. (Holder and Walter 1995, side 2)
comments are selective, they do suggest
that for many years CJAD had a reputation in the Montreal
broadcasting industry of being committed to quality programming by a
The testimonies of former CJAD employees describe the early
years with a
sincere fondness for CJAD and its owner and founder, J.A. Dupont (whose
are immortalized in the station’s call letters).
For example, the date of CJAD’s first broadcast, December 8,
was apparently quite symbolic for Dupont because it was the date
Immaculate Conception. Whether this is
myth or fact is not the point; it is an
important part of the station’s oral history.
H.T. (Mac) McCurdy, the station manager for CJAD until he left
the president of Standard Broadcasting in the mid-1970s, said that
the date because he was a religious man:
Biography 1 (Dupont) Biography 2 (Dupont)
Well, as I
recall, the founder of the station, J.
Arthur Dupont, was a very religious French Canadian Catholic gentleman
think there is no doubt that he selected the date for obvious reasons,
of his own beliefs. (Holder and
Walter, 1995, side 1)
continues the story by describing the
anniversary parties thrown by Dupont in celebration of the station’s
One of my
fondest memories of anniversary time at CJAD
was on December the 8th every year, J. Arthur Dupont, my
I would say one of Canada’s finest broadcasters and finest gentlemen
would walk up Mountain Street along St. Catherine to Peel and then up
Street up the mountain, up to the cross on the mountain.
And that was the way he marked the occasion and, uh, after that
party time. That was a pilgrimage
that he did every year. The parties that
he used to throw at the old LaSalle Hotel on
Drummond Street were the envy of all Montrealers. (Holder
and Walter, 1995, side 1)
When the station commenced operations, its studios were located
Canadian Legion Building at 1119 Mountain Street, with its transmitter
Brossard. It had the frequency of
800 KHz from the beginning, but only 1000 watts of power at first (it
10,000 watts in 1955 and to 50,000 in 1964). While technically CJAD got
off to a
good start, apparently things were a little rockier in other areas.
McCurdy, not only did the station have problems with its original
concept, but who was eventually to run the station also became an issue:
concept for the station was a mixture of
local and CBS American network programs. You
know, programs like the “Lux Radio Theatre” and so forth.
And at the last moment, the CBC, which was the governing body
Canadian broadcasting in those days before the BBG and before the CRTC,
turned down the CBS affiliation. Which
CKAC had had, but as a French station they wanted to drop these English
and go all French. So, having been
sort of sabotaged at the eleventh hour we kind of limped onto the air
of course to the rescue a matter of two or three days later, came Jack
Cooke, who was running the very successful CKEY in Toronto.
And almost overnight CJAD became a clone of CKEY with what in
was a new concept in commercial radio called “block programming.” Instead of little fifteen minute programs,
these were hour
long or two hour long things like “Make Believe Ballroom,” “Club 800,”
and “All Time Hit Parade.” And
news on the hour and all that kind of stuff.
Of course Jack Cooke had a rather ulterior motive because I
hoped to actually take over the station. So,
while CJAD was attracting bigger and bigger audiences, a battle was
behind the scenes for control. But
Mr. Dupont won the battle to keep his station, and we went on and
looked back. (Holder and Walter,
1995, side 1)
From this testimony, it is clear that Dupont wanted to build a
that accentuated quality programming, some of it from the United
varied from entertainment to information. With the help of Cooke, the
began to model itself after CKEY Toronto. CJAD
was willing, or at least Dupont was, to try these new-style programs
successful in attracting audiences. How
much of Montreal’s own sound was present during this period is unclear,
seems from Bill Roberts, CJAD’s former morning man, that the Montreal
community was very important to Dupont:
Arthur was a
broadcaster right down to his toes.
And he fully understood that radio just wasn’t a machine to
music; it was a machine that had a place in the community, had to earn
in the community, had to have the respect of that community, and had to
seriously. And in that context,
CJAD grew up to become what it is today. (Holder
and Walter, 1995, side 1)
Advertisement for CJAD (19 K)
April 12, 1948, Dupont received permission from
G.C.W. Browne of the Department of Transport to broadcast an
station with the call letters CJAD on the FM frequency.
The CBC ordered that “the [new FM] station [was] required to
simultaneously all programs broadcast by the station CJAD.
No other programs [could] be broadcast unless permission in
granted by the CBC.” (Browne, 1948) In
the beginning, therefore, the AM and FM stations could not have
broadcasts without specific authorization.
This arrangement, which was also made with other Canadian AM
was the product of the federal government’s desire to begin
claims to the FM frequency despite the fact that few Canadians had FM
yet. CJAD-FM simply re-broadcast the
offerings of CJAD-AM until
In 1960 illness forced Dupont to give up his idea of moving into
television and to put CJAD up for sale; the purchaser was Standard
Limited of Toronto. In a statement
made to the public on September 23, the company’s president W.C.
pleased to announce on behalf of Standard Radio
Limited, the owners of this station, that we have concluded an
Mr. J. Arthur Dupont, president of radio station CJAD Montreal, for the
of all the issued shares of CJAD Limited. By
this transaction, Mr. J. Arthur Dupont is assured that
CJAD Montreal will continue to be operated with the same high standards
programming and public service. And
Mr. Dupont has agreed to continue as a director and consultant of CJAD.
(Holder and Walter, 1995, side 1)
company moved the station up a few blocks to
the corner of Mountain and St. Catherine the following year, they
city’s mayor, Jean Drapeau, to say a few words:
It was with
the greatest of pleasure that I accepted
the kind invitation of the management to assist the day of the official
of the new studios of radio station CJAD, and to pay a tribute to our
friend Monsieur J. Arthur Dupont, the founder of the first CJAD station
I am told that at that time the station began with 24 employees
have now been increased to sixty. Its
original power was 1 kilowatt, increased to 5 kilowatts in 1948 and now
at 10 kilowatts. Without being an
expert in these matters I have been able to realize that this station
equipped with the finest and most modern facilities.
It has kept pace with every improvement and today is a leading
source of entertainment, information and an exponent of every phase of
It is truly the sound of quality in Montreal.
Without the least ... forethought, it strikes me that it took a
solid French Canadian to perfect a good English broadcasting station
(laughter). (Holder and Walter, 1995, side
Broadcasting’s purchase of CJAD meant that
the station now had the resources to finance technical improvements
while at the
same time maintaining the tradition CJAD had been projecting under
leadership. One question remained,
though. Could Toronto owners
operate a station that adequately reflected Montreal’s unique reality?
When the CRTC passed new legislation in 1975 to enable the
FM radio as distinct from AM, CJAD responded in kind.
In 1976 CJFM-FM began broadcasting under the CRTC proviso that
station would continue to broadcast primarily in English.
Apparently the station requested that it could use some French
but this was turned down by the CRTC, which ordered that French could
used on-air when referring to proper names and expressions. (CRTC,
As we will see, there was a dramatic shift in format when the
stations separated in this way.
In 1978 the brothers Monty and Conrad Black took control of
Broadcasting (and therefore of CJAD and CJFM) via their holding
Corporation. While under the ownership of the Blacks, the station moved
studios to the present location on the corner of Fort and St.
1985 Standard Broadcasting was sold again, this time to Allan Slaight
Communications. There was some controversy at the time of Slaight’s
because he bought the stock (84.8 per cent of Standard Radio’s common
in March 1985, not waiting for the CRTC to approve the transfer of
(CRTC 1986) However the CRTC did eventually approve the transfer in
Slaight wanted to maintain the image that CJAD had built for
itself as a
first-class community station. In
his 1985 brief to the CRTC, he stated that “While the shrinking
English-speaking population has turned a major English radio market
medium one, excellence prevails and CJAD’s reputation continues to
the rest. (Slaight, 1985)
his remarks, it is evident that the face of English radio in Montreal
changing in part due to political circumstances.
What was once a thriving industry was now dwindling.
It is also clear, however, that Slaight assumed that the station
profitable even in a “medium” market.
Evolution of Programming
As stated previously, there has been a series of format changes
over the years. The first part of
this section will outline the early years of programming, when CJAD had
AM format; the second part will focus on the changes that occurred when
station became an element on its own.
CJAD’s Fiftieth Anniversary cassette has a wealth of material on
station’s early programming. The
problem with using this source is trying to place the exact year or
some of these programs were on-air. However,
many of them lasted for many years - some over twenty - so there was
considerable amount of program continuity.
As well, the tape itself is constructed approximately
from the earliest years through to the 1980s.
What follows therefore relies on the tape’s time line.
In the early years, CJAD concentrated on two kinds of programs:
political commentary, news and general information, and secondly
programs sometimes geared towards younger audiences.
Both types encouraged audience participation such as phone-ins.
The two purposes were not always clearly separated out - some
included both music and commentary, for example.
Both were dependent, of course, on advertising, and both
station’s goal of keeping its community both informed and amused. Some
indication of the overall contours of the station’s programming comes
study done for the Massey-Lévesque Royal Commission on the Arts,
Sciences in 1948-9, when CJAD was still very young.
Out of a total of 7475 minutes on air per week, 700 minutes (9.4
cent) was “serious” programming, 3095 minutes “popular” (41.4 per cent)
and the majority - 3795 minutes (50.8 per cent) - recorded music.
The ratio of 1 to 4.5 serious to popular was about average for
of the type. (Royal Commission on
the Arts, Letters and Sciences, 1951) This
programming diversity, as we have already seen, was the hallmark of AM
in the days before the arrival of FM enabled, indeed compelled, more narrowly targeted programming strategies.
The station’s old jingles accentuated both diversity and the
Montreal. “Dial 800, that is one
for one and all, at CJAD Montreal,” for example, a jingle from the late
made these themes explicit. In the
1950s it was “CJAD, 800, stereo, the Beat of Montreal,” and in the
disco-ish jingle, “CJAD the sound of 800 - 800 - 800,” both of which
emphasized the music entertainment aspect of the programming mix.
One of the earliest programs mentioned by Mac McCurdy was a show
with Norm Keele called “In the Good Old Days.”
McCurdy described the early aspects of this show in a way that
how advertising was integrated into programming:
I think that
program started, originally, as a thing
called “A&P Calling,” sponsored by, obviously, A&P stores, and
when that contract expired, then I think Simpson’s picked it up.
I may have this in reverse, but I know that those two companies
involved. (Holder and Walter 1995,
McCurdy also verifies the consistency of certain programs, such
morning talk shows or news programs like “News on the Hour”:
morning man was Maurice Bedard, followed a
bit later by George Bishop. The
first “Make Believe Ballroom” emcee was Ron Dunn, and that was followed
later on by Don Cameron. Bob Harvey
did “Club 800.” Hamilton Grant
did “News on the Hour.” A guy
named Terrence O’Dell from the CBC was one of the chief newscasters.
Ron Laurier was one of the original program directors.
All of us who were around at that time, I think we pioneered a
that hadn’t been done in broadcasting before which did attract people.
(Holder and Walter 1995, side 1)
Roberts’ morning show was a blend of music and
news commentary, but from the jingle, it seems that the program
to focus on the musical content. Here
are the lyrics of the morning tune:
Get out of
bed, you sleepy head.
Time to be up and away. (Yawn)
Get up and smile, musical style
CJAD starts your day. (Yawn)
Music that talks, always the pops,
Use the time on Eight Oh Oh.
Start the day right, everything’s right
Here on the Bill Roberts show. (Holder and Walter 1995, side 1)
The station also, however, promoted itself as “the most
newsroom in Quebec,” one that “spotlights the news at home and around
world.” Rob Braide, currently
CJAD’s General Manager, says that one of the ways the station was
trying to stay ahead was by using new methods and technologies.
McCurdy described some of these innovations:
mobile news cars with Sid Margles and Peter
Shurman and Rick Leckner. We had
weathercasts from Dorval and ski reports and editorials with Leslie
And traffic helicopter reports with Len Rowcliffe.
Things that hadn’t been done before on radio in Montreal. ...
claims that he was] the first person in the world to broadcast from the
Ranger. We, ah, leased our Jet
Ranger in 1965, ’66, somewhere around there.
We figured we needed a faster machine because we were going to
covering a lot more territory with Expo ’67 coming.
And so we made arrangements with Lloyd Ayres (?) at Canadian
to get ahold of a Jet Ranger from the factory down in Fort Worth and
one of the highlights of my stint at CJAD, was flying by helicopter in
new machine, it was Number 18 off the production line, from Fort Worth,
back to Montreal. (Holder and Walter 1995, side 2)
As stated previously, the station has tried throughout the years
project an image of a news-conscious professional station that was
bringing people the “truth.” But
plain unvarnished factual information can be boring for listeners.
So, like many other radio stations CJAD has a considerable
commentary on the news as well, intended to stimulate debate and
Leslie Roberts, for example, was advertised as “Canada’s most
controversial writer.” Here, for
example, is one of his early rather disrepectful comments on Canada’s
decade, Canada has witnessed a strange
constitutional process which at times has had aspects almost ludicrous.
We are talking about the British North America Act - the
Constitution - so-called - and the fact that hitherto we have left the
of amending it to the parliament in Westminster. (Holder and Walter
Another controversial commentator was Rod Dewar, who hosted a
show from nine to noon that consisted of “a pot-pourri [of] editorial
poetry and music. He suggested that
his show was ahead of its time because it provided a genuinely
unique, I think, for its time.
Indeed, for any time. But it
seemed to work and after a few years it developed a following of which
very proud, and it met I think with general acceptance.
But it was, at the same time, highly controversial.
You see the thing is there were no left wing voices in Montreal
time. Both the major papers, i.e.
the Gazette and the Montreal Star, and I guess the
were of a right-wing persuasion. So
there was a vacuum there which I think the program filled until such
time as we
had more moderate approaches by the media.
(Holder and Walter 1995, side 2)
The October Crisis of 1970 indicates how successful the station
providing Montrealers with up-to-date information.
Brian Nelson used the term “on the cutting edge” to describe the
station’s news role in the period; Rob Braide claims that the station
“really took flight” during the crisis in airing the late-breaking news
both Montrealers and some of the American networks.
CJAD had been affiliated with both NBC and the Canadian news
Standard Broadcast News for some time in order to receive national and
stories; in 1970 the station became the main provider of information
October events to those two networks.
The October Crisis also led to a mini-controversy over the
CJAD morning host Rod Dewar. Andy
Barrie reminisced about the situation:
And then it
was about three or four weeks later that
probably the largest event in, one of the largest events in recent
history took place, which was the beginning of my real broadcast career
CJAD. It was of course 1970, just a
little more than twenty-five years ago. And
Jasper Cross had been kidnapped and then Pierre Laporte murdered, the
Measures Act was declared, and the country was of course petrified,
believing that there really was a state of apprehended insurrection in
as Mayor Drapeau and Robert Bourassa said there was.
Troops were in the streets. And
it occurred to very few people to object to the suspension of civil
but one person who did object was Rod Dewar who was then doing the
show. And he came on the morning
after the War Measures Act was declared and he said “I went to sleep in
country last night and this morning I have woke up [sic] in a
state.” (Holder and Walter 1995,
comments caused much concern among CJAD executives.
Dewar continues the story:
I was met by
the station manager who said that we want
you to take a week’s holiday at our expense.
And I said, “Well, I just had a holiday.” “Well, we don’t think
it’s advisable that you go on the air with what I know that you will
say.” So the switchboard was
informed that I was on holiday and I somehow or other thought that this
the right way to go about what was an embarrassing situation for one
and all and
a very tense one. I think
“tense” is probably key. Because
... you know, we were all strung out like the proverbial violin string.
I, uh, burst in on Andy and said that the excuse that the
given on the note - he was asked to read this statement and also the
had been instructed to tell callers that I was on vacation was not
That I had been silenced, muzzled, and whatever (laughs). Now, you know, on sober second thought down
through the years,
I know the station really had no option. I
didn’t know that at the time. But
one of the provisions of the War Measures Act is that it cannot be
criticized and of course the station was on the horns of this dilemma.
Because had they permitted me to go on the air, they could well
their licence. (Holder and Walter 1995, side 2)
Andy Barrie later replaced Dewar as CJAD’s
mid-morning man, but Dewar is still on air doing regular commentaries.
One additional dilemma for CJAD during the October Crisis - as for many
stations - was whether to accede to the FLQ demand that their
broadcast to the public. Sid Margles, who
was in charge of the newsroom at the time, remembers that CJAD
eventually did so - but only after CKAC had broadcast the first one in
apparently with the approval of the authorities.
In summary, then, it is evident that CJAD has put considerable
into adopting technical innovations and hiring lively commentators in
produce quality news and information programming.
On the other side of the programming agenda, CJAD was also
giving its audiences some lighter fare. Rob
Braide thinks it ironic that “CJAD has often been mislabelled as “Your
parents’ radio station.” He argues: “Statistics prove that CJAD has
had a broad appeal. This was never
more evident than with ‘Club 800' and its host Mike Stevens.” Mike
described that show as being targetted specifically to younger
began at 4:05 in the afternoon, ran
for an hour, Monday to Friday, and then Saturday afternoon.
When it was sponsored by Coca-Cola, it became the “Hi-Fi
was a teenage show and high schools were featured.
Each high school had a rep that came to the ... show.
And when we were at 1191 Mountain Street, the Legion main
used for the broadcast every Saturday afternoon.
So, Monday to Friday it was a live show, and students after
come in and sit in on the show. And
Saturdays it was live from different locations, eventually, in the
Elizabeth Hotel, and that ran for many years.
(Holder and Walter 1995, side 1)
One of the highlights over the years that CJAD is particularly
was the 1963 “extravaganza,” “Shower of Stars,” hosted by Bill Roberts,
Vance Randolf, Mac McCurdy, and Rod Dewar.
The station sponsored a variety of performers such as Denny
Carmen Dragon, Lorne Greene, Mitch Miller and Allan King to come to
support the Quebec Society for Crippled Children. The station also put
its own 60-piece concert orchestra for the occasion.
Braide explains that it was highly unusual for such an expensive
to be fronted by a local radio station. But
as Bill Roberts points out, it was a great way for the station to
“You’ve got to put it into context. You know the way every time
show comes into any place now, a radio station promotes it, well, at
it didn’t work that way. The
radio station in fact became the promoter.” (Holder and Walter 1995,
McCurdy, who was then the vice-president and general manager of
also commented on the success of this event:
know, it cost a lot of money in the final
analysis between the cost of the show and a donation to a charity,
promotional budget for the station - it kind of all worked out. Per
didn’t make money. But if you said, okay, we’re going to spend x number
dollars to render some sort of public service in the next six months or
year promoting CJAD, then if you took that budget and added it on to
receipts for the program, it worked out all right. (Holder and Walter
Thus, CJAD was enhancing its image by showcasing people
who they felt provided its kind of entertainment, as well as by doing
for the community it wished to represent.
Paul Reid’s evening show remained on air for over twenty years;
considered to be one of CJAD’s most successful programs ever. Reid’s former co-worker, Tom Armour, described
nature of this night-time program:
wonderful thing about working with him is
that you had no idea what was going to happen next on the show.
Monday to Friday it was usually music and then later poetry and
music late at night, but there was no guarantee that was every night. I
Gordon Lightfoot might come in one night and they’d sit and laugh for
hours, Tony Bennett one night. Anyone who came to town, if he could get
for an interview; a lot of sports personalities, Paul loved sports.
A program that was designed with music and poetry in mind all of
would be tossed aside you know while Bernie Faloney the quarterback
in and talk football strategy for two and a half hours. But people
to drift away from that. (Holder and Walter 1995, side 2)
CRTC files record some of the story of the relationship between
the regulatory body, a story which is similar to that of all Canadian
but which also has some unique features. Among
other things, the CRTC kept a sharp eye on the rule that AM radio
to devote 30 per cent of their music to Canadian content (this was
raised to 35
per cent in 1999). Canadian content
(Cancon) is defined by the CRTC according to the MAPL system: M stands
music, A for the artist, P for the performance location and L for the
To qualify as Canadian content, at least two of these four
be Canadian. The CRTC also requires
that stations air a certain proportion of Canadian content music during
hours; they are not allowed to hive it all away into the middle of the
In the late 1980s CJAD ran into some trouble with the CRTC over
by Anne Murray, “Take Good Care of My Heart” and “A Little Good News,”
which the station claimed as part of its Cancon percentage but which
did not in
fact qualify. Jeff Vidler, the
program director, responded to the regulator: “As I’m sure you can
appreciate, there was a natural assumption operating that because they
recorded by Anne Murray, the songs were in fact Canadian.”
(Vidler 1989) More serious was the complaint from the CRTC that
5, 1989, only 17 out of 61 selections, or 27.9 per cent of the music,
the Cancon rule.
Moreover, in the peak 6 to 10 a.m slot, only 1 out of 15
Canadian (6.6 per cent) while late at night when few were listening,
cent of the music was Canadian. (DesRoches
1989) This one was handled by General Manager Rob Braide, who defended
station by arguing first, that the station was not primarily a music
secondly that their normal overall Cancon average was 31.1 per cent,
that they only fell below the required level because of the
disallowance of the
Anne Murray songs. Additionally, he
pointed out that the imbalance in Cancon music programming on April 5
due to the fact that it was an atypical day when special programs
usual schedule. (Braide 1990) One can sense a note of exasperation in
letters; they may have helped impel the station’s decision to move to a
format and drop music entirely.
The CRTC also imposed other requirements on CJAD. Whenever the
station’s licence was renewed, it had to give the regulator a detailed
itemized list of all its programs, for example, including how many
station employed and at what cost. As
well, there were special category obligations, such as advertising
events and airing “hobby” oriented shows.
The station’s licence applications therefore can tell us much
what the station was actually up to.
On December 4, 1984, CJAD’s licence renewal application to the
listed the following information. The station provided local, regional,
provincial, national and international news for its audience for 21
hours a week
and “most” of its operations budget went to news. It employed sixteen
staff, including one news director, eleven full time reporters, three
reporters and one based in Quebec City. News
was read once an hour with links to Standard Radio’s Broadcast News and
news services such as Canadian Press, UPC and Telbec.
In addition, CJAD received “background” network material
about business, cars, lifestyles, fitness, the environment, etc.
Sound Source, Standard Radio’s syndication organization.
The station was involved in many community events such as
announcements, entertainment reviews, and Eastern Township calendar
announcements twice a week; what the station claimed were “liberal
of free time were also given to a variety of organizations and
throughout the year. (CRTC, 1984) The
station fulfilled its “hobby” requirement by airing a weekly
gardening show, as well as a show on personal computing five times a
By this time most of CJAD’s programs were oriented towards talk
open-line format. This included
weekly 90-minute news and public affairs shows that concentrated on
backgrounders on civic events. There
were also editorial comments at 7:10 am, 8:10 am, 12:15 pm, 5:10 pm,
and 11:10 pm Monday to Friday; on Saturday and Sunday at 12:15 pm there
rebuttal time so that listeners could respond to the views expressed in
The station also devoted a lot of time to sports (27 hours a
had 3 full-time and 2 part-time sports reporters.
Sports reports ran on the hour and half-hour beginning at 5:55
8:25 pm Monday to Friday. There
were three sportscasts in the afternoons Monday to Friday at 4:25, 4:55
pm and each week night had a Sports Magazine.
In the mid-1980s, 88.5 hours a week of CJAD’s air time was
music recorded since 1960. There
was also a Sunday evening three-hour program produced exclusively for
CJAD by a
freelance non-staff broadcaster (Rod Dewar) which concentrated on the
classics, mostly from the Baroque to the Romantic periods, called
By the 1990s, CJAD’s commitment to providing informational “talk” oriented programs was complete. In a fax dated October 22, 1996 to Lucie Audet of the CRTC, Rob Braide outlined the station’s current programming. From 5:30-9 am, the “George Balcan Breakfast Show” which included sports with Ted Blackman, entertainment with Bill Brownstein and “Montreal’s only helicopter traffic reports with Rick Leckner” was aired. (Braide 1996) From 9 am to noon, Avril Benoit hosted a show interviewing a variety of guests described as “Actors, Athletes, Authors, Musicians, Politicians, Physicians.” The show also provided an opportunity for listeners to phone in to speak to the guests and offer their opinions on what was being discussed. On Fridays at 10:30 am, Dr. Joe Schwarcz was the regular guest to discuss chemistry in daily life. From 1 to 4 pm Tommy Schnurmacher had his phone in-show focusing on Quebec political issues. From 4 to7 pm, Jim Duff announced the drive home show, which discussed the current hot stories, and interviewed some of “the day’s top news makers.” From 7 to10:30 pm, Peter Anthony Holder had an interview and call-in show. The programming day ended with the airing of “Montreal Nightside” from 10:30 pm to 2 am. Rob Braide accentuated that the news was broadcast every 30 minutes and that there were live broadcasts of sports events including Canadiens hockey with Dick Irvin, Dino Sisto and Jim Corsi and Alouettes football with Rick Moffat and Tommy Kane. He also advised the CRTC that “Montreal’s Top Commentators” often made appearances - including Professor Graeme Decarie, Rod Dewar, Robert Libman, and Gord Sinclair (Sinclair was news director of the station).
Thus CJAD had switched completely to a talk radio format by the mid-1990s. There was a great deal of emphasis on the political issues affecting residents of Montreal, particularly anglophones, especially on Tommy Schnurmacher’s show, where host, guests and listeners regularly expressed their concern about their future in Quebec and much attention was paid to anglophone organizations like Alliance Quebec, the Equality Party and to “hard-liners” like Howard Galganov.
While the station had always provided news and political
the 1990s this was supplemented not by music but by “lighter” talk
As an AM radio station, CJAD has had to fight against growing listener
towards not only the AM frequency but radio in general.
One of CJAD’s solutions to this problem has been to hire
younger hosts and announcers (e.g. Mark Rennie, Ricky Cyr) and to give
weekly slots to astrologers, etc. Most
importantly, CJAD has increasingly turned to syndicated programs such
Laura Schlessinger’s phone-in show on ethics and morality. Such shows
good ratings and great advertising income while being relatively
purchase. But one wonders what
community ties or local roots are developed from them.
CJAD still has a reputation for quality programming and a well
professional staff. It has always
prided itself on the “heart-warming and refreshing” camaraderie and
among its on-air personalities. (McCurdy
quoted on Holder and Walter 1995, side 2).
Peter Shurman, a former general manager of the station,
way the station has always reflected what was going on in the
becoming what he called “a focal mirror” to
its audience. (Holder and
Walter 1995, side 2). The
station’s Website now emphasizes that listeners perceive the station to
“a home,” “one of the family,” and “a good friend.” (CJAD in Brief)
The station has been all these things and more in the fifty-five years
was founded by J. Arthur Dupont. Above
all, as Bill Roberts put it, the station “was, is, and always will be
dominant force in Montreal English radio.” (Holder and Walter 1995,
Braide, 1990. Letter to Anne
Marie DesRoches, CRTC, January 8, 1990, CRTC Station Files; CJAD No.
Braide, 1996. Letter to
Lucie Audette, October 22, 1996, CRTC Station Files, CJAD, No.
G.C.W., 1948. Letter
to J.A. Dupont, April 12, 1948, Keith
A. Mackinnon Papers, National Archives of Canada, MG 31 J42, Vol. 16,
“CJAD Radio Montreal, 1952-59.
Brief, 2000. CJAD
www.cjad.com; accessed May 12, 2000.
CRTC, 1976-7. Decisions,
Application, December 4, 1984, CRTC Station Files, CJAD, vol. 8,
1989. Letter to
Rob Braide, December 21, 1989, CRTC Station Files, CJAD No. 6240.
Peter Anthony and
Andrew Walter, 1995. “The CJAD Story - The
First Fifty Years,” audiotape.
Commission on the
Arts, Letters and Sciences, 1951, Report,
Allan, 1985. Brief
to CRTC, CRTC Station Files, CJAD vol. 7, videotape.
Letter to Marcelle Gagné, CRTC, December 18, 1989, CRTC
|English Radio in Quebec|
CFCF: The Early Years of Radio (see also Anecdotes...)
|Galerie d'images / Gallery||Extraits sonores / Sound Clips|
Tous droits réservés
© 1997 Phonothèque québécoise / Musée du son.
Mise à jour le 29 juillet 2004