Early Victoria Radio

A look back at various radio stations

Postby Victoriaradio » Thu May 18, 2006 2:54 pm

In the olde days CJVI WAS Victoria Radio, a mix of old dance tunes, quiz shows (Six For One), CBC feeds, and syndicated radio shows (Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy). Everyone listened to CJVI and heard the Hometowners(with Bob, Fred, Ernie, Geoff and Bill) playing from the stage of the Dominion Theatre; listened each morning to Al Smith on the piano; heard the news two or three times a day; and got to know the voices of Laurie Dillabaugh, Rudy Hartman, Lundy Sanderson, Bill Dobson, Ted Reynolds, Bob Switzer and Dick Batey. Some of these came later but those are the names I remember. CJVI broadcast from the top floor of the Central Building, and later moved to Fort Street where it is now The Ocean etc. CJVI is no more. Sad!

The came Dave Armstrong fresh from the creativity of CKNW and brought with him Gordon Reid, Dave Hill and others from Vancouver radio. He also put Warren Barker in an office as Traffic Manager and the voice of Musical Roundup (Country and Western). CKDA was a successful threat to CJVI. CKDA quickly became Victoria's Most Listened To Radio Station. (All 250 watts). CKDA broadcast from the basement of the Hotel Douglas. The remants of the station are still there amid the wreckage and dust. No one has occupied the premises since CKDA left. CKDA is no more. Sad!

And then came the upstart CFAX. More on that later. The story of the station from Queale's Electronics to The authorative news voice of Victoria and ratings leader.
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Postby Victoriaradio » Fri May 19, 2006 10:16 am

CFAX was born in the back rooms of Queale's Electronics in Victoria where Mr. Parrett was Manger or owner. He was the first operator of CFAX. The station was a "good music Station." The only announcer I remember was Dave Shearer. He did the morning show, the afternoon show and, I think, the evening show, The station was on the air from sunrise to sunset. CFAX broadcast first from the old CJVI studios in the Central Building.
Later the Copelands and the Daggs took over the station and it started the journey to become what it is today. A program director from KIXI in Seattle was brought in to contemporize the format. Hugh Curtis left CJVI to become a manager, investor and major public face for CFAX. The station gradually challenged rating leader CKDA and became and stayed number one.
Mel Cooper bought the station and moved it to very modern free standing studios on Broughton Street across the road from CJVI.
Joe Easingwood moved across the street too from CJVI to become the morning open line guy. He's still there. Blaine Coucher was a resident meteorologist and he's still there. Barry Bowman, the morning mayor, did the early show for decades. He's not there. The Community cruiser and CFAX black cars were everywhere in Victoria. The rose of the day for a "volunteer". Recognition of local teachers. Strong attention to News. These all characterized the FAX.
It's still number one in Victoria (Why are "personality" AM stations number 1 in urban markets?), but ownership has tranferred to the CHUM group.
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Postby Victoriaradio » Tue May 23, 2006 2:18 pm

More from early Victoria Radio. This time....Ed Farey. Ed was Program Director of CKDA and a very strict one. He once threw me out of a control room while I was chatting with an on air Doug McFarlane. No one was to be in the control room other than the on air announcer.
Ed Farey was on the air from 1 to 3 ("Just you and me from 1 to 3"). His theme song (all shows had theme songs in those days) was "Music, Music, Music" with Teresa Brewer. Every stay at home woman listened to Ed Farey. He used to turn the lights down in the studio, take off his sports jacket (they all wore jackets, shirts and ties in those days), and get the mike arranged so it sat on his lower jaw. Mellow voice and mellow music. Off the air he wasn't so mellow to junior guys like me. Ed Farey was a big fundraiser for the CKDA milk fund. When he left for CKNW, there was dead air for many womaen.
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Postby radiofan » Tue May 23, 2006 3:40 pm

Keep it coming Victoria Radio .. stuff like this is always great information for those of us who have an interest in the history side of stations we are familiar with.

There is always a piece of the pie missing and we don't realize it until we read someones memories.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Postby Jack Bennest » Tue May 23, 2006 8:57 pm

Image

see more pictures of this era at www.bcradiohistory.com


great info which I will be stealing shortly.

Thanks Alan - and keep up the good work.
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Postby Victoriaradio » Wed May 24, 2006 7:38 am

Gordon Reid was Assistant Manager at CKDA and host of Housewives Holiday heard every weekday morning from 9:30 to 10 AM and broadcast from Mac Donalds's Furniture store. The show featured an organist (Reg Stone/Bernie Ryall), interviews with housewives who showed up for the audience, contests etc. The show was co-hosted by George Mac Donald (Owner of the store), and at times Tippy O'Neil, Andy Stephen,and Dave Hill. On Saturdays the show was known as "Children's Holiday" and featured amateur talent. That segment lasted for eight years and was emceed by Alan Newberry and at the beginning Wayne O'Brien. I was 12 when I started writing and hosting the show at a salary of 50 cents a week. My salary rose to $2 by the time the show was in its sixth year. Some of the talent that appeared on the show included Gary Howard, The Hosie family and Don Clark. Gordon Reid was Dave Armstrong's Manager for many years, he also hosted an evening show of classical music called, "Treasure Chest of Music" ("There's a wonderful world called music , listen to it as often as you can"). Gordon Reid and Dave Hill ("The friendliest voice in Canadian Radio") hosted a Thursday night audience show called, "Meet the People" sponsored by a local bakery; the weekly prize draw was for the cake of the week. Gordon Reid died in Victoria.
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Postby BossRadio » Wed May 24, 2006 9:33 am

Victoria Radio said

[/QUOTE]Everyone listened to CJVI and heard the Hometowners(with Bob, Fred, Ernie, Geoff and Bill) playing from the stage of the Dominion Theatre; listened each morning to Al Smith on the piano;[QUOTE]

Thanks so much for bringing back that memory! I'd forgotten the live piano show. Who was his announcer?(the name escapes me.) As a preschooler, I listened to Al each morning, and remember that in the afternoon he would be back for a fifteen or thirty minute stint to bring the commuters home. In the evening at seven pm, CJVI would switch to CBC's Dominion Radio Network and their menu of light classics.
B) Great sturff! Please keep it coming.

BR
Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum
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Postby Victoriaradio » Wed May 24, 2006 11:02 am

The announcer for Al Smith was Walter Cownden who used to read his poetry (or was it his wifes?) on the air. Walter Cownden was PD at CJVI when I worked there. Brother Maurice Cownden was senior announcer, later to become PR chief at University of Victoria. The afternoon gig was Al Smith and Reg Stone (organ), often emceed by Alec Burton. The show was called, "Rolling Home." I did the Al Smith Show on a substitute shift. By the way, the Hometowners were to CJVI what the Rhythm Pals were to CKWX.
Walter Cownden later went to CKDA/CFMS.
Cheers. (I loved Kyle).
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Postby Victoriaradio » Fri May 26, 2006 8:47 am

The greatest of them all from early Victoria radio, in my opinion, is Norm Pringle. When I was a teenager I would go to CKDA in the basement of the Hotel Douglas on Saturday afternoons and watch Norm Pringle through the studio glass. He would sometimes invite me into the control room. Today Norm and I are good friends, communicating frequently by email. Norm lives with his wife Elsie in California.

Norm appeared on Musical Roundup (a show Warren Barker once did) as the "Sheriff". He had a cast of characters which he voiced - the olde timer being one. Later in the evening he hosted CKDA Houseparty to which almost every car radio would be tuned and every teenager's radio also. Norm had a creativity and flexibility that was exceptional in the radio business.

He wrote songs (still does) and several were recorded on Aragon Records by Evan Kemp. Two of his most well known creations in those days were "Laughing Waters", and "When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney". The "Santa Got Stuck..." record was an annual Christmas favorite for Victoria audiences.

One day while looking through the CKDA studio glass I saw and heard this young tall country singer appearing for the first time on radio and being interviewed on Norm's "Sheriff" show. That tall young singer was Tommy Hunter.

Prior to Victoria days Norm had worked in Calgary radio and CKMO in Vancouver as announcer and PD.

Today Norm runs his virtual radio station from California, but always with a Canadian interest. Norm's site is WWW.cybercloud.com. Recently at a Canadian Country music show Tommy Hunter introduced Norm from the audience as the person who gave him his media start.

Norm Pringle is above everything a fine person and a concerned citizen of the planet!
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Postby Victoriaradio » Mon May 29, 2006 8:56 am

Bill Stephenson was 21 when he arrived at CKDA as sportscaster. He had his start in radio at CJAV in Port Alberni. From CJAV he went to CJOR Vancouver and then to CKDA. One of his gigs was "Hockey Tonight" which was play by play of the Victoria Cougars hockey team. It was sponsored by McLennan McFeely and Prior Ltd. a major Victoria hardware store on Government street. As this is being written the old McLennan etc. building is being marketted as heritage condos and a Mountain Co-op store has just opened on the street level.
He also broadcast commercial hockey (Fishermen's Co-Op vs. Civil Service) from the old Memorial Arena
His other spot on CKDA was at 8:10 in the morning a show sponsored by Vogue Furniture. Bill also became the master of reconstructed out of town ball games.
This all occurred around 1950 before Bill Stephenson left CKDA to become a significant sports' voice in Toronto,
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Postby Jack Bennest » Mon May 29, 2006 2:21 pm

Image

I believe Bill had quite a career at WX before heading east.

He is amazing like Red - still working late in life and starting very young.


This youthful septuagenarian is a fitness freak, who works out daily in the gym, plays golf and tennis and does everything broadcasters half his age do, including getting up at 4 a.m. when he's on broadcast duty.

This gifted voice has covered the most demanding events from Olympic Games to the 1972 Super Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, from dozens of Grey and Stanley Cups to world hockey tournaments, professional soccer matches and the like.

The young Bill Stephenson was sports director of CKWX in Vancouver in the 1950s and in December 1960, Wes McKnight, then sports director of CFRB, offered him the play-by-play job on Argonaut broadcasts and the CFRB Sports Director post. The rest is, more or less, history.

"I had a great life out west and covered some memorable events," Stephenson told me the other day. "One of the biggest thrills was covering the Miracle Mile during the 1954 British Empire Games, when Roger Bannister of Britain and John Landy of Australia ran the first sub-four-minute mile.

"After coming to Toronto, I was sent to Switzerland to cover the 1961 World Hockey tournament with the Trail Smoke Eaters representing Canada. They won the tournament and it took more than three decades before Canada won it again. That may have been the most memorable moment of my career."
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Postby Victoriaradio » Mon May 29, 2006 8:58 pm

Sorry about missing out the CKWX experience. :(

Victoria radio produced two national sportscasters............Ted Reynolds (CJVI) and Bill Stephenson (CKDA). More about Ted Reynolds later
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Postby Victoriaradio » Wed May 31, 2006 5:06 pm

"FROM THE STAGE OF THE DOMINION THEATRE IN DOWNTOWN VICTORIA CJVI PRESENTS - THE HOMETOWNERS." This was the opening of the 30 minute live show featuring the Hometowners as announced by Ted Reynolds. The warm up consisted of Ted Reynolds instructing the audience to applaud when his right hand went up....not his left. He teased the audience by using both hands and reprimanding them for not sticking to - right hand only applause. The Hometowners consisted of Bob McGill on vocals (also a writer at CJVI), Fred Usher (a salesman at the station) leader of the band, Ernie Fullerton on the accordion, Geoff on the fiddle, and Bill Batten on the base fiddle and the comic of the band.
Ted Reynolds at this time ( around 1948) was one of the most recogizable voices in Victoria radio. In addition to some sports, he was a regular DJ. I remember a show he did called, "Let' Get Together With Records." Ted Reynolds was the guy who emceed all the live radio gigs.
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Postby Victoriaradio » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:53 am

In the late fifties CJVI had an afternoon show called, "Around Town Today". It featured an anchor on the control board and a roving Hugh Curtis (later to become Minister of Finance for B.C.) travelling to everywhere to describe, interview and listen. CJVI had a Volkswagen bus decorated blue with the CJVI plaid. The problem was finding enough material for this roving, roving reporter show.

On another matter reference is made above to the CJVI Hometowners Band. The fact is that Victoria radio stations had several live performers "on staff" at various times. Al Smith played the piano at CJVI, Reg Stone the organ at 'VI and Bernie Ryall at CKDA. CKDA had the Continental Trio with Wally Grieve. And, of course the Hometowners at CJVI. All this before the entry of the FAX into the Victoria market.
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Postby Victoriaradio » Fri Jun 02, 2006 12:07 pm

SPECIAL PROGRAM SET FOR TONIGHT (Colonist, Aug 1, 1954).

The days of "DX' radio listening will be recalled this evening during a five hour official rededication program over CKDA.
At regular intervals, listeners in specified areas will be asked to telephone the station, reporting how they are receiving the new 5000 watt signal at 1280 kilocycles.
The listener at the most distant point in each specified area will receive a cash prize from the station.
The main portion of the official program, which starts at 5p.m. and continues until 10p.m. Sunday will be contributed by other radio stations, radio personalities, civic and provincial dignitaries and businessmen.
Radio stations across Canada from Victoria to Newfoundland, have prepared brief "surprise package" segments for broadcast Sunday. Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Margaret Whiting and Tennessee Williams are among the well known personalities who have recorded messages of congratulation.
The story of the radio station's inception and growth over the past four and one-half years will be told in a dramatized "CKDA Story" prepared under the supervision of Dave Hill. production manager, who is one of the three "old originals" of CKDA.
The "CKDA Story" tells of Dave Armstrong's early struggles to get the station on the air, and of the dramatic moment when the time for the first broadcast arrived - at the exact moment a storm blew down the transmission tower.
Highlights of CKDA's more popular programs are also featured on the "story."
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