CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

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CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby jon » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:49 am

CFCW-AM is licensed to Camrose-Edmonton these days. They are a real money maker and, these days, usually hold the record for most listeners of any music-based AM station in Canada.

I haven't researched it, as to whether there is any Internet reference that claims to know what the call letters CFCW stand for. But I have heard people question or claim that CFCW spells "Canada's First Country & Western".

I think I may finally have the answer. A couple of early CFCW employees were at the most recent Edmonton Broadcasters Club luncheon. One said that CW=Camrose-Wetaskiwin, as the original 250 watt graveyarder (1230 KHz) was intended to serve those two communities and everything in between and close by.

The City of License changed from Camrose to Camrose-Edmonton to help win the 50KW upgrade that eventually occurred in 1976. It really does provide a city-grade signal into Edmonton 24/7. The move to 840 is to address night-time listeners much farther away, though not much signal will leak to the South, mainly to protect former 1-A Clear Channel WHAS in Kentucky. Which you can still hear here in Edmonton with a mediocre radio on a decent DX night.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby TRENT310 » Thu May 06, 2010 10:51 pm

CFCW just needs an equipment upgrade, they have a very narrowband signal. I have a sticker that says they offer 'AM Stereo'... that doesn't sound like a station that would have used C-QUAM. Their cable FM feed is mono, as well as the online stream. So it's mono coming out of the equipment?

840 would have made 830 CKKY move, and I'm glad that either someone at CRTC read my letter or someone else got the same idea that FM would kill their coverage area and that was probably the first time I've been happy about the CRTC denying anything. Or CKKY could move off 830 but not onto FM, just some other AM freq... yes WCCO gets the clear channel here.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Neumann Sennheiser » Fri May 07, 2010 6:51 am

jon wrote:I haven't researched it, as to whether there is any Internet reference that claims to know what the call letters CFCW stand for. But I have heard people question or claim that CFCW spells "Canada's First Country & Western".


I was surfing through a Philadelphia radio history site a few days ago and was surprised to learn the meaning behind the call letters of the legendary WIBG.
In 1925, Dr. Theodore Elsner of St. Paul's Church in Elkins Park,a suburb just north of Philly, applied for and received a broadcast license from the Department of Commerce. He chose the call letters WIBG which stood for "Why I Believe In God" and broadcast his weekly church service over the station.
990 AM today is conservative talk radio WNTP and, ironically, WIBG's old mortal rival, WFIL is now a christian station.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby albertaboy4life » Fri May 07, 2010 2:35 pm

CFCW needs to, as Trent said, upgrade or just turn on their equipment.

It's got to be close to 15 years since I heard CFCW AM pump out an AM Stereo signal. Even when it was in Stereo, using Motorola C-QUAM, they didn't sound particularly good. I don't think they've ever had any bass and it has long sounded like a station equalised for talk programming with nothing but way too much mid-range.

Right now it seems all the bass is on sister station Q-91 which also isn't broadcasting in stereo despite the sign near highway 2 outside of Strathmore boasting 50,000 watts in AM Stereo.
Last edited by albertaboy4life on Fri May 07, 2010 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Mike Cleaver » Fri May 07, 2010 4:41 pm

So exactly how many AM Stereo receivers are out there?
I'm an anomaly.
I have three of them, all Sony.
One AM/FM Stereo Walkman.
The nice little two speaker transistor job.
And a Stereo Receiver/Amplifier.
The first two were gifts from Sony when 1050 CHUM went AM Stereo.
Until AM600 signed off here in Vancouver 2 years ago, they had a lovely AM Stereo signal.
I know there were some AM Stereo car radios but they'll probably all crushed in the bodies of the cars in the scrapyard.
Audio processing for AM is a black art.
Not many know how to do it properly.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Michael Morgan » Sat May 08, 2010 9:54 am

If fine tuning AM signals is a black art then who was the high priest/ Was it the Chief Engineer at CKLW in the late 1960's or how about Gord Skutle in edmonton?
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Mike Cleaver » Sat May 08, 2010 10:25 am

Gord Skutle was a master with AM transmitters and believed using simple processing was the best.
When I started there, CJCA was using the pretty much standard CBS Audimax/Volumax combo.
That was upgraded to an Orban processing chain but set at moderate levels for a talk/news/sports/music station.
CKLW had that great bottom end and the late chief engineer built/modified most of his processing gear and pretty much kept it a secret.
They had a massive on air sound.
1050 CHUM under Bruce Carnegie had a great sound as well as it did earlier when JRW would sit in his car and have the engineer tweak the processing until it was, to his ears, just right.
CHUM pretty much ordered every new piece of processing gear that came out and demoed it on air during overnights.
Most were rejected and sent back.
CJAD Montreal also had (has?) a great sound.
Most engineers liked to keep their processing chains proprietary information.
AM 600 here in Vancouver had more processing gear all hooked up in series than I've ever seen before but still sounded very good.
CKNW when I was there in the early part of this century was still using Audimaxes (modified by the former Chief Engineer who sometimes posts here.)
The big old tube transmitters (to me, at least) sounded better than the current solid state ones.
They're too surgically clean, as is most digital equipment unless you're prepared to pay for the top of the line product.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby freqfreak2 » Sat May 08, 2010 12:31 pm

Mike Cleaver wrote:They're too surgically clean, as is most digital equipment unless you're prepared to pay for the top of the line product.


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Off-air Audio Quality

Postby jon » Sat May 08, 2010 12:46 pm

As I've said before, I have a pretty DX-unfriendly house, especially the area where I work. I don't listen to CFCW, so don't have anything to go by. But I do know that W-14-40, also a Newcap station, sounds fabulous in my car with a bottom of the line 2003 car radio set to "flat" (no boost in bass or treble).

So, I'll let you be the judge. Hopefully these edited snippets from 1 p.m. this afternoon, recorded off air in Edmonton using Radiofan's loop antenna, will give you some idea:
Click here for CFCW (1:01, 1MB) .
Click here for W-14-40 (1:56, 2MB).

As for the earlier discussion of CFCW's AM Stereo days, that likely ended before CFCW began doing some of their shows in Edmonton. And certainly before they opened a studio in West Edmonton Mall.

CHQT was the last AM Stereo station in Northern Alberta when they were Cool 8-80. Memory is a little fuzzy now, but I'm not sure if anyone else besides CFRN-AM as Oldies 1260 was running AM Stereo at the turn of the century.
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Off-air Audio Quality

Postby jon » Sat May 08, 2010 5:23 pm

After I posted the above comments and audio, I did a little more looking around. And realized that I've never really tested this receiver on AM before. It was just over two years ago that Shaw's cable FM feed started to degrade. Before that, they had a studio stereo feed from CHQT, and all the local AM & FM stations had clean signals. So, that is what I used for all my airchecks, etc.

Realizing this, I checked out CKUA-AM on it, and noticed the bottom end of the audio spectrum was pretty much like a cheap radio from the '60s, i.e. - not good quality bass. But that didn't prove anything, as I never listen to CKUA-AM. I went out later and got a killer bass signal on CKUA-AM in the car.

I'll have to dig up another receiver for any more AM recording. I kept my two 1980s Sony component stereo receivers that both developed bad final power transistors, twice each, so can no longer be used with speakers, but the AM receivers were really good, so I'll have to check out recording through the Tape Out (before the bad Finals, in the audio chain).
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Howaboutthat » Sat May 08, 2010 5:36 pm

Holy Cow.... where's Dustin Byfuglien when you need him?
Houston, We're dealing with morons!.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Mike Cleaver » Sat May 08, 2010 6:36 pm

If you're going to do that, use just the receiver section, go in and snip the power supply leads to the output amplifiers that are fried.
If they're getting on in years, the electrolytic capacitors can be bad, leaky, explode, etc.
The tape out jacks should get you a nice clean consumer -10 line level out.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby jon » Sat May 08, 2010 7:54 pm

Mike Cleaver wrote:the electrolytic capacitors can be bad, leaky, explode, etc.

Very good point!

I hadn't thought of that, but it is a real issue here where the dry climate has turned a lot of the early power bars into electrical fire hazards thanks to the capacitors used in the surge protection circuitry. A few even have accumulated dust that can be quite flammable.

Both of my Sony receivers date from the early '80s.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Neumann Sennheiser » Sun May 09, 2010 7:21 am

All of them fail, given enough time, but the best quality "caps" were made in the 70's and 80's by U.S. and Japanese suppliers. Most capacitors now come from the usual suspects (Korea, China, Indonesia) and, for the most part, are extremely cheaply made with a much shorter life-span. A repair guy I know who likes to buy up and refurbish old sound and video equipment from those earlier eras recommends examining and replacing capacitors regularly; they're fairly inexpensive parts and as long as you're inside the case anyway, well, why not.
It causes much worse problems once they start to leak.
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Re: CFCW - What do those call letters stand for?

Postby Mike Cleaver » Sun May 09, 2010 10:39 am

Capacitors of various brands and price ranges, up to the "audiophool" category, still are available.
The el cheapo electrolytics will fail in a variety of ways more quickly than the better quality ones.
You still can get replacements for old audio gear, such as the multi-section cans, still American made on the original equipment from Antique Radio Supply in the US.
Capacitors for tube equipment must be more robust because you're dealing with high voltages.
In surface mount or transistorized gear, the voltage ranges are much lower.
But if you like 3 thousand dollar power cords and thousand dollar a foot speaker wire, there are capacitors for you too!
Take a look at the Mouser or Digikey on-line catalogues and you can see the vast array of what's available and the wide range in prices.
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