In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

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In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

Postby jon » Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:48 am

XL Radio broadcasting despite having no licence
Bob Blakey, Calgary Herald.
Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alta.: Sep 17, 1996. pg. D.3

Canada's broadcast regulator has a message for XL Radio -- get off the air.

The AM station, at 1140 on the dial, continues to beam programming out to Calgarians, even though its licence has expired.

Last week the station was told they should no longer be broadcasting, said Lucie Sincennes, an officer of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The CRTC, she said Monday is "looking into" XL's continued presence on the air.

According to a business deal announced in the spring, XL traded its AM licence for one on the FM band. Known as Kiss FM, the station rapidly became the city's No. 1 or No. 2 station, according to how you measure ratings.

But XL Radio stayed on -- and on and on. The station continues to play a mix of hits and album tracks in the morning, then sells time later in the day to a religious broadcaster and another one in the evening that airs Chinese-language programming.

XL owner Elmer Hildebrand, head of Golden West Broadcasting of Altona, Man., couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

In the sale, Calgary's Rawlco Communications ended up with majority ownership of the FM outlet and Golden West got XL and a minority share of Kiss.

But the Manitoba company's interest in XL doesn't die with the station's sign-off. Golden West owns CHRB High River, and wants to move it to XL's 1140 frequency.

It also has applied for permission to take over XL's 50,000-watt transmitter for CHRB and scrap the High River station's current 10,000-watt transmitter. Hildebrand told the CRTC in Calgary in July that a more powerful transmitter would better serve High River and area residents.

A local radio consultant who asked not to be named said he believes Hildebrand is keeping XL on the air for the sake of "continuity." A period of silence on 1140 between an XL sign off and a takeover by CHRB could cost the operation listeners.

XL Radio was once the biggest station in Calgary. In the 1970s, its formula of flamboyant disc jockeys and top-40 rock far outdistanced all competitors. Starting in the late 1980s, ill-conceived format and call-letter changes (before ultimately reverting to "XL") hastened the listener exodus, and it fell to last place in the ratings.
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1140

Postby jon » Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:49 am

Thanks to AlbertaBoy4Life for passing this along after noting historical errors in yesterday's Today in Broadcast History (which I have corrected).
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Re: CKXL

Postby Neumann Sennheiser » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:00 am

Bob Blakey, Calgary Herald wrote:XL Radio was once the biggest station in Calgary. In the 1970s, its formula of flamboyant disc jockeys and top-40 rock far outdistanced all competitors.


Oh yeah..Johnny Walker, Ted Pound, Dr. Dan and me....we all like to think we inspired Elton John, Rick James and Freddie Mercury to be all that they were in the faaaaaabulous 70's!
"You don't know man! I was in radio man! I've seen things you wouldn't believe!"
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Re: In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

Postby albertaboy4life » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:13 am

I suspect the unnamed consultant in Bob Blakey's article to be Dennis Corie but I have no proof just a hunch.

To add to NS' comments -

Glory days of radio: The standard for a generation is leaving the AM dial; [FINAL Edition]
Bob Blakey, Calgary Herald. Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alta.: Mar 20, 1996. pg. C.1

(Copyright The Calgary Herald)

Call it a golden era in radio or one long party. Veterans of CKXL Radio in its heyday have such memories, and more. As the Calgary station prepares to close its doors forever, at least one former XL staffer knows what he wants:

``We should have a wake,'' says Murray Dale, now a TV reporter on Channel 3.

Some time this summer, the station will give up its AM licence, which will be swapped for an FM one with a new name and format.

A generation of Calgarians grew up listening to CKXL. They slapped its gaudy yellow stickers on car windows and bumpers, latched on to its promotions and followed the big yellow ``Fun Bus'' trail like it was some enchanting road to Oz.

``Those were the glory days of radio,'' says former XL announcer Bill Powers.

``You'll never see numbers like that again,'' referring to a local market domination by a few stations.

``I was such a nut for CKXL,'' recalls Mary-Lynn McEwen, 33, who was raised in this city. ``I'm technically a Generation Xer but I love baby boom music. The reason is XL.''

Near its peak, the station drew 220,000 listeners weekly in the 18-to-34 age group, 67,000 ahead of the nearest rival, CFAC.

CKXL had personality and personalities. Two of the big names were Norm Edwards, a witty, irreverent morning man, and Powers, another funny guy who is now at QR 77.

Edwards, who died in 1991 of lung cancer, epitomized the station's late-1970s verve and confidence.

However, the phenomenon began a decade earlier. Bob Robertson, these days half of the CBC comedy duo Double Exposure, joined XL in 1968, about a year after station boss Bill Pryor charted a legendary course. In the early and mid-1960s, CFAC had been the dominant rock station, then walked away from the teen listeners.

``At that point there was a vacuum in the market as far as rock music went,'' says Robertson, who hired sports writer Powers away from the daily Albertan.

``That's when CKXL stepped in and became a rock station.''

Suddenly, more and more kids were tuning in to 1140.

Nobody cared that the station had signed on in 1926 and once aired everything in the can, including religious shows. CKXL was now.

XL started hiring people with a sense of the outlandish.

Robertson remembers an American-born DJ named Michael James Anthony O'Brien who, in 1970, liked to phone people and have fun with them, using a tape recorder. One time he claimed to be Waldo the Great and almost convinced a Calgary Tower maintenance man to join him on a walk, using suction cups, up the tower.

In another instance O'Brien phoned a broadcasting school, pretending to be a novice. The co-owner said he needed a course, and later pressed charges because O'Brien didn't say he was taping, which was illegal then.

CKXL had to pay $27, Robertson says.

``We couldn't have bought that publicity anywhere.''

Dale O'Hara, currently the news boss at Channel 3 TV, ran news for XL from 1968-'73.

``We had more fun than the average bear,'' he says, stealing a Yogi Bear line. ``We were a dominant force as far as the teens were concerned.''

There was also DJ Johnny Walker, who carefully rotated hit singles so they weren't repeated too often, assisted by a computer program that won, in 1974, a broadcaster's award for innovation.

Powers remembers being prominently featured in a local newspaper piece and being praised by his boss, who wanted to give him a raise but couldn't. He told Powers to start submitting fat expenses and be creative.

Meanwhile, Powers had a fridge in his office. He kept beer in it. He could sip whenever he wanted, but other staffers had to wait till 4:30 p.m. each day, and he charged them a buck a bottle.

Even so, the station was professionally run, and serious about ratings.

``It was programmed well. It was managed well,'' says Jim Jackson, the only announcer still at XL (since 1976).

Also, it had a strong news department, better than any station today, says O'Hara.

He remembers his news team leading a raid on traffic barriers in Mount Royal and smashing them with sledge hammers. CFCN-TV reporter Ralph Klein interviewed the radio guys.

Each morning at 8:10, an editorial was broadcast, firing shots at some politician or business or whatever, and news stories sometimes resembled editorials.

In 1974, about 100 high school students petitioned against the ``free-wheeling style'' of XL's journalism, but most listeners liked it.

``Dale (O'Hara) took a run at a towing operator, calling him a crook, and he sued for a zillion dollars,'' says Powers.

It was settled out of court.

On another occasion, Murray Dale was sent to Europe to follow an Alberta politician suspected of going on a boondoggle trip at taxpayers' expense.

``They were willing to spend a couple of bucks in those days,'' Dale recalls. ``I guess because they had the bucks.''

The station's slow demise probably started about the time that Edwards jumped ship to CHQR in 1985. CFCN Radio became AM 106 and targeted the rock crowd, as did CFR and the FM outlets, all stealing XL's audience. By 1987 the unrelenting decline was picking up speed.

As for the former XL premises upstairs at 804 16th Ave. S.W., they're not a cobwebby collection of rooms, but the home of a thriving young company: Midnight HWY Films.

Today, XL radio is still at 1140, broadcasting out of High River until it signs off for good.

It airs a bit of everything musically for a while each day. Then it switches to religious programming in the afternoon, a strange reminder of long-ago times.

It Was A Blast

Wendy Derennger, who now lives in Vancouver, did promotions work at XL from 1978-'81.

``We had a blast,'' she says, especially on the Fun Bus, which went to every county fair it could find. There were dunk-tanks, kissing booths and baseball games.

Promotions boss Bruce Davidson would dream up a publicity campaign and an hour later it was on the air.

``It was like improv theatre,'' says Derennger.

Greg Haraldson, who was there from 1970-'84, remembers, ``It was a lot of fun, but it was intense.

``We wanted to win, and we won big,'' says Haraldson, now program director at Country 105.

One winner was announcer Keith James's famous ``Drive Decent'' campaign, involving car stickers with that message.

It drew the ire of the police chief, who knew a crime of grammar when he saw one. Yet virtually the whole city embraced it or at least talked about it.

You still occasionally see rusted, 1970s cars toting that Drive Decent sticker.

***

Now about those aircheck tapes . . .
Faster cars, younger women, older cheese, more money . . .
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Re: In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

Postby Mike Cleaver » Sat Jun 05, 2010 10:50 am

I have to say the less than a year I spent at CKXL in 1971 was one of the most exciting in my radio career.
I was hired by Dale O'Hara to do the half hour newscasts on the morning show while he did top of the hour.
There basically were no rules.
He let me do my own style and encouraged us to, as much as I hate this phrase, "push the envelope."
It was the year XL won "Station of the Year."
There was a huge party with absolutely massive prizes such as trips and colour tvs.
It definitely was a party station!
Lots of staff events, barley sandwich lunches at a nearby pub with Dale almost every day and almost weekly free dinners at a nearby steakhouse, now long gone, barbeques and horseback riding parties and of course all the freebies that went with working at the top rocker during the '70's.
When Toronto called, I really had no intention of leaving.
Dale said "Go and have a fun weekend and when you come back, I'll give you more money."
He said they'd offer me a grand a month (I was making 800 at XL) but CHUM offered almost twice that!
Needless to say, I decided to take the step up the ladder.
But I remember fondly every day I spent in Calgary and all the great people with whom I was able to work.
Robert G Lowe was the only person there I ever worked with again, as Rob Christie!
Mike Cleaver Broadcast Services
Engineering, News, Voice work and Consulting
Vancouver, BC, Canada

54 years experience at some of Canada's Premier Broadcasting Stations
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Re: In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

Postby jon » Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:59 am

The fun evidently "just kept on coming", even after Mike's departure. A couple of years back, Marty Forbes addressed the Edmonton Broadcasters Club as featured luncheon speaker. One of his stories was about a large entourage of XL staff flying up to Edmonton on PWA's Airbus in the early evening. Len Thuesen let them in to CHED where they creatively decorated some staff workplaces. As revenge for something CHED had beat XL at competitively.

Marty was at XL from 1972 to 1978, part or all of the time as Creative Director.
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Re: In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

Postby Howaboutthat » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:58 pm

jon wrote:One of his stories was about a large entourage of XL staff flying up to Edmonton on PWA's Airbus in the early evening.


PWA never had an Airbus jet. It was strictly Boeing.
Sorry, but I'm rather pedantic about these things. ;)
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Airbus

Postby jon » Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:06 pm

Airbus has two meanings in Alberta. Both originated in the 1960s, one here in Alberta and the other in Europe as a consortium of airline manufacturers.

PWA's invention was quite different: "The concept of the AirBus was that passengers could walk onto an aircraft like a bus and purchase a ticket on board without making a reservation. The AirBus service was to fly from Edmonton’s downtown airport to Calgary."
ref. - http://www.abheritage.ca/aviation/histo ... onton.html

As for type of aircraft: "The first flight of the AirBus was on 21 May 1963, with a DC-4 that PWA had used in their DEW Line work." (ibid)
PWA gradually worked towards using nothing but 737s after doing some design modifications that would allow them to land on gravel airstrips in the North.
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Re: Airbus

Postby Howaboutthat » Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:23 pm

jon wrote:As for type of aircraft: "The first flight of the AirBus was on 21 May 1963, with a DC-4 that PWA had used in their DEW Line work." (ibid)


Sorry Jon, but the AirBus (and you capitalize it correctly) was not a 'type' of aircraft. It was a service.
A Boeing 737-200, which PWA used, is a 'type' of aircraft... a DC-4, is a 'type' of aircraft... an Airbus A320 is a 'type' of aircraft.
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Re: Airbus

Postby jon » Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:35 pm

Howaboutthat wrote:
jon wrote:As for type of aircraft: "The first flight of the AirBus was on 21 May 1963, with a DC-4 that PWA had used in their DEW Line work." (ibid)


Sorry Jon, but the AirBus (and you capitalize it correctly) was not a 'type' of aircraft. It was a service.
A Boeing 737-200, which PWA used, is a 'type' of aircraft... a DC-4, is a 'type' of aircraft... an Airbus A320 is a 'type' of aircraft.

I hadn't intended to imply otherwise. I was simply trying to use a quote to indicate that they started with a DC-4 (eventually moving to all 737s).
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Re: In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

Postby Howaboutthat » Sat Jun 05, 2010 4:05 pm

I warned you I was pedantic. ;)

Many TV stations have received an email from me when they do a story about one type of aircraft and show a shot of another.

Global out here is constantly using video of Air Canada 747's as b-roll, when that type of aircraft hasn't been in their fleet for almost 6 years.
Houston, We're dealing with morons!.
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Re: In 1996 on 1140 in Calgary

Postby Marty Forbes » Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:21 pm

Hi guys. Jon it was actually a private plane. The late Wayne Bryant had his pilots licence and flew us up.
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