so where does XWA Montreal fit into it?

Scott Fybush
Thu Mar 5 11:10:59 EST 2009

Kevin Vahey wrote:
> I am sure local politics entered into the equation back then. It
> appears from research that CKAC had some English programming at the
> time since it was an affiliate of CBS. There is still no getting
> around that CFCF was shafted badly. It got worse for CFCF when CJAD
> came along and was able to carve out a decent pattern even with CKLW
> 600 miles to the west.
> I have never been able to pin down how CFRB Toronto lost its clear
> channel allocation of 860 and wound up on 1010 protecting WINS. CJBC
> was a secondary CBC affiliate and only went all French in the mid
> 60's.

I'm away from my research material, having spent the week in Lisa's 
hospital room after her surgery Monday (she's doing great and should be 
home in a day or two), but here are some thoughts on this thread, in no 
particular order:

It's my understanding that prior to NARBA, Mexico didn't have any 
channels reserved to it by treaty, hence the border blasters that 
operated wherever they could squeeze in. I'm pretty sure some of them 
used non-standard channels - wasn't XER/XERA on 835 or somesuch?

Even after NARBA created channels for Mexico - 800, 900, 940, 1570, and 
I'm sure I'm missing one or two here working from memory - the distance 
between Canada and Mexico was such that those channels effectively 
became Canadian clears, too.


While I respect XWA's claim to a 1919 start date, the evidence I've seen 
suggests that unlike some of the other pioneers, Marconi in Montreal 
didn't maintain a continuous schedule from 1919 onward. There were big 
gaps before regular scheduled service began circa 1922, making it more 
of an experimental operation than anything else until then.

I'm not sure I agree that language politics kept CFCF from becoming a 
higher-powered signal. As others have noted, CKAC had substantial 
English-language content (mostly from the US networks) into at least the 
late 30s. Moreover, it's my understanding that it wasn't until the 1960s 
that the Francophone political movement had amassed enough power to be 
able to keep an Anglo station from going high powered.

I think two other factors were at play: first, there were political 
issues surrounding CFCF's foreign (English Marconi) ownership, and 
second, very few privately-owned Canadian AMs were getting high power 
prior to the explosion of directional 50 kW signals in the fifties.

CKAC, CFRB and CKY in Winnipeg were very much the exceptions on a 
broadcast scene that found most private stations running no more than 1 
or maybe 5 kW.

Which brings us to CFRB's situation: the CBC evidently had sufficient 
political power during the WWII era to be able to take over private 
high-powered facilities. It happened in Winnipeg, where CKY, with 50 kW 
on clear-channel 990, ended up in CBC hands as CBW.

In Toronto, the CBC had operated CBY as a secondary service, ending up 
on 1010 after NARBA with relatively low power. Somehow the CBC had the 
political clout to swap facilities between CBY and privately-owned CFRB, 
which had been running 10 kW ND on 860 after NARBA. (I think it had been 
on 960 pre-NARBA; CBL had been on 840 with 50 kW ND.)

It may be that the CBC had to pay for the construction of high-powered 
DA facilities on 1010 for CFRB after the swap; certainly CFRB still has 
one of the better AM signals in Toronto apart from the 740/860 pair.


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