History



The Radio News Service location has a rich history.

Studios on these premises were once the home of Foster Hewitt’s CKFH Radio, and later Telemedia’s CJCL. Hewitt opened the station in 1951. The Yonge & Grenville location was ideal—just around the corner from Maple Leaf Gardens, where Hewitt became an icon in Canadian sports culture with his Toronto Maple Leaf broadcasts as the voice of Hockey Night In Canada. On CKFH, Hewitt began to broadcast the out-of-town mid-week games, which replaced the “reconstructed” broadcasts on another station.

In May of 1953, the station played a role in one of the most famous jazz recordings of all time. Known simply as “The Quintet”, Charlie Mingus (bass), Charlie Parker (alto sax), Dizzie Gillespie (trumpet), Max Roach (drums) and Bud Powell (piano) played an historic concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Afterward, Mingus brought the tapes to CKFH at 2 in the morning to give them a listen. Much to his chagrin, Mingus discovered that his bass was barely audible. Rather than give up the tapes to the Jazz Society of Toronto, which had sponsored the concert, he took them back to New York and over-dubbed his bass lines in a studio. The rest, as they say, is history.

For many years, CKFH was a middle-of-the-road music station, but on January 2, 1967 – just before the Summer of Love – CKFH shook up the Toronto radio scene by playing album cuts, R&B, British music and Canadian artists that were not being played by its competitors. It’s been described as underground radio on the AM dial, predating the legendary CHUM-FM by a year.

The CKFH deejays included Don Daynard, Dan O’Neil, Tom Fulton, Big “G” Walters, Kenny Wells, Norman B, Mike Williams and Gary Dean. Former CKFH/CJCL personalities also include Andy Barrie, John Oakley, Joe Bowen, Scott Walker, John Donabie and Keith Hampshire. Renowned Canadian Senator Keith Davey was a Sales Manager for CKFH from 1949 until 1960, the year he entered politics.

In 1981, Telemedia purchased the station and built new on-air facilities. Sports continued to take center stage with CJCL as the home of Leafs’ and Blue Jays’ games, broadcast over the Telemedia radio network.

In 1993, the station changed locations. Dynamix Productions moved in and upgraded the studios , and within a few years, Radio News Service was born.


"The Greatest Station Never Heard"

Download a PDF of this op ed piece (courtesy of Broadcast Dialogue) by Leslie Sole, former C-E-O of Rogers Media Television, on what CKFH was like in the 1980’s.