Moment #3: 680 AM
Fine Tuned: Moving into AM Radio with 680
When Ted Rogers started his company with Canada’s first FM radio station, CHFI, only 5-10% of listeners had an FM receiver. AM radio dominated the airwaves – and fledging CHFI would benefit from an AM “sister station” for promotion as the new FM technology took hold. The solution? The launch of CHFI-AM 1540 in simulcast on August 8, 1962 as a daytime clear-channel frequency.
As families gathered to watch TV together, radio was evolving, becoming a more personal one-to-one experience, and Ted wanted to be able to reach every radio listener – at every time of day. There was just one problem: there was no room on the AM dial for a new 24-hour Toronto station.
From obstacle to opportunity
As he would do time and again, Ted surrounded himself with experts who made the impossible, possible. His engineers identified 680 as the AM frequency with the fewest hurdles to overcome – they just needed to work around 680 CHLO to the southwest in St. Thomas, Ontario; and 680 WRVM to the southwest in Rochester, New York.
Schematics showed that transmitters south and west of Toronto could beam the signal into the city without causing interference in the other markets – or so it seemed on paper. The reality, on the airwaves, was a different matter. Ted persisted. He needed these small market stations to move elsewhere on the dial – moves he facilitated with community investments and marketing campaigns to help ensure the local success of those stations. It was still a gamble – the regulators had not yet granted Rogers the licence for 680 – but in time they would, determining that maximizing spectrum in key markets was in the public interest.
Changing with the times
In 1963, CHFI-AM moved to 680 on the dial, and 24-hour broadcasts soon followed. In 1971, the station was renamed CFTR – the “TR” a tribute to Ted’s late father – and in 1972 it adopted the Top 40 music format that would make it #1 in the market. As music migrated to FM, 680 moved to its current all-news format in 1993 – the first all-news radio station in Canada.
60 proud years of connecting Canadians
Sixty years ago, Ted Rogers started Rogers to connect Canadians to the people, places and things that matter most. Each and every day we honour his relentless drive to make more possible for Canadians.