BRINGING BACK THE MEMORIES OF CANADA'S FIRST ROCK AND ROLL AM RADIO STATION
EULOGY Born: October 28, 1945, Toronto, Ontario, Canada After a few reincarnations 1050 CHUM quietly passed away on March 26, 2009 1050 CHUM was a legendary Top 40 powerhouse from the late 1950s through to the early 1980s. The station had a formula no other station has been able to duplicate.
Through the formative ‘50s, the unforgettable ‘60s and the interesting ‘70s, 1050 CHUM played a major role in shaping the radio landscape in Toronto. Recording acts from Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Guess Who, Elton John, The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers and Bob Seger not only graced the airwaves but walked the halls of 1050 CHUM.
The radio station was famous for the CHUM Chart. From 1957 to 1986, 1,512 consecutive weekly charts were published, making it the longest-running chart of its kind in the world. Also, 1050 CHUM was noteworthy for hosting many famous rock concerts including, among others, visits to Maple Leaf Gardens by Elvis Presley (1957) and The Beatles (1964, '65, and '66).
"1050 CHUM" was a legendary Top 40 powerhouse during the late 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.
Early history and Top 40 format
CHUM AM was launched as a dawn-to-dusk radio station on October 28, 1945 by Jack Q'Part, an entrepreneur in the business of patent medicines. The station, then operating from studios in the Mutual Street Arena, was taken over in December 1954 by Allan Waters, a salesman from Q'Parts' patent medicine business. Waters' first major move was to secure a license for 24-hour-a-day broadcasting for CHUM, along with a power increase to 5,000 watts. Less than three years after Waters acquired the station, and soon after bringing the new fulltime transmitter online, a major programming change was made. On May 27 1957, Waters switched to a "Top 50" format that had proven itself popular in some U.S. cities; Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up" was the first song played. "1050 CHUM" pioneered rock and roll radio in Toronto, and was noteworthy for hosting many noteworthy rock concerts including, among others, visits to Maple Leaf Gardens by Elvis Presley (1957) and The Beatles (1964, '65, and '66). While the station was rising to the top of the popularity ratings in Toronto in the early 1960s, it also built yet another new transmitter in Mississauga, Ontario (a few miles west of the current Toronto city line) along the Lake Ontario shoreline, and raised its power once again to its current 50,000 watts around the clock.
CHUM DJs of the 1960s were zany morning man Al Boliska, who quit in late 1963 to go 'across the street' to CKEY.He was replaced by WKBW, Buffalo radio & TV personality Jay Nelson, popularly known as "Jungle Jay" from his role as host of a children's show on Buffalo's Channel 7 which was also popular among Toronto youngsters. He would be followed by housewives' jock John Spragge; singer/DJ Mike Darow; Pete Nordheimer, replaced in 1961 by witty Bob McAdorey; teen DJ Dave Johnson; and all night maven Bob Laine. Later additions to the CHUM DJ lineup included Duff Roman and Brian Skinner, both of whom came over from CKEY (then owned by Jack Kent Cooke). In the late 1960s, early 1970s, CHUM DJ's included Duke Roberts (also known as Gary Duke for a time), Johnny Mitchell (better known today as Sonny Fox), J. Michael Wilson, Tom Rivers, Scott Carpenter, Jim Van Horne, John Rode, Don Reagan, Terry Steele and Roger Ashby. Among their later mighttime hosts was John D. Roberts, who joined CHUM in 1977 and would eventually become known across North America as White House correspondent for CBS-TV and host of CNN's morning program "American Morning."
CHUM was also well known for its contests, like the 1970s' "I Listen to CHUM" promotion, in which DJs would dial phone numbers at random and award $1,000 to anyone who answered the phone with that phrase.
From gold-based to oldies
By the mid-1980s, CHUM had lost ground in the Toronto ratings to competitor Top 40 station CFTR and FM-based music stations. On June 6, 1986, CHUM dropped its Top 40 format for a heavily gold-based adult contemporary format ("Favourites of Yesterday and Today"). By 1989, CHUM adopted an oldies format, drawing heavily on its previous Top 40 reputation to cater to the fans of that era's music.