Salute to CHQT Edmonton on the 50th anniversary of the station!

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Presented by Craig Roskin to the Edmonton Broadcasters Club!

(April 2015)

Craig Roskin

 

By Marty Forbes

Marty’s Musings

April 19th, 2015

 

A thank you off the top to the Executive for the invitation to speak this morning on a topic obviously near and dear to my and my family hearts, and the hearts of the Dyck family

CHQT was born 50 years ago this year, the brainchild of two relatively-young broadcast veterans at the time, Murray David Dyck and my father, Lewis Ross Roskin, better known as ‘Uncle Lew‘.

 

Now I should point-out right away that Murray, as many of you know, also had a nickname. His
nickname was……………..wait for it……CURLY……………..yes, ‘Curly’ Dyck!

When I spoke recently with Murray’s son, Roger—who is soon to return from Arizona and regrettably couldn’t attend today—I asked Roger how his dad’s nickname originated and he explained that from the time his dad was in high school, he had a head of thick, very wavy black hair.

When I said, “Oh, that’s how he got his nickname!”, Roger then said, “No, actually it’s because Dad
had a curly dick.” [ok, I admit…………..the first part of that is true, the second part isn’t.)

AND NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY………………for those of you who remember that popular radio series with Paul Harvey.

CHQT staff members from the past 50 years!

 

I’d first like to give you a bit of Murray’s and Dad’s early broadcast history…………

Murray started his broadcast career in the 1930s at CFQC, Saskatoon, and like most wanna-be
broadcasters at the time, worked his way up from transmitter operator, to copywriter, to late nite, on-
location, and weekend announcer, to that lowest job on the totem pole, SALES. kiddingKIDDING

After his stint with the Air Force during WW II, Murray returned to Saskatoon as Assistant GM and
General Sales Manager at CKOM. He later came to CHED, Edmonton, as GM, in 1955.

Dad’s career followed a similar if not more circuitous route, having first won an ‘Amateur Radio
Broadcast Announcing’ contest in 1937 sponsored by CJOC, Lethbridge. He was 17 years old, beat out 149 other contestants,
and won the princely sum of $15, and, more importantly was offered a job.

He, too, was a general-duty announcer at CJOC, and later a sports announcer, working with the
famous Henry Viney.

In 1946, after military service, Dad moved to Winnipeg to accept a position as Program Director
with new station CJOB, then in 1947 first came to Edmonton as Special Events Director with CFRN,
then moved on to become General Manager of CJDC, Dawson Creek…..my hometown, by the way!

He later held the GM position at CFCN in Calgary, then a second posting to Edmonton in 1956 as GSM CHED, and finally out to the West Coast as GM with CKLG, Vancouver.

Well now that we have a bit of early background about the founders, just how—and why—did
these two broadcasters decide to start CHQT?

The genesis of this new radio station and its new music format was multifaceted.

Murray and Dad’s lives first intersected when they worked together at CHED for about 6 years,from the mid to late ’50s. Again…….at that time, Murray was GM and Dad GSM.

Fast forward to 1964 with Murray still GM at CHED and Dad GM at CKLG, Vancouver, both Moffat-owned stations at the time.

Sadly, the patriarch of Moffat Broadcasting, Lloyd Moffat, died in Hawaii while vacationing with my parents.

After Lloyd’s death, the new regime, with Lloyd’s son now at the helm, wanted to make changes ‘at the top’. Now it’s most important to note that both Murray and Dad were very displeased with the new direction the company was taking, and they talked of their displeasure on many occasions.

The tipping point arrived when they made an almost ‘blood-brother’ agreement to comprehensively investigate the potential of a new station in Edmonton.

While both were still employed with Moffat, they agreed to meet half-way between Edmonton and Vancouver, ultimately deciding on Glacier National Park on the Roger’s Pass Highway. There on August 4th, 1964, in the small confines of a camping trailer of all places, the CHQT concept—that of an alternative, quality music station for Edmonton— was born!

The timing could not have been much better,as Dad was advised very shortly after that fateful mountain meeting that the new management wanted him to transfer to Winnipeg.

He was not particularly ‘tickled’ with the idea of moving—notwithstanding he and Murray had already reached the ‘point of no return’—and, quite frankly, my Mother was even less enthralled. (as an aside, it occurred to me that this situation may have also been the birth of the expression, ‘Happy wife, Happy life’!)

Suffice to say that the transfer-request—and shall we call it my parents’ ‘hesitation’–led to some rather—let’s call it–‘interesting’ office politics at Moffat, culminating with Dad being summarily fired. (geez, must run in the family)

So, what next?

In the cold light of day, and with the realization that they must now translate their
dreams into reality, the search for investment funds was on! Almost simultaneously,
our heroes spoke the name of Dr. Charles Allard who was apparently eager to expand his investment portfolio, and, more importantly, had a sterling reputation.

The meeting was arranged, with Dad joining Murray in Edmonton, in preparation for their pitch to Dr. Allard and his business partner, Zane Feldman of Crosstown Motors fame.

The presentation proved successful and a partnership was formed with Allard’s Paris Investments, with Paris owning controlling interest. Plans were then made for executing the next steps.

It was decided that Dad would be the point man on the CRTC application—and a paid employee of the new entity-while Murray would remain at CHED until the new station was no longer a covert operation.

To this day, I can remember Dad bringing some of his work home, and toiling into the night for many, many nights, working on budgets, and schematics, and perusing the engineers’ technical coverage maps—and I’m sure Murray was doing exactly the same.

After hundreds of hours of preparation and consulting, the application was presented to the CRTC.

The long wait thereafter was painful, but ultimately worth it as CHQT was granted a licence for a new AM station in Edmonton.

Approval was contingent, however, on the station honouring its promise of in-depth news, good quality music and limited commercials. It was proposed to operate on 1, 110kHz—or 1110 on the dial—with a power of 10,000 watts.

THEN the hardest part began—taking all the plans, and ideas, and budgets, and human resource
requirements—and all the promises—and actually creating and building a successful radio station.

Well, it happened!
CHQT was launched on Thursday, August 19th, 1965, from its first studios on Jasper Avenue and
112th Street, with a staff of 13, to become the seventh radio station in the Edmonton market.

It became known as the Quality Radio Station or the Good Music Station.

The music format was described as ‘Easy Listening’, from ‘Middle of the Road’ selections, to old standards, show tunes, film scores, jazz, and light-classical, classical and even opera.

Even the commercials were ‘screened’ to ensure compatibility with their music concept.

The station also introduced a second new concept to the listening area, by broadcasting music in 10
minute blocks without commercial breaks, and deliberately limiting the the number of
commercial messages allowed by Government—essentially an FM concept on AM Radio.

Station policy was for the announcers to be ‘low-key’ and not simply talking to fill dead air, but saying something meaningful in the shortest time possible. At the outset, announcers were not even allowed to use their names on air, in deliberate contrast to the personality-hype offered by other stations.

More momentos from CHQT!

 

My how thingschanged!

When the popularity and the ‘personality’ of the station grew so quickly, the popularity of the on-air personalities also grew quickly, thus creating the need to promote the talent.

Murray and Dad also believed passionately in a strong and committed news presence as an integral part of the station’s philosophy, including nine 10-minute newscasts per day. The early years also saw a strong commitment to community involvement.

Now we often hear speakers at a podium say, “I shouldn’t start to name names for fear of forgetting
someone” so I probably shouldn’t either–so apologies in advance–however, for nostalgia-sake, some
of the earliest on-air talent included IRV SHORE, JOHNNY BOHONOS, JOHN SCRIMSHAW,
GARRY GAUDET, ROGER CHAREST, JULES ROSS, ED KOLMAS, JOE EVANS, BOB
BRADBURN, LORNE KING, BOBBY NG, GORDON ROSS, DON ANDREWS, LARRY ROSS, STU MELBY, MURRAY BLAKELY, ARLINE DEE, RON DYCK, and of course, ED MASON.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a ‘personality’ of a different kind, and that’s Frank Makepeace, Chief Eng, who helped build QT’s technical infrastructure, with Bob Hunter taking over in later yrs

I thought it appropriate at this time to provide a brief chronology of CHQT—the operative word being ‘brief’……………post-1965 : I think you’ll agree that it truly is an interesting history.

In 1970 having worked in rather cramped quarters on 112th street for 5 years, the studios and offices moved to a location on 103rd street, just North of Jasper, where they stayed for almost 17 years.

1972 brought dark clouds to Dr. Allard’s financial empire.

A troubled commercial airline operation and an American-based petrochemical business, both struggled to survive. In need of cash, Dr. Allard was forced to sell one of his seemingly untouchable assets, CHQT Radio, which he had owned for 7 years.

I clearly remember how shocked Dad was to hear the news that his and Murray’s ‘baby’ would be sold. Both were convinced that the station was many years away from reaching its peak revenue-generating years—and they were ultimately proved correct—however, the cash was needed immediately, and the station was sold to Mr. Scotty Shoults who was based in Victoria, and owned QT for 18years thereafter Dad remained with the station as General Manager for those 18 years until two sales later in 1993.

In 1976 theCRTC granted permission to increase QT’s power to 50,000 watts,which took effect in 1979.

1979 saw CHQT’s application for a 64,000 watt FM station in Edmonton turned down by the CRTC

1982 was called the year of the ‘Big Move’, as QT moved just next door to the 22nd floor of the LePage Tower and I’m told it was a rather exciting first morning on air. Apparently, about an hour after sign-on the newsroom control board exploded and caught fire as News Director, Ed Mason, was reading the 8 a.m. news. The station was quiet for a couple of minutes, until arrangements were quickly made to share the main studio ‘musical-chairs-style’, with morning host, Bob Bradburn.

1985 brought approval for CHQT to move from 1110 kHz to 880 kHz, and would remain at 50,000 watts with an ‘adjusted’ radiation pattern….just threw that technical part in for Bob Hunter and any other engineering-types

1987 marked a rather special event, that being Dad’s 50th year in the broadcast industry.

In 1990, the CRTC approved the sale of Shoults’ CHQT to Bill Yuill’s Monarch Broadcasting, with Dad staying on as Vice President, Corporate Affairs.

Ah, 1993 The station was sold yet again, this time from Monarch to Shaw Radio. QT then moved into new digs with its new sister-station, CISN-FM.

It seemed Dad’s incredible ‘run’ of some 53 years was now over………………….or was it?

He decided that full-retirement was certainly not for him, so he started his own broadcasting consulting company, aptly named ROSKIN COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

The legacy continued………..

And just a heads-up that you’ll need a program for these last few entries…………

1999 saw Corus Entertainment formed from the media assets of Shaw Communications.

2001 saw AM 880 CHQT change formats from ‘Familiar Favourites’ to ‘COOL 880’ ‘Good Times & Great Oldies.’

2003 saw COOL 880 become JOE-FM, playing hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

2004 QT returned to Oldies,COOL 880, while the JOE format moved to sister-station CKNGFM

OKAY, HOLD ON………….JUST ONE MORE, and it’s a big one!

2008 On May 8th, live programming ended on COOL 880 to allow for studio renovations and rehearsals for the All News format. The Oldies format stopped on May 20th, when iNEWS 880 debuted with news, weather, sports, business & market updates, traffic reports every 10 minutes, and local Internet blogs every half-hour.

As a result of that unique format change some seven year’s ago, it’s my understanding that iNEWS880 is today the Number One station in Edmonton…among the ALL NEWS formatted stations, that is!!

Well, radio stations may live forever, but not so radio broadcasters…..

Murray Dyck, born November 12th, 1916, passed away on April 29th, 2002, age 85
‘Uncle Lew’, born in Moose Jaw, on July 16th, 1920, died on Boxing Day, 2009, age 89

AND NOW, the words that most audiences look forward to hearing—altho I’m sure not this audience—the words, “And in closing…”
Just a couple of friendly tips for you broadcast writers and on-air types. ‘Uncle Lew’ is looking down and making notes of any grammatical errors, including, but not exclusive to, the following three examples [many of you former QTers will relate to these as I’m sure you’ve heard them before!]

1. the word “none”, shortened over the centuries from the word “noone”, is singular, as in “None was hurt.”……not, “None were hurt.”

2. it is acceptable to write or say, “At this point…”, however, unacceptable to use, “At this point in time.”

3. and from a weather perspective, it’s okay to write or say, “It’s currently 10 degrees and raining.”, however, not okay to write or say, “It’s 10 degrees and raining outside.” (where else would it be raining?)

4. BTW, I have a list with two or three dozen more of Dad’s ‘don’ts’, so if interested, pls see me after the program.

Ladies and gentlemen, former and current QT’ers, a sincere thank you for your valuable time in allowing me to provide not only a general overview of CHQT’s wonderful history, but to touch upon personal perspectives as well.

LONG LIVE CHQT!

Editors Note:

Craig Roskin and I have been friends since our Fathers both worked at (then) 1080 (now) 630 CHED. Craig’s Fathers move to CHQT opened the door for my late Father Jerry Forbes to move into the General Managers chair.

Both remained friends for life – as have Craig and I.

This was a wonderful gathering to mark a very special anniversary and it was such a pleasure to watch old friends get together to ‘remember’ some glorious times. Bill Bagshaw did a wonderful reminder of some of the things that CHQT launched that many have forgotten – like the CHQT “QT’s” which eventually ended up being the Edmonton Eskimos Cheer Team – and of course the legendary QT Fire TRUCK that patrolled the sidelines at Esks games for many years.

Sincere thanks to the Edmonton Broadcasters Association for hosting the lunch and for providing pictures for this blog.

Thank you – Jim, Al, and Jon.

Marty

Posted by Marty Forbes

 

 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. I had the opportunity to get hired by Uncle Lew and work at CHQT in the early 80’s.
    Lew gave a young sales guy a chance and I will be always grateful to him for the opportunity.
    When I moved to the west coast he used to come and stay for a visit and my children affectionately called him and still call him Uncle Lew.

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