Alternative Radio Fans Rise Against CFNY Switch

With the passing of Don Berns earlier this week, it seems like an appropriate time to jump in the time machine back to 1989 when CFNY 102.1 had changed its progressive and alternative new music format to something more mainstream. How mainstream? Think Janet Jackson and Bryan Adams.

CFNY fans rebelled, as you'll read in these old clipping from newspapers and magazines at the time. The passion and loyalty is an awesome sight to behold.

I received these clippings from a reader of this blog named Frank who got them from Larry Bates, who is often cited and/or quoted in these pieces.








Larry was ready to go again in '92, but it was a false alarm.

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Mike Hum

March 1989 - the month music died.

March 5, 2015 @ 11:12 PM


What has happened to this type of passion? Radio today is so cautious and predictable.

March 6, 2015 @ 6:54 AM


Agreed Gary.

March 6, 2015 @ 9:32 AM


CFNY, in my opinion, was best between about 1982-1986 where it was truly the "Spirit of Radio". It was entirely possible to hear British New Wave, Industrial and Frank Sinatra in a set.

1982-1986 - Spirit of Radio
1987 - Still great, but in the fall of 1987 the decline began
1988 - OK radio station
1989 - Dead
1990 - OK radio station
1991 - returns in a "new form" with a playlist more like a British CHR.

1992 was a notable year because they fired much of the staff. I recall it happening and hearing Pamela Blair start a newscast. You could tell she was crying. Notable in that Scott Turner & crew all went down the QEW to CING FM aka Energy 108. Energy had started as Dance 108 with Wayne Williams (evenings only) and Scot Turner joined forces & created what is arguably a station as influential as CFNY was..just it was influential in the dance, hip-hop, rave, techno & trance genre. Chris Sheppard was "DX'ing" live to air from CING FM, 107.9. Pure Energy. Energy 108. Jammin' the Metroplex. Hamilton. Toronto. Canada.

Alas, 107.9 was sold and bought by Shaw (now Corus) and like CFNY was slowly watered down until it completely sucked. The station died a horrible death with no ratings with Scot Turner "remembering the glorious past" in it's final moments.

I'll use a huge song from the Energy 108 days to express how I felt about it all. Fuck DAT !!!!

March 6, 2015 @ 10:31 AM

Javed Jafri

Perhaps before your time but NY was also great between 1977 - 1982. In fact the free form ethos reigned supreme and you would here Jazz, Blues and classical interspersed with rock during their regular programming.

I have just posted a vintage clip of NY from 1985 featuring David Marsden from Dec 24, 1985 and you know what that means. Also I have a very brief clip of CHIC FM 102. which was the predecessor to CFNY. The clip is from the time they played entire LP sides with the occasional ad and station ID's as they flipped albums over. I'm trying to figure out who the announcer on the ID is. Sounds very familiar:

I really wish there was some sort of listener movement today to bring back the type of programming we heard on CFNY/CHUM FM etc back in the free form days. I know there is not but I wish the corporations that control the media understood that a quality rock format would work in Toronto if given the time based on the heritage and listener loyalty in the past. Would have to be nurtured but eventually the ratings would rise if the people running the station knew what they were doing and were committed to the format.

March 9, 2015 @ 12:26 PM


CKUA Alberta's weekday morning -> evening programming is very diverse & can be anything & everything. Check out their library sometime. They sometimes play music so obscure I can't find it on Youtube. They have this 9 to Noon host named "Baba". He's this 60 something East Indian dude (complete with heavy accent) and defines cool. When Edmonton used the diary system, CKUA would come in around a 3 share. Hard to say if it was a real audience or they just filled in the diary. I can believe it more in Edmonton because it's a more artsy cultured town than Calgary.

One Christmas Baba played this song. Who even knew this was a band ?

March 9, 2015 @ 5:18 PM


Baba is still there? Haven't listened to CKUA in a long time. I remember digging his style and the songs he picked.

March 10, 2015 @ 1:42 PM



Yes, Baba is still on the air & still out doing concerts, etc. He's one unique guy & CKUA produces the finest free form radio in the world. I rest my mouse on their mousepad !

March 10, 2015 @ 9:00 PM


Are they still calling themselves the Edge? That edge is getting awfully blurry in terms of format.
If I hear one more shameless (and often robotically insincere - obviously there's a memo being read to promote this on each and every show) promotion of Alessia Cara "the talented yound star from Brampton" I'm going to puke. It's incessant on air and online. NIce kid I'm sure - but, top 40 pop is not what I expect on 102.1

July 9, 2015 @ 8:27 PM

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