CFTR (680 kHz, "680 News") is a commercial AM radio station serving the Greater Toronto Area. Owned by Rogers Media, the station became Canada's first to broadcast an all-news radio format, a format that has since been replicated in major markets across the country.
|Broadcast area||Greater Toronto Area|
|Slogan||#1 for Breaking News, Traffic and Weather|
|Frequency||680 kHz (AM)|
|First air date||August 8, 1962|
|Transmitter coordinates||43°12′51″N 79°36′31″W|
|Callsign meaning||Canada's First Ted Rogers|
|Former frequencies||1540 kHz (1962-1966)|
ABC Radio News
|Owner||Rogers Media |
(Rogers Media, Inc.)
|Sister stations||CHFI-FM, CJCL, CKIS-FM, CFMT-DT, CITY-DT, CJMT-DT|
CFTR's studios are located at the Rogers Building at Bloor and Jarvis Streets in downtown Toronto, while its 8-tower transmitter array is located on the southern edge of Lake Ontario at Oakes and Winston Road (near the QEW and Casablanca Road) in Grimsby. While CFTR broadcasts at the maximum power for Canadian AM stations, 50,000 watts, it must use a complicated directional antenna system to avoid interfering with other stations on 680 AM.
Early History (1962-1993)
The station launched on August 8, 1962. Its original frequency was 1540 kHz, using the call letters CHFI, simulcasting the beautiful music of sister station CHFI-FM, one of Canada's first FM radio stations. Because 1540 is a clear-channel frequency assigned to stations in the United States and the Bahamas, CHFI was authorized to broadcast only during the daytime. In 1963, it sought to pay CHLO in St. Thomas, Ontario to move from 680 to another frequency, to free up 680 for CHFI's use. No deal was finalized, but, by 1966, the stations reached an agreement to share 680, and CHFI moved to 24-hour operation at that frequency.
In 1973, programmer Chuck Camroux upped the ante in the Toronto radio "Rock and Roll Wars" by tweaking CFTR's notoriously bad signal, adding some reverb, and hiring new morning man Jim Brady to rival 1050 CHUM's Jay Nelson. Both stations hovered near one million listeners per week. Although Brady finally topped Nelson in the ratings in 1979, over-all, CFTR didn't surpass CHUM in the Toronto BBM ratings until 1984. Once CFTR gained ratings supremacy, CHUM dropped Top 40 in favour of an adult contemporary music format in 1986.
News format (1993-present)
Through the 1980s and 1990s, music listeners switched to FM, prompting AM stations like CFTR to find non-music formats. On June 1, 1993, at 10 a.m., CFTR announced it would be discontinuing the Top 40 format, and began broadcasting a countdown of "the top 500 songs of the (then) past 25 years" titled "The CFTR Story." At 6 a.m. on June 7, after playing Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" (which was the #1 song in the countdown) and Starship's "We Built This City" (which also ended CHUM's Top 40 era in 1986), CFTR adopted its present all-news format. It was the first all-news radio station in Canada since the end of the former CKO network in 1989. With the Toronto station's success, Rogers later expanded the format to stations in Vancouver (CKWX) in 1996, Calgary (CFFR) in 2006, and Ottawa (CIWW) in 2010.
The station offers listeners a "weather guarantee" jackpot, which is drawn from a pool of listeners who enter the contest.