CKPT Switches Off AM Transmitter

After nearly 50 years of broadcasting music into the Kawarthas, CKPT engineer Ed Crompton flicked the switch on Monday, taking the AM station off the air for the last time.

Crompton, an engineer with the station since 1970, said, in the early years, 1420 CKPT-AM was the beating heart of the local music scene.

"(The station) was always a beehive of activity," Crompton said. "Musicians on tour would often stop in and the phones were always ringing off the hook.

"Radio is completely different now."

Steve Fawcett, general manager of CHUM Kawarthas, owner of Energy 99.3 in Peterborough and Bob FM in Lindsay, said CKPT moved to the FM band in August as Energy 99.3 FM and has been simulcasting on both frequencies since then.

The CRTC requires stations switching bands to simulcast for about 90 days, he said.

Fawcett said he decided to run a bit longer, but eventually didn't see much point in continuing with it.

"Those that were listening were tuning in on the FM band," he said.

"It was a little sentimental yesterday because (CKPT) was the station that started it all."

This was the station to introduce The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other iconic performers to the area.

Fawcett said a CKPT Hit Parade chart from Sept. 7, 1964 lists hits by The Animals, The Beatles, The Supremes and Bobby Vinton.

During that time, Fawcett said, the station hosted weekend dances and sock hops with entertainment by live bands, many of whom had their singles played on CKPT.

"In the old days, the station was geared to people who were into the newer popular music," Fawcett said. "We have in a sense come full circle, moving to an older demographic with music and talk over the lifespan of CKPT."

Geoff Hewitson, Long-time local musician and co-producer of the DVD “Peterborough's Rock and Roll Roots,” said CKPT nurtured local talent and had a tremendous impact on Peterborough's flourishing music scene today.

"Everyone would listen to AM radio at the time, and if you were in a band, it was exciting to hear your music on the radio," said Hewitson, who started the band Geoff and the Continentals in 1962.

"So the station got a lot of people interested in music."

Before the CRTC's Canadian content ruling in the late-’60s, Hewitson said, it was difficult for Canadian bands to get their songs played on the radio.

After the ruling, stations were required to play 30 per cent Canadian content, he said.

"Most of the kids that went to the local dances listened to CKPT," Hewitson said. "When they went to a dance they wanted to hear their favourite songs that were played on the radio.

"CKPT in the early days did a lot to promote live music and is one of the main reasons why we have a lot of great musicians in this city.”

John Manol, the station GM from 1967 to 1991, said he remembers the station played the latest rock music at night and softer rock during the day.

"Back in those days, we tried to be involved in the community as much as possible and as a result our ratings improved and the station grew," Manol said. "We tried to please both ends of the spectrum, young and older."

In 1967, Manol said, advertising sales on CKPT were $118,000. When he left in 1991 sales were $2.1 million. That illustrates the success of the station, he said.

"Our success was in the people we had on staff," Manol said. "We were like a family."

Local promoter Brian Edwards of Rocklands Entertainment, who recalls growing up listening to CKPT, said radio today is lacking personality.

"AM radio just has a feel to it, like it's really radio," Edwards said. "Satellite radio is flat. There's no personality. It's as boring as watching paint dry.

"I grew up in an era when AM radio was it."

CKPT Peterborough was the first station purchased by CHUM Radio after acquiring its flagship station in Toronto, Fawcett said.

The AM station has followed basically the same format since it began; except for a few short-lived attempts at a change of focus — such as an all-sports format in 2001 and 2002 — it always came back to popular music.

Last year, Peterborough's remaining AM station, 980 CKRU, applied to also move to the FM dial. Nearly a dozen other applicants are also seeking Peterborough's available FM frequency. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is expected to choose an applicant soon.

By ANDREA HOUSTON/Examiner Staff Writer

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