CINW was the final call sign used by an English language AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, which, along with French-language sister station CINF, ceased operations at 7:00 p.m. ET on January 29, 2010.[2][3] Owned and operated by Corus Quebec, it broadcast on 940 kHz with a full-time power of 50,000 watts as a clear channel, Class A station, using a slightly directional antenna designed to improve reception in downtown Montreal.

Frequency940 kHz (AM)
BrandingAM 940
FormatDefunct (was Oldies)
First air date
May 20, 1920
Last air date
January 29, 2010
(89 years, 254 days)
Former call signs
XWA (1919-1921)
9AM (1921-1922)
CFCF (1922-1991)
CIQC (1991-1999)
Former frequencies
440 metres (1922-1928)
1030 kHz (1928-1933)
600 kHz (1933-2000)
Call sign meaning
"Canada's information and news station" (former all-news format)
Technical information
Power50,000 watts
Transmitter coordinates
45°23′34.08″N 73°41′53.16″W / 45.3928000°N 73.6981000°W / 45.3928000; -73.6981000
Translator(s)CFCX SW 6.005 MHz

Due to its heritage, the station is generally considered to be Canada's first and oldest broadcasting station, as well as one of the first in the world.[4]

History edit

As with most early broadcasting stations, some of the station's earliest activities are poorly documented. In Listening In, a 1992 history of early Canadian radio, author Mary Vipond noted that "Several different versions of the gradual transformation of XWA from an experimenter in radio telephony to a regular broadcaster (with the call letters CFCF) exist" and "the precise date on which XWA/CFCF began regular programming may be impossible to determine". This uncertainty was evident when, in 1928, the station manager wrote to the Radio Branch in Ottawa asking "would you kindly let us know the date of our first broadcast", to which the reply was "We do not have the exact details of this on our files, but find that test programmes were carried out by your Company in Montreal during the winter evenings of 1919, and regular organized programs were commenced in December, 1920, by your Experimental Station, 'XWA' on a wavelength of 1200 metres [250 kHz]."[5]

XWA / 9AM (1919-1922) edit

CINW's history was generally said to have begun with experimental station XWA, licensed to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada, Ltd. ("Canadian Marconi"), which was a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd. ("British Marconi"). XWA's first licence was granted sometime between April 1, 1914 and March 31, 1915,[6] in conjunction with a training school on Rodney Street,[7] and it was one of the few radio stations allowed to operate in Canada during World War I, when it was used to conduct military research.[8]

XWA's transmissions were initially limited to Morse code "dots-and-dashes" produced by spark transmitters. However, during the war vacuum-tube transmitters were developed which made audio transmissions practical. In spring 1919 Canadian Marconi's Arthur Runciman began voice transmission tests in downtown Montreal and in the Montreal harbor using a "Captain Round" type vacuum-tube powered by a 500 volt battery, as the government lifted the restrictions imposed during the war on the use of radio by non-military personnel or organizations.[9] In March 1919 Canadian Marconi announced that it was planning to "install the new wireless telephone at important points in and around Montreal in the near future", in order that "the public will be able to test for themselves the latest development in long distance communication". There were also plans to install one of the devices in the Transportation Building office of J. N. Greenshields, president of the Montreal Board of Trade,[10] which "will enable brokers to talk with Kingston, Ottawa, Three Rivers and Quebec".[11]

In early 1919, British Marconi shipped a bulky combination desk and 500-watt transmitter, shaped like an upright piano, to the Canadian Marconi building in Montreal at 173 William Street (later re-numbered as 1017). The set, capable of two-way radiotelephone and longer-range radiotelegraph operation, had been developed during World War One, but with the end of the war was now surplus. The parent company hoped there might be commercial interest within the Canadian paper and pulp industry in using transmitters like this for communication between their mills and offices.[12] It was installed on the building's top floor, and operated under the XWA call sign.[13]

The earliest tests and demonstrations focused more on using the transmitter for point-to-point communication than for broadcasting. This required engineers to repeatedly speak simple phrases, with pauses to listen if there were any replies.[13] As was common at a number of early stations, the engineers soon tired of their repetitive talking, and began to play phonograph records to provide test signals. This in turn drew the attention of interested local amateur radio enthusiasts, who enjoyed hearing music instead of the usual telegraphic code used almost universally for radio communication at this time. In addition, during the fall of 1919 Canadian Marconi formed a separate company, Scientific Experimenter, Ltd., to sell equipment to radio amateurs.[14] By December 1919, the company was using the XWA radio broadcasts of music in order to interest people in purchasing receiving sets, thus introducing a whole new industry to Canada,[15] although at first persons operating radio receivers were required to hold an "Amateur Experimental Station" licence,[16] as well as pass the exam needed to receive an "Amateur Experimental Certificate of Proficiency", which required the ability to send and receive Morse code at five words a minute.[17] In January 1922 the government lowered the barrier for individuals merely interested in receiving broadcasts, by introducing a new licence category, Private Receiving Station, that removed the need to qualify for an amateur radio licence. Initially these licences cost $1 and had to be renewed each year.[18][19]

The first documented broadcast of entertainment by XWA to a general audience occurred on the evening of May 20, 1920, when a concert was prepared for a Royal Society of Canada audience listening 110 miles (175 kilometres) away at the Château Laurier in the capital city of Ottawa. This was part of a demonstration of the longrange capabilities of radiotelephony arranged by Dr. A. S. Eve of the Royal Society, who was giving a lecture reviewing "Some Inventions of the Great War".[20][21] In Montreal, Canadian Marconi's chief engineer J. O. G. Cann opened the broadcast with a series of announcements, including reading a sealed message previously sent by Dr. R. F. Ruttan,[20] which was followed by the playing of phonograph records, beginning with "Dear Old Pal of Mine". Also included was live entertainment featuring Dorothy Lutton, who sang "Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms" and "Merrily Shall I Live".[21] A Naval Radio Service station in Ottawa also participated, with officer E. Hawken singing "Annie Laurie", along with the playing of phonograph records. The Ottawa transmissions were well heard at the Château Laurier, but had difficulty being received in Montreal.[20] At the time these broadcasts received little publicity beyond a few local newspaper reports,[22] in contrast to a similar broadcast made a month later by the Marconi station near London at Chelmsford in Essex, featuring Dame Nellie Melba, which garnered broad international attention.[23] In May 2020 the Canadian Post issued two commemorative stamps marking the centennial of this broadcast.[24]

XWA eventually began operating on a regular schedule in order to promote radio receiver sales, and at first the station was almost single-handedly run by Darby Coats. (Coats went on to have a long broadcasting career.)[25] A phonograph player and records were provided by a Sainte Catherines West music store in return for on-air acknowledgments. Performers weren't paid, so live entertainment was provided by song pluggers promoting sheet music sales, amateurs (sometimes with more enthusiasm than talent), and the occasional professional looking for publicity or intrigued by the new technology.[15] By June 1921 interest in broadcasting had increased to the point that Canadian Marconi began publishing the Canadian Wireless Magazine, with Coats as the editor, initially just four pages long, but, reflecting the rapidly growing interest in radio, expanding to twenty pages a year later.[14]

The chronology is not completely clear, but by 1921 the station's experimental call sign was changed to "9AM",[26] reflecting a call sign policy change implemented in 1919 in conjunction with the restoration of civilian radio stations. (Broadcasting licences did not exist at this time.) A short notice in the November 1921 issue of QST magazine reported that the station, now using 9AM, was broadcasting once a week on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m., using a wavelength of 1200 metres (250 kHz).[27]

CFCF (1922-1991) edit

Station advertisements included the slogan "Canada's First Station".[28]

In April 1922 the Canadian government began issuing the first licences specifically for "radio-telephone broadcasting stations". Initially all these stations received four-letter call signs starting with "CF", "CH", "CJ" or "CK", plus one additional "C" as the third or fourth letter. Included in the first group of twenty-three stations was a Montreal grant for Canadian Marconi, assigned a transmitting wavelength of 440 metres (682 kHz) and the call letters CFCF.[29] The slogan "Canada's First, Canada's Finest" was later adopted based on the new call sign.[30]

After numerous frequency changes, followed by a three-year period from 1925 to 1928 when it shared time with CKAC on 730 kHz, CFCF began operating full-time at 600 kHz in 1933, which would remain the station's transmitting frequency until 1999. CFCF was an affiliate of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Dominion Network from 1944 to 1962; and also carried some programs from the U.S. NBC-Blue Network, at least as of 1939.[31]

In 1968, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) required that all broadcasting outlets be 80% Canadian owned. Canadian Marconi's British parent had been acquired by the UK's General Electric Company plc earlier that year. Canadian Marconi was thus forced to put its entire broadcasting division—CFCF-TV, CFCF (AM), CFQR-FM and CFCX—on the market. A deal to sell the stations to Ernie Bushnell, owner of CJOH-DT in Ottawa, collapsed in the spring of 1971 when Bushnell was unable to secure the necessary financing.[32] Later in 1971, Canadian Marconi agreed to sell the stations to computer and telecommunications company Multiple Access Ltd., owned by the Bronfman family.[33]

CIQC (1991-1999) edit

Logo used during the CIQC news-talk years (1993-1999)

CINW and the move to 940 kHz (1999) edit

The station's logo as 940 Montreal (September 2005 - June 2008).

CIQC received permission from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to move to 940 kHz, the former frequency of CBC owned and operated station CBM (now CBME-FM).[34]

AM940 Montreal's Greatest Hits (2008) edit

On June 6, 2008, CINW announced it would drop its talk programming and move to an oldies format, effective June 14 at 5 p.m., citing difficulties operating in the Montreal market.[35] The most recent ratings report prior to the change placed the station sixth among Montreal anglophones with a 3.8% share; nonetheless it was one of the lowest-ranked commercial English-language stations in the market (just ahead of CKGM (The Team 990), and was well behind spoken-word rivals CJAD and CBC Radio One.[36] Live programming began at 9:40 a.m. on July 1, with new morning man Marc Denis.[37]

Closure (2010) edit

On January 29, 2010, Corus announced that both CINW and CINF would cease broadcasting as of 7:00 p.m. that day, due to unsustainable ratings. Regular programming ended at 10:00 a.m. and was replaced with a repeating pre-recorded statement from general manager Mark Dickie announcing the station closure and inviting listeners to tune to sister station CFQR-FM.[38] Broadcasting abruptly ceased — the loop announcement was cut off in mid-sentence, foregoing any official sign-off — at 7:02 p.m., ending 90 years on the air under various call signs and formats.[39] Licences for both CINW and CINF were returned to the CRTC for cancellation, which approved the revocation on June 8, 2010.[40]

Later that year, Cogeco acquired Corus' Quebec station assets; the sale included the transmitter sites and equipment in Kahnawake used for CINF and CINW, but not the cancelled operating licences.[41]

Shortwave relay edit

On December 25, 1930, the Canadian Marconi Company inaugurated experimental shortwave relay station VE9DR in order to relay the programs of CFCF-AM over shortwave radio using a frequency of 6005 kHz and power of 4,000 watts. The relay used a Marconi transmitter which had been erected at Drummondville, Quebec. This transmitter was relocated to Montreal in 1932. In 1934, the stations call letters were changed to CFCX. In 1963, the transmitter was moved to Kahnawake, which had been the location of CFCF's AM transmitter since 1956, with power being reduced to 500 watts. When CFCF became CIQC in 1991, the shortwave relay continued as CFCX. Later in the 1990s, CFCX began simulcasting CKOI-FM instead. In 1999, the transmitter was taken out of service due to its age and was not repaired or replaced, bringing shortwave service to an end.[42]

Later use of the vacated frequencies edit

AM 940 edit

In May 2011, Cogeco announced it planned to establish two new AM traffic information radio stations for the Montreal area, in conjunction with Transports Québec. The English language service would broadcast at CINW's former frequency of 940 kHz.[43] Both stations were expected to sign on in the fall of 2011, with broadcast hours from 4:30 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. on weekends to 1 a.m.[44][45] While new licences would have been issued for both stations, the licensee for the new station was Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc., CINW's prior licensee.[43] On July 8, 2011, these applications for 690 kHz and 940 kHz were withdrawn to a later date.[46]

CFNV edit

On July 29, 2011, the CRTC began taking other applications for the vacant 690 and 940 frequencies, leaving Cogeco's plans for the stations in doubt.[47] On September 7, 2011, the CRTC announced the applicants for the 940 frequency; competing against Cogeco was Paul Tietolman, the son of broadcaster Jack Tietolman, who planned to use 940 for an anglophone news-talk formatted station.[48] On November 21, 2011, Tietolman was awarded the frequency, but for the francophone news-talk format that he originally applied for on 690.[49]

On September 19, 2014, the CRTC gave the TTP group another year to commence broadcasting on 600 and 940. This extension was the second and, originally, final one allowed for 940, giving the station until November 21, 2015 to commence broadcasting or face cancellation of its licence,[50] however, it was renewed for an additional year on October 30, 2015, with November 21, 2016 now set as the cut-off date.[51]

On October 26, 2016, a test tone began being broadcast on AM 940. Call letters were also announced on that date as CFNV.[52] The station officially began on-air testing on November 16, 2016 with music and a recorded announcement promoting the launch of the new station with a phone number to report signal interference.[53][54]

AM 600 edit

CFQR edit

On June 28, 2017, a test broadcast began on AM 600 by the same owners as CFNV above. The call sign was announced as CFQR (no relation to the former CFQR-FM now CKBE-FM).[55][56]

Priority status edit

In its various incarnations, especially as CFCF, station staff often asserted that, based on its May 20, 1920 debut broadcast, their station was not only the oldest in Canada, but the first to ever make a "scheduled broadcast". This claim is not widely accepted, because there are numerous examples of earlier publicized radio broadcasts in multiple countries. This is especially true in the United States, which recorded its first regular weekly broadcasts in 1912, conducted by Charles Herrold in San Jose, California. The De Forest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company's station, 2XG in New York City, also conducted regular broadcasts from October 1916 to April 1917, which were resumed in the fall of 1919. In addition, station PCGG in the Netherlands began weekly broadcasts on November 6, 1919, and the Marconi station in Chelmsford, England was used to broadcast two half-hour news and entertainment programmes daily from February 23 to March 6, 1920.[57]

References edit

  1. ^ "Corus Corporate Structure" CRTC (
  2. ^ "AM Info690 Montréal and AM940 Montreal's Greatest Hits to cease operation on January 29, 2010", Corus press release, January 29, 2010 (
  3. ^ "Two stations in Montreal going off the air Friday", CTV Montreal ( February 11, 2018)
  4. ^ "La Radio, Une Histoire D’Innovation Canadianne - Early Radio Innovation in Canada", Denis Couillard, Ultra Electronics TCS & Musée des Ondes Emile Berliner Ed., 2020
  5. ^ Vipond, Mary (1992) Listening In: The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting, 1922-1932, page 17.
  6. ^ "Licensed Experimental Stations" included in "Sessional Paper No. 38, Report for the Naval Service for the Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 1915", from Sessional Papers: Sixth Session of the Twelfth Parliament of the Dominion of Canada (1916, volume 27, page 119). XWA's call letters have traditionally been said to stand for "Experimental Wireless Apparatus". Additional stations granted over the next two years included XWB, XWC, XWD, XWE and XWF in Ontario and Manitoba.
  7. ^ Histoire de la Radio au Québec: Information, Ėducation, Culture by Pierre Pagé, 2007, pages 42-43.
  8. ^ "Radio in Quebec society: Key dates" by Pierre Pagé. (
  9. ^ Murray, Robert P. (2005) The Early Development of Radio in Canada, 1901-1930, pages 23-24. Captain H. J. Round was a British Marconi engineer who had led that company's development of radiotelephone transmitters during the war.
  10. ^ "Wireless 'Phones Being Installed", Montreal Gazette, March 22, 1919, page 5.
  11. ^ "Wireless Phones Being Installed", (Portland) Oregonian, March 22, 1919, page 5.
  12. ^ "Early Days in Canadian Broadcasting" (Adventures in Radio - 14) by D. R. P. Coats, Manitoba Calling, November 1940, page 7.
  13. ^ a b "The Birth of Canadian Broadcasting" (Adventures in Radio - 13) by D. R. P. Coats, Manitoba Calling, October 1940, page 8.
  14. ^ a b Murray (2005) page 29.
  15. ^ a b "Early Days in Canadian Broadcasting" (Adventures in Radio - 15) by D. R. P. Coats, Manitoba Calling, December 1940, page 7.
  16. ^ "Regulations: 18. Amateur Experimental Licenses",The Canadian Gazette, June 27, 1914, page 4546.
  17. ^ "Regulations: 97. Amateur Experimental Certificate",The Canadian Gazette, June 27, 1914, page 4550.
  18. ^ Mary Vipond, Listening In: The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting 1922-1932, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1992, pages 22-23.
  19. ^ Radiotelegraph Regulations: License to Operate a Radio Receiving Equipment", The Canada Gazette, September 23, 1922, page 7.
  20. ^ a b c "Ottawa Hears Montreal Concert Over the Wireless Telephone; Experiment Complete Success", Ottawa Journal, May 21, 1920, page 7.
  21. ^ a b "Wireless Concert Given for Ottawa", Montreal Gazette, May 21, 1920, page 4.
  22. ^ Vipond (1992) page 3. Articles also appeared on page 3 of the May 20, 1920 and pages 3-4 of the May 21, 1920 issues of the Montreal Star.
  23. ^ "The Voice Around the World", The Mentor, October 1920, page 38.
  24. ^ "Stamps celebrate 100 years of radio in Canada", May 19, 2020 (
  25. ^ Douglas "Darby" Coats (1892-1973) by Pip Wedge, May 2005, Canadian Communications Foundation (
  26. ^ "Canadian Experimental Licenses: Issued for 1921-1922", The Consolidated Radio Call Book (May 1922 edition), page 266.
  27. ^ "Strays", QST magazine, November 1, 1921, page 47.
  28. ^ "In Montreal it's CFCF" (advertisement), Sponsor, August 13, 1951, page 70.
  29. ^ "Radio Department: Broadcasting Stations", Winnipeg Evening Tribune, April 25, 1922, page 5. (Within the "CF" assignments, this first group also included CFCA (Toronto), CFCB (Vancouver), and CFCE (Halifax). In this list, CKCE Toronto should be 450 instead of 45 meters, and for Winnipeg, "CHCE" should be CHCF and "CKbC" should be CKZC.)
  30. ^ "CFCF, Montreal, Quebec station", The Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Radio (Volume 1), 2004, page 310.
  31. ^ "Stations That Make Up the Networks", The (Hagerstown, Maryland) Daily Mail, March 11, 1939, page 9.
  32. ^ CFCF-DT Archived 2021-06-14 at the Wayback Machine at Canadian Communications Foundation
  33. ^ Library and Archives Canada (2005-08-07). "Description of archived material: CFCF (Montreal) fonds". Retrieved 2007-12-02.[permanent dead link]
  34. ^ "Decision CRTC 99-151", June 21, 1999, (
  35. ^ "Changement de format à 940 Montreal" (in French). Corus Entertainment. 2008-06-06. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
  36. ^ "BBM Canada - Top-line Radio Statistics for S1 (Jan-Mar) 2008" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
  37. ^ "The Marc Denis Collection". ( Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  38. ^ "940 CINW Signs Off", Format Change Archive (
  39. ^ "AM 940 CINW Montreal final transmission January 29, 2010", uploaded March 3, 2011 by Lee32T (
  40. ^ "Revocation of Licences", Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-354, June 8, 2010 (
  41. ^ "Radio: Not just the usual channels" Archived 2012-01-01 at the Wayback Machine, Montreal Gazette, October 29, 2011.
  42. ^ "CFCX-SW | History of Canadian Broadcasting". Archived from the original on 2021-06-06. Retrieved 2021-06-06.
  43. ^ a b "Notice of Hearing: 13. Montréal, Quebec (Application 2011-0801-9)", "Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-336", May 19, 2011 (
  44. ^ "Montreal to get two all-traffic radio stations" Archived 2011-08-30 at the Wayback Machine, Montreal Gazette, May 16, 2011.
  45. ^ "Dedicated Traffic Radio is in the Works for Montréal Metropolitan and Will be on the Air this Fall", Cogeco press release, May 16, 2011.
  46. ^ "Notice of hearing: Withdrawal of items 13 and 14", Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-336-2, July 18, 2011 (
  47. ^ "Call for applications for AM radio stations to serve Montréal using the frequencies 690 kHz and 940 kHz", Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-453, July 29, 2011 (
  48. ^ "Notice of hearing: 5. Montréal, Quebec (Application 2011-1237-5)", Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-571, September 7, 2011 (
  49. ^ "AM radio stations in Montréal", Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-721, November 21, 2011 (
  50. ^ "TTP Media says news-talk stations are six to nine months until launch", Fagstein blog, October 4, 2014 (
  51. ^ "CRTC changes its mind, gives TTP Media yet another extension on AM radio stations", Fagstein blog, November 3, 2015 (
  52. ^ Steve Faguy [@fagstein] (October 26, 2016). "TTP Media's French news-talk station at 940 AM has a callsign: CFNV. Industry Canada confirms 'on-air testing' status" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  53. ^ "TTP Media's CFNV 940 AM begins on-air testing", Fagstein blog, November 16, 2016 (
  54. ^ CFNV 940: Super Station website
  55. ^ "As CFQR 600 AM begins on-air testing, TTP Media remains committed to launching talk stations in Montreal", Fagstein blog, June 28, 2017 (
  56. ^ "CFQR 600 AM launches with hours to go before deadline", Fagstein blog, July 1, 2017 (
  57. ^ History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom (Volume 1): The Birth of Broadcasting by Asa Briggs, 1961, page 45

External links edit