Aired on Treasure Island Oldies – Oct 01, 2023
Fifty years ago, on September 30, 1973, the heritage #14CFUN call letters returned to the iconic radio station located at 1900 West 4th Avenue in Vancouver, BC. The first song played, which was #1 at that time on their survey, was by a group out of San Jose, California who had created quite a following in North America in less than one year …
By the summer of 1960 CFUN had morphed into a 24-hour Pop/Rock & Roll station. The first “official” C-FUN survey labeled number 1, was issued for the week of March 19, 1960. However, CFUN’s first Top 40 era ended on September 18, 1967, when the format was dropped for easy listening music.
On May 28, 1968, the station was sold to Montreal-based Radio Futura Ltd., and on July 1, 1969, the station changed its call letters to CKVN, and adopted a primarily all-news format (with music overnight) and increased transmission power to 50,000 watts.
CKVN dropped its news format and returned to a Top 40 format in March 1970. The station was sold to CHUM Western Ltd. (a division of CHUM Limited) on January 1, 1973, and miraculously regained the CFUN call letters on September 30. CFUN Program Director Chuck McCoy remembers that day vividly:
“The night we changed radio in Vancouver is forever etched in my memory. CHUM’s purchase of CKVN earlier in 1973 coincided with my first Program Director job. With the advice, support, and resources of the CHUM Group, we decided we needed a new format. Our Contemporary MOR format was treading water between two giant stations, ‘Top Dog’ CKNW and Top 40 CKLG.”
Returning to a Top 40 format as it had once so successfully been in the past, required a strategy. According to McCoy, “So we had the format, the iconic CFUN call letters … and now we had to put it all together with an amazing promotion. To that end, I asked veteran DJ Daryl “B” to announce that all regular programming on the new CFUN would be suspended while he dialed randomly selected numbers waiting for the first person to answer ‘CFUN is back’. That person would then instantly win $5,000.”
The reason Sep 30th was chosen instead of Oct 1st as the kickoff date was due to the fact that the CRTC regulations prohibited any radio station from giving away more than $5,000 in promotional winnings in any given calendar month. Hence, the entire month’s allowable $5,000 prize could be awarded on September 30th. It was a tricky way to stay within the law and the very next day, being able to go back and start giving away more cash prizes in the month of October – thus keeping the promotion moving.
Were there risks involved? Sure there were. What if nobody answered their phone with “I listen to CFUN,” leaving poor Daryl “B” dialing number after number for hours on end? This is not exactly the definition of great radio!
On the other hand, what if the very first person Daryl “B” called might have the right answer? That would end the promotion in 30 seconds; the definition of ‘anticlimactic!’ With serendipity prevailing, the nineteenth call answered correctly and CFUN really was back.
As this reincarnation took off, those listening will remember #14CFUN’s first played record: the Doobie Brothers hammering out their hit single “China Grove,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song:
This “Moments In Time” story is yet another example of a “golden oldie” or forgotten favorite that earned its place in the evolution of Rock & Roll.