The Charlie Ritenburg

A Rock Radio Scrapbook
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I've been blissfully retired since January 2016 after finishing 35 1/2 years with The Canadian National Railway. For the first half I was a Radio Technician and then when that department downsized, I spent my final nineteen as a Signals & Communications Tech. The radio job involved two-way VHF and UHF radio systems and was somewhat close to my dream of being in the broadcast industry, but as it turned out, I was much better off financially.

Prior to starting at CN in 1980, I worked part time for Dominion Grocery Stores, first in London, Ontario, from 1972 to 1976 then in Toronto from 1976 to 1980. Previous to that I delivered newspapers for the London Free Press from 1970 to 1973.

My elementary school years were spent at Sir Winston Churchill Public School in London from 1960 to 1970. I then attended secondary school at H.B. Beal from 1970 to 1975. After moving to Toronto in September of 1976 I attended Ryerson University from 1976 to 1980.

After moving to Toronto, I had the privilege of working for one of Canada's greatest radio stations, 1050 CHUM. In 1977 I applied for an operator's position only to find that I was somewhat over-qualified for the job. Production director Warren Cosford suggested that I stay with my electronics program at Ryerson and aim for a more prestigious engineering position with the company.

Shortly after meeting Warren, he became the program director for CHUM-FM. While I continued at college, he gave me a number of part-time assignments to assist him gather data on other stations that competed with CHUM-FM. He attempted to get me into an engineering position in 1980 but unfortunately for me, someone else with more experience got the job.

During my years at CN, I stayed in touch with Warren and by the turn of the century, signed on as one of his e-mail list members. Warren's original "Radiopro" list occasionally hosted dinners in which I met many of the CHUM veterans such as Dick Smyth, Doug Thompson, J. Robert Wood plus many many more.

A few years before, in 1993 I started up "The Monday Nighter," a monthly meeting that encompassed a few record collectors, radio buffs and eventually, many broadcast veterans who loyally have been attending up to present day. The meetings moved from the basement of my Mississauga house to a nicer one in my present home in Richmond Hill. Between Warren's list and word of mouth, many legendary radio personalities have been at The Monday Nighter.

In my retirement, I hope to keep the Monday Nighter alive along with my weekly partnership with Doug Thompson where we continue to work on the CHUM archives along with many other radio goodies from North America and around the world. Along with travelling with my marvellous wife Janis and now owning a cottage, being a bigger part of Dale Patterson's Rock Radio Scrapbook will be another fun challenge that I intend to focus on!



Station: CFPL London, Ont.
Date: January 7, 1965
Time: 47:30 (unscoped)
(Upgraded 3-8-13)

No one stood taller in London radio than The Tall One.

Dick Williams spent nearly half a century on the air in the Forest City, beginning in 1961 at CFPL. Williams was only 16 years old when he started his radio career in 1956 as program host at CKCR in Kitchener, Ontario. He moved to WSAI Cincinnati in 1958, and also jocked at KDEO San Diego and KROY Sacramento, California, before bringing his quick wit and masterful sense of timing to CFPL. A natural entertainer, Williams also did a dance show at CFPL-TV called Dick Williams Wing Ding that featured live performances and appearances by the other CFPL ``Lively Guys.``

Williams left CFPL in 1969, and later jocked on London stations CJBK, Q 97.5 (CIQM) and Oldies 1410 (CKSL). He left full-time radio in 2006 to concentrate on voice work at

Enjoy Dick "The Tall One"
 Williams on CFPL here. 

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection)

RESTORATION by Charlie Ritenburg

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Station: CHUM Toronto
Date: December, 1965
Time: 1:01:18 (unscoped)

(Montage courtesy Bill Dulmage)

Brian Skinner came over to CHUM from cross-town rival CKEY as a swing shift deejay in 1961. The Prez was promoted to full-time duty when he replaced Dave Johnson in the 7-10 p.m. shift in the fall of 1965. Johnson had been doing the evening shift since the station's Top 40 beginnings in 1957 so Skinner had big shoes to fill. But CHUM listeners weren't disappointed as Skinner combining his cornball sense of humour with a cacophony of bells, whistles and tambourines to create an unforgettable listening experience. Nothing was too zany for Skinner, who brought real-life CHUM janitor Jerry Kowalski onto the air to tell corny jokes in his broken Polish accent.

The fun lasted until 1968, when CHUM tightened up its programming and Skinner was relegated to the all-night show. The Prez did his last CHUM show July 15, 1969 and later went into teaching in Seattle.

Hear Brian Skinner on CHUM in December, 1965 (UNSCOPED) here.

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection)

RESTORATION by Charlie Ritenburg

For more classic CHUM airchecks, visit The CHUM Archives

Station: CKLW Windsor, Ontario
Date: October 27, 1968
Time: 49:42 (unscoped)
            8:33 (scoped)

(Photo courtesy Jay Golden)

Johnny Williams (not to be confused with the KHJ jock of the same name) was a Michigan radio mainstay. He spent many years at CKLW and also appeared on WNIC-FM (his nightly "Pillow Talk" show was the number-one rated night-time show six years in a row.)

Williams also jocked at WTRX-FM Flint, Michigan, WOHO-FM Toledo, Ohio, WYSL-FM Buffalo, New York, and WQXL-FM Cleveland.

He has also served as Program Director of "The Heart,", the love channel station on XM Satellite Radio, and has been an imaging voice for XM's 50's Channel, Kids Channel, Radio Classics and Vox Channels.

Williams died April 16, 2020.

Enjoy Johnny Williams on CKLW (UNSCOPED) here.  

Enjoy Johnny Williams on CKLW (SCOPED) here.

(The Tom Howard Collection)

RESTORATION by Charlie Ritenburg

More of the Big 8 at The CKLW Years

Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
online streaming fees to the
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (License 22-F)

Station: CKLW Windsor, Ontario
Date: June 29, 1973
 30:14 (unscoped)
8:42 (scoped)

Image result for ted richards cklw

Photo courtesy Charlie O'Brien

Hound Dog Lorenz ... Wolfman Jack ... Charlie Tuna ... Top 40 radio was full of great nicknames in its glory days. And many of those nom de plumes had to do with animals, fish and fowl.

There was Ralph "Birdman" Lockwood, Hoss Allen, Joe "The Rockin' Bird" Niagara, Johnny Rabbit (and Jimmy Rabbit and Wonder Rabbit), Alison "The Nightbird" Steele, Russ "The Moose" Syracuse, Jim "The Vanilla Gorilla" Wood, Coyote McCloud (and Rufus Coyote), Bob Robin, Tiger Bob Raleigh and Terry "The Bear" Steele. To name a few.

 There was another "Bear" - Ted "Teddy Bear" Richards. Enjoy him on CKLW (UNSCOPED) here.

There was another "Bear" - Ted "Teddy Bear" Richards. Enjoy him on CKLW (SCOPED) here.

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection)

RESTORATION by Charlie Ritenburg

Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
online streaming fees to the
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (License 22-F)

Station: CJBK London, Ontario
Date: March 11, 1974
Time: 58:37 (unscoped) (Upgraded 5-1-17)
16:31 (scoped) (Upgraded 5-3-17)

Ever wonder how radio stations get their call letters?

The story behind CJBK's calls is an interesting one indeed. It starts in 1967, when CJOE went on the air at 1290kc. They took over the frequency vacated by CKSL, which moved to 1410 in 1964. CJOE began airing rock music from 7 p.m.-midnight in 1970, and by 1971 was rock all day and night. Rick Richardson purchased CJOE in 1972 and decided to change the call letters. Bill Dulmage of the Canadian Communications Foundation tells Rock Radio Scrapbook the story behind that.

"On September 6 at 12:00 a.m., "The Big Switch" took place in conjunction with the opening of the Western Fair ... CJOE became CJBK. Why CJBK? Richardson wanted call letters that began with "CJ" to differentiate the station as much as possible from competitors CFPL and CKSL. Otherwise, the call letters did not have any specific meaning. Some however believe that Mr. Richardson was a fan of WJBK-AM Detroit when he was working at a Windsor radio station. As a result, he might have chosen the "JBK" from WJBK for CJBK."

And that's how CJBK came to be!

Enjoy Wayne McAteer on CJBK (UNSCOPED) here.

Enjoy Wayne McAteer on CJBK (SCOPED) here.

(The Don Shuttleworth Collection)

RESTORATION by Charlie Ritenburg

Station: WGCL Cleveland
Date: June, 1974
Times: 49:19 (unscoped)
            13:40 (scoped)


(Pictures courtesy Charlie Ritenburg)

It's one thing to hear the aircheck.

It's another to hear the story behind the aircheck.

Charlie Ritenburg tells us "the rest of the story" behind this classic 'check.

"These pictures (above) are the two radios that I listened to WGCL (G-98) Cleveland from London Ontario with. I first heard G-98 on the Sony clock radio in early 1974 after discovering the existence of WDRQ-FM Detroit only days before while travelling close to the Motor City.
The "circuit board" radio was a high school project that also received G-98 along with "Rock 102" from Buffalo and many other FM stations from Cleveland, Detroit, Kitchener, Hamilton, Buffalo and occasionally Toronto in stereo. This was the receiver which the G-98 air check from 1974 was recorded from onto a medium quality, non dolbilized cassette deck with a low bias "Audio Magnetics" brand tape.
Both radios were connected to the "rabbit ears" TV antenna that are shown with the "circuit board" radio to receive these distant signals. I still use these very same rabbit ears today with my home sound system in Richmond Hill and the Sony clock radio is still working and waking me up from my night table after nearly 38 years of reliable operation."

Enjoy Truckin' Lennie and Skip O'Brien on WGCL (UNSCOPED) here.

Enjoy Truckin' Lennie and Skip O'Brien on WGCL (SCOPED) here.

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection)

Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
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Talent: BIG JIM
Station: CHAB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Date: September 1, 1976
Time: 30:55 (unscoped)
             8:05 (scoped)

CHAB rose from the ashes of one of Canada's first non-commercial radio stations.

CHAB's forerunner - 10AB - went on the air April 23, 1922, broadcasting from the Moose Jaw YMCA. Originally at 1200 KHz, it was licenced as a non-commercial station with 50 watts of power. The station was originally supposed to have been run by the Moose Jaw Amateur Radio Association, but they couldn't afford it. The Kiwanis Club took over until handing it back to the Moose Jaw Amateur Radio Association in 1924.

Lack of financial support led to 10AB's demise on November 11, 1933, as the station signed off with Rudy Vallee's "I'm Heading to the Last Round-up." But five weeks later, on December 17, 10AM returned to the air as a commercial station, CHAB, and the station grew from there. One of its first major hires was Elwood Glover, who left in 1938 for a storied career at the CBC. It later became a Top 40 station, as we hear in this mid-'70s aircheck of "Big Jim" at CHAB.

Just who was "Big Jim?" After this aircheck was posted we got an e-mail from a viewer saying that he was pretty sure "Big Jim" was Jim Ripley, a.k.a. the Bionic Ripley. He later went to CKY in Winnipeg before moving to C-JAY and CKIK in Calgary. Ripley also hosted "Home Cookin'", a TV show on CFCN-TV Calgary simulcast on C-JAY which also featured local acts.

Hear "Big Jim" (UNSCOPED) here.

Hear "Big Jim" (SCOPED) here.

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection)


Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
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Talent: TOM KENT
Station: 96X (WMJX) Miami
Date: May, 1978
49:12 (unscoped)
          14:16 (scoped)

Description by Charlie Ritenburg

I first discovered 96X-FM in Canada of all places! After a heavy afternoon rain storm in late June of 1976, a few friends and I were in my car in a field outside of London Ontario dialing around the FM band on my under dash "Roberts" FM-cassette car stereo. Next to London's 179,000 watt FM96 on 95.9 MHz (CFPL-FM) was a station booming in that was playing "Ball Room Blitz" by Sweet. Then a few commercials ran that mentioned numbered street names like New York City has. Once the music was back, a high energy jock introduced "Oh What A Night (Dec '63)" by the 4 Seasons with the call letters WMJX. The signal was very strong but intermittently switched in and out and eventually disappeared altogether. A few months later I explained this freak reception to Pat Riley, a CHUM DJ who used to work at the 100,000 watt 96X. From that point I knew that this phantom signal had actually come from Miami Florida which was over 1500 miles to the South of me! Truly amazing, especially on the FM band!

Knowing this, I had a friend (Brian Pietrzyk) record some 96X air checks when he traveled to Florida in December of 1977. But in May of 1978, Brian and I returned to Hollywood Florida where I had the chance to record my own stereo air checks of 96X on my Toshiba reel to reel machine. At the time he had a Pioneer KP-500 car stereo with the FM Super Tuner so we used that with a power supply to record a great sounding signal on 96.3 MHz in our trailer. I recorded a reel of Y100 along with a number of other South Florida stations but WMJX was my main focus after that most amazing day when it made the long haul to London Ontario Canada!

Tom Kent was a high energy disc jockey who worked at many great radio stations like WHBQ Memphis, WIXY & WGCL Cleveland, WMJX Miami, KLIF Dallas, WLS Chicago, WAVA Washington and later became the program director of WBZZ Pittsburgh. He also hosted many syndicated radio shows and started out like I did with his very own pirate radio station. You can appreciate the energy and excitement.

Enjoy Tom Kent on 96X (UNSCOPED) here.

Enjoy Tom Kent on 96X (SCOPED) here.

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection)

Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
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Station: CJME Regina
June 25, 1984
Time: 47:04 (unscoped)
          15:28 (scoped)

You've heard of ideas that were ahead of their time?

This idea was behind its time.

AM stereo was thought to be the saviour of AM radio in Canada and the U.S. when it came out in the '80s. Many stations adopted one of the four technologies - C-QUAM, Harris Corporation, Magnavox and the Kahn-Hazeltine System. But there were a multitude of problems. First, the competing technologies proved to be a problem as it confused consumers. Also, AM stereo was adopted too late as many listeners had moved to FM and weren't about to come back to AM, which was moving into news-talk sports programming anyway. Interest in the technology faded and by the early 2000s hardly any stations were using it. What started out with so much promise was a forgotten relic.

One of the Canadian stations to use the C-QUAM system - which became the standard in Canada - was CJME. The Regina station went on the air in 1959 with an easy-listening format, however it soon went Top 40. By the '90s they were an oldies outlet. The music died for CJME at midnight on September 7, 1998, when the station played its final song - "American Pie" by Don McLean. The next day they went to a news-talk format.

Enjoy Dave Sawyer on CJME in C-QUAM AM stereo (UNSCOPED) here.

Enjoy Dave Sawyer on CJME in C-QUAM AM stereo (SCOPED) here.

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection)


Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
online streaming fees to the
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (License 22-F)