CFOM (defunct)

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CFOM was a Canadian radio station. Owned by Goodwill Broadcasters of Quebec, it was the only English language radio station in Quebec City until it was shut down in 1976.


The station was launched in 1949, with the call sign CJNT, later changing to CJQC in 1953. It finally adopted the CFOM call sign, which it retained for the remainder of its existence, in 1964.

The station was a privately owned affiliate of the CBC Radio network. At the time Quebec City was the only provincial capital without a CBC-owned and -operated English-language radio station. This put CFOM in a difficult position as a commercial station whose license required it to air predominantly non-commercial programming. As such, it was a money-bleeder for most of its existence.

It didn't help matters that the area's anglophone population was just barely large enough for the station to be viable. For most of its history, its listenership came primarily from anglophone members of the National Assembly, as well as anglophone government employees.

In 1951, Goodwill asked for permission to offer service in both English and French. However, the CBC, which at the time doubled as both regulator and broadcaster, turned the request down. A year later, Goodwill asked for permission to switch to French only. That request was also turned down. In 1963, Goodwill asked the Board of Broadcast Governors, which had become Canada's broadcast regulator five years earlier, to remove the stipulation that it operate only in English. This request was also refused.

Originally, the station operated on 1340 AM, broadcasting at only 250 watts. This effectively limited its coverage area to Quebec City itself, and even there it was barely listenable. In 1964, after it was recalled CFOM, the station was allowed to move to 1350 AM and boost its power to 1,000 watts. Even with increased power, the station continued to lose money.

In 1972 CFOM made the decision to change to a Top 40 hit radio format while maintaining a minimum of CBC network programs. Subsequent ratings and commercial financial returns for the station improved as French listeners now tuned in to hear popular English language music. However, in 1974, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ordered the station to go back to its money-losing format of non-commercial CBC programs.

Rather than comply with the CRTC order, owner Norman Lucas tried to put the station up for sale. The request was denied, and Lucas took the station off the air at 5 p.m. on August 8, 1975; shortly before, disk jockey Al MacKay gave a special farewell message in English and French, followed by its final song, the 1975 "The Way We Were" / "Try to Remember" medley by Gladys Knight & the Pips.[1] At the time of the station's demise, 110,000 listeners tuned in on a regular basis -- decent numbers considering Quebec City's high francophone population.[2]

However, the silence was brief as the station returned later the same day under a new license, as a CBC-owned rebroadcaster of CBM in Montreal. The CBC had been licensed to open a new transmitter in Quebec City on FM, but was granted a temporary license to keep CFOM on the air until CBVE-FM could be launched. No privately owned anglophone station has signed on in Quebec City since CFOM's demise.

The call letters are now assigned to a non-related francophone station, CFOM-FM.


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