|City of license||Toronto, Ontario|
|Branding||99-9 Virgin Radio|
|Slogan||"Toronto's #1 Hit Music Station!"|
|Frequency||99.9 MHz (FM)|
|First air date||1947|
|Format||Contemporary Hit Radio|
|Callsign meaning||C K Frequency Modulation|
(Bell Media Radio)
|Sister stations||Radio: CHUM (AM), CFRB (AM), CHUM-FM
TV: CP24, CFTO-DT, CKVR-DT
|Website||99-9 Virgin Radio|
CKFM-FM, branded as 99-9 Virgin Radio (known on-air as "ninety-nine-nine Virgin Radio"), is a Canadian radio station, broadcasting at 99.9 on the FM dial in Toronto, Ontario. The station is owned by Bell Media. Formerly branded as 99.9 Mix FM, it adopted its current brand on August 25, 2008, pursuant to a licence from the Virgin Group.
The station airs a Contemporary Hit Radio format (as it reports to BDS and Mediabase as a Canadian Top 40 Airplay panel Canadian CHR reporter), and is the flagship of Canada's Virgin Radio stations. Like most Toronto radio and TV stations, CKFM broadcasts from the CN Tower and receives part of its audience from the United States.
The station was launched in 1938 by the Rogers Radio Broadcasting Co. Ltd. (operated by the father of the founder of Rogers Communications, Ted Rogers Sr.) as experimental FM station VE9AK. The station went off the air between 1942 and 1945 due to the war. It began broadcasting at 99.9 FM in 1947 as CFRB-FM, a simulcast of CFRB AM. Rogers Radio Broadcasting eventually became known as Standard Broadcasting which was acquired by Argus Corporation in 1948.
In 1960, the complete simulcast was dropped, in favour of some unique programming.
In 1963, the station changed its call letters to CKFM. All CFRB programming was discontinued. The station adopted an easy listening/lite rock format, which lasted for many years. During this time period, CKFM carried a few specialty shows, such as a Sunday evening reggae music program.
The station adopted the brand name Mix 99.9, on September 2, 1991, and adopted the hot adult contemporary format. The brand name was changed slightly to 99.9 Mix FM on August 8, 2006, and the branding was phased in throughout the day. This coincided with the return of former Kiss 92 morning show hosts Mad Dog and Billie to Toronto radio.
A Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision from May 31, 2007, stated that the station's call sign was changed to CFMX-FM. Within weeks, the station reverted to CKFM, due to both potential confusion with CFMZ-FM as that station, licensed to Cobourg but also heard in Toronto because of a rebroadcaster, was previously known as CFMX-FM; and because as of November 14, 2007, according to Industry Canada databases, the Toronto rebroadcaster of CFMZ-FM was actually still known as CFMX-FM-1 (not CFMZ-FM-1).
On October 28, 2007, CKFM was purchased by Astral Media as part of its purchase of Standard Broadcasting. Since its purchase by Astral Media, the hot AC format has gone more in a rhythmic-leaning direction, patterned after sister stations Mix 96 in Montreal and Crave 95 in Vancouver, which both carry rhythmic-leaning hot AC formats. It also airs the American Top 40, which usually airs on CHR stations across the United States and Canada. As of 2010, BDS moved CKFM to the Canadian CHR panel due to its shift in direction which now mirrors that of the current Top 40s in Canada.
Re-branding as Virgin Radio
Astral announced a partnership with the Virgin Group to rebrand the station "Virgin Radio 999" on August 25, 2008, taking effect at 4:00 p.m. that day. The final song on "Mix" was Green Day's Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), while the first song on "Virgin" was Madonna's "Like a Virgin". The change came just before the original UK Virgin Radio station was slated to lose its licence to the Virgin name and rebrand as Absolute Radio. Most of the 1980s and 1990s songs were dropped when the station rebranded.
Astral officials indicated at the time that, if the rebranding was successful, the Virgin Radio brand would eventually be rolled out to other markets nationwide. Barely three months later, on December 4, Astral deemed the new brand a success, and announced that stations in Montreal (CJFM-FM), Ottawa (CKQB-FM), and Vancouver (CKZZ-FM) will be rebranded as Virgin Radio stations effective early January 2009. All three stations will retain essentially the same formats (rock at the Ottawa station, hot AC in Montreal and Vancouver).
CKFM's format is more rhythmic-leaning from the other Virgin stations, because both Virgin stations (formerly under Mix 96 & 95 Crave) kept their AC-leaning hot AC sounds with less rhythmic edge. However, even though CKFM's sister station CJEZ-FM switched from adult contemporary to adult hits on Boxing Day 2009, it would be impossible for CKFM to lean in an AC direction in the Toronto radio market, since stations in Newmarket (CKDX-FM), Hamilton (CKLH-FM), and St. Catharines (CHRE-FM) would be competitors to the lone station in Toronto playing that format, CHFI-FM, because of their strong signals. Also, CKFM adopted the slogan "Toronto's New #1 Hit Music Station", to more likely compete with CKIS-FM and CIDC-FM, which support the mainstream top 40 format, as well as CFXJ-FM, which airs the rhythmic contemporary format. However, in terms of strictly hot AC, it continues to compete directly with CHUM-FM, despite having been removed from BDS's Canadian Hot AC panel. The stations mentioned above continue to support their respective formats rather than the adult top 40/hot AC format.
In the summer 2009 BBM book, CKFM began beating its sister AC station, CJEZ, for the first time. Traditionally, Hot AC stations compliment Mainstream AC's (if they are owned by the same company), and are never supposed to overtake them in the ratings.
As of 2009, CKFM's and CJEZ's jingles and IDs sound very similar, even after CJEZ adopted a new format, branding, and callsign.
As of September 2009, the station was moved to the Canadian contemporary hit radio panel on Mediabase and BDS, making the station the first in the CHR format with a transmitter atop the CN Tower and the second Top 40 station licensed to the City of Toronto, the other being CKIS. The 2009 shift of the station to Mainstream Top 40 resulted in the Toronto market having three contemporary hit radio stations and three adult contemporary stations under the same owner -- Astral Media (CKFM-FM) & Hamilton's CKLH-FM, due to Hamilton being so close to Toronto, and previously, Toronto's CJEZ-FM (now adult hits-formatted CHBM-FM), Rogers Radio (CKIS-FM and CHFI-FM), and Evanov Communications (CIDC-FM and CKDX-FM; both Toronto rimshots, like CKLH).
In June 2010, CKFM slightly changed its branding from "9-9-9 Virgin Radio" (pronounced, "nine-nine-nine Virgin Radio"), to "99-9 Virgin Radio" (pronounced, "ninety-nine-nine Virgin Radio"). A week after the change, the station held a contest called "Say it & Win!", where the 99th caller gets 10 seconds to say their new branding, "ninety-nine-nine Virgin Radio" for as many times as they can. For each time the contestant read out their new logo, $100 would be given to him/her.
In addition to the aforementioned stations, the brand has also expanded to Calgary (CIBK-FM), Edmonton (CFMG-FM), and London (CIQM-FM), the latter three stations/markets having the same format as CKFM-FM. CIBK-FM adopted the Virgin branding in June 2010, but kept the top 40 format. CFMG-FM changed formats from adult contemporary to contemporary hit radio in February 2011. CKFM-FM was the only Virgin Radio station in Ontario, until August 2012, when CIQM-FM switched from the EZ Rock branding to Virgin Radio, now tying with Alberta having two contemporary hit radio stations in each province. However, CKQB rebranded back to their former "Bear" moniker in February 2011.
In October 2011, Virgin Toronto's slogan was shortened to simply "The #1 Hit Music Station!", although by late 2012/early 2013, the slogan became "Toronto's #1 Hit Music Station!", exactly the same slogan as one of their competitors, CKIS-FM.
On June 27, 2013, CKFM became part of Bell Media as part of its purchase of Astral Media. New sister stations include CHUM (AM) and CHUM-FM, while Bell's existing station CFXJ-FM and Astral's CHBM-FM will be spun off to Newcap Radio as part of the CRTC's market ownership limits (CFRB will be retained by Bell).
- Mad Dog & Maura (Weekdays Mornings from 6:00am-9:00am)
- Kella (Weekdays, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-12pm/Saturdays 10am-12pm
- On Air with Ryan Seacrest - Middays (syndicated) 12pm-3pm
- Special Ed - Afternoons, Monday through Friday 3pm-7pm
- Kid Craig (Evenings 7pm-12am)
- Tessa - Weekdays & Weekends Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 12am-5am and Thursday 9am-12pm/Saturdays 12pm-6pm
- Party Marty - Weekdays & Weekends Thursday and Friday 12am-5am/Saturdays 6pm-12am/Sundays 6pm-12am
- The 20 (Saturdays 8am-10am)
- American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest (Sundays 8am-12pm)
After Virgin Radio 999 posters featuring a kitchen radio poised at the edge of a TTC subway platform had appeared in Toronto, Toronto Public Space Committee criticized poster ad was "in poor taste". The city's transportation department later ordered the removal of the posters. According to TTC chair Adam Giambrone, the TTC had allowed the photo for the poster to be taken at a subway station based on a request to photograph various radios on TTC platforms. Although a supervisor was on site, there was no indication on how the photos would be used in the ad.
- Astral Media and Virgin launch North America's first Virgin radio station in Toronto, Astral press release, August 25, 2008
- Decision CRTC 2007-359
- Fybush, Scott (2007-10-22). "NorthEast Radio Watch". Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- Call sign search and Broadcasting database (ZIP file) (using the file fmstatio.dbf) from Industry Canada. Retrieved on November 14, 2007.
- SMG sells Virgin Radio for £53m, Kate Allen, The Guardian, May 31, 2008
- Astral tests Virgin branding, Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail, August 26, 2008
- Astral press release, December 4, 2008
- Say it & Win Contest, June 21, 2010
- Virgin Radio: Subway
- TTC Kills the Radio Star
- City pulls ad posters with suicide theme
- 99.9 Virgin Radio
- CKFM history at Canadian Communications Foundation
- CKFM Classic Tribute Web Site
- Query the REC's Canadian station database for CKFM-FM