|Fate||Off the air|
|David Ruskin, president and CEO|
|Products||radio news network|
The network was owned by Canada All-News Radio Ltd. AGRA Industries was originally a 45 per cent partner in the network, but by 1988 it was the sole owner. David Ruskin was the network's founding president.
On July 12, 1976, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved a licence for CKO to Canada All News Radio Limited. Twelve transmitters were required to be in place across the country and ready for broadcast by the fall of 1979.
With a recorded message from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to launch it, the CKO radio network started broadcasting on July 1, 1977 with stations in Ottawa and Toronto. Power problems delayed the start of the Ottawa station by an hour. Stories included much American content, plus two features about prostitutes. One announcer mispronounced Arkansas several times in one newscast and was reportedly dismissed.
Later that year, stations were added in Montreal (by acquisition of AM station CFOX), London, Vancouver and Calgary. The Vancouver station began with a news staff of ten, including news director Cam Scott, Gerry Gifford, Richard Dettman, Stan Crossley, Bill Rodger, Norm Bright and Joanna Piros. Scott was replaced in 1978 by Peter Ray, who had been transferred from the Montreal station. After Ray's departure that year, Tom Spear was hired from CHWK Chilliwack in December 1978 until most local programming was curtailed in August 1980.
The news network began live broadcasts of the Canadian government's Question Period in late 1977; for nearly all Canadians, it was the first regular, live access to House proceedings as it would be well over two years before the CBC Parliamentary Television Network began regular nationwide video distribution to most cable systems.
In November 1977, the Calgary station was opened with Bob Quinn as its first news director. He expanded coverage in Alberta and was instrumental in the network's coverage of the Kosmos 954 satellite crash in the Northwest Territories in January 1978 and the crash of Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314 in Cranbrook, BC a few weeks later. Reporter Bill Pringle was the first journalist at the crash scene. Calgary coverage centered on local news and the booming Alberta energy sector. The Calgary and Edmonton reporters joined forces to broadcast the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. The Calgary stationed featured numerous local features reflecting the skills on the staff and balanced network's national approach. Calgary and Edmonton produced a regional afternoon newcast, "Alberta Today". It was often co-anchored by Cliff Oginski in Edmonton and Calgary's Bill Pringle.
In 1978, a station was added in Edmonton under station manager/news director Garfield Chesson. He made CKO Edmonton a key supplier of national news reportage in the era of the Trudeau government's National Energy Program. Edmonton journalists Cliff Oginski, Ian Kinsey, Karen Brown and Bob Unger balanced a perceived Toronto slant to national issues.
CKO closed the London studio that year due to poor ad sales.
After its first anniversary, the network faced low ratings and higher financial losses than expected. However, it was hoped that a planned advertising campaign would help boost awareness of the station. The Toronto transmitter power was also to be increased to 100 000 watts in by the end of 1978.
CKO began live sports broadcasts for Toronto Maple Leafs hockey and National Football League football in late 1978. CKFH previously carried the Maple Leafs games and attempted to have the CRTC stop CKO's hockey broadcasts. The CRTC rejected CKFH's complaint, on the rationale that sports broadcasts were within CKO's programming commitments.
In 1985, CKO added a station in Halifax.
Montreal's CKO applied to convert from the AM dial to the FM dial to operate on the frequency 95.1 MHz. That application was denied on March 19, 1987. On June 20, 1989, the commission approved an application by changing the frequency from 1470 kHz to 650 kHz. CKO's frequency change proposal was never implemented.
In 1988, CKO filed an application with the CRTC to trade frequencies with Toronto AM station CKEY. The transaction would have included a payment of $4 million to CKO which the network would have used to launch three more stations (Regina, Saint John and St. John's) for which it already held licenses, but had not been financially able to establish. However, the CRTC denied the application on April 25, 1988. Later the same year, AGRA transferred its 99% ownership in CKO to its majority-owned media division, Cybermedix. In March 1989, the network under its restructured ownership declared to the CRTC that it would no longer have financial losses by 1993.
Later that year, CKO established a station in Winnipeg, which became the network's final new station before its closure.
Ted Tevan briefly hosted a weekday sports talk show on the network. Although Tevan was from Montreal, CKO's Montreal station did not have a suitable studio for the program, forcing Tevan to commute to Toronto. Tevan quit CKO after the network rejected his offer to set up a Montreal studio.
In 1989, AGRA agreed in principle to sell Cybermedix to cable-TV company Cogeco, which planned to sell off Cybermedix' medical labs while keeping CKO and the Cybermedix cable systems in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. However, there was no timetable for the CRTC to approve the deal, and Cogeco would not be allowed to operate CKO until the sale was approved. As a result, with the transaction still pending before the CRTC and no prospect of staunching CKO's mounting losses in the interim, AGRA decided to euthanize the network. On November 10, network president Bill Stewart told employees via conference call that CKO was shutting its doors. While this meeting was taking place, the network abruptly went off the air in the middle of the noon (Eastern Time) broadcast, never to return. It lost a reported $55 million during its existence.
The broadcast licenses were surrendered to the CRTC, which formally revoked them on August 15, 1990.
Personalities associated with the network included:
- Barry Aldrich - sports director, co-host of Good Morning Canada
- Abhi M - host
- Ken Anderson - Ottawa editor, reporter and news anchor
- Ed Anderst - Montreal and Parliamentary (Ottawa) reporter
- Bruce Barker - afternoon sports anchor and reporter
- Squire Barnes - Vancouver sports
- Jim Bennie - Vancouver bureau chief/production manager
- Malcolm Bernard - reporter
- Kim Blue - president & GM
- Karen Bodirsky - reporter
- Jane Brown - news and traffic reporter
- Pat Burns - evening host from Vancouver
- Ken Cassavoy - co-host, producer, management
- Jim Chapman - Toronto news
- Jim Connell - Montreal host
- Erin Davis - co-host
- Gerry Dobson
- Norah Fountain - reporter
- Susan Flory - co-host, Cover to Cover
- George Franks - news anchor
- Don Gauthier - host of Time to Talk
- John Gilbert - talk show host, Toronto/Vancouver
- Angus Gillespie - reporter, sports anchor/writer (1987–89)
- Glenn Gingerich - sports director
- Elwood Glover - host, The News in Dimension
- Phil Godin - national news anchor
- Lynne Gordon - entertainment reporter
- Laurie Graham - Vancouver reporter
- Betty Harrison - news anchor
- Steve Hennigar - news anchor
- Brian Hillier - national news anchor
- Robert Holliday - morning news
- Karen Horsman - traffic reporter
- Richard Hustwick - Toronto reporter
- Patrick Hynan - head news writer
- Thierry Jaume - overnight news anchor
- Paul Johnson - Winnipeg bureau, wrote Journal of Radio Studies (1995) article on CKO
- Walter Kanitz - travel correspondent
- Anita Kartalija - traffic reporter
- Steve Kee
- Pamela Kern
- Harvey Kirck - afternoon news, specialty features
- Dave LaFave - sports
- John McGillivray - sports director
- Anne McLaughlin - anchor, reporter
- John MacRae - business editor/national anchor/ host
- Bernie MacNamee - national anchor
- Al Michaels - afternoon host
- Roger Millions
- Jim Morris - Toronto news director, crime reporter
- Lori Miseck - reporter
- Stan Mulholoch - morning host
- Shawn Murray - reporter
- David Onley - technology reports
- Taylor "Hap" Parnaby - president
- Rod Pasic - reporter/fill-in anchor
- Arnis Peterson - business anchor
- Bill Pringle - Calgary newsroom coordinator/afternoon host
- Bob Quinn - Calgary news director
- Robert "Bob" Reid - reporter
- Mike Robbins - news
- Julie Rosenberg - host, co-host of Good Morning Canada
- Sandy Rubin - Montreal reporter
- Andrew Sharp - wine programme host
- Bill Sipple - news anchor
- Murray Smith - entertainment editor
- Marianne Summers - Good Morning Toronto co-host
- Frank Switzer - Calgary bureau chief, news director
- Glen Stone - science editor
- Ted Tevan - sports-themed talk show in 1989
- Peter Varley
- Larry Wachtel - Wall Street business commentator
- Denis Woollings - Newshour, co-host Good Morning Toronto, documentary announcer
- Hildegard Zagorski - Wall Street business commentator
- Herbert W. Armstrong, weekdays and Sundays 9:30 p.m.
- Bookshelf, book review show hosted by Dawn Draper.
- The John Gilbert Show
- Hotline, hosted by Pat Burns
- Nighttalk With Bill Williams, national talk-show from Vancouver, replacing The John Gilbert Show
- Open Portfolio, Ottawa-based capital affairs programme hosted by Noel Norenius, Saturdays at 1:07 p.m. ET.
- People Probe, national person-in-the-street show hosted by Earl Sky (Earl Pludwinski), Saturdays at 12:07 p.m. ET.
- Science File, hosted by Glen Stone
- Soccer Report, Edmonton based pre-NASL open line show created and hosted by Ian Kinsey in 1978 and '79. Canada's first soccer call-in and feature program
- Spacewatch, hosted by David Onley
- This is Business - national half hour daily business show 6 - 6:30pm eastern hosted, produced and written by John MacRae '84 - '88
- Time to Talk, national open line show hosted by Don Gauthier from 1985
- Toronto Maple Leafs hockey games
- Alberta soccer league, games play-by-play host Ian Kinsey
- Wall Street Report, hosted by Larry Wachtel
- Wineview, hosted by Andrew Sharp
|City of licence||Call sign||Frequency||Reassigned to|
|Ottawa, Ontario||CKO-FM-1||FM 106.9||CKQB-FM|
|Toronto, Ontario (First Canadian Place)||CKO-FM-2||FM 99.1||CBLA-FM|
|London, Ontario||CKO-FM-3||FM 97.5||CIQM-FM|
|Vancouver, British Columbia||CKO-FM-4||FM 96.1||CHKG-FM|
|Calgary, Alberta||CKO-FM-5||FM 103.1||CFXL-FM|
|Edmonton, Alberta||CKO-FM-6||FM 101.9||CKER-FM (later moved to 101.7)|
|Winnipeg, Manitoba||CKO-FM-7||FM 99.1||CJGV-FM|
|† Regina, Saskatchewan||CKO-FM-8||FM 100.7||CILG-FM|
|Halifax, Nova Scotia||CKO-FM-9||FM 103.5||CKHZ-FM|
|† Saint John, New Brunswick||CKO-FM-10||FM 99.7||never reassigned|
|† St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador||CKO-FM-11||FM 101.9||CBAX-FM-2|
|Pointe-Claire / Montreal, Quebec||CKO||AM 1470||never reassigned; unavailable since 2007 as 1450 is used by CHOU|
† The stations in Regina, Saint John and St. John's were licensed by the CRTC but had not been launched by the network before its shutdown.
- Began at 59-65 Adelaide Street East, Toronto - a vacant 6 storey building next to the Adelaide Street courthouse, then moved to the 2nd floor of the Carlton Inn Hotel on Carlton Street just west of Maple Leaf Gardens from 1981 - 1988
- 680 News - succeeding all-news radio station in Toronto in 1993
- Decision CRTC 76-416 Approval to operate an all-news network - originally licenced on 12 July 1976.
- (no byline) (1977-07-02). "Hangups and hookers mar All-News Radio debut". Globe and Mail. p. 27.
- "Dead air and technical errors greet network listeners", Brandon Sun, July 6, 1977.
- Decision CRTC 77-387 Commission approves the acquisition of the assets of the AM radio station CFOX at Pointe Claire. One of the editors in 1979 at the CFOX station was Randy Hurst who is now president of the Canadian Electricity Forum. Also working at the station at the time was the announcer Mitch Melnick. Mitch Melnick is a 30-year veteran of radio in Montreal. Melnick is a star of Montreal’s English all sports radio station, Team 990. 5 July 1977
- Kirby, Blaik (1977-11-11). "Wry restoration comedies bite through the usual pap (CKO story at end of article)". Globe and Mail. p. 16.
- Keddy, Barbara (1978-09-09). "Adage about half-full, half-empty cup appropriate to position of CKO radio". Globe and Mail. pp. B5.
- (no byline) (1979-01-13). "CRTC favors CKO-FM on sports". Globe and Mail. p. 39.
- (no byline) (1987-08-11). "Newsradio news service sold by Maclean Hunter to CKO radio network". Globe and Mail. pp. B13.
- Decision CRTC 87-189 Denial of Montreal's CKO conversion to the FM dial. 19 March 1987
- Decision CRTC 89-345 Approval of Montreal's frequency change from 1470 kHz to 650 kHz. 20 June 1989
- Decision CRTC 88-294 Key Radio Limited Toronto, Ontario/The CKO Radio Partnership Toronto, Ontario 25 April 1988
- Globe and Mail (1988-11-09). "Agra Industries sells CKO radio network". Globe and Mail. pp. B12.
- Partridge, John (1989-03-16). "CKO will break even in 1993, president says". Globe and Mail. pp. B8.
- Patton, Paul (1989-03-27). "Tevan ends CKO show". Globe and Mail. pp. C4.
- Decision CRTC 90-745 Revocation of the licenses for the radio broadcasting transmitting undertakings in various cities across Canada issued to the CKO Radio Partnership. 15 August 1990
- Globe and Mail, The (1988-02-04). "Patrick Hynan - Produced show on Hemingway (obituary)". Globe and Mail. pp. A16.
- Globe and Mail, The (1986-02-08). "Walter Kanitz - Veteran Radio Broadcaster (obituary)". Globe and Mail. pp. A22.
- Beveridge, Massey (1987-01-01). "Letters to the Editor: The wrong Mr. Varley". Globe and Mail. p. 6.
- (no byline) (1981-02-16). "Advertisement from Herbert W. Armstrong". Globe and Mail. p. 20.
- (no byline) (1984-09-25). "CKO Advertisement". Globe and Mail. p. 4.
- Tansey, Mike (1986-03-17). "Letters to the Editor: National open line". Globe and Mail. pp. A6.