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CINW AM940 radio logo.svg
City Montreal, Quebec
Branding AM 940
Slogan Montreal's Greatest Hits
Frequency 940 kHz (AM)
Translator(s) CFCX-SW 6005 kHz
First air date May 20, 1920
Last air date January 29, 2010
Format Oldies
Power 50,000 watts
Class A
Transmitter coordinates 45°23′34.08″N 73°41′53.16″W / 45.3928000°N 73.6981000°W / 45.3928000; -73.6981000
Callsign meaning Canada's Information and NeWs station (former all-news format)
Former callsigns CIQC (1991-1999)
CFCF (1922-1991)
9AM (1921-1922)
XWA (1919-1921)
Owner Corus Quebec[1]
(Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc.)
Sister stations CFQR-FM, CINF

CINW was the final call sign used by an English language AM radio station located in Montreal, Quebec, which, along with French-language sister station CINF, ceased operations at 7:00 p.m. ET on January 29, 2010.[2][3]

Owned and operated by Corus Quebec, it broadcast on 940 kHz with a full-time power of 50,000 watts as a clear channel (class A) station, using a slightly directional antenna designed to improve reception in downtown Montreal.

CINW traced its origin to an experimental facility, with the call letters XWA, which began test transmissions in 1919, and whose first documented entertainment broadcast was made on the evening of May 20, 1920. Due to its heritage, the station was generally considered to be Canada's first and oldest broadcasting station.


As is true with most early broadcasting stations, some of Canadian Marconi's early Montreal activities are poorly documented. In Listening In, a 1992 history of early Canadian radio, author Mary Vipond noted that "Several different versions of the gradual transformation of XWA from an experimenter in radio telephony to a regular broadcaster (with the call letters CFCF) exist" and "the precise date on which XWA/CFCF began regular programming may be impossible to determine".[4]

This uncertainty was evident when, in 1928, the manager of CFCF wrote to the Radio Branch in Ottawa asking "would you kindly let us know the date of our first broadcast", to which the reply was "We do not have the exact details of this on our files, but find that test programmes were carried out by your Company in Montreal during the winter evenings of 1919, and regular organized programs were commenced in December, 1920, by your Experimental Station, 'XWA' on a wavelength of 1200 metres [250 kHz]."[5]

XWA / 9AM (1919-1922)[edit]

CINW's history was generally said to have begun with an experimental station, XWA, operated by Canadian Marconi[6] in Montreal. XWA was issued its first licence in 1915, in conjunction with a training school,[7] and was one of the few radio stations allowed to operate in Canada during World War One, when it was used to conduct military research.[8]

In early 1919, British Marconi shipped a bulky combination desk and vacuum-tube radio transmitter, shaped like an upright piano, to the Canadian Marconi building in Montreal at 173 William Street (later re-numbered as 1017). The set, capable of two-way radiotelephone and longer-range radiotelegraph operation, had been developed during World War One, but with the end of the war was now surplus. The parent company hoped there might be commercial interest within the Canadian paper and pulp industry in using transmitters like this for communication between their mills and offices.[9] It was installed on the building's top floor, and operated under the XWA call sign.[10]

The earliest tests and demonstrations focused more on using the transmitter for point-to-point communication than for broadcasting. This required engineers to repeatedly speak simple phrases, with pauses to listen if there were any replies.[11] As was common at a number of early stations, the engineers soon tired of their repetitive talking, and began to play phonograph records to provide test signals. This in turn drew the attention of interested local amateur radio enthusiasts, who enjoyed hearing music instead of the usual Morse code dots-and-dashes used almost universally for radio communication at this time. In addition, during the fall of 1919 Canadian Marconi formed a separate company, Scientific Experimenter, Ltd., to sell equipment to radio amateurs.[12]

The first documented broadcast of entertainment by XWA to a general audience occurred on the evening of May 20, 1920, when a concert was prepared for a Royal Society of Canada audience listening 110 miles (175 kilometres) away at the Château Laurier in the capital city of Ottawa. This was part of a demonstration of the longrange capabilities of radiotelephony arranged by Dr. A. S. Eve of the Royal Society, who was giving a lecture reviewing "Some Inventions of the Great War".[13] [14] In Montreal, Canadian Marconi's chief engineer J. O. G. Cann opened the broadcast with a series of announcements, including reading a sealed message previously sent by Dr. R. F. Ruttan,[13] which was followed by the playing of phonograph records, beginning with "Dear Old Pal of Mine". Also included was live entertainment featuring Dorothy Lutton, who sang "Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms" and "Merrily Shall I Live".[14] A Naval Radio Service station in Ottawa also participated, with officer E. Hawken singing "Annie Laurie", along with the playing of phonograph records. The Ottawa transmissions were well heard at the Château Laurier, but had difficulty being received in Montreal.[13] At the time these broadcasts received little publicity beyond a few local newspaper reports,[15] in contrast to a similar broadcast made a month later by the Marconi station near London at Chelmsford in Essex, featuring Dame Nellie Melba, which garnered broad international attention.[16]

XWA eventually began operating on a regular schedule in order to promote radio receiver sales, and at first the station was almost single handedly run by Darby Coats. (Coats went on to have a long broadcasting career.)[17] A phonograph player and records were provided by a Sainte Catherines West music store in return for on-air acknowledgments. Performers weren't paid, so live entertainment was provided by song pluggers promoting sheet music sales, amateurs (sometimes with more enthusiasm than talent), and the occasional professional looking for publicity or intrigued by the new technology.[18] By June 1921 interest in broadcasting had increased to the point that Canadian Marconi began publishing the Canadian Wireless Magazine, with Coats as the editor, initially just four pages long, but, reflecting the rapidly growing interest in radio, expanding to twenty pages a year later.[19]

The chronology is not completely clear, but apparently in 1921 the broadcasts switched from operating under the initial experimental license to an amateur authorization. (Broadcasting licences did not exist at this time.) A short notice in the November 1921 issue of QST magazine reported that the station, now using the call sign 9AM, was broadcasting once a week on Tuesday evenings starting at 8 p.m., using a wavelength of 1200 metres (250 kHz).[20]

CFCF (1922-1991)[edit]

In April 1922 the Canadian government began issuing the first licences specifically for "radio-telephone broadcasting stations". Initially all these stations received four-letter call signs starting with "CF", "CH", "CJ" or "CK", plus one additional "C" as the third or fourth letter. Included in the first group of twenty-three stations was a Montreal grant for Canadian Marconi, assigned a transmitting wavelength of 440 metres (682 kHz) and the call letters CFCF.[21] The slogan "Canada's First, Canada's Finest" was later adopted based on the new call sign.

After numerous frequency changes, followed by a three-year period from 1925 to 1928 when it shared time with CKAC on 730 kHz, CFCF began operating full-time on 600 kHz in 1933, remaining there until 1999. The station was an affiliate of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Dominion Network from 1944 to 1962; and also carried some programs from the U.S. NBC-Blue Network, at least as of 1939.[22]

Some notable personalities during the CFCF era included newsman Gordon Sinclair, morning hosts Ted Blackman and Al Boliska, sportscasters John Robertson and Dick Irvin, Jr., and 1960s Rock-n-Roll disk jockey Dave Boxer. In 1986, CFCF changed its format from full service to adult standards.

CIQC (1991-1999)[edit]

Logo used during the CIQC news-talk years (1993-1999).

In September 1991, CFCF and its FM sister CFQR (now CKBE) were sold to Mount Royal Broadcasting (later Métromédia). The historic CFCF call letters were retained by TV station CFCF-TV so, just short of 70 years after it had been first assigned, CFCF changed its call letters to CIQC. At the same time, the station launched an ill-fated country music format as "Country 600", which only lasted until March 1993, at which point there was a further switch to news/talk programming, with on-air personalities including Howard Galganov.

During 1997-99, CIQC was the home station for "The Travel World Radio Show", hosted by veteran travel broadcasters Stephen Pickford and Willem Bagchus, which became the first Montreal radio show to be carried in U.S. syndication when it was picked up in August 1999 for simulcasting by the Westminster, Maryland-based Liberty Works Radio Network. The program was profiled in the October 15, 2000 edition of L'Actualite magazine for its efforts in promoting Canadian and Quebec tourism to an American audience.

CINW and the move to 940 kHz (1999)[edit]

The station's logo as 940 Montreal (September 2005 - June 2008).

CIQC received permission from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to move to 940 kHz,[23] a frequency that had been vacated when CBC Radio One's CBM transferred to the FM band as CBME-FM. The move included an increase in transmitting power from 10,000 watts (daytime) and 5,000 watts (nighttime) to 50,000 watts full-time.

Along with the frequency change there was a format change to all-news, plus new call letters. The station began operations on 940 on December 14, 1999 employing the call sign of CKNN, however this had been done improperly, as the station was denied permission to use the CKNN call letters. CIQC instead became CINW. Following four months of simulcasting, the transmitter on 600 kHz was shut down on Easter Sunday (April 23), 2000. A sister station, CINF "Info 690", provided French-language all-news programming.

CINW ended the all-news format in September 2005, switching to news/talk programming. The first day of the revamped format was September 14, 2005, and, in a throwback to CIQC days, the first live guest, at 6:47 a.m. EDT with morning man Barry Morgan, was Stephen Pickford, who had hosted Travel World on CIQC from 1997 to 1999. The station's most popular broadcasters were Joe Cannon, Jim Duff and Charles Adler. One of the station's first announcers was Debbi Marsellos, a native Montrealer who was mainly a traffic reporter but also anchored the news and did some hosting. Debbi started working at 940 News from its inception, coming from CJAD. Patrick Letang was the 940 News Business Editor until he died on December 6, 2006.

AM940 Montreal's Greatest Hits (2008)[edit]

On June 6, 2008, CINW announced it would drop its talk programming and move to an oldies format, effective June 14, citing difficulties operating in the Montreal market.[24] The most recent ratings report prior to the change placed the station sixth among Montreal anglophones with a 3.8% share; nonetheless it was one of the lowest-ranked commercial English-language stations in the market (just ahead of CKGM (The Team 990)), and was well behind spoken-word rivals CJAD and CBC Radio One.[25] The switch took place at 9:40 a.m. on July 1, 2008, with new morning man Marc Denis,[26] marking the return of oldies to anglophone radio in Montreal, absent since CKGM flipped to sports in 2001. CINW also carried some non-music programming, including the overnight Coast to Coast AM program; following CINW's closedown, that program would be picked up by Astral Media-owned CJAD in March 2010.

Closure (2010)[edit]

On January 29, 2010 Corus announced that both CINW and CINF would cease broadcasting as of 7:00 p.m. that day, due to unsustainable ratings. Regular programming ended at 10:00 a.m. and was replaced with a repeating pre-recorded statement from general manager Mark Dickie announcing the station closure and inviting listeners to tune to sister station CFQR-FM.[27] Broadcasting abruptly ceased — the loop announcement was cut off in mid-sentence, foregoing any official sign-off — at 7:02 p.m., ending 90 years on the air under various call signs and formats.[28][29] Licences for both CINW and CINF were returned to the CRTC for cancellation, which approved the revocation on June 8, 2010.[30]

Later that year, Cogeco acquired Corus' Quebec station assets; the sale included the transmitter sites and equipment in Kahnawake used for CINF and CINW, but not the cancelled operating licences.[31]

Future of AM 940[edit]

In May 2011, Cogeco announced it planned to establish two new AM traffic information radio stations for the Montreal area, in conjunction with Transports Québec. The English language service would broadcast at CINW's former frequency of 940 kHz.[32] Both stations were expected to sign on in the fall of 2011, with broadcast hours from 4:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays, and from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends.[33][34] While new licences would have been issued for both stations, the licencee for the new station was Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc., CINW's prior licencee.[32] On July 8, 2011, these applications for 690 kHz and 940 kHz were withdrawn to a later date.[35]

On July 29, 2011, the CRTC began taking other applications for the vacant 690 and 940 frequencies, leaving Cogeco's plans for the stations in doubt.[36] On September 7, 2011, the CRTC announced the applicants for the 940 frequency; competing against Cogeco was Paul Tietolman, the son of broadcaster Jack Tietolman, who planned to use 940 for an anglophone news-talk formatted station.[37] On November 21, 2011, Tietolman was awarded the frequency, but for the francophone news-talk format that he originally applied for on 690.[38] A year later, he and his two partners were granted a licence for English talk to be broadcast on 600 kHz in the spring of 2013.[citation needed] However, by that point, none of the stations that the TTP group applied for had signed on.

On September 19, 2014, the CRTC gave the TTP group another year to commence broadcasting on 600 and 940. This extension was the second and, originally, final one allowed for 940, giving the station until November 21, 2015 to commence broadcasting or face cancellation of its licence,[39] however, it was renewed for an additional year on October 30, 2015, with November 21, 2016 now set as the cut-off date.[40]

Priority status[edit]

In its various incarnations, especially as CFCF, station staff often asserted that, based on its May 20, 1920 debut broadcast, their station was not only the oldest in Canada, but the first to ever make a "scheduled broadcast". This claim is not widely accepted, because there are numerous examples of earlier publicized radio broadcasts in multiple countries. This is especially true in the United States, which recorded its first regular weekly broadcasts in 1912, conducted by Charles Herrold in San Jose, California. In addition, station PCGG in the Netherlands began daily broadcasts on November 6, 1919, and the Marconi station in Chelmsford, England was used to broadcast two half-hour news and entertainment programmes daily from February 23 to March 6, 1920.[41]


  1. ^ CRTC ownership chart of Corus corporate structure
  2. ^ AM Info690 Montréal and AM940 Montreal's Greatest Hits to cease operation on January 29, 2010, Corus press release, 2010-01-29
  3. ^ Two stations in Montreal going off the air Friday, CTV Montreal (Retrieved October 4, 2016)
  4. ^ Listening In: The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting, 1922-1932 by Mary Vipond, 1992, page 17.
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ Formal name: The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada, Ltd. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd., which was commonly known as British Marconi.
  7. ^ Histoire de la radio au Québec: information, éducation, culture by Pierre Pagé, 2007, pages 42-43. XWA's call letters have traditionally been said to stand for "Experimental Wireless Apparatus". In 1916, it was joined by XWB, XWC, XWD, XWE and XWF in Ontario and Manitoba.
  8. ^ Radio in Quebec society: Key dates by Pierre Pagé. (
  9. ^ Early Days in Canadian Broadcasting (Adventures in Radio - 14) by D. R. P. Coats, Manitoba Calling, November 1940, page 7.
  10. ^ The Birth of Canadian Broadcasting (Adventures in Radio - 13) by D. R. P. Coats, Manitoba Calling, October 1940, page 8.
  11. ^ Ibid.
  12. ^ The Early Development of Radio in Canada, 1901-1930 by Robert P. Murray, 2005, page 29.
  13. ^ a b c Ottawa Hears Montreal Concert Over the Wireless Telephone; Experiment Complete Success, Ottawa Journal, May 21, 1920, page 7.
  14. ^ a b Wireless Concert Given for Ottawa, Montreal Gazette, May 21, 1920, page 4.
  15. ^ Vipond, page 3. Articles also appeared in the Montreal Star, on page 3 of the May 20, 1920 issue, and pages 3-4 in the next day's issue.
  16. ^ "Melba Entertains Europe by Wireless Telephone", Telephony, July 10, 1920, page 19.
  17. ^ Canadian Communications Foundation Biographies: Douglas "Darby" Coats (
  18. ^ Early Days in Canadian Broadcasting (Adventures in Radio - 15) by D. R. P. Coats, Manitoba Calling, December 1940, page 7.
  19. ^ Murray, page 29.
  20. ^ "Strays", QST magazine, November 1, 1921, page 47.
  21. ^ "Radio Department: Broadcasting Stations", Winnipeg Evening Tribune, April 25, 1922, page 5. This first group of assignments also included CFCA (Toronto), CFCB (Vacouver), and CFCE (Halifax).
  22. ^ "Stations That Make Up the Networks", The (Hagerstown, Maryland) Daily Mail, March 11, 1939, page 9.
  23. ^ Decision CRTC 99-151, June 21, 1999.
  24. ^ "Changement de format à 940 Montreal" (in French). Corus Entertainment. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  25. ^ BBM Canada - Top-line Radio Statistics for S1 (Jan-Mar) 2008
  26. ^ "The Marc Denis Collection". Retrieved 4 October 2016. 
  27. ^ 940 CINW Signs Off (
  28. ^ 940 Montreal final transmission CINW AM, CIQC-AM, CFCF-AM, VE9AM, XWA - YouTube, upload February 3, 2010
  29. ^ AM 940 CINW Montreal final transmission January 29, 2010 YouTube upload March 3, 2011
  30. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-354, June 8, 2010.
  31. ^ "Radio: Not just the usual channels", Montreal Gazette, October 29, 2011.
  32. ^ a b "Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-336", May 19, 2011.
  33. ^ "Montreal to get two all-traffic radio stations". The Gazette, May 16, 2011.
  34. ^ "Dedicated Traffic Radio is in the Works for Montréal Metropolitan and Will be on the Air this Fall", Cogeco press release, May 16, 2011.
  35. ^ Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-336-2, July 18, 2011.
  36. ^ Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-453, July 29, 2011.
  37. ^ Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-571, September 7, 2011.
  38. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-721, November 21, 2011.
  39. ^ Fagstein: "TTP Media says news-talk stations are six to nine months until launch", October 4, 2014.
  40. ^ Fagstein: "CRTC changes its mind, gives TTP Media yet another extension on AM radio stations", November 3, 2015.
  41. ^ History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom (Volume 1): The Birth of Broadcasting by Asa Briggs, 1961, page 45.

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