|Branding||99.9 Virgin Radio|
|Slogan||Toronto's #1 Hit Music Station|
|Frequency||99.9 MHz (FM)|
|First air date||1947|
|Callsign meaning||C K Frequency Modulation|
(Bell Media Radio)
|Sister stations||Radio: CHUM (AM), CFRB, CHUM-FM
TV: CP24, CFTO-DT, CKVR-DT
CKFM-FM, also known as 99-9 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. The station airs a Top 40/CHR 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. CKFM's studios are located at 250 Richmond Street West in the Entertainment District, while its transmitter is located at the top of the CN Tower.
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 April 1961, the complete simulcast was dropped, in favour of some unique programming.
In April 1963, the station changed its call letters to CKFM. All CFRB programming was discontinued. The station adopted an easy listening and MOR format, which lasted for many years and was very successful in ratings (a 1974 Billboard magazine article claimed the station had the most listeners in the 25-to-34-year-old age group of any Canadian radio station, AM or FM). During this time period, CKFM carried a few specialty shows, such as a Sunday evening reggae music program. Towards the latter part of the 1980s, CKFM transitioned towards a more younger-targeting adult contemporary format.
The station adopted the brand name Mix 99.9, on September 2, 1991, and adopted a hot adult contemporary format to compete with CHUM-FM. 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 and CHFI 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, 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 "999 Virgin Radio" 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.
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, Ottawa, and Vancouver 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). In addition to the aforementioned three stations, the "Virgin" branding has since been expanded to Calgary, Edmonton, London, Winnipeg, Kitchener and Halifax.
As of September 2009, the station was moved to the Canadian CHR 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. At the time of the format altering, CKFM adopted the slogan "Toronto's New #1 Hit Music Station". Currently, CKFM competes with CKIS, CIDC, CJED in Niagara Region, CKBT in Kitchener, and, to a lesser extent, WKSE in Buffalo.
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.
On June 27, 2013, Bell Media completed its acquisition of Astral Media, making CKFM a sister station to Hot AC-formatted CHUM-FM and sports talk-formatted CHUM (AM). Due to CRTC ownership limits, Bell and Astral's fellow FM stations CFXJ-FM and CHBM-FM were sold to Newcap Radio.
After Virgin Radio 999 posters featuring a kitchen radio poised at the edge of a TTC subway platform with the caption "give your radio a reason to live," 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.
- The ultimate FM turn-on Greg Quill, Toronto Star, September 3, 1991
- 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. Torontoist, April 16, 2009.
- City pulls ad posters with suicide theme. Toronto Star, April 17, 2009.
- 99.9 Virgin Radio
- CKFM history - Canadian Communications Foundation
- CKFM Classic Tribute Web Site
- Query the REC's Canadian station database for CKFM-FM