|City||New Westminster, British Columbia|
|Broadcast area||Metro Vancouver|
|Branding||News Talk 980 CKNW|
|Slogan||Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk.|
|Frequency||980 kHz (AM)|
|Repeater(s)||101.1 MHz HD2 (CFMI-FM)|
|First air date||August 15, 1944|
|Format||News, Talk, Weather and Traffic|
|Callsign meaning||C K New Westminster (the station's original location)|
|Former frequencies||1230 kHz (1944-1949)
1320 kHz (1949-1958)
|Affiliations||CBS Radio News|
(Corus Premium Television Ltd.)
|Sister stations||Radio: CHMJ, CFOX-FM, CFMI-FM
TV: CHAN-DT, Global News: BC 1
CKNW owned by Corus Entertainment, is the second highest-rated talk radio station in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It broadcasts on AM 980. CKNW is unusual in that it is a 50,000 watt, Class A station broadcasting on a regional (not clear-channel) frequency. CKNW uses a four-tower directional antenna from a site near Surrey, while its studios are located at TD Tower in downtown Vancouver.
The station's content is based on news and current events. It features call-in shows with mostly Vancouver-based hosts.
CKNW began in New Westminster, British Columbia, on August 15, 1944 at its original frequency of 1230 AM, under the ownership of Bill Rea's International Broadcasting Company. It was Vancouver's first country music station, the first in the region to provide hourly newscasts (between 6:00 a.m. and midnight) and the first in the province to broadcast 24 hours a day, beginning in 1947.
In 1947, Rea purchased a half-interest in Port Alberni radio station CJAV. Several personalities who started there would move to CKNW. These included Joe Chesney, who became morning show host until moving on to establish Langley station CJJC (now CKST in Vancouver) in 1963, and Jim Robson, who would provide play-by-play for the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL in 1970). On January 2, 1949, CKNW switched frequencies to 1320 AM and increased its power from 250 watts to 1,000. The station again increased power to 5,000 watts on November 5, 1954.
Jack Webster advanced talk-show radio methods during his time with CKNW in the 1960s.
In February 1956, Bill Rea, experiencing health problems, sold CKNW to Frank Griffiths and the Ballard family, who went on to form Western Broadcasting Company, which later became Western International Communications (WIC). On November 17, 1958, the station switched to its present frequency of 980 AM. On February 22, 1960, its transmission power was increased to 10,000 watts, and it was further increased to 50,000 watts in 1965. On January 15, 1969, CKNW moved into larger studio space in a former Safeway store in New Westminster. Parent company Western Broadcasting put FM sister station CFMI on the air on March 22, 1970.
CKNW founder Bill Rea died on April 15, 1983 in Santa Barbara, California at age 74. On October 3, 1983, the station began broadcasting in AM stereo. On June 18, 1984, it became the flagship station of the Western Information Network, broadcasting programs via satellite to affiliate stations throughout British Columbia.
During Expo 86 CKNW moved their Holiday Inn Hotel Talk studio to a new facility in the BC Pavilion Complex. CKNW broadcast on site for the duration of the World's Fair. All CKNW Talk programming aired from the Expo Studio until 1997. During the 1990s, CKNW made a gradual transition from the mixed format of news, sports, talk shows and MOR music it had adopted in the 1960s to full-time news, talk and sports. In 1996, CKNW and CFMI moved again to their current studios in the TD Tower at Pacific Centre in Downtown Vancouver.
In 2000, both CKNW and CFMI were purchased by Corus Entertainment as part of the splitting of WIC's broadcasting assets; Corus acquired WIC's radio stations and pay-TV assets while WIC's broadcast TV stations, including CHAN-DT (BCTV, now Global BC) in the Vancouver area, were purchased by Canwest. Canwest ultimately went bankrupt in 2010, selling the bulk of its broadcast properties including Global BC to Corus sibling company Shaw Communications, which in turn transferred them to Corus in 2016.
In February 2001, Corus Entertainment launched an all-news sister station, NW2. This new station (CJNW AM730, formerly CKLG) was branded as "24 hour news radio, powered by CKNW." NW2 shared newsroom resources with CKNW, including several anchors and reporters. However, NW2 did not achieve broad appeal, and was shut down in May 2002.
Since 2001, CKNW has gone through two significant restructurings focused on reducing costs, which resulted in dozens of lay-offs. Several senior reporters have left CKNW for other opportunities. The cost-cutting decisions made by Corus, along with the increase in infomercials, has correspondingly resulted in CKNW suffering a steady erosion of its listening audience.
CKNW lost the BC Lions CFL broadcast rights to Team 1040 in 2004. The station had broadcast the games continuously since 1985. In 2006, CKNW lost the rights to broadcast Vancouver Canucks games to Team 1040 after broadcasting every one of the club's games since 1970. The loss of the Canucks games may have resulted in the station losing nearly a third of their cumulative audience in the Fall ratings of 2006.
Morning and afternoon show hosts include Jon McComb (The Jon McComb Show), Simi Sara (The Simi Sara Show), Lynda Steele and Drex (Steele & Drex), and Charles Adler ("Charles Adler Tonight"). All of these programs follow a similar format and broadcast strictly on CKNW.
The station added a weekend morning show in March 2008 which follows a similar format to weekday mornings, but without traffic updates every ten minutes and news headlines at :15 and :45 (The Jill Bennett Show). Sean Leslie used to host CKNW's weekend afternoon talk program (The Sean Leslie Show).
Other talk-show hosts include Drex Live.
Guest talk-show hosts include Michael Campbell (Global BC's financial analyst).
The station's traffic department provides extensive reports with traffic every 10 minutes on the 4s during drive times. Elaine Scollan does the AM Drive from the CKNW helicopter, while Kim Larsson covers the PM shift up above.
CKNW's news department produces newscasts every hour, with more frequent updates during the day. Anchors include Gord MacDonald and Terry Schintz.
Mark Madryga is CKNW's weather meteorologist whose reports can be heard during the morning news and The World Today. Global BC's Kristi Gordon is the substitute forecaster.
Broadcast code violation
In 2007, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council faulted CKNW for airing "potentially dangerous information" during the Dawson College shooting. During the incident, CKNW had simulcast content from its sister stations in Montreal which included students speaking by cellphone from inside the school. A Vancouver man complained that the content could have told the gunman where the students were. The council said that as a result of modern technology reducing geographic distance as a barrier, CKNW had breached Section 10 (coverage of violent situations) of the broadcast code. The station broadcast the decision as required, but did not air an apology and the station manager said it was a "one-off situation" that would not affect CKNW's policies.
- CBC passes CKNW to lead Vancouver radio ratings
- Rod Mickleburgh, "Radio legend Rafe Mair fired," Globe and Mail, June 10, 2003.
- Eustance, Chantal (July 21, 2007), "CKNW report on college shootings breached code", The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, BC