|Broadcast area||Metro Vancouver|
|Slogan||"Vancouver's Best Mix"|
|Frequency||95.3 MHz (FM)|
|First air date||May 23, 1991|
|Callsign meaning||C K Z Z95.3|
|Sister stations||CISL, CHLG-FM|
CKZZ-FM (95.3 FM, "Z95.3") is a Canadian radio station in the Greater Vancouver region of British Columbia. It broadcasts at 95.3 MHz on the FM band with an effective radiated power of 71,300 watts from a transmitter on Mount Seymour, and its studios are located in Richmond. The station has had a hot adult contemporary format since 2004, and is owned by Newcap Radio.
On February 19, 1990, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) initiated a call for applications for a new commercial FM radio station in Vancouver on the frequency 94.5 MHz. Six companies submitted proposals to the commission for approval. On June 20, 1990, the CRTC approved South Fraser Broadcasting's application for the frequency. On November 1, 1990, the CRTC approved South Fraser's application to amend the frequency to 95.3 MHz due to potential interference with CJJR-FM.
CKZZ, known on-air with the moniker "Z 95.3", signed on air at 8 a.m. on May 23, 1991, and ran commercial-free until May 27. The first song played was Here We Go (Let's Rock & Roll) by C&C Music Factory. Founded by South Fraser and controlled by Michael Dickinson, it shares studio and office space with sister station CISL AM 650. The station's format was authorized by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as dance music, and quickly gained popularity among younger audiences in the market. CKZZ was a top-rated station, constantly remaining in the Top 3 most listened-to stations in the market.
In 1995, CKZZ and CISL were sold to Standard Radio. The $18 million CAD purchase was approved by the CRTC in 1996. Following this sale, CKZZ began to move from the dance format it was licensed for to a Top 40 (CHR) format.
The station's success continued into 2001, and ranked number two overall among radio stations in the Vancouver market in the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement ratings for much of the year. Its website also ranked 28th on the list of the "50 Best Radio Station Websites in the World", compiled by U.S. trade publication "Radio Ink". In addition, CKZZ was named "Station of the Year" by Canadian Music Week in March 2002.
In August 2002, the station changed formats again, edging away from its "contemporary hits" format and used the slogan "The Best of the Nineties and Today", but technically remained a CHR.
In February 2004, the station started playing an uninterrupted stream of hit music from its 13-year history, in preparation for another format change. The station switched to their current Hot Adult Contemporary format in March, with the slogan "Zed Ninety-Five Three, Your Music Your Zed, with the Best of the 80s, 90s and Now". Ironically, the station was named "CHR Station of the Year" by Canadian Music Week a few days before its format switch. The first song of the current hot adult contemporary format was Coldplay's 2002 single "Clocks".
Another direction tweak came in September 2005, with the station dropping most of its eighties and nineties tracks and moving towards an adult top 40 format. The slogan, "Today's Best Music", was first used on sister station CJFM/Montreal, and both CKZZ and CJFM had identical playlists.
In the spring of 2007, the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement, released its yearly reports indicating that Z95-3 had a 3.6% share of the Vancouver radio market and finishing as the 12th most listened to radio station. This was most likely caused by the launch of Rhythmic Top 40 (now Mainstream Top 40) station CFBT-FM in 2002 and took away the majority of the station's younger audiences, which prompted CKZZ to seek an older audience that listened to the station in its 90's heyday. Such a drop in ratings over the years prompted the end of Z95-3 and the creation of a new radio station.
Just before Midnight on June 3, 2007, Z95-3 played its last song, Walk Away by Kelly Clarkson. CKZZ then began stunting by playing a mix of comedy/novelty songs, TV show and movie bits, etc. At 7 a.m. on June 5, the station was renamed "95 Crave", and relaunched with a more rhythmic adult contemporary format, but retaining the same adult top 40 sound as Z. The first song was Music by Madonna.
On January 8, 2009, at 4 PM, CKZZ switched brandings yet again, and was rebranded as a Virgin Radio station, joining sister station CKFM-FM/Toronto. This move had been announced December 4, 2008. Crave's final song was "Beautiful Goodbye" by Amanda Marshall, while Virgin Radio's first song was a remix of Sway by Michael Bublé. Following the branding switch to Virgin, the station eliminated songs from the 1980s; the last remaining station in the Virgin chain to do so is CJFM-FM/Montreal.
Sale and the return of Z95.3
In March 2013, the Competition Bureau approved a proposal by Bell Media to acquire Astral Media, under the condition that it divest itself of several television services and radio stations. Following the closure of the merger in July 2013, CKZZ was placed in a blind trust pending its eventual sale.
On August 26, 2013, Newcap Radio announced it would acquire CKZZ along with four other former Astral Media radio stations for $112 million. The deal was approved by the CRTC on March 19, 2014 and the sale closed on March 31, 2014.
As Bell acquired Astral Media's exclusive rights to the Virgin Radio brand in Canada through the merger, the station announced on March 25, 2014 that it would revive its classic Z95.3 branding on March 31, 2014. Explaining the change by stating that "you can't stay a virgin forever", Newcap cited continued recognition of the Z95.3 brand among residents—even after its replacement with Crave and Virgin Radio—as an impetus for the change. Aside from the change in name, no changes were made to the station's format. The change took place at 5:30 a.m. that day; the last song on Virgin Radio was "Story of My Life" by One Direction, while the first song on the revived Z95.3 was "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke.  Additionally, it was announced that Natalie Hunter and Drew Savage, CKZZ's long-time morning hosts, would move to Bell-owned CHQM-FM on April 21. The Virgin Radio brand would re-surface on Bell-owned CFBT-FM the following year.
- Decision CRTC 90-1094
- Astral press release, December 4, 2008
- Biblic, Mirko. "Re: Voting Trust Agreement between BCE Inc. and Pierre Boivin, the trustee Application No. 2013-0243-9 – Approved". CRTC. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
- "Competition Bureau OK's BCE-Astral deal, with conditions". CBC News. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- "Bell moves closer to Astral with sale of TV assets". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- "Newcap signs agreement with Bell Media to acquire five radio stations in Toronto and Vancouver". CNW. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-129
- "Newcap Radio receives CRTC approval to purchase stations in Toronto and Vancouver". Canada Newswire. March 19, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- "From "V" to "Z": You Can't Stay a Virgin Forever". Canada Newswire. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
- "Popular co-hosting duo Nat Hunter and Drew Savage to serve up MORNINGS WITH NAT & DREW, weekday mornings on Vancouver's #1 radio station". Bell Media. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
- "Bell Media Flips Vancouver's 'Beat' To Virgin Radio". All Access Media Group. Retrieved 6 March 2015.