is a Canadian radio station
, broadcasting at 102.1 FM
. While the station's official city of license
is Brampton, Ontario
, the studios are located on Yonge Street
in downtown Toronto
, and the transmitter is in the CN Tower
. The station targets the entire Greater Toronto Area
. As of December 2007, the station holds a 3.8% share of its market area
For some time in the 1980s, its free-format programming was considered unique, and the station garnered wide respect around the world. This rarely translated into profits, however, and after being sold and re-sold several times to larger and larger media companies, the station now plays a conventional modern rock format with the branding 102.1 The Edge. The radio station is currently owned by Corus Entertainment.
The station's current program director is Ross Winters, who succeeded Alan Cross in September 2008 after Cross transferred to Corus' interactive media division, Splice Media.
CFNY originally started operating in 1961, as an FM
rebroadcast of an AM
. The nearby Humber College
provided a steady stream of young employees, who were encouraged to play their own selections in the evening. In the mid-1970s, the owners decided to give the station a brand of its own, creating CFNY in 1977.
Prior to CFNY, the call letters were CHIC FM, with a transmitter power of 857 watts ERP mono; enough to just cover the town/village of Brampton - later to become a city. Up to around 1975, the CHIC AM control room operator spun LP's from the third turntable in AM master control. Nonstop full play of each side of the LP was the norm - with just a break by the AM operator for ID and to flip the LP over. The music was picked by the AM operator prior to their shift. Any type of music was picked from the library almost (yet; truly) randomly. This was the beginning of CFNY. Listeners loved it and at times requested more of the same, which was obliged. Sometimes missed by the operator, the LP would finish and listeners would call in to complain of the dead air.
The call letters, CFNY - as all call letters for TV and radio broadcast stations have no formal meaning - were alleged, only after the fact, to represent the innocuous phrase, "Canada's First New Youth"; the fact being that given their controversial - at the time - CRTC approved/awarded dial position (102.1) was meant to interfere with an automated, robotic MOR Buffalo signal at 102.5 (now WTSS) invading Toronto; ergo, Canada Fucks New York.
In 1976, a new FM studio was built just up the road from the old studio in Brampton on a very limited budget. Engineers Mike Hargrave Pawson and Steve Martak built the new studio and a new transmitter site in Georgetown to increase the coverage from 857 watts to 100 kW ERP.
The Spirit of Radio
Things started to change when David Marsden joined as program director in 1978. The station started to sound like a "slick" version of a college radio station. At the time, alternative was still very new, but it was also in 1978 that New Wave and punk rock took off and soon the station became known as one of the few commercial stations which played alternative music. Canadian punk act Forgotten Rebels paid homage to CFNY in the liner notes of their 1979 album In Love with the System.
Fans started referring to it as the Spirit of Radio, which was used as their catchphrase for some time and also inspired the Rush song "The Spirit of Radio". Fans were loyal but few and with a measly 857 watts of power, broadcast from a house in Brampton - a suburban city northwest of Toronto - the problems of attracting new listeners were many. In 1979, the original owners were involved in an unrelated court action and forced to sell the station. The new owners started the process of moving the antennae to the CN Tower in 1983.
With the Canadian economy in recession and interest rates high, the new owners sold the station to media conglomerate Selkirk Communications. At first, Selkirk did not change the format and completed the move to the CN Tower. By 1985, the station had reached new heights of popularity, capturing over 5.4% of the Toronto area listeners and becoming internationally famous for its music mix. For a brief period, it was also available on satellite across North America, although this also led to the introduction of more "popular" music.
The station was particularly well respected for introducing new acts which other stations wouldn't play because they were too 'small' in the early 1980s; Canadian artists such as Martha and the Muffins, Rough Trade, Blue Rodeo, Jane Siberry, 54-40, Skinny Puppy and Spoons were among the acts championed by CFNY. CFNY also created Canada's first independent music awards, the U-Knows (a pun on Canada's mainstream Juno Awards; cited/named after CRTC Chair Pierre Juneau ). In 1986, the station held a listener contest to rename the awards, which were re-dubbed the CASBY Awards, for "Canadian Artists Selected By You".
In 1988, the station turned its first profit. However, this was not enough for Selkirk, which sought higher ratings.
Format change and listener rebellion
Late that year, it switched to a mostly top 40 format, leaving its alternative format for weekends and late night. At first, there was a listener rebellion. Their phone-in show at noon was an all-request hour and invariably the requests were for alternative songs. However, the management soon put a stop to this, telling DJ's to refuse such calls and only select requests from the top 40. Soon, most of the staff resigned or were fired.
Loyal listeners soon began signing petitions and filed an intervention with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) opposing the station's 1989 licence renewal. Radio analyst reports suggested that 100,000 new listeners had been gained by the change. However, this hid the fact that the market share dropped considerably, to 4.3%.
In 1989, Selkirk was acquired by Maclean-Hunter, which was committed to returning the station to an alternative format. Instead of reviving the old free-form programming, however, Maclean-Hunter tweaked the station's programming to create a more conventional modern rock station. In the early 1990s, the station again became an important outlet for new Canadian music, with acts such as Barenaked Ladies, The Lowest of the Low, Rheostatics, and Sloan counting CFNY as their first major radio supporter. However, with alternative rock being the decade's dominant genre, CFNY did not sound as distinctive compared to other radio stations as it had in the 1980s, so it never fully regained its former level of influence and respect.
The change also masked, rather than solving, morale problems at the station — in 1992, DJ Dani Elwell resigned from the station by reading her résumé over the air.
When Maclean-Hunter was purchased by Rogers Communications in 1994, CFNY was one of the stations sold off by Rogers to Shaw Communications, which in turn spun its radio holdings off to Corus Entertainment, CFNY's current owner, in 1999.
In the mid-1990s, the station dropped its old branding, becoming 102.1 The Edge. Later it became Edge 102 before reverting to 102.1 The Edge. "The Edge" was a common brand name for alternative and modern rock radio stations during the 1990s, and was created by a U.S. consulting firm named Jacobs Media.
Although CFNY remains the station's official call sign, it has never been mentioned on-air for many years. In August 2005, however, the station began airing some new identification breaks which used both the CFNY calls and the Edge branding. (Canadian radio stations are officially required to mention their call letters once an hour, although this rule has not been heavily enforced by the CRTC in recent years.)
CFNY is available nationwide in Canada on the Bell TV satellite TV system, channel 955. It is also available via Rogers Digital Cable on channel 929 in the GTA and 954 in other areas of Ontario.
102.1 The Edge has long enjoyed a unique position among radio stations as an international station, as its signal is strong enough that, like many other Toronto radio stations, it is widely available in two of the top fifty media markets in North America. Its signal from Toronto beams from the CN Tower throughout the Buffalo-Niagara Falls NY market, in addition to Toronto. CFNY pulls a share of between 0.6% and 1.1% in the Arbitron radio rating in Buffalo, which has compelled the other Buffalo rock stations to stay on the cutting edge of Canadian music, with bands such as The Tragically Hip and Our Lady Peace enjoying far higher sales in Buffalo than elsewhere in the United States.
In addition, the station broadcasts streaming audio over the Internet.
As a result of these factors, CFNY frequently promotes itself as one of the most listened-to radio stations in the world — the station did, in fact, rank tenth in a 2002 Arbitron survey of the world's most listened-to Internet radio streams.
The Dean Blundell Show
The Dean Blundell Show
is a morning show, which airs Monday through Friday from 5:30 AM until 10:00 AM. The show consists of hosts Dean Blundell, Jason Barr and Todd Shapiro discussing ongoing news and events in a sometimes humorous and cynical fashion. It is known for its listener contests, charity work, colourful guests and Blundell's rants. Every morning, Dean Blundell presents "The Edge Files", a look at some recent, sensational news stories, delivered in a satirical way.
Jackass co-stars Steve-O and Chris Pontius were guests on the show on March 26, 2004, in order to promote their "Don't Try This at Home" tour, leading to the "suspension" of Blundell, Barr and Shapiro for the following day. During the interview, Pontius and Steve-O used multiple expletives on the air. Steve-O also proceeded to urinate on the floor and perform a stunt called "Unwrapping the Mummy"; all in front of a live studio audience.
- "Spencer The Cripple” often comes in - usually on Monday mornings - to talk about his experiences in life. Usually, the segment leads to the subjects of bowel movements, his diet and sexual dysfunction.
- "Lesbian Lu" visits every Tuesday to talk about her experiences as a gay woman.
- Sex columnist Josey Vogels; every Wednesday morning. Each week she brings a sex-related topic up for discussion, though conversations tend to lead to requests for information about her own sexual exploits.
- "Gay Jeff" - a gay friend of Todd Shapiro- every Thursday morning; though occasionally on other days as well. Jeff and the hosts discuss topics related to the gay community; however, these discussions usually lead to the hosts questioning Jeff about his sexual exploits or opinions and perceptions as a gay man.
- "Psychic Nikki" is in on Friday mornings and discusses her psychic visions regarding celebrities, the show's hosts and callers. Todd, Dean and Jason often playfully joke about her predictions - and apparently huge jugs (or juggs, if you'd rather).
Past recurring guests
- The "Blind Movie Reviewer", Derek Welsman, appears some/most Thursday mornings. Legally blind (he has stated he can see about 10–12%), Welsman, who was/has also been an commercial producer for the radio station, talked about a movie he had seen recently, from the perspective of a blind person. Each movie reviewed was assigned a score of one to five "blurries", and each review ended with Welsman's catch phrase, "and that's the way I see it!" Derek moved on to another radio station in November 2007. His last review for the Edge was Thursday, November 8, 2007. He ended the segment by returning to his home planet of Myopia with his commanding alien officers, Ray Charles and the blind girl from the Lionel Ritchie "Hello" music video. Derek left for a job that paid him more money.
- Gino Empry was a recurring guest until early 2006 when he got so upset that he used profanities on the air, forcing the morning show to end their on-air relationship with him. Empry often fought with Todd and then made up.
- Eduardo, a frequent caller who would demand free offerings and get extremely upset when Dean, Jason and Todd made it difficult for him to do so. Often resorting to hanging up on the morning show, the three would call him back many times, until full arguments would break out. Eduardo gave up on the Dean Blundell show and now often calls an easy listening station (???).
More so than any other of the regular shows on the station, the Dean Blundell Show regularly runs a variety of contests, which often lead to much larger prizes than the other show's contests. Contests have included:
- The "Moderately Paid Employee Program" in which the winner, Adwoa Nsiah Yeboah, was awarded a position at the station as its traffic reporter.
- "The Mister Man-Boobs Contest"; "The Cougar Hunt"; "The Edge Ultimate Ugly Contest" and the "Buns of Steel Contest"
- A series of Wheels, loosely following the 7 Deadly Sins. Each of these "Wheel" contests consists of a series of random challenges (oft-repeated challenges involving stunts done in front of the live tapings of Breakfast Television; getting onto other radio stations to promote the show/contest and marketing the radio station) - determined by the spin of a wheel, which skewed either to a certain number of selected Inside Edge members, or as an open challenge to all listeners. The winners of these challenges are given one or more spaces on the final spin of the wheel, where the person landed on wins a giant prize. To date, there have been Wheels of Greed, Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, and most recently, Pride.
- The "$50,000 Gong" - loosely based on The Gong Show - in which listeners come to the Edge studios and present their talent (either by demonstrating something sufficiently impressive or sufficiently disgusting) to the on-air personalities; whom hit a gong if they don't like it. The listeners who don't get "gonged" qualify for the final round, where one listener will be awarded $50,000. On October 27th, the Edge announced that James McAndrew was the winner, with his "fart on command" talent.
- The "Edge Youtube Challenge", in which listeners post videos on YouTube. The videos must include the Edge logo and "102.1 The Edge" in the video title. Four prizes of $1000.00 and 1 grand prize of $5000.00 are to be rewarded.
The show also has a number of recurring games, with smaller prizes. These include:
- Stump The Show, where callers try to stump the hosts with a question. Due to a convoluted series of rules (including not being able to say "um", "uh" or "no"), this game is generally won by the show, rather than a caller (in which case no prize is awarded).
- "Wha' Happened?"; in which callers try to impress the hosts with strange stories of problems in their lives. Blundell, Barr and Shapiro tend to prefer stories dealing with flatulence, sexual mishaps and the like.
- "What's Wrong With You?"; a similar call-in contest to "Wha' Happened", except listeners share interesting and often disgusting, crude or sexual stories about what's wrong with them or their family.
Other on-air personalities
Alan Cross started at CFNY in October 1986 doing the overnight show. He held the position of program director
for the station from 2004 to 2008. He continues to host the The Ongoing History of New Music
, which runs Sundays at 8:00 p.m. and is rebroadcast Mondays at 11:00 PM. As well, he creates a daily, minute-long segment of the Ongoing History
, that is played sporadically during the day's commercial breaks (as well as via a podcast
); upwards of 5,000 segments have been produced.
Dave "Bookie" Bookman
Dave Bookman currently works the "afternoon drive" timeslot, from 2:00 p.m until 7:00 p.m, though he joined the radio station in 1991 (and is one of only three on-air personalities from that time that are still at the radio station), as a street reporter for their no longer existent Live in Toronto show. Bookman often talks about his love of sports, soap operas and independent music, and also often has interviews with various artists, sports commentators and movie reviewers. As well, he is often given brand new music to premiere, or concerts to announce on his show.
Bookman currently runs two regular contests:
- "Bookie's College of Musical Knowledge", a trivia game involving three categories (generally about or related to music, but occasionally about other subject matters, most notably The Simpsons), three answers and three contestants. The first contestant picks the category, and gets a question and three multiple choice answers to choose from. If answered wrongly, the question is posed to the second, and then the third, contestant. Before getting answers, Bookman always inquires as to where the contestant is calling from, and recommends a nearby place to visit, if he knows of one.
- "Tums Up or Tums Down" is a new contest, which began on 12 July, 2006. Two players relay something they feel passionately for or against, giving it a rating of "Tums up" or "Tums down" accordingly. Bookman, and two others (usually his producer Adam Ricard, and another station staffer, John "JD" Davies) then vote, by "secret ballot" – they each write down their choice, and then reveal them to the other judges – on which player's answer was best, with the majority vote getter being the winner. On the off-chance that there's a tie (very occasionally a judge will abstain), a coin has been flipped to select the winner. The contest is not currently sponsored by the antacid company; rather, the phrase is just used as wordplay.
Bookman also hosts Bookie's Free Nu Music Nite, Tuesday nights at the Horseshoe Tavern, and the Indy Hour program, an hour dedicated to independent music programming, Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. Bookman is himself a former musician, who formed the band The Bookmen with Tim Mech in the early 1990s.
Josie Dye generally is on-air between the Dean Blundell Show
and 2:00 p.m. Her show consists mostly of music, interspersed with "different" stories that Dye either finds in the news or relates from her own personal experience. "The Nooner", an hour-long All Request
period between noon and 1:00 p.m., also takes place during Dye's show, to which she often assigns an arbitrary theme (previous themes have included gay music to correspond with Toronto's Pride Week
, cover songs, and live sessions, which she has stated is her favourite theme). She also runs a small survey every day in order to pick the last song played on The Nooner, which is generally between two choices, and relate to the theme, if there is one for that day.
Dye runs two regular contests:
- "Guess this Edge Artist", in which she gives a series of three or four bizarre clues pointing towards a musician or group, whose music is played on the radio station. In order to win, players must call in (other forms of entry, such as email, are not accepted) with the correct answer.
- "Retro Recall", a contest that takes place daily during the Nooner. A very short clip from the beginning of a retro (defined as ten years old, or older) song is played, and the first caller who correctly identifies both the group or musician and the song title wins (after which the full song is played).
Josie Dye also hosts the live-to-air broadcast from Republik nightclub, Friday nights from 2:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m.
Barry Taylor is from Hamilton, Ontario
and usually works Monday - Wednesday evenings, from the end of Bookman's show until around midnight, and starting at noon on weekends. He also co-hosts Punkorama, an hour of programming dedicated to punk rock
music, Tuesday nights at 11 p.m.
Instead of contests, Taylor has a number of regular, usually listener-interactive, programming:
- "The Barry Interesting Survey", an online and call-in survey dealing with a usually music-themed topic.
- "The 4:20 Thought", much like the Barry Interesting Survey, except based on cannabis culture. Taylor poses a question, "What is your favourite movie to watch while experiencing 'the 420'", and then runs down the top five listener responses.
- "The Barry Funny Joke", admittedly self-written jokes that Taylor describes as "experienced best sometime after 4:20 PM". The joke and punchline, which is essentially a pun, are both deadpanned twice in succession, followed by a sound clip that generally involves a shotgun cocking and firing, as well as the voice clip of Cyborg (from the children's show Teen Titans (TV series)) saying "BOO-YA!". Examples of Barry Funny Jokes:
- What football team would you hire to help you with moving? The Green Bay Packers.
- What does a hip administrative assistant drink? Kool Aid.
Taylor also runs various small segments involving himself "talking" to celebrities (who are actually just recordings). The people he talks with often include Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, Chewbacca, and, most commonly, Jeff Martin of The Tea Party – Taylor likes to play a clip of the word "You" from the beginning of the song "Fire in the Head" (from the 1995 The Edges of Twilight album) as often as possible. Has appeared several times as a juror on the MuchMusic video-disection show Video on Trial.
Taylor also hosts the Steam Whistle Indie Club every Friday and Saturday night at the station's storefront studio.
Martin Streek is another of the three remaining personalities from the "Spirit of Radio" era. He currently hosts the Thursday 30
, a four hour long show that counts down the top 30 songs of the past week (collected via record sales and listener voting), as well as introduces new music (a segment called the "Groundbreakers"), and flashes back to a previous year's countdown, as Streek recalls the top five songs of that week in a certain previous year.
Streek also hosts two live-to-air broadcasts from nightclubs: Saturday nights at the Phoenix and Sunday nights at Velvet Underground, both in downtown Toronto. Both shows run from 9:00 PM until 2:00 AM, and are broadcast without interruption (i.e., commercial-free), except for live ads imploring people to visit the club, after about 10:00 p.m.. Martin is also a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Depeche Mode and The Clash.
Martin has been voted DJ of the year a few times in Now Magazine's year-end public ballot.
Just recently he had to have his appendix removed surgically; he has recovered and is doing well.
Darryl started at CFNY in June 2005 and hosts some overnight shows along with Friday and Saturday Evenings (Countdown to the Kingdom and Countdown to Club 102 at the Phoenix). Darryl also has some interactive contests like the Edge Artist Showdown and the Album Title Challenge. On occasion he'll fill in for club DJ Craig G, or Club Host Martin Streek. Spring, along with Edge dj Shawarma host a live-to-air show Saturday Nights around 2am.
, the drummer for the American pop punk
, joined CFNY in 2005 after moving to Toronto with his Canadian-born wife Vicky Montgomery. He currently hosts the overnight slot on Sundays. Darrin was born in the suburbs of nearby Buffalo, NY (in Akron), where CFNY broadcasts very clearly and enjoys a small but cult following among alt-rock fans of the WNY region.
Megaphone Man, Hosted Monday to Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m., directly after Barry Taylor, from 2005-2006 before going on a supposed hiatus. He returned on Wednesday, January 23rd, for the Megaphone Man Hour. Megaphone Man's gimmick is speaking through a megaphone, at low volume. Megaphone Man is believed to be the alter ego of radio personality Barry Taylor.
Adwoa Nsiah-Yeboah, winner of the "Edge Moderately Paid Employee" contest in February 2005, reports on traffic during The Dean Blundell
Show (morning drive) and with Dave Bookman
(afternoon drive). While not a host herself, occasionally Blundell and Bookman engage Adwoa in banter.
Adam Ricard hosts Saturday morning's All Request Breakfast
(9-Noon Saturdays), as well as producing Dave Bookman's Afternoon Drive Rock and Roll Radio Show
He has returned to host the Strombo show
from 5pm to 8pm on Sundays. He brings in guests and plays some new music.