Exclaim! began as a discussion among college radio programmers at Ryerson's CKLN-FM in 1991. The goal of the publication was to support the great Canadian music that was otherwise going unheralded. Started by Ian Danzig along with fellow programmers and local Toronto musicians, the group worked through 1991 to produce their first issue at the beginning of 1992, with monthly issues being produced ever since.
Unlike its primary competition, Chart, it is distributed as a free publication in bars, record stores and coffee shops, in a manner similar to an alternative weekly newspaper, although it also offers mail delivery subscriptions.
It also publishes !earshot, a one-page supplement that serves as the official monthly chart publication of the National Campus and Community Radio Association.