CKGM is an English language Canadian radio station located in Montreal, Quebec. Formerly an affiliate of Team sports radio network, it was one of three stations to retain the sports format after the network was folded in 2002.
The station broadcasts on 990 kHz with a power of 50,000 watts as a class B station, using a directional antenna which is slightly directional during the day and extremely directional at night to protect clear channel (class A) stations CBW in Winnipeg, Manitoba and CBY in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Local programming on the station includes Afternoon Drives with Mitch Melnick, The Stock Exchange with P.J. Stock, The Montreal Forum, a hockey show with Tony Marinaro, and the morning show with Elliott Price, Denis Casavant and Shaun Starr. These shows are mainly focused on Montreal Canadiens analysis but also offer significant content about other North American professional sports. Team 990 airs in-depth coverage of the Montreal Canadiens, featuring pre and post-game coverage of every game and analysis on the team.
The Team 990 is the official broadcasting partner of the Montreal Impact (soccer) and carries exclusive coverage of the NFL, MLB, NASCAR and some NHL playoffs. The station also carries some ESPN Radio programming.
CKGM was founded by Geoff Stirling and opened on December 7, 1959. The station was then on 980 kHz with a power of 10,000 watts fulltime as a class B station, using a directional antenna with different patterns day and night (the nighttime pattern being somewhat tighter). The 980 kHz frequency had been previously occupied by CKVL (now CINF). While most of the station's programming was devoted to music (playing Top 40 hits), the station also had some talk shows.
An FM sister station, CKGM-FM (later known as CHOM-FM starting in 1971) was opened on July 16, 1963. After a few weeks of simulcast with CKGM, the FM station adopted a beautiful music format on September 1.
In 1965, CKGM hired open-line host Pat Burns, famous for his controversial opinions, especially on language issues. Known in particular for featuring prominently on his show Francophones who were proud of being bilingual or of being assimilated to the Anglophone community (again, depending on the point of view), Burns would remain on the air until early 1969, only being driven out of Montreal after a boycott campaign targeting the station's advertisers was launched. Burns was sufficiently controversial to be publicly denounced by Quebec Premier Daniel Johnson Sr., and the station received numerous bomb threats during the late 1960s.
On January 1, 1970, CKGM changed its format to become a full-time Top 40 station. Success was immediate, as CKGM managed to beat direct competitor CFOX, also a full-time Top 40 station, in the Fall 1970 BBM ratings. CKGM would quickly become one of North America's legendary AM Top 40 stations.
In 1975, CKGM introduced "La Connection Française", referring to a trio of bilingual personalities (Rob Christie, Marc Denis and Scott Carpentier) which used both English and French on the air. As CKGM remained an English-language station, this resulted in French-language stations complaining to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and even refusing to observe quotas of Francophone music. On-air bilingualism would remain a distinctive CKGM feature until stringent CRTC regulation forbidding it (and also enforcing quotas on the Francophone side) went into effect on January 1, 1980.
CKGM got a record-high number of listeners among English-language stations in Montreal according to the Fall 1976 BBM ratings that were released on December 13 of that year, thanks in part to the large numbers of Francophones who listened to the station (almost 40% of CKGM listeners were French-speaking).
On August 20, 1985, CKGM and sister station CHOM-FM were sold to CHUM Limited. CKGM switched its format to Adult contemporary music under the "Lite Rock, Less Talk" moniker a few months later, on January 15, 1986.
The station returned to a Top 40 format on February 10, 1989, changing its call sign to CHTX in an attempt to distance itself as far as possible from its earlier days as a Top 40 station that even included adopting a new phone number. CHTX identified itself on-air as "980 Hits", and also infamously identified itself as "the station that plays the most music allowed by law" (in reference here to CRTC regulations that limited hit music on FM stations). Anecdotal evidence suggests that at least some listeners wondered if there was in fact a legal limitation on the number of songs radio stations can play.
On September 14, 1990 at 5 PM, CHTX moved to the adjacent 990 kHz frequency, increasing its power to 50,000 watts fulltime from a new transmitter site located in Ville Mercier, and converting itself to AM stereo. The switch occurred one week later than initially scheduled, on orders from the federal Department of Communications, due to the "tense security situation" (the Oka Crisis) in the neighbouring Indian reserve of Kahnawake.
Another format change occurred on May 24, 1991, with the new format being oldies, although the station would also air Dr. Laura's open line show. The station changed its call sign to CKIS and identified itself as "Oldies 990".
The station returned to its original CKGM call sign on January 15, 1996, as the station moved to a talk radio format known as "Talk Radio With Attitude" which included a low amount of locally-produced programming. For that reason, the station got abysmally low ratings, with less than 100,000 listeners.
When the 1998 Ice Storm took place, CKGM continued to rely on automation, making few efforts to broadcast adapted emergency information. On January 9 of that year, competitor CJAD lost its broadcast towers due to the accumulation of ice. After that station moved temporarily to 1410 kHz using the former facilities of CFMB, CKGM leased its signal to CJAD on a temporary basis, starting on January 22, 1998. (Technically CKGM left the airwaves and was replaced on 990 kHz by CJAD.) CJAD returned to its assigned frequency of 800 kHz on May 29, 1998, and after two weeks of simulcast, CKGM returned on June 12, 1998 at noon. The station took the opportunity to re-launch itself as a largely automated oldies station, again using the "Oldies 990" as its moniker (but keeping the CKGM call sign).
As many other AM stations owned by CHUM Limited, CKGM switched to an all-sports format on May 7, 2001, joining the new "The Team" network and identifying itself as "Team 990". Curiously, even in the very last days before the switch to the new format, the largely automated CKGM continued to air a promo criticizing "those talk stations" (in addition to always playing the same songs in the very same order). CKGM became the radio flagship of the Montreal Expos a few days later, marking a return of baseball on English-language airwaves. The station would broadcast the last Expos' games as a Montreal franchise in 2004.
While most Team stations returned to music programming (generally oldies) on August 27, 2002, CKGM was one of the few stations where the all-sports format survived, and locally-produced programming was increased.
On June 22, 2007, CTVglobemedia purchased CKGM (AM) and most of the other assets of CHUM Limited following approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, while the Citytv stations were sold to Rogers Communications.