CKSO - The Fit For Sudbury
The history of the Sudbury area is deep and rich with logging, exploration, mining, railway and technology and generation after generation, has attracted a multi-ethnic and -cultural background the area can proudly boast.
Throughout the generations, media in Sudbury has played a major role, and while media reported and reflected the Sudbury area's growth and development, it achieved some milestones of its own, particularly the electronic media to which several honours have been earned.
It was during the depression and in 1935 when W.E. Mason's CKSO AM began broadcasting. George Miller, Q. C., W. E. Mason, owner of the Sudbury Star, Jim Cooper Q.C, and Bill Plaunt, President of CKSO Radio established a major precedent when they turned on CKSO-TV on October 25th, 1953 as Canada's first privately owned television station. The station was a CBC network affiliate. The sale of TV sets grew rapidly in the Sudbury area as it was the sixth largest market in Ontario. It was mining based (INCO) and affluent. The station was "in the black" with healthy advertising sales. INCO sponsored a daily dinner hour 15-minutes news 6 days a week with Bill Keyhoe. Everything was live even the local commercials.
CKSO AM could boast the likes of some great entertainers and talent. Many, either who got their start here or passed through earlier in their careers, went on to become well known personalities. As a contemporary station CKSO proved it could sound like the big boys in the major markets. On air personalities knew that having the call letters CKSO on their resumes carried a lot of weight!
The Business of Radio in a Market
Radio attempts to generate a kind of programming to a market demographic that is affected by advertising. It will be a demographic that shares a common need, demand and desire for products and services of a particular nature. It may be clothing, major home appliances, automobiles, or new homes. Smaller markets will see broadcasters attempt to reach a broader range of demographic with much 'overlapping'. Larger or what are known as major markets contain large populations of demographic makeup and a broadcaster may attempt to focus on a very specific market target. An example would be an all sports radio station, or all news radio programming. Other stations may go with easy listening music, while others may attempt to build a unique audience with ethnic and cultural programming. A successful radio broadcaster can attract a desired audience and then go to the kinds of businesses with products and services their audience wants or needs to buy. Radio generates its revenue by selling advertising to these businesses.
When considering the varied background of the people of the Sudbury area, media programmers have quite a challenge in choosing and attracting a particular demographic. At a time when there was a considerable smaller number of stations on the air in any given market, it was necessary for each to generate a broad variety of programming to attract listeners who would support the stations' advertisers. Generally, AM radio played a mixture of Adult Contemporary (AC) and Rock music while FM played easy listening. As markets grew and changed, so did the demands and needs of the people residing in these markets. In the 1970's and 1980's country music porgramming grew both on AM and FM stations. FM would also provide various types of programming in what is known as block format. For example, CKSO FM would air an hour of German Music, or the music of Findland. It was also feature big band, jazz and classical programming. In the post 1990's era, what AM stations there are on the air in Canada are likely doing what their FM counterparts did for years prior. AM stations broadcasting today are most likely to feature specialty and talk and sports programming.
When applying for a radio broadcast license, owners and programmers need to consider the following in any given market:
1. Prove that a respective market has a sufficient audience for the type of programming being proposed
2. Prove that the market will present sufficient advertisers wanting to reach an audience the broadcaster is aiming to attract
Air waves are considered public property, and hence the need for the CRTC (Canadian Radio Television Commission), a regulator for the broadcast industry. The Commission is responsible for ensuring that the broadcaster will compliment a market with its targeted audience and that the new licensee will not overload a market taking critical advertising sales from existing broadcasters, as well that the new broadcaster has a reasonably good chance at surviving.
Although the broadcast regulations have become relaxed in many ways, there are still many important guidelines, not to mention stringent rules to abide.
In applying for a license or license renewal, a broadcaster commits itself to a "Promise of Performance". It is a kind of contract in which a radio or television station will make a promise to present certain kinds of programming to various degrees in so far as time allotment , content and so on. The programming can consist of local news, local music, Canadian talent, public service and such.
Programming should be considered a service as much as it is entertainment. There is a great degree of service required in the way of providing important information to a local market. Weather, road conditions, local news, community sports, community and public service and promotion, all serve to make up important additions to a station's programming.
To answer how CKSO has fit into the community, consider the many ways in which it has:
▪ Provided news and information
▪ Public service
▪ Music and entertainment
▪ Promoted local talent
▪ Promoted efforts of hundreds of charities and service organizations
▪ Brought community together in good times and in bad times
▪ Provide communication
▪ Helped to generate and reflect a community identity
In serving the community, it has helped to shape it, build it, reflect it and re-invent itself over the years. In turn, the area has shaped its own media as well. Consider how unique, personal and reflective radio and television have become in and of Sudbury. Certain basic fundamentals of broadcasting can be found as common denominators in local and national media, but local media has a Sudbury and Northern Ontario identity or "fingerprint" indelibly marked in its image.