When I worked in Canada your radio station license was predicated upon what you promised the CRTC (FCC) what kind of programming you would do if granted a license.
WhenTed Rogers applied for CFTR’s license, he pledged to program exclusively to adults.
When I got to Toronto, CFTR was playing artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, and others, which wasn’t working because the biggest station in town was already doing it. Luckily for us though, I had a different plan and was ready to present it to Ted and Keith.
I began my presentation with a question, gentlemen, I, asked: “At what age do you become an adult in?” They both responded with, “Twenty-one but in some cases,” Keith went on to say, “It could be as young as 18.” Then, I asked, “Why are we playing music for old people; my wife is 30, shouldn’t we be playing music for her and all her friends?”
Nervously, Ted said, “George, are you planning on playing rock because, as you know, our license won’t allow it.” “Absolutely not,” I responded, “My wife and her friends hate loud music almost as much as the music you’re playing. We’re going to play all the hits except for the loud ones.”
Ted and Keith both looked at each other for a moment and then Ted said that I should take my plan to the CRTC. If they buy it, I buy it.
Even though I’d vowed never to return to Ottawa, there I was on the front steps of the CRTC building. Most radio stations only let their lawyers talk to the CRTC, so I had no idea what to expect.
However, they couldn’t have been more cordial, not only did they greet me warmly, even claimed that they were big fans of my work at CFRA.
After congratulating me on my new position at CFTR, they asked why I was there? When I told them that I was making drastic musical changes at CFTR, but Mr. Rigers wanted me to run it by you first. They surprised me by saying that they didn’t care what kind of music we play; they only cared about who was listening.
We, like you, will be very interested in the results of your first rating book. If the ratings say that CFTR’s audience is mostly adults, you won’t be hearing from us, but if it’s primarily teens, tell Mr. Rogers that we’ll be in touch.
Adult Contemporary Radio was born at that very moment and all I had to do now was figure out what that was?
After I brought Ted and Keith up to speed about how my meeting with the CRTC went in Ottawa, Their only question was, “When can you get it on?
Luckily CFTR had an extensive music library, so I was able to find the perfect first hundred records to launch it with quickly. Now all I needed was the perfect moment.
On March 15th, 1972, after a bad ice storm had knocked us off the air, Keith Dancy, and his secretary Janine picked me up on their way to work, Janine asked if I had any idea when I was launching the new format? I responded with, “Today!”
Within hours of launching North America’s first-ever Adult Contemporary format, the Toronto radio community was in an uproar. They were demanding to know how we could be allowed to go rock without a public hearing? They believed as did the Dallas radio folks a little over a year later that all hit records were rock. I could only hope and pray back in 1972 that the Toronto ladies could tell the difference and prove me right. Oh, and Ted Rogers was betting his license on it.
CFTR sounded great; not only was our music familiar, but so were a lot our announcers. We had some of the best voices in Canada like Bob McAdorey, Earl Mann, Roger Klein, Sandy Hoyt, Don Parrish, The Magic Christian, Doc Harris, and Stirling Faux, who did most of the national commercials in Canada. Their smooth and rich voices added to our adult sound.
I think I was even more excited about our air talent than I was about our music so I couldn’t help but send Jim Hilliard a little bragging demo tape.
He thought the air talent sounded like production guys, but he sure wanted to talk to me about the music because it knocked him out.