CFNY-FM is a Canadian radio station, broadcasting at 102.1 FM. While the station's official city of license is Brampton, Ontario, it targets
the entire Greater Toronto
Area, with studios located at 228 Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, and its
transmitter in the CN
As of December 2007, the station holds a
3.8% share of its market area
For some time in the 1980s, the station was free-format. 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
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,
CFNY originally started operating in 1961, as an FM
rebroadcast of an AM
. When two brothers named
Leslie and Harry Allen Jr bought the station in the 1970s, they
started playing album rock music in the evenings, while
simulcasting the AM programming during the day. The nearby Humber College provided a steady stream of young employees, who
were encouraged to play their own selections.
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, just enough to just cover the town of
Brampton. Up to around 1975, the CHIC AM control room operator spun
LPs 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 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.
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.
In July 1977, CHIC-FM officially became CFNY-FM. The phrases
"Canada's First New Youth" and "Canada Fucks New York" have been
cited as backronyms
for the call sign.
Anyone working there at the time was fired, and a whole new team
was brought in. David Pritchard, CFNY's first program director,
previously a late night DJ at CHUM-FM
the station a little more structure and hosted specialty programs
of reggae and blues music, and a nationally syndicated (and
popular) Beatles show. Unfortunately, conflicts between Pritchard
and the Allens led them to fire him for refusing to, as he put it,
turn the station into a conduit for "shallow hit-oriented Pablum".
, who had started as an
announcer, became program director of CFNY in 1978.
The Spirit of Radio
Things started to change when David Marsden became program
director. 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
Fans started referring to it as the Spirit of Radio
was used as their catchphrase for some time and also inspired the
song "The Spirit of Radio
". Unable to mention
CFNY directly on the Permanent Waves
album containing the track for fear of alienating airplay on other
stations, the band instead ensured the catalog number of the album
was 1021 - a nod to the station's 102.1 FM frequency. 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.
With only a small broadcast range, the
station used unconventional promotional strategies, sending out its
DJs to host regular new wave dance parties both to build a
community among its fans and to supplement the station's limited
advertising revenue through admission fees. 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
interest rates high, the new owners sold the station to media
. 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. By this time, the station's dance party tradition had
evolved into a large video dance party, hosted by Martin Streek
, which regularly toured
throughout Southern Ontario and expanded the station's influence
well beyond its actual broadcast range. 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
, Jane Siberry
, Singing Fools
were among the acts championed by CFNY.
CFNY also created Canada's first independent music awards, the
(a pun on Canada's mainstream
). In 1986, the station held a
listener contest to rename the awards, which were re-dubbed the
, for "Canadian Artists
Selected By You".
Format change and listener rebellion
In 1988, the station turned its first profit. However, this was not
enough for Selkirk, which sought higher ratings. Late that year,
the station 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 DJs 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
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
, and Sloan
counting CFNY as their first major radio
supporter. However, with alternative
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
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
, 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
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 remained the
station's official call sign, it was not 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; Shaw Direct
channel 866; and via Rogers Digital Cable
on channel 929 in the GTA
and 954 in other areas of Ontario.
In 2001, a spin-off television channel was created and modelled
after 102.1 The Edge. Edge TV
was a digital cable specialty channel
own by The Edge's parent
company Corus Entertainment. The channel was taken off the air in
2003 due to insufficient distribution.
102.1 The Edge has long been 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
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.
In addition, the station broadcasts streaming audio
over the Internet.
The Edge is also available on Bell TV
part of the music channel package. The station also appears in the
music mix of a number of cable distributions systems around the
country. This gives the station not only a regional coverage, but a
number of listeners over all of Canada.
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 radio show consisting of hosts
Dean Blundell, Jason Barr and Todd Shapiro discussing ongoing news
and events in a cynical fashion.
were guests on the show on March
, 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
- Members of the Conservative Party of Canada
are frequently interviewed.
- "Lesbian Lu" visits every Tuesday to talk about her experiences
as a homosexual woman.
- Sex therapist Dr. Laura Zilney; every Wednesday morning.
- "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.'
Past recurring guests
- The "Blind Movie Reviewer", Derek
Welsman, appeared most Thursday mornings. Legally blind (he has stated he can see about
10–12%), Welsman, who was also 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 Astral
Radio Toronto 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.
- 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.
- Frank the Video Store Guy called in to the show and had a
stereotypical Indian accent very similar to Apu from the Simpsons
- Josey Vogels - a "sexpert" who left
the show to concentrate on publishing books in late 2008.
- "Spencer the Cripple" usually talked with the guys on Monday
mornings - to talk about his experiences in life. Usually, the
segment led to the subjects of bowel movements, his diet and sexual
dysfunction. He was fired in March, 2009.
- Adrian Abrantes, a 23-Year Old from Mississauga. He was fired
in October 2009.
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 shows'
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
- "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 27, 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.
- 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
- "Wha' Happen?"; 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'
Happen?", except listeners share interesting and often disgusting,
crude or sexual stories about what's wrong with them or their
- "The Very Next Prize"; Dean and the guys name a list of prizes
to a caller. After one of the prizes the caller says "STOP" and
receives the very next prize. If the caller is unlucky he will get
the NOTHING slot. This contest was inspired from an incident in
February 2008 where a woman accidentally called for a contest on
another radio station called "Press Your Luck." Dean offered her a
number of prizes in the first envelope including a trip for 2 to
the Barbados, and when she said stop, he went to "the very next
prize", which was a slice of Havarti cheese.
Other on-air personalities
Alan Cross started at CFNY in October 1986 doing the overnight
show. He held the position of program
for the station from 2004 to 2008. He continues to
host the The
Ongoing History of New Music
, which runs Sundays at 9:00
a.m. and is rebroadcast Mondays at 11:00 PM. Cross is also now the
host of a daily half hour show, ExploreMusic
broadcasts at 7:00 p.m. The show is as the title suggest and
attempts to bring a diverse selection of music to listeners. Since
the shows are only half hour segments there is a large online
portion where fans can listen and explore more of what they hear on
air. As well, he creates a daily, minute-long segment of the
, that is played sporadically during the
day's commercial breaks (as well as via a podcast
); upwards of 5,000 segments have been
Dave "Bookie" Bookman
Dave "Bookie" Bookman
Dave Bookman currently works the evening timeslot, from 7:00 p.m
until 11:00 p.m, though he joined the radio station in 1991 (and is
one of only two 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
and independent music
and also often has interviews with various artist
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:
also hosts Bookie's Free Nu Music Nite, Tuesday nights at
Tavern, and the Indy Hour program, an hour
dedicated to independent music programming, Sunday nights at 8:00
- "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
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 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Her
show consists mostly of music, interspersed with stories that Dye
either finds in the news or relates from her own personal
experience. "The Nooner", an hour-long All
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. In early 2009,
The Nooner segment changed to The 90's Nooner, in which all songs
played and requested must have been released during the 1990s.
Josie plays several games with the listening audience during The
90's Nooner (including 90's Trivia).
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.
- "90's Trivia", a contest that takes place daily during the
Nooner. A wheel is spun and lands on a particular category (some
include TV, music, etc.) and the answer for that category keeps
with the "90s" theme (e.g. if it is movies, then the answer has to
do with a move from the 90s). Two callers are on the line, and one
is given first crack at guessing the answer she alludes to through
the clue that she provides, if unsuccessful, the other gets a
chance. If neither of the two are successful, she gives successive
clues at which point if someone knows the answer they must say
their name to "buzz in" and give what they think is the correct
Josie Dye also hosts the live-to-air
Republik nightclub, Friday nights from 2:00 a.m. until 5:00
Darryl Spring started at CFNY in June 2005 and hosts some overnight
shows along with Saturday Evenings (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. Spring, along with Edge DJ Shawarma
used to host a live-to-air show Saturday Nights around 2am.
Darrin Pfeiffer, the drummer for the
American pop punk band Goldfinger, joined CFNY in 2005 after
moving to Toronto with his Canadian-born wife Vicky Anderson,
however they are currently separated.
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
Adwoa Nsiah-Yeboah, winner of the "Edge Moderately Paid Employee"
contest in February 2005, reports on traffic during the morning and
drive home time slots.
Adam Ricard hosts overnight and weekend shifts at 102.1 the
originally started at CFNY as a street reporter for the now defunct
Live in Toronto
radio show. After the demise of
the show, George left CFNY for the national exposure of MuchMusic, and eventually ended up at CBC hosting
He subsequently returned to CFNY to host the
nationally syndicated The Strombo
from 5pm to 8pm on Sundays. The Strombo Show
was a combination of music, celebrity guests, and calls from
listeners. Stromboulopoulos left the station again in
summer 2009, taking The Strombo Show to CBC Radio 2.
LoriAnn Villani currently hosts the overnight show from 12am-5:30am
Tuesday through Thursday. She can also be seen and heard at the
Phoenix every Saturday night and the Velvet Underground on Sunday,
taking over after Martin Streek was let go.
Fearless Fred hosts the afternoon drive on from 2-7. Fred started
working at the station in August 2009. He replaced Bookie in the
afternoon drive slot, Bookie now hosts the evening time slot from
- The percentage of people 12 and older tuned to the station
- Bill Reynolds, "A rock 'n' roll original: DJ Martin Streek
symbolized CFNY's unlikely resilience". The Globe and
Mail, July 11, 2009.
- Arbitron Press Release