You Can Go to One of Your Homes Again

A collection of memorabilia from nearly 90 years of broadcasting on CKNX AM 920.

A wonderful opportunity came up to return to Wingham and record a podcast episode with some of my fave former CKNX colleagues.

The podcast, A Life That’s Good, is about living in midwestern Ontario, of which Wingham is a part. A Life That’s Good is hosted by husband and wife Boomer and Milli. Boomer is Phil Main and Milli is Ally and they’re a great team.

This episode featured Phil, retired news anchor John Chippa and Acadia Broadcasting radio manager Scott Pettigrew. All of whom had long stints at CKNX radio.

John Chippa, Scott Pettigrew and Phil Main preparing to record the podcast.
John Chippa, Scott Pettigrew and Phil Main prepare to start the podcast.

There was a time when we all worked together. However, shortly after I hired Phil, I left my job as Program Director at CKNX-FM and took an on air job at MIX 999 Toronto. (Now Virgin 999) Julie B, cohost of the morning show on The One 101.7, also joined us. (The One is the current incarnation of the station where I was PD.) Julie has worked at CKNX for more than two decades and has seen a lot of changes.

We Made Great Memories

In 1986 I was lured to CKNX from CKSL in London, ON. My initial reaction was, why would I leave London for a teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere?

Opportunity. Experience. Growth. There were many good reasons to move to Wingham. The town had a population of 3,000 but the radio market was half-a-million strong. At the time, I was able to cohost a Midday show on AM (with Don Fraser who became a cherished friend), host afternoons solo on FM, and take on various hosting and cohosting projects on CKNX-TV. Reach for the Top was a standout. I stayed at CKNX for four busy and fulfilling years.

We sometimes had to drive an hour each way to do a radio remote in that widespread listening area. But we also got to hang out at Kincardine, Goderich, Port Elgin and other beautiful spots in our coverage area.

Our colleague Ward Robertson and his wife Patti owned the movie theatre back then. Ward would make popcorn, run to the projector and start the previews, and come back to sell us popcorn! If I recall correctly, they required six patrons in order to run a film. More than once, a couple of us arrived for a movie and desperately called friends to cajole them to come out so we’d meet the quota. It was sad to see The Lyceum shuttered but time marches on.

People assumed that little Wingham was behind the times. On the podcast, Scott and I shared stories of arriving at bigger cities and finding out that CKNX was ahead of the trends in some ways.

I became Program Director of FM102 when I was 26. My survival was largely due to the support of Scott and Matt Miller (AM Program Director). But that role simply wasn’t for me. Later in my career when I’d acquired more knowledge and confidence, I attempted to make my way back into radio management. But that wasn’t meant to be.

John Chippa, Scott Pettigrew, Julie B, Phil Main & me.

The podcast episode is now available wherever you get podcasts. (Or listen HERE.) It’s a bit of “back in the day” talk about living and working in a legendary (and legendarily misunderstood!) broadcasting market. More than 100 people worked at CKNX back then. It was an exciting time to be in radio. I love those guys. What a treat to spend a few hours with them again.

2 thoughts on “You Can Go to One of Your Homes Again”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *