In the 1960’s news reports became mandatory to all radio programming. For most radio stations in the 60’s and even today when the news comes on, people usually change the station. The exception to the rule was CKLW. Their 20/20 news report would happen twenty minutes before the hour and twenty minutes after the hour. This was very different format; CKLW is credited for changing radio broadcasting of news forever with this particular format. When all other stations were reporting the news at the top of the hour, CKLW was still playing rock and roll music.
It wasn’t just when the news was delivered but also how it was delivered. It had an influence because of the great personalities of ...view middle of the document...
She’s dead. He then turned on the children. They’re in serious condition,
or “He paid his price in bullets…lead in the head she’s dead.” It is no wonder that people kept listening to CKLW’s news reports because that type of news reporting is captivating and makes boring or sad news reports entertaining.
Consequently, CKLW also had a huge influence in its home city of Windsor, Ontario because of its 20/20 news programming. Every week there would be a cash price for the best news tip (a program that still runs today). Especially when the economy was bad, people would call CKLW to report crimes. According to Richard Brennan, “it wasn’t unusual for money-hungry listeners to call the Big 8 before they called the law.” Dr. Isaiah McKinnon, former Detroit police chief even claims that the “cops would call CKLW from a crime scene” to find out what was going on or if there was any eye-witnesses. It shows just how powerful the Big 8 was that instead of calling authorities to a situation, the first call went through to CKLW.
To continue, CKLW had a community presence everywhere in Windsor. Another example, during the holiday season, the station had a “Christmas Wish” program, fulfilling wishes to people down on their luck. In December 1971, CKLW granted a wish for a 45rpm portable record player for a young girl in an Ontario hospital. Also, they were even on TV. It was the same call letters and was in the same building; but being on TV brought stars to Windsor, usually to promote an upcoming concert in the area. Additionally, CKLW had almost ¼ of the radio market. In the local area there were over 50 radio stations and CKLW had 23% of the listeners. That is a pretty remarkable number for a small town radio station competing with Detroit stations.
CKLW had a huge community presence. It wasn’t uncommon to go to the beach and all everyone’s car stereo, or portable radio was listening to the same station, jamming to all the hits and listening to the big personalities. According to Bob Lusk, in June of 1967, “you could drive up Woodward Avenue in Detroit and you didn’t need to have the radio on because everyone had CKLW tuned. The music was just in the air like the humidity.” A few years later, CKLW had over “twelve million listeners,” and was the “third-largest station in North America.” This demonstrates how powerful this station was, no matter where you went you could hear the wonderful jingles exclaiming the call sign of the most dominant radio station of that generation.
To proceed, at a time when racial tensions were rising, CKLW was able to play a significant role in bringing the Black and White communities together. On this radio station, race did not matter; the only thing that was important was the music. When the Detroit Race Riots erupted in 1967, the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel were shutdown. Only three Canadian reporters were allowed to cross the border, two of which worked for CKLW. Reporter Dick Smyth...