The Last Day – AM1220/CJUL-AM

On August 18, 2010, the little AM station that could, was silenced by station management because it couldn’t any longer. AM 1220, also known as CJUL-AM, was a small 1,000 Watt AM radio station based in Cornwall, Ontario, with it’s sort-of two tower transmitter located just north of the city. I say sort of because the ground-plain for the station was shot. In the years leading up to when the station was shut down, management tried to get the higher ups at Corus Entertainment to agree to a new tower. However the station was not profitable, despite the best efforts of staff and local management.

It was a weird time for radio. While cuts to media are normal now, Corus was on the “cutting edge” (punny, I know). Corus had already shuttered its two clear-channel AM stations in Montreal (690/940) earlier in the year. And Corus would sell off its entire Quebec radio division within a year. This, coupled with Bell’s purchase of Astral, would trigger a mess of radio shifts, and consolidations. Radio and TV had now started down the same rabbit hole of cuts that the print industry was, and still is, undergoing.

But back to Cornwall and CJUL. The decision had been made in June to axe the station, and take the online news function of the AM station online to TheCornwallDaily.com, with that product providing news programming to the two FM stations in the market, Variety 104 and Rock 101.9. Looking back now, all those known brands are gone, just like locals remember The Blaze (former name for Rock 101.9).

At the same time AM 1220 was suppose to die, there was a management shake up at Corus across the network and a bunch of general managers were packaged up and sent out of the company. Cornwall’s GM, Scott Armstrong, was one of the local GM’s who were dispatched. Cornwall was now bundled with Kingston, Peterborough, and Barrie/Collingwood, plus the TV station in Kingston. All under one GM, JJ Johnston.

Senior people at the local Cornwall station knew the shut down was happening, starting in June, then July, and finally in August. Two weeks before the August 18 shutdown, TheCornwallDaily.com was already testing in a hidden location (web geek here). On the morning of the the 18th, while staff was in a staff meeting at the board room of the station, the looped messages went on the air, played for about a week. The last song, I will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, faded, and on the air spoke AM1220 news and program director Lorne Wiebe, followed by Johnston, and then the loop.

While I was playing with IT stuff switching off AM1220’s website and moving TCD.com over, I also had the tape rolling and recorded the last hour of AM 1220.

So this all happened in 2010. It wasn’t just the station that was shut down though. The newsroom was cut in half, with good people losing their jobs. John Bolton was rehired later in a rebrand of Rock 101.9. He left for Calgary later though.

Wiebe left in 2011 for another field. I left in 2012 (small cog so that didn’t matter anyways, but the cake was good). Johnston left in 2013 I believe (I was still pissed so I ignored Corus radio products for a while), he now has his own station in Prince Edward County/Quinte region.

In 2014, Corus shuttered their newsroom, which meant closing off TheCornwallDaily.com – Luckily the news director there (who also lost his job) started up CornwallNewswatch.com a few months later (with a little help from his friends).

I do have somewhere a copy of the CRTC licence for AM1220. When I find it, I will post it on here as well.

**Update** – Found the copies.

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