Toronto’s 1050 CHUM prepares switch to sports after 25 years of radio turbulence

·National Affairs Reporter

Toronto's rock 'n' roll heritage was recently celebrated at the Juno Awards and director Bruce McDonald's documentary "Yonge Street."

But the radio station synonymous with that legacy is about to begin a new era of its own.

1050 CHUM hasn't played music in the past two years, after the switch was unceremoniously flipped in the middle of Santana's "Black Magic Woman," in favour of a simulcast of owner CTV's local news channel CP24.

No real investment was made for the change, as the anchors would frequently defer to on-screen visuals, which Radio 1050 listeners couldn't see.

And, practically no one tuned in, either.

The move turned out to be a placeholder, though, for a new sports radio station scheduled for launch on April 13.

Bell Media, formally named this month follow BCE Inc.'s full acquisition of CTV, has announced TSN Radio 1050 among its first initiatives.

The incorporation of an AM station as part of a high-tech cross-platform strategy could prove relatively short-term, too, as more cars are equipped with Wi-Fi systems.

TSN Radio is therefore viewed as the final chapter in the evolution of Toronto's AM 1050, which signed on in 1945, yet was best known for playing hits from the weekly CHUM Chart from 1957 through 1986.

Due to the shift of younger audiences to the FM dial, CHUM's late owner Allan Waters opted to turn back the clock on the station, which focused on oldies music into 2001.

An initial attempt at a sports format, The Team 1050, turned out to be a financial disaster after just 16 months. As a result, the flagship station of the broadcasting company, which was purchased by CTV in 2007, reverted to retro tunes through 2009.

While the station hasn't spun a record since, a replica of the original neon "CHUM Radio 1050" sign still flickers in downtown Toronto outside the radio complex across from CTV's downtown headquarters.

A break from the past, though, will be complete when the TSN Radio studios are integrated with the TSN television channel in suburban Agincourt: 25 kilometres away from downtown Toronto, and 25 years away from the original era of 1050 CHUM.

Watch a 1986 commercial for 1050 CHUM-AM, after its initial format change, below:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting