A History of CKLW's 50th Anniversary Audio Documentary
by Tom Konard

[This article from Ton Konard is about the CKLW 50th anniversary audio documentary, also known as The History of CKLW.]

The actual idea for compiling airchecks and interviews for a documentary celebrating CKLW's 50th anniversary was Scott Miller's. Scott, at the time, was an air personality at "CK". Where the Aircheck Factory is located, in central Wisconsin, we have a local station at 800 on the AM dial, and I recall telling Scott that our local station would go off at local Sunset for clear-channel CKLW. One night as I listened, Scott came on greeting everyone in Central Wisconsin. He was proud to be at a station with such a notable history. We featured him on one of the Aircheck Factory videos.

Since I, personally, had no first-hand knowledge of CKLW, Scott offered to obtain interviews with the current CKLW program director, Pat Holiday, as well as other CKLW personnel, and I was lucky to also have the assistance of Michael Scott, who was the Aircheck Factory correspondent in Toronto. Mike contacted Dick Smythe, who was the CHUM News Director, but had once worked at CKLW, as well as a former CKLW DJ, and gained their assistance in reminiscing for interviews. The interviews and old press clippings Scott was able to find in files formed the basis for the narration for the 4 hour documentary. The 16 page script, after being checked for accuracy with Scott, was sent to Michael Black in San Antonio at WOAI. Michael recorded the narration tracks and sent them back to the Aircheck Factory where I then began taking the edited airchecks I had obtained both from Scott and Michael, plus using what I had in my own files, and the 4 month project began!

One irony in the completed CKLW documentary, and something hardly anyone knows, is that there are really 4 versions "out there". The initial 4 hours went out to subscribers, but Scott Miller, who had been busy on the telephone contacting any former CKLW personality he could locate, sent some additional material. So the reels went back for re-editing and some additional tracks were cut by Michael Black to add a few MORE airchecks into the 4 hours.

One of the stories included had been of the CKLW-TV tower having its guy wires cut. When Scott FINALLY located an actual broadcast of this, the documentary again went back into editing so as to include this "event". After over 10 years of completion I cannot recall what the additional editing was, but I know the masters were re-done 4 times. Scott Miller once commented to me, in 1985, that it seemed that the CKLW Story would be an ongoing project for the Aircheck Factory, but, no, we stopped at 4 and the masters remain untouched, but copies are still available.

Scott Miller now DJs at WJMK in Chicago (but still loves hockey and makes a point of celebrating Canada Day....just like me). Michael Scott continues to operate his DJ service in Toronto. Michael Black is an attorney in San Antonio, but still does a weekend program of legal advice on news/talk WOAI, and the Aircheck Factory is still putting up shelves for the every-expanding aircheck collection.

Tom Konard

[Jack's note:] You can order a copy of CKLW's 50th Anniversary Audio Documentary by sending a cheque or money order for $25.00 U.S. (U.S./Canada) or $30.00 (elsewhere in the world) to:

The Aircheck Factory
Aircheck Acres
Wild Rose, WI 54984-9725

Update: after all these years, The Aircheck Factory finally got their own Web site!

I have had the opportunity to hear all four hours of this program, and it is truly something that any former CKLW listener will really enjoy! It would also make a unique gift, and doubtless a much appreciated one, for any former CKLW listener!

One other note: The Aircheck Factory also offers a video called "Vuolo Video Air-Chex" Number 12 (which is now also available direct from vuolovideo.com). This is "The WNIC Detroit Radio Reunion Tape" made on May 17-19, 1985, and it is discussed in greater detail on the Listener Recollections page. At this point I will just mention that it features several former CKLW personalities, including "Super Max" Kinkel, Scott Regan, "Brother" Bill Gable, Hal Martin, Big Jim Edwards, Byron MacGregor and his wife JoJo, Tom Shannon, Gary Burbank, and Pat Holiday. I'm told that the price of this tape is $20 U.S. plus shipping.

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