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CKGW Radio At The King Edward Hotel

January 27, 2013

Did you know that Toronto’s first luxury hotel – The King Edward Hotel – also housed one of the city’s first radio stations?

KE Hotel

 CKGW was a Toronto-based radio station owned and operated by Gooderham and Worts Ltd., a local distillery better known for its whisky. George Gooderham, co-owner of the distillery, was also the first financier of the grand, palatial hotel when it was built in 1903.

G and W factory

 Following the latest technology trend of the turn of the 20th century, radio stations were turning up everywhere – including at The King Edward Hotel, as part of a growing group of companies who had realized the potential for self-promotion through radio. Gooderham and Worts set up offices and studios in the King Edward Hotel, and a 5kW transmitter in Bowmanville, Ontario – and CKGW began broadcasting on March 5, 1928.

CKGW Bowmanville

(Bowmanville, Ontario transmitter)

CKGW at The King Edward Hotel was equipped for broadcast with all of the latest radio transmission equipment, and shared its wave length with at least one other station – Toronto’s CFRB – a radio station that still exists today. As a result its broadcast days were short, broadcasting on the air for only six hours every other day.

CKGW studio

By 1929, CKGW appears to have acquired the exclusive use of a new radio frequency channel, expanding its programming schedule to seven days a week, to include quality home-grown content such as Betty’s Home Chats and Cooking School.

 CKGW piano

CKGW’s 5kW transmitter – one of only two in Canada at the time – made it one of the most powerful and most modern stations in Canada, with a signal not only reaching across Canada, but also having a particularly wide range in the United States.

 Among some of it’s musical broadcasts were the Toronto Asphalt Roofing Orchestra, and Luigi Romanelli and his hotel house band, the Radio Syncopaters.

Romanelli

Romanelli and his musical ensemble were one of The King Edward Hotel’s longest-running big band orchestras that performed over the years (from 1923 to the early 1940s) in the hotel’s Oak Room and popular entertainment spot – The Crystal Ballroom.

Click the song link to listen to the style of easy-swing music Romanelli and the Radio Syncopaters would have performed –  such as I want you morning, noon and night.

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