At 5 a.m. on Dec. 1, 1993, 630 CHED the news and talk station was born.
The station had been a successful rock station for years, but quickly suffered with the launch of FM radio.
“It was really, I think, a choice of either letting the radio station die or doing something completely different with it and we opted for the different,” then-general manager Doug Rutherford said.
LISTEN BELOW: 25 years of news and talk on 630 CHED
Rutherford joined the station right before CHED made the switch and can be credited with bringing on some of the station’s biggest names.
“Ron [Collister] was the first one and then we brought on Bill Matheson, we convinced Gord Whitehead to host our morning show. The last one I hired was Bryan Hall.”
Hall is still at the station 25 years later. News manager Bob Layton also continues to anchor, as he did before the format change.
“When Doug Rutherford told us we were changing from music to news talk, he had us rehearsing the format.” Layton said.
“He had told us, ‘Hang on to your hats, because we’re going from worst to first,’ ratings wise.”
And the station did. A few months later, 630 CHED was at the top of the ratings in Edmonton.
“CJCA went dark and freed up a sizable audience that found their home at 630 CHED probably, in part, because of the familiarity of the voices and the names that we had on the station,” Rutherford said.
Also new that year were Layton’s signature editorials.
He said Rutherford had told Layton to take the “Laytonisms” out of his news cast because the audience had grown up.
“When I told him that would take all the fun and creativity out of my style, he said, ‘No, keep all those comments coming, just put them in the right place – you’re going to start doing editorials. Let’s have five on my desk by Monday and let’s see what you’ve got,’” Layton remembers.
That year Layton won his first award for his editorials.
Bell joined the newsroom in 1984, so she also experienced the flip firsthand.
“It was very exciting for the newsroom,” she remembers. “We went from having ‘630 CHED 63-second updates’ to having full newscasts.
“It gave us the chance to delve deeper into stories.”
“I think all of us who work for 630 CHED owe a debt of gratitude to those who paved the way 25 years ago,” current program director Syd Smith said. “The vision that was set to provide thorough news coverage, honest conversation and service to the community continues to guide our efforts.
LISTEN BELOW: Eileen Bell reflects with then general manager Doug Rutherford
CHED became the voice of the Edmonton Eskimos in 1994, one year after the launch. In 1995, the first Edmonton Oilers game was broadcast on the station. Both of those partnerships continue today.
Today CHED is home to the 630 CHED Morning News, hosted by Bruce Bowie, The Ryan Jespersen Show, Oilers NOW with Bob Stauffer, the 630 CHED Afternoon News and Inside Sports, among others.
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