"And NOW, Ladies and Gentlemen..."
[CKLW THE BIG 8 PREMIERE BULLETIN]
Scan of actual cover of "BIG 8 PREMIERE BULLETIN" for April 3, 1973
The Classic CKLW Page!


This site is for you, if (like me) you were a CKLW listener during the "heyday" of the Big 8 (the 1960's or the early 1970's). The above cover may have been prophetic, since it came about very near the end of CKLW's reign as one of the top radio stations in the world.

Please note that this site is in no way related to the CKLW of today, and is not created or endorsed by the current management of radio station CKLW. If you are looking for the "official" AM800 CKLW site, please go to http://www.am800cklw.com/.

Rosalie Trombley to be honoured June 14, 2011

According to The Windsor Star, "The wheels are in motion for Rosalie Trombley's induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame." See the full article here, and more information on the AM580 Events page. Also, be sure to read Rosalie Trombley & the Sounds of Motown - And The Rest Is HerStory from UDetroit.

R.I.P. Bill Drake (Phil Yarbrough)

Bill Drake was the genius that came up with the Top 40 format used at the Big 8 and at many other stations (in some other markets it was known as the "Boss Radio" format). He died of lung cancer on Saturday, November 29, 2008 at the age of 71. Read this tribute, Why Bill Drake Still Matters. No one else has ever duplicated the Drake format, though many have tried. Thank you, Bill Drake, for programming the soundtrack of our youth.

R.I.P. Ed Buterbaugh

We regret to note the passing of former "Big 8" Chief Engineer, Ed Buterbaugh on September 1, 2008. As Art Vuolo, Jr. wrote on Michiguide.com:

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Ed Buterbaugh, one of the greatest and most respected chief engineers in the radio industry. Ed, who we reported in this column several weeks ago, was suffering from bladder cancer and died over the holiday weekend. The cancer was diagnosed right around the time that he retired from a twenty year stint as the chief of engineering at WJR. While at CKLW, Ed was the mastermind behind the big booming sound of the station in its hey-day as "The Big 8." The signal that he fine-tuned from a cluster of five towers in rural Harrow, Ontario, was legendary. He lived only a few miles from that transmitter site. In 1984 he remodeled all of the studios at CKLW at a time when AM 800 had a morning show hosted by Erin Davis and Paul W. Smith, prior to his joining WJR on a fulltime basis, which happened a decade later.

Read the rest of Art Vuolo, Jr.'s article here. Our condolences go out to Ed Buterbaugh's family. If the voice of God comes through a little clearer, a little stronger now, you'll know that Ed's back at work doing what he does best!

FROZEN SITE - This site is now over ten years old. Unfortunately, the page creator no longer has the time, interest, or knowledge of Web 2.0 design techniques to properly maintain it. Please bear in mind that any information on this site might be obsolete, and many links will not work.

[Movie poster: Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of The Big 8 - click on thumbnail to see larger image]

Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8

Winner of the 2004 Gemini Award for Best History Documentary!

If you like this web site, you will absolutely love this DVD!

(Click on thumbnail of movie poster to see larger image)

Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of The Big 8 tells a little-known secret history of American culture. Itís the story of a Windsor, Ontario radio station that helped define pop and soul music for the world - the broadcasting and marketing phenomenon known as The Big 8 - the leader of the Radio Revolution.

Radio Revolution: The Rise & Fall of The Big 8 is produced by Judy Holm and written, directed and narrated by Michael McNamara, the creative team of Markham Street Films. The documentary was awarded a Gemini in 2004 for Best History Documentary.

From the History Television (Canada) web site:

In the days before MuchMusic, the most powerful force in the American music business was The Big 8, a radio station broadcasting from the south shore of the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. Motor City's CKLW was the loudest, hippest station out there and Radio Revolution tells its incredible story.

The world premiere of Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8, was at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin Texas, on March 12, 2004. The first published review gave it four stars!

Here is an earlier message that Michael McNamara posted back on Friday, October 17, 2003:

We have wrapped and completed the Big 8 documentary. It is called "Radio Revolution - The Rise and Fall of the Big 8". It runs 72 minutes in length (a television hour and a half). The film features appearances by everyone who was at the Big 8 reunion we organized at CKLW AM800 last year, along with Les Garland, Dave Marsh, Wayne Kramer, Alice Cooper, Tony Orlando, Martha Reeves, Mitch Ryder, Jack Richardson, Pat Holiday, and many many more. We are very proud of it, and we have many of the Big 8 Website fans to thank, for advice, materials and support (I'm hoping we got all of you in the credits!). ..... Thanks once again to everyone who helped out.

For those of you who have been waiting for the DVD, here is the latest (posted by Michael McNamara on Wednesday, October 5, 2005):

CKLW Documentary Radio Revolution Now Taking DVD orders!

Okay, friends, finally!
The extra scenes and outtakes have been selected, the masters are being readied and the first copies of the special edition of "Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of The Big 8", the award-winning documentary recounting the history of the phenomenal CKLW will ship at the beginning of December, just in time for Christmas 2005 - a great gift for yourself or any rock, soul and pop fan in your life! If you are already on our list to get the DVD you may be receiving an email from us pointing you to this site - but just go ahead and place your order there. Thanks for your patience - it will soon be rewarded! This project started with help from Classic CKLW Forum Folks! Thanks to Jack and all of you!

All the details on how to order your copies by mail or online are at radiorevolutiondvd.com

Note regarding "The Americans" by Byron MacGregor

Back in 1973, the late Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair wrote a stirring tribute to the United States entitled "The Americans", which he read on Toronto radio station CFRB. However, it is former CKLW 20/20 newsman Byron MacGregor's version, backed by the Westbound Strings playing "American the Beautiful", that most of us remember. Unfortunately, the Internet urban legends reference site Snopes.com, which sets itself up to be the arbiter of truth on matters of urban legend, contains an unfortunate and untrue statement in their article on "The Americans":

"(A radio broadcaster in the Windsor/Detroit area named Byron MacGregor recorded and released an unauthorized version of the piece which hit the record stores before Sinclair's official version; an infringement suit was avoided when MacGregor agreed to donate his profits to the Red Cross as well)."

Don't believe everything you read on Snopes.com. Although Byron MacGregor is, sadly, no longer with us, his wife Jo-Jo Shutty MacGregor (whom you may recall from her days in the Big 8 traffic helicopter, or you may have heard her more recently, doing news, sports, weather and yes, still doing traffic reports for the AAA Michigan Broadcast News Network), wants to set the record straight. Here is what Jo-Jo has to say:

The "Americans" is a recording (a LEGALLY PRODUCED PIECE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY) that has stood the test of time...it has had a long legal life of its own...starting off as a single 45, then an album, an 8-track, a cassette, a CD....and the proceeds continue to help out the American Red Cross!!...especially after 9-11 and after Hurricane Katrina.

You'll note that I've already used the word LEGAL twice...as opposed to what ends up on the INTERNET and people read and THINK is the GOSPEL TRUTH.

Does anyone really think that Westbound Records, CKLW and Byron recorded this legendary, flag-waving patriotic piece (that sold 3 1/2 million copies in 1974 and that had Byron donating all the proceeds at that time which were over $100,000) WITHOUT an agreement with Gordon Sinclair!!??

I'm sure both Gordon & Byron are "fit to be tied" up there...seeing that there's any confusion or un-truths being spread down here on such a remarkable piece of work.

Jo-Jo went on to say.....

After 9-11, I ended up trying to clear up what confusion there was with people thinking it was a brand new piece since...they had "just read about it on the Internet". I did more than 100 interviews on stations across the U.S. and Canada...including XM Radio. At that time, the word was out on how to get the recording. Same story after the hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast...I did more interviews to try and let people know how to buy it...after stations started playing it again.

And she goes on to note that people are still asking how to get it. So here is how: The CD's are $15...cassettes $10...with proceeds continuing to help out THE AMERICAN RED CROSS, as has ALWAYS been the case with this recording. If you want to order a copy, checks are to be made out to:    AMERICA'S PRIDE    and mailed to:

AMERICA'S PRIDE
P.O. BOX 252503
WEST BLOOMFIELD, MICHIGAN 48325-2503

Any web sites that may have this recording available for download are making it available illegally, and of course the American Red Cross gets nothing from the illegal downloads on such sites!

After seeing the above, Grant Hudson (also a former CKLW 20/20 newsman) sent an e-mail to Snopes.com - here is what he wrote:

Dear Snopes Folks:

I was just made aware of your article on Byron MacGregor and his recording of Gordon Sinclair's radio commentary that became titled "The Americans." As a person who had some minor part in the event, I can state without hesitation that MacGregor's recording was not, as you describe it, "unauthorized." I am totally unaware of any lawsuit being threatened by Mr. Sinclair and discussions regarding permission to record his work were held prior to the record's release. Mind you, this all happened in a matter of days. When Westbound Records approached Mr. Sinclair, his concern was that someone was going to make money from a patriotic piece. The result was all royalties going to the American Red Cross as a stipulation of the license.

The commentary caused some talk across Canada the day it was broadcast on CFRB. The transcrip of the piece was carried by Broadcast News, the broadcast division of Canadian Press, the Canadian wire service. As a BN member, CKLW in Windsor, Ontario (metro Detroit, MI) received a copy of the transcript on the wire that day.

It was set aside by a program producer named Keith Radford. He wanted to use it as a segment in an upcoming weekend magazine- type program called "Canada Now." I am intimately familiar with this part of the story because I was the anchorman on "Canada Now" at the time.

I recorded the segment during the afternoon of Friday, June 8, 1973. The program first aired on CKLW-FM during the morning hours of Sunday, June 10. I remember airtime being 9:00 am but I can't swear to that. The phone started ringing off the hook. Listeners were requesting the commentary to be played again. Literally hundreds of phone calls, an unusually high number. When CKLW- AM aired the program an hour or two later its huge signal across parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan gave thousands and thousands of U.S. residents their first exposure to the piece. And then the phones on the AM side of the building went absolutely berserk.

The engineer on duty at the time made a phone call to the AM station's program director who authorized editing the commentary out of the program and broadcasting it as a separate piece during regular programming that day.

The exposure was enormous. At the time CKLW-AM had the 8th- largest cume audience in North America, with more than 2 million people listening each week. Most of them in the United States.

It is not an overstatement to say that audience reaction reached a frenzied pitch.

First thing upon my arrival at work the following morning (Monday, June 11) I was summoned to the office of Herb McCord, the General manager of both stations. With him when I arrived were program director Bill Hennes and Westbound Records president Armen Boladian. Like many Americans within the reach of CKLW's massive signal, Boladian was aware of the buzz on the American side of the border.

He approached the stations with the idea of recording the commentary and releasing it commercially. Since it was my voice on the piece creating the buzz, the meeting was for the purpose of asking me to record the commentary for Westbound Records.

There was some surprise when I told them I couldn't do that. I was an immigrant to Canada but maintained my U.S. citizenship. I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of an American reading this particular work since it claims to come from a Canadian. I had, and have, more respect for Canada and Canadians than to pull a stunt like that. They asked who I felt could do justice to it. Only one name immediately came to mind: Byron MacGregor, the stations' Director of News and Public Affairs.

They later asked the same question (who should record the piece) of Canada Now producer Keith Radford who also suggested Byron. And that, as they say, was that.

Before the end of the week Westbound Records made arrangments with members of the Detroit Symphony and several other local artists to be a part of the recording. The actual recording took place within days of my initial meeting with Herb, Armen and Bill.

The one point that has to be made here is that Westbound Records was a VERY legitimate record company producing very legitimate hits. This was not a company to run around willy-nilly without receiving proper authorizations from copyright owners.

When approached regarding the authorization to record the commentary, my understanding is that Mr. Sinclair was not a happy camper. He was highly agitated that someone would be making money off such a patriotic piece (an understatement, to be sure) and stipulated that the only way he would sign off on the deal would be if the American Red Cross was the recipient of the royalties.

That was not a deal breaker. Byron received plenty in the form of personal appearance fees over the following year and a smaller amount of royalties from the additional cuts that appeared on the album, "The Americans."

The license was issued and the first million copies were shipped within a matter of days.

There never was an "unauthorized" recording of The Americans and as someone involved in that once-in-a-lifetime experience I find your use of that term patently offensive.

Having said all that, I must admit I find your site unequaled in its ability to set the record straight on the plethora of real and imagined events that seem to make the eternal rounds of the internet. And, in this particular case, I thought you'd like to hear something from close to the horse's mouth.

Thanks for your good work and keep it up!

Grant Hudson,
CKLW Radio (1971-1981),
former Assistant Director of News and Public Affairs and one of four people singled out for "special acknowledgement" in the liner notes of Byron's followup LP.

We're not the only ones that question whether snopes.com can be trusted - for another viewpoint see the article, When the debunkers print bunk.

Please "tune in" the page you'd like to visit:

Introduction to The Classic CKLW Page - what this site is all about.

CKLW brings down Ma Bell! - telephone company technicians shuddered whenever CKLW ran a major contest!

CKLW Lists - Mark Pattison's recollections, and some CKLW "Top 100", "Top 300" and similar lists that he passed along.

CKLW Music Surveys - "Big 8" hit lists from 1967-1970 that were posted in Usenet News.

CKLW - The Big 8 Honor Roll - Announcers appearing on CKLW from 1967 to 1984.

The Contribution of the Board Ops - former CKLW D.J. Steve Hunter reminds us of the technical geniuses that made the sound of CKLW come alive.

Contributors to The Classic CKLW Page - the folks that have helped make this site what it is.

The Demise of The Big 8 - Laying a Giant to Rest - former CKLW D.J. Charlie O'Brien provides us with this detailed account of the rise and fall of CKLW, including the role of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) in killing the station. Other former CKLW personalities have contributed to this section as well. A definite "must read"!

A Few Memories - former CKLW D.J. Mike Rivers recalled his days at the Big 8.

The Great Sound of the Big 8! - listen to actual sound clips from CKLW.

A History of CKLW's 50th Anniversary Audio Documentary - details on the four hour documentary about CKLW that was produced in the mid '80's.

An irate hockey fan (almost) topples the Big 8 - okay, picture this: You're a radio D.J. and you're on the air and a 32-ton radio tower is threatening to come down right on top of your head. Do you abandon your post, or do you stay and keep the station on the air?

"It's 20 minutes before the hour in Windsor and Detroit..." - CKLW 20/20 News.

"The Legend" - CKLW returns in the '90's - the great sound of the "Big 8" actually returned to the airwaves for a short time in the '90's, but this time on the FM dial.

Links to Other Places - if you like this site, here are a few others that may interest you.

Listener Recollections - read what visitors to this site wrote about the Big 8 during the first year or two that the site was online.

The Long-Lasting Impact of CKLW on the Whole Radio Industry - former CKLW D.J. Steve Hunter explains how CKLW's impact was felt at a considerable distance from the motor city.

Memoirs of Byron's Funeral - former CKLW media research director Doug Fernlock recalls the untimely passing and funeral of Byron MacGregor, one of the best-remembered voices of CKLW "20/20 News."

Neil Thomas - information on the passing of this CKLW personality.

PLEASE NOTE: This site is NOT an "official" site, and is not created or endorsed by the current management of radio station CKLW. If you are looking for the "official" CKLW site, please visit http://www.am800cklw.com/. This site remembers CKLW of days gone by, so please don't write and ask about current programming on CKLW, because I probably know less about it than you do!