CityNews 680 celebrates 30 years of all-news radio

CityNews 680 is 30 years old. Richard Southern looks at some of the moments that have helped define the all-news radio station.

By Patricia D'Cunha and Michael Ranger

“Toronto’s number one for breaking news, traffic and weather, this is CityNews 680 Everywhere … here’s what’s making news right now.”

That’s what you hear today at the top of the hour when you tune in to CityNews 680 on the AM dial. The station signs off with “CityNews 680 is CFTR AM Toronto.”

Over the past three decades, the radio station, formerly 680 NEWS, has been known for its three main pillars: breaking news, traffic, and weather. In fact, it has traffic and weather reports every 10 minutes on the ones.

It all started on June 7, 1993, when CFTR turned into an all-news radio station from an all-hits station. Eight million time checks and 1.5 million traffic reports later and the station is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

In a constantly changing world, there has been one constant in Toronto: 680 NEWS.  As the iconic Toronto brand marks 30 years of service, we go back 30 years to look back at the stories that shaped a city.  

Longtime and now retired News Director Scott Metcalfe has put together a podcast about the evolution of the brand. The first episode of ‘CityNews 680: 30 Years in the Rearview’ can be heard below.

The history of the radio station, which is now owned by Rogers Communications Inc. under the subsidiary Rogers Sports and Media, dates back to 1962. It started using the call letters CHFI, simulcasting the music of sister station CHFI-FM.

In 1971, it changed its call letters to CFTR (“Canada’s First Ted Rogers”) with the “TR” a tribute to Ted Rogers, Sr. The following year, it abandoned the music simulcast of CHFI and adopted a Top 40 format.

It continued on with the all-hits radio format until 1993, when it switched to a news station.

After playing Starship’s We Built This City, the station switched from the Top 40 music format to all-news radio station, 680 News, with the following introduction:

“Good morning, I’m Sandy Sanderson, executive vice-president and general manager of CFTR. This is a sad, yet exciting moment in the history of this incredible radio station. It marks the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.”

Listen to the moment CFTR turned into an all-news radio station from an all-hits station on June 7.

Tony Viner was president of Rogers radio at the time and said he had some anxiety about whether the change would be a success.

“It really was an exciting time,” says Viner. ” (But) I was nervous and apprehensive.”

Sanderson says Ted Rogers never had any doubts about the new format’s success.

“Tony said ‘what would you think about switching 680 to all news? You’d lose about $7 million a year for five years,'” recalled Sanderson. “Ted said ‘I’d go for that, sure.'”

In 2021, Rogers Sports & Media rebranded its news radio stations, including 680 NEWS, under CityNews to become CityNews 680.

WATCH: Richard Southern gives a tour of the brand new radio studios for CityNews 680, Kiss 92.5 and CHFI in 2017

CityNews 680 recalls emotionally charged coverage of 9/11 attacks

Over three decades of breaking news coverage, one of the seminal moments in the station’s history came 22 years ago.

It was just two years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack in New York, the 680 NEWS team that reported on the devastating events shared their personal experiences and how the tragedy shaped subsequent breaking news coverage in the years to follow.

“The world had suddenly changed forever in the middle of our show,” said morning show anchor Paul Cook. “680 was among the very few radio stations providing live non-stop coverage from New York via our phone interviews and CNN audio.”

“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined anything like that happening while we were on the air.”

WATCH: 680 NEWS’ behind-the-scenes coverage of 9/11 attacks, TV cameras caught the historic moments


Rogers Communications Inc. is the parent company of CityNews.

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