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|City||St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador|
|Broadcast area||St. John's Metropolitan Area|
|Slogan||Local News Now|
|Frequency||590 kHz (AM)|
|First air date||October 19, 1936|
|Call sign meaning||Voice Of the Common Man|
|Former frequencies||1005 kHz (1936-1949)|
|Sister stations||CJYQ, VOCM-FM, CKIX-FM|
VOCM is an AM radio station in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, broadcasting at 590 kHz. Owned by Stingray Group, VOCM first went on the air on October 19, 1936. Through the "VOCM/Big Land FM Radio Network" of stations owned by Stingray, VOCM programming is carried throughout the province.
VOCM and its sister station VOCM-FM are among the four radio stations in Canada having call signs beginning with the prefix "VO", the ITU prefix issued to the Dominion of Newfoundland before its confederation into Canada in 1949. The other two, VOWR and VOAR-FM, also broadcast in St. John's; all but VOCM-FM predate the confederation. VOCM-FM adopted the callsign in 1982 because of its corporate association with VOCM; all three of the others signed on before 1949, while Newfoundland was still a dominion, and were allowed to keep the VO call signs despite the end of Newfoundland's sovereignty. During the time when the United States had bases in Newfoundland and Labrador, the American Forces Radio and Television Service operated radio station with the VO-call signs including the last - VOUS in Argentia, which closed in the late 1960s. The rest of Canada's radio stations use call signs of CB (for the CBC), CF, CH, CI, CJ and CK.
Stingray also owns a number of other AM stations in Newfoundland and Labrador that use VOCM as their main or secondary brand. These stations all have C callsigns.
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VOCM was started by Walter Banks Williams III, and his father in the family home at 80 Circular Road in St. John's. Williams was very interested in radio, and had attended training at the RCA and the Radio Training Schools in the United States.
On December 22, 1933, Williams (through his company, Atlantic Broadcasting Co.) was issued a licence by the Newfoundland Post and Telegraph Department to operate a station from the second floor of the aforementioned family home. With the transmitter and other equipment built by Williams, VOCM began operations as an experimental father-son station operating only a few hours a day. The station's antenna was built in the backyard and the technical equipment was placed in a backroom on the main floor. VOCM for some time had truly been a family affair, with son, Walter David Williams, later to join him in working long hours at the radio station for many years.
Later in 1937, Joseph Butler joined Williams as a partner in VOCM radio, through Colonial Broadcasting System Ltd. In 1954, Butler died in a plane accident, and in 1958 Joseph Butler Jr. acquired control of the company. Williams continued to work with the company until 1972, Two years before his death in 1974.
In 1982, Colonial Broadcasting System changed its name to VOCM Radio Newfoundland Ltd. By this time the company had established a network of stations throughout eastern and central Newfoundland, as well as a sister FM station, VOCM-FM.
In May 2000, the assets of VOCM Radio were acquired by Harry Steele's company Newfoundland Capital Corporation, which now operates the stations as part of the Steele Communications division of Newcap Radio.
VOCM programming includes talk shows such as Open Line with Paddy Daly, and NightLine with Jonathan Richler, where Newfoundland and Labrador-related issues are discussed with callers and emails/tweets sent to the station are read and discussed. These programs are well known and often perform highly in the radio ratings province-wide. Although the current hosts of two of the programs have past or present political involvement (Simms was previously the mayor of the St. John's suburb of Mount Pearl, while Rowe was a former leader of the provincial Liberal party), these shows are generally considered to be non-partisan and are not driven by the hosts' personalities, unlike the majority of contemporary North American talk radio programs. However, accusations of partisan activity by specific callers, such as political staffers calling in the guise of "regular Joes", have been made from time to time.
During the late 1990s, the VOCM network experimented with syndicated talk programming in the form of the Dr. Laura Schlessinger show, which aired on tape delay in the early evening. As with most Canadian stations airing the program, it was quietly dropped shortly after a Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruling admonishing the host for making comments the CBSC claimed were discriminatory. While VOCM continues to air some short syndicated features and occasionally brokered programming (i.e. infomercials) on Sunday mornings, it does not regularly air other extended-length syndicated programming.
On December 1, 2016, VOCM expanded its talk programming to include syndicated programs such as Coast to Coast AM as well as shows that feature experts in the fields of finance, real estate and renewable energy sources that air at 11:35am weekdays. In addition, Tim Powers had his own show on VOCM that aired Fridays at 6:00p.m. with a repeat at 2:00 on Sunday afternoons. Unlike Open Line, BackTalk or NightLine, Tim interviews various individuals to go beyond the headlines. And, Thursdays from 11:30am, Conversations with John Moore. This show featured the CFRB personality interviewing celebrities, authors, athletes and others from a wide range of subject areas.
As time progressed, the expansion of talk radio was met with negative feedback from its listeners, even taking to social media and expressing their anger over the change (including the lack of music). Therefore, since August 21, 2017, VOCM has reverted to its Full Service format, reincorporating music in its programming. Also, feature talk shows heard on weekday mornings have been rescheduled to air on Saturday afternoons.
VOCM's play-by-play sports coverage is currently limited to the Royal St. John's Regatta every August, and in some cases the Herder Memorial Trophy championship games. The VOCM network had carried the games of the American Hockey League's St. John's Maple Leafs throughout the 1990s; however, coverage was dropped around the start of the 2000s, since the team's fortunes were declining somewhat, and coverage interfered with the station's more successful talk programming.
VOCM does not typically broadcast play-by-play coverage of out-of-market sports events, unlike most other full-service or news-talk stations in medium-sized Canadian markets, again since it would interfere with live talk programming.
Outside of its talk programming, VOCM previously used a current country music format, having adopted that format in mid-2002 shortly after sister station CKIX-FM dropped country music. Before that, the St. John's station had aired a mix of soft AC and classic hits, veering more towards the latter since CJYQ's flip to Newfoundland music in 2000; however, most VOCM network stations had carried a country format since at least the early 1990s.
VOCM is noteworthy for switching to an all-Christmas music lineup every year running until the playing of Auld Lang Syne at New Years Eve. The Christmas line-up typically starts on the day of the yearly Dial-a-Carol event in late November. Dial-a-Carol is an annual fundraising effort by VOCM's charity, the VOCM Cares Foundation, where listeners call in to make pledges and request their favourite Christmas songs be played. It is often commented on-air how overwhelming the requests are for Jim Reeves' Old Christmas Card, sometimes having to play it multiple times per hour.
On April 14, 2015 at 10:00pm, VOCM, without notice, shifted its country music format over to CJYQ and returned to its pre-2002 format of soft AC and classic hits, playing soft to medium tempo hits focusing on popular music from the 1970s to the mid 80s. Examples of artists featured under the new format include Glass Tiger, Billy Joel, The Human League, Foreigner, Berlin and Bob Seger.
Other specific programs include: the VOCM Morning Show, which carries a variety of information features (such as school information); the Saturday Night Cabin Party, which is devoted to classic country music from the 1950s to the 1980s; and the VOCM Saturday Morning Irish Newfoundland Show, playing Newfoundland music.