CISL (650 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station licensed to Richmond, British Columbia, and serving the Greater Vancouver radio market. It is owned by Rogers Radio, a division of Rogers Sports & Media and airs a sports format branded as Sportsnet 650. It is the flagship station of the Vancouver Giants, Vancouver Canucks, Abbotsford Canucks, and is the Vancouver affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. On weekdays, local hosts are heard most of the day, while CBS Sports Radio is heard late nights and weekends.
|Broadcast area||Greater Vancouver|
|Affiliations||Vancouver Giants Radio Network|
Vancouver Canucks Radio Network
Toronto Blue Jays Radio Network
Seattle Mariners Radio Network
CBS Sports Radio
Abbotsford Canucks Radio Network
|CJAX-FM, CKKS-FM, CKWX, CHNM-DT, CKVU-DT, Sportsnet Pacific|
First air date
|May 1, 1980|
|940 kHz (1980-1985)|
Call sign meaning
|"Island" (reference to Lulu Island)|
|Power||20,000 watts day|
4,000 watts night
|Repeater(s)||96.9 CJAX-FM HD3 (Vancouver)|
CISL's radio studios are located at 2440 Ash Street in the Fairview neighbourhood of Vancouver. By day, CISL is powered at 20,000 watts; to avoid interference at night to other stations on 650 AM, it reduces power to 4,000 watts. CISL uses a directional antenna at all times with a three-tower array. The transmitter is on Nelson Road off British Columbia Highway 91 on Lulu Island.
CISL originally signed on the air on May 1, 1980, at a frequency of 940 kHz and a power of 2,500 watts. The call letters were pronounced "C-Isle". The licence was granted to South Fraser Broadcasting, a group controlled by Michael Dickinson. Dickinson's previous broadcast experience included a stint at Vancouver radio stations CHQM-AM-FM.
The original music content was primarily middle of the road songs, branded as AM Gold Music Radio. The playlist consisted of titles released from 1955 to the-then present with the newscasters and announcers placing an emphasis on the community of Richmond (the ISLand in CISL).
About 1985, the frequency was changed to 650 kHz (CFML's former frequency) and the daytime power increased to 10,000 watts, still at the same Richmond transmitter site. The antenna tower array was changed from four to three towers).
On December 27, 1988, CISL shifted to a full-time oldies format, with its playlist featuring music from 1955 to 1975. The new format helped CISL become a major player in the Vancouver radio scene. The original Richmond community programming expanded to include all of the Lower Mainland. CISL enjoyed its greatest ratings and sales success from 1986 to 1989. In 1990, South Fraser Broadcasting was issued an FM license, which went on the air as CKZZ-FM the following year. CISL and CKZZ were sold to Standard Broadcasting in May 1996.
In September 2007, CISL stopped using the Oldies 650 CISL name and rebranded as SuperHits 650 CISL. The format remained similar. On October 29, 2007, CISL, along with the rest of the Standard Broadcasting stations, were sold to Astral Media.
On November 10, 2008, at 9 a.m., after playing "Kiss and Say Goodbye" by The Manhattans, CISL flipped from oldies to soft adult contemporary. The classic hits/oldies format moved to Rogers-owned CKKS-FM in September (that station has since moved to a modern rock format). The move was a result of Jim Pattison Group flipping CKBD from its adult standards format to an adult album alternative (AAA) format and switching to FM on November 13. The first song on "All Time Favourites" was "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters.
On December 23, 2009, CISL filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requesting permission to broadcast up to 20% of its programming in Russian during the 2010 Winter Olympics. The programming was to be supplied by Moscow radio station AvtoRadio. This application received approval on January 26, 2010.
In March 2013, the Competition Bureau approved a proposal by Bell Media to acquire Astral Media, under the condition that it divest itself of several television services and radio stations. Following the closure of the merger in July 2013, CISL was placed in a blind trust pending its eventual sale.
On August 26, 2013, Newcap Radio announced it would acquire CISL along with four other former Astral Media radio stations held under Bell Media's blind trust for $112 million. The deal was approved by the CRTC on March 19, 2014, and the sale closed on March 31, 2014.
On April 8, 2014, Newcap applied to move the CISL transmitter site to the former CKBD site, due to the imminent expiration of the lease on the transmitter site in August, and the unstable ground at that location. The application was approved on August 14. The move included a boost in the daytime power to 20,000 watts, coupled with a reduction in CISL's nighttime output to 4,000 watts. On August 25, 2014, CISL changed its branding to Smooth & Easy, CISL 650 AM.
On April 25, 2017, Rogers Media announced that it would acquire CISL, and switch the station to a sports format branded as Sportsnet 650 later in the year. The move came as Rogers had acquired the radio rights to the Vancouver Canucks hockey team beginning in the 2017–18 season. The station would also assume the Toronto Blue Jays radio rights in Vancouver in the 2018 season. Both teams were previously broadcast by Bell Media's TSN Radio stations CFTE and CKST.
Rogers unveiled the station's programming lineup on August 23, 2017. The sale of the station was completed on August 27, 2017, with CISL ending music programming at 10 p.m. that evening. The final song on CISL was "American Pie" by Don McLean; by coincidence, the song was cut off right on the beginning of the titular lyric, specifically cutting off on the words "Bye bye". After a week off air, the station re-branded as Sportsnet 650 on September 4, becoming the first station from the Sportsnet Radio group to not use "The Fan" branding.
CISL AM history – Canadian Communications Foundation