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Quinte’s King of Rock and Roll

Quinte’s own King of Rock and Roll , Freddy Vette, is that last man standing on radio doing a drive-time Rock and Roll show in North America.

Freddy Vette

Freddy Vette

For six years Freddy Vette and his cast of zany characters have entertained Rock and Roll fans in Quinte and beyond. The once dominant radio format AM, has now shifted primarily to talk and news in all major markets in North America. CJBQ 800 am, owned by Quinte Broadcasting took a bold step and gave Freddy his show despite the trend.

Founded in 1945 by Group Captain McLean Haig and H.B. (Bert) Cowan, CJBQ hit the air on August 6th and began formally broadcasting on August 15th, 1946. Originally the broadcast frequency was 1230 kHz with a non directional signal of 250 watts. On March 12th, 1957 they changed frequency to 800 kHz and increased transmission power to 1000 watts. In August of 1962 CJBQ-FM went on the air.

AM radio was the first electronically broadcast mass media and Canadians were at the forefront of the emerging technology right from the start. On December 23rd 1900 a Canadian, Reginald Fessenden made the first voice transmission on the AM frequency. The first overseas Morse code transmission was received by Guglielmo Marconi at Signal Hill, St. Johns, Newfoundland on December 12th, 1901. Amateurs around the world began transmitting news, weather and music. The first commercial broadcast station began on May 20th 1920 from Montreal’s Experimental Marconi station XWA (now CINW).

For the next two decades AM radio was the source of news, weather and entertainment around the world. After WWII, two new contenders, Television and FM radio would begin to erode AM radios dominance. AM radio began to fight for it’s place in peoples homes. By the start of the 1950’s North America was in full swing of recovery from the Great Depression and the effects of war rationing.

A growing affluence in the teen market, the introduction of both the 45 and LP records, and an excitingAlan Freed new type of music, Rock and Roll , created an exciting opportunity for AM radio. North American car manufacturers were quick to offer radios in all their models.

As exciting as Rock ‘n Roll was, AM radio DJ’s brought their own brands of excitement to the airwaves. DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase “Rock and Roll” on his radio program and is credited with starting the Rock and Roll craze. Other DJ’s would follow in Freed’s foot-steps. Wolfman Jack who gained fame with his trademark howls late night broadcasting from XERF-AM at Ciudad Acuña in Mexico would create his own on-air persona. Later Wolfman would get a new lease on life playing himself in the movie American Graffiti.

Freddy Vette is not only one of Quinte’s favorite DJ, he is a native son, born and raised in Stirling Ont. Freddy was surrounded by music growing up. He learned to play both piano and guitar, and thanks in a large part to his parents took a keen interest in Rock and Roll music. He began performing professionally at the age of 14 with his parents country band.

Freddy Vette and the Flames

Freddy Vette and the Flames

He attended Loyalist College in Belleville Ont. to become a radio DJ at a time when records were still being used. After a brief foray into being a Rock and Roll DJ, Freddy formed his own Rock and Roll band, Freddy Vette and the Flames.

The band is in constant demand in Ontario and New York State. Freddy Vette and the Flame’s next appearance in Quinte will be in Quinte West at Wheels-on-the-Bay, Bikes by the Bay, Ontario’s biggest 3-day outdoor wheels festival. The event includes a monster-sized car and bike show, Rev Competition, Burn-out pit, Pin-up Glamour Show (with Freddy as the Master of Ceremonies). On Saturday night bands Old James with special guests Last Bullet will be blowing the top off Centenial Park and on Sunday afternoon Freddy Vette and the Flames will take to the stage.

story and lead photo by bill samuel

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