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The CKOC Big 500 Web Site

Welcome to the CKOC 1150 Big 500 Web Site!
This site is comprised of a collection of lists known as the CKOC Big 500 Hits of All Time.
History

big 500 poster CKOC is an AM radio station in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) that has been on the air since 1922. During the '60s, '70s and early '80s, which was the golden age of Top 40 radio, they were the station to listen to in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Like most AM radio stations of this era, they had a weekly countdown of the Top 40 hits, as well as annual year-end countdowns of the year's Top 100. But the granddaddy of all their countdowns was the Big 500 Hits of All Time, which began in 1968, or 1970, depending on which source you believe. (In a short 1983 interview, Program Director Nevin Grant stated the first Big 500 aired in 1968, yet the 1990 Edition was promoted as being the "20th Anniversary Edition". I began listening to it in 1980 so am unable to verify the accuracy of either date at this point).

The premise of the Big 500 was simple: in January, the station would ask listeners to mail in a list or postcard, etc. of their three favorite songs of the Rock Era (1955-present). About 2 months later, having received and tabulated the entries, CKOC would reserve an entire weekend of their program schedule and count down the top 500 favorite songs based on their audience votes. They would begin Friday afternoon and break around 1 A.M. Saturday, resume Saturday morning at 9 through 1 A.M. Sunday, break again, then finally begin again 9 A.M. Sunday and run through later Sunday evening when they reached the Number One song.

The countdown became officially known as the CKOC Big 500 (Hits of All Time) and became a yearly staple and an audience favorite. With new songs being released each year, people remembering old favorites, as well as new listeners getting in on the voting, each year brought different songs to the Big 500, although the stalwarts, such as Hey Jude and Stairway to Heaven, were always there.

ExperienceCKOC Big 500 advertisement

I began listening in 1980 and throughly enjoyed it. It was because of this experience that I became aware of '60s music in general. In 1982 I began documenting the Big 500 each year, which at first seemed like a monumental task, but after a few years, became much easier than one would expect. I still have those original handwritten lists, and many of those lists were used to complete this site. Although, believe it or not, a lot of the early '80s lists I was able to enter by memory alone!

Big 500 Pop Posters

CKOC would also print up poster-size listings of the Big 500, which many times featured photos of classic artists such as Elvis, The Beatles, John Lennon and Michael Jackson. These were not readily available to the public like the small Top 40 charts, which were free at record stores. The "Big 500 Pop Posters" as they were called, were mailed out as prizes by the station. A few of the Big 500 posters featured in my own personal collection are pictured here on these pages. There are still a few I am seeking so that I can photograph them for this site. Please check out the Want List and email me if you can help.

Changes

In the late '80s and early '90s, as pop music itself was becoming more fragmented, CKOC had trouble holding on to its target audience. In February 1992, the station switched to an all-oldies format, and became known as Oldies 1150. They are still going strong today, some 14 years later and now feature an annual Big 500 Oldies countdown.

This site, however, is a tribute to the glory days of CKOC's Big 500 countdown, and each year's version is available for viewing by clicking on the Index button below.

 





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