Edmonton 1968

50 Years Ago
Edmonton Radio & TV

The Edmonton Broadcasters Club was asked to write an “Across the Dial” description of Edmonton Radio and Television in 1968 for the 50th anniversary celebration of the NAIT RTA program.  To bring it more to life, Present Tense is used in what follows.

AM

580 CKUA 10,000 watts
  • Licensed to the University of Alberta and operated by Alberta Government Telephones (AGT).
  • In 1964, John Runge and Bill Coull had developed an eclectic music format that pre-dated the San Franscisco Sound but is now starting to grab the attention of Edmonton’s growing Hippie movement, beginning a period with Ratings Numbers that will not be seen again until the turn of the century.
  • No commercials but lots of block programming between the music, including the Alberta School Broadcast.
630 CHED 10,000 watts
  • Becoming a Ratings Powerhouse thanks to early adoption of California’s  youth-oriented Much More Music concept.
  • On-air lineup includes Wes Montgomery (Mornings) and Bob McCord (4-7pm).
  • Jerry Forbes gets promoted from General Manager to Vice President of Radio Station CHED Ltd.
  • Transmitters still needed several hours of weekly preventative maintenance, leaving CHED as one of the few stations on the air 24/7; it would be decades before transistors were powerful enough to replace every tube in a radio or television transmitter.
680 CHFA 5,000 watts
  • French language programming produced locally in Edmonton and from the CBC’s French network.
  • Owned by prominent members of the French community in Edmonton.
740 CBX 50,000 watts
  • November 18, 1968, marks the debut of As It Happens, soon to be CBC Radio’s first Ratings winner since the debut of TV.  Guests are interviewed by telephone, essentially reversing the Phone-In approach of Talk Shows of the era.
  • March 1, 1968, marks the end of all night broadcasting, a Cold War initiative of CBC Radio begun in 1963.
790 CFCW Camrose 10,000 watts
  • Country & Western Music
  • Ukrainian program, one hour every evening
930 CJCA 10,000 watts Day/5,000 watts Night
  • Weekly Top 10 Hits lists are still being published in the Edmonton Journal but the transition to an Information Station is already well underway with a large News Team led by Walt Rutherford, who also hosts Talkback.  Syndicated U.S. Talk Shows have also been added, including Joe Pyne, dropped by CHED in 1966.
  • Despite CHED going full-time Top 40 Rock and Roll in 1957, CJCA was the clear winner with local legend Barry Boyd after CHED abandoned teens for Million Dollar Music in 1960, but then lost to the Much More Music format that swept English language radio worldwide and was adopted by CHED in the mid-1960s.
1110 CHQT 10,000 watts
  • Edmonton’s newest station has cornered the Beautiful Music market with less commercials and emphasis on News and community service.
1260 CFRN 50,000 watts
  • Having lost the battle of Beautiful Music to CHQT, CFRN now has a more youthful sound, especially in the evenings.
  • “Shore is Early in the Wigwam”:  Year 15 for Morning Man Irv Shore.

FM

98.1 CKUA-FM 352 watts Mono
  • Signed on in 1948 with 250 watts.
  • Totally simulcast from CKUA-AM.
99.5 CJCA-FM 414 watts Mono
  • Signed on in 1949 with 250 watts.
  • Separately programmed Classical and Background music late afternoons to late evening; CJCA-AM simulcast at other times.
  • Canada in Concert is aired every Thursday evening at 10:00 p.m. with performances by Canadian Orchestras nearly a decade before FM stations will be required to play any Canadian music at all.
100.3 CFRN-FM 16,200 watts Stereo
  • Signed on in 1951 with 250 watts.
  • Classical and Background music with no simulcasting of CFRN-AM.

TV

3 CFRN-TV 180,300 watts video/90,400 watts audio
  • Broadcasting in Colour, including CTV News, but Local Programs like Popcorn Playhouse and the News are still Black and White.
5 CBXT-TV 318,000 watts video/159,000 watts audio
  • Broadcasting in Colour, but almost all CBC network and local programming is still in Black and White, though CBXT’s colour telecine machine and two projectors are used for local airing of colour film, mostly late night movies.

Cable FM & TV

Capital Cable
  • Founded in 1966, and still unregulated with no competition.
  • Offers not just better local reception, but Spokane TV and FM, the latter playing the popular music with few commercials heard in many Edmonton restaurants and furniture stores.
  • Locally owned and operated by Jim Shaw, but decades away from being known as Shaw Cable.

DX’ing

Long distance reception of regular AM stations is still relatively easy in Edmonton in 1968.  Our Northern location offers some unique opportunities, most notably reception over the North Pole from England and Scandinavia.

It also offers some unique challenges.  As CJCA found out in its early years, when it served All Points North of Edmonton, Northern Lights eliminates all but local reception.

Jon Pearkins

Jon Pearkins runs the web site for the Edmonton Broadcasters Club, edmontonbroadcasters.com.  Although he did not move to Edmonton until 1975, he heard every AM station in Alberta from his childhood home near Vancouver, and visited most of the Edmonton stations on a vacation trip in July 1967.  He spent many an evening doing high school homework while listening to CJCA and CFRN, and also heard CHED and CFCW on a regular basis.  CHQT, CKUA and especially CHFA were particularly tough to hear.