VANCOUVER BROADCASTERS

Station History




A brief history of Vancouver station start-ups and shut-downs from beginning to current

Note:   Much of the information for the first few years of Vancouver broadcasting was taken from various newspaper clippings.  As the newspapers started the first stations and regarded others as competition, most of the items were about their own stations.

1922 - Three Vancouver newspapers raced to get a station on the air.  On March 14th the Vancouver Daily Province stated that its Station FE (CFCB) had signed on the day before.  The Sun stated in March 15th, "We have been operating for several days" with station CJCE.  CFYC was licensed to Trans-Canada Radiovox Ltd. and started broadcasting March 23 from the top floor of the David Spencer Ltd. department store, under the sponsorship of the Vancouver Daily World newspaper.  On April 10 Sprott-Shaw Schools of Commerce & Wireless Telegraphy and Radio Specialties Ltd. started CJCE.  On April 20 Radio Specialties Ltd. opened CFCQ.

1923 - On April 1 CFDC Nanaimo, which was moved to Vancouver circa 1925 and renamed CKWX in 1927, went on the air.  In June CFCB call letters became CKCD.  On December 5th, mayoralty candidate W.R. Owen gave a ten-minute speech over Station CJCE, owned by the Vancouver Sun newspaper and the Sprott-Shaw School of Commerce.  CHCL was licensed to the Vancouver Merchants Exchange, but there is no record that the station went on the air.  Following a broadcast of seasonal greetings, some Christmas carols and a message from Canon D'Easum of Holy Trinity Cathedral on the afternoon of Christmas Day, CFXC officially signed on New Year's Eve, and included a number of comments, speeches and a discussion by Fred Hume on the coming of radio.  Electrical company Hume and Rumble performed the installation and its "radio mechanics," F. Stirling and Roy R. Brown did the technical work. 

1924 - In April, after some time off the air, CFYC was set up with a 25 watt transmitter in the First Congregational Church at Thurlow and Pendrell.  On October 21, CFYC carried a speech made by Prime Minister Mackenzie King from the Denman Arena, considered to be Canada's first political broadcast.  On September 27, 50-watt CKFC went on the air from the same church location.

1925 - The Canadian National Railway set up a network of stations coast-to-coast, mostly for the benefit of its train passengers.  The network would eventually become the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or CBC.  The call letters were CNR plus the first letter of the city.  CNRV Vancouver signed on at AM 1100.

1926 - Henderson's Directory listed six radio stations in Vancouver.  They were CNRV, the Canadian National Railway Company's station, operated from studios in the CNR station on Main Street (the CNR ran a radio service for its train passengers); CFYC, operated by Commercial Radio Ltd; CFDC, owned by the Sparks Co; CFCQ, operating out of the 16th floor at 500 Beatty, home of the Sprott Shaw Radio Co., which had been in business for years teaching the technical aspects of radio; CKFC, a United Churches station and CKCD, owned by The Province newspaper.  Additionally, radio engineer George Chandler purchased CFXC New Westminster, changed call letters to CJOR (apparently the closest thing to George) and moved the station to Vancouver.  It operated with 50 watts into a fish pole antenna located near the old Marpole Bridge at the south end of the city.  Broadcasts originated from the St. Julian Hotel (later the Ritz).

1927 - CFDC, which started in Nanaimo in 1923 signed off at 9:30 p.m. July 29, returning as CKWX (the call letters were chosen because they could be easily understood through a noisy signal) at 6 p.m. July 30.  It shared airtime on 410 metres (730 kHz) with CFCQ, CFYC and CKCD.  CNRV, the CNR's Vancouver station, produced Canada's first regular drama series on radio, which was heard across the country on the railway's network and lasted until 1932.  CNRV shared airtime on 291 metres (1030 kHz) with CJOR.

1928 - CFCQ changed call letters to CKMO.  The Province newspaper started a second station, CHLS which signed on May 23rd.

1929 - At 7 p.m. On December 19 the Canadian National railways inaugurated its permanent transcontinental network on CNRV.

1933 - On April 22nd, CJOR moved to 1210, CKWX and CKCD to 1010, CKMO and CKFC to 1410.  CRCV was at 1100, having changed calls from CNRV a few days earlier, now run by a new entity called the Canadian Radio Commission.  CJOR moved to the Grosvenor Hotel, 840 Howe Street, and operated for years out of the hotel's basement.   The station became a real force in local radio in the 1930s with broadcasters like Ross and Hilda Mortimer, Dorwin Baird, Billy Browne Sr. & Jr. and Vic Waters.  Waters eventually became program director and hired future broadcasting stars like Red Robinson, Jack Webster and Brian "Frosty" Forst. 

1934 - CRCV began operating on Station Street, just east of Main.

1936 - The Canadian Radio Commission changed to the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

1937 - On February 16, the CBC station changed call letters from CRCV to CBR.

1941 - At 3 a.m. ET (midnight PT) March 29, over 2000 radio stations in North America made frequency changes as a result of the Havana Radio Treaty. 

1944 - CKNW (NW for New Westminster) signed on August 15 at 1230 on the dial with 250 watts of power, after on-air testing which began April 1.  On Tuesday, August 15, four stations were listed in Vancouver, CBR, CJOR, CKWX and CKMO, from the many which had signed on during the first few years.

1947 - After a test period, Vancouver's first FM station, and the first west of Toronto, VE9FG officially signed on November 21, operating with a power of 1,000 watts on 105.7 MHz.  Programming was a simulcast of CBR AM 1130.  Call letters would later change to CBR-FM and then CBU-FM.

1949 - On January 2, CKNW moved from 1230 to 1320 and increased power to 1000 watts.

1952 - At 8:30 p.m. on January 25 CBR 1130 moved to 690 and changed call letters to CBU. 

1953 - KVOS-TV channel 12 Bellingham signed on June 3 with BBC film flown in from England of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  Not technically a Vancouver station, KVOS provided the first easily receivable TV signal in southwest BC.   It was later incorporated in Canada, establishing a subsidiary company in Vancouver.  During the earlier years much of its local programming was produced at its Vancouver studios.  Vancouver's first television station, CBC owned and operated CBUT channel 2, signed on December 16, with network programming initially kinescope-delayed from Toronto.  Newly forming cable TV systems later fed CBUT on channel 3 to avoid impairment caused by the over-the-air signal.

1954 - CKNW 1320 increased to 5000 watts on November 5.

1955 - CKLG (LG for Lions Gate) 1070 signed on February 3 with 1000 watts in North Vancouver.  Up against booming 50 kilowatt KNX Los Angeles on the same frequency, CKLG's signal didn't go much past south Vancouver after dark.  Coverage map (note limited night signal)  CKMO 1410 changed call letters to CFUN at 6 p.m. February 14.

1957 - On August 15 CKWX became BC's first 50 kilowatt radio station as it moved from 980 to 1130.  For a period of time, This is not CKWX, it used to be, could be heard on the old frequency, advising listeners to change the dial.

1958 - On August 18, CKNW 1320 moved to 980 the same day as CKLG 1070 switched to 730.

1959 - Founder Bill Bellman, of CBC Vancouver Radio/TV fame, signed on CHQM (for Canada's Highest Quality Music) 1320 at 5 p.m. December 10 with an easy listening format.  Some websites state that 'QM was off air for several days after its original sign on due to an administrative mixup.  That information is incorrect.

1960 - CHQM-FM 103.5 signed on August 10 with an easy listening format, carrying much of it's AM station's programming.  At 4:45 p.m. October 31, CHAN-TV/8 Vancouver signed on as Vancouver's first independent TV station.  It was assigned channel 11 on Lower Mainland cable systems.

1962 - Likely the most historically significant broadcast in BC history took place when Typhoon Frieda tore up the west coast on October 12/13, knocking most of the stations in its path off air.  Fill-in host Gerry Gawne anchored the all-night slot on CKNW, operating on stand-by facilities designed by engineer Jack Gordon, broadcasting news updates on the progress and destruction of the storm.

1963 - CJJC (the JC for founder Joe Chesney) 850 Langley signed on January 19 as BC's first full-time country music station.

1964 - CKLG-FM 99.3 signed on October 15 with an easy listening format, including orchestra concerts and Broadway soundtrack recordings.  On November 8 CBU-FM 105.7 began regular programming separate from CBU AM 690, with recorded classical music and BBC programs.

1967 - CBUF-FM 97.7 signed on December 1 as BC's first French language station.  CFUN AM 1410 discontinued its Top 40 format on September 17 and began broadcasting easy listening the following day as The Sound of Music.

1968 - After experimenting with album rock music late at night in late 1967, CKLG-FM 99.3 expanded the format into the evening hours, becoming Canada's first full-time rock FM station by later in the year.

1969 - On July 1, CFUN AM 1410 became CKVN (for Voice of News) with an all-news format.

1970 - In March, CFMI-FM (for FM-One) 101.1 signed on, identifying as FM-One with an automated rock/country hybrid and Sunday programming of International/Ethnic music.  That same month, CKVN AM 1410 returned to Top 40.

1972 - CJVB (JVB for founder Jan van Bruchem) AM 1470 signed on June 18 as Western Canada's first multilingual station.

1973 - On September 30, CKVN AM 1410 got its old call letters CFUN back.   The call letters were purchased from a Newcastle, NB station.  On February 1, CJJC moved from 850 to 800 after receiving approval for the move with a power increase to 10 kW in December 1970.

1975 - On April 15 at 3 p.m., Vancouver Co-operative Radio CFRO-FM 102.7 signed on with community-based programming.

1976 - Vancouver's second private television station CKVU-TV/21 (cable 13) signed on at 4 p.m. September 5.  CBUFT/26 (cable 7) signed on at 9:30 a.m. September 27, bringing Radio-Canada, CBC's French language service to the west coast.   CBUT/2 had been airing limited Radio-Canada programming weekend mornings since 1973.

1977 - CKO-FM 96.1 signed on November 21 as part of the CKO national news network.

1979 - On January 6 CKLG-FM changed call letters to CFOX-FM.

1980 - Canada's first all-jazz station, CJAZ-FM 92.1 signed on March 1.  Two months later, on May 1 CISL AM 940 Richmond signed on.

1982 - University of B.C. station CITR-FM 101.9 signed on April 1st with 49 watts omni-directional as Vancouver's first on-air campus station.  Later boosting power to 1,800 watts directional towards Vancouver & the Fraser Valley, it would share the frequency with University of Victoria's CFUV-FM.

1984 -  On December 29, CFUN AM 1410 changed from Top 40 to Lite Rock...Less Talk.  CJAZ-FM moved from 92.1 to 96.9.

1985 - In February, CKVU-TV started broadcasting on channel 10, moving from channel 21.  On June 25, CJJC became CJUP under new management.  On September 15, CJAZ-FM changed calls to CKKS-FM

1986 - CJJR-FM 93.7 signed on July 1 at 9:37 a.m. with a country music format.  CIOF (for Ten Forty) AM 1040 officially signed on September 15 at 5:30 a.m. with an adult contemporary format, after a commercial-free weekend test period.

1988 - At 12 noon on September 2, the CJOR call letters which had been in use since 1927, disappeared as the station changed to CHRX with a classic rock format.   CJUP Langley changed call letters to CKST, identifying as Coast 800.

1989 - After a brief announcement at 9 a.m. on November 10, CKO-FM 96.1 and the national news network signed off forever due to financial losses.

1991 - CKZZ-FM 95.3 signed on at 8 p.m. May 24 with a commercial-free weekend of contemporary R&B and dance music.

1992 - AM 1040 Magic 104 signed off February 4, to be replaced by CKST on March 9, as it moved from its AM 800 frequency in Langley.  It identified as Coast 1040.

1994 - At 6 p,m. January 7 CHRX ended its Classic Rock era with Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, officially signing on at noon January 9 with Christian music as CKBD The Bridge.  At 9 p.m. on February 9, Chinese New Year's Eve, Memory Music CHQM AM 1320 ended over 34 years of nostalgic and easy listening music with Bob Hope's Thanks for the Memories.  Moments later it became CHMB with an all-night Chinese program and new multilingual format before moving to all-Chinese seven months later.

1996 - On March 27, CFUN AM 1410 moved to an all-talk format.

1997 - On August 18 Star-FM expanded it's Fraser Valley signal into the Vancouver market by moving its Abbotsford FM 104.9 transmitter to Mount Seymour, effectively becoming a local station.  CHKG-FM 96.1 signed on September 6 as Western Canada's first multilingual FM station.  CIVT-TV/32 (cable 9) signed on at 5:55 p.m. September 19, with official launch of Vancouver Television at 5:55 a.m. September 22.  With two million watts, the station claimed to be the most powerful and the first fully digital commercial facility in Canada.

1998 - On July 31 AM 600 CKBD changed format from Contemporary Christian to Unforgettable Adult Favourites.

2001 - NOW-TV CHNU-TV signed on shortly after 7 p.m. September 15, with studios and transmitter in Surrey.  The station's on-air transmitter was UHF channel 66 and cable channel 10 in the Vancouver area.

2002 - After starting transmitter testing on February 15, CFBT-FM (BT for the Beat) 94.5 officially launched on March 4 with an urban format.  CBUX-FM 90.9 began on-air testing September 5 with French network programming from La Cha�ne culturelle beginning the following day.

2003 - Simon Fraser University's new community-based campus radio station, CJSF-FM (SF for Simon Fraser) 90.1 Burnaby, signed on at 7 p.m. February 13. The station had previously been broadcasting to the campus via carrier current on AM 940 and is available at 93.9 on cable in the Metro Vancouver area.  On March 25, CKKS-FM changed calls to CKLG-FM.  Channel M CHNM-TV (CHNM for a short version of Channel M) officially signed on at 7 p.m. June 27, bringing multicultural television to Vancouver viewers over-the-air on channel 42 and on cable channel 8. 

2004 - Legendary DJ Red Robinson celebrated 50 years in broadcasting on November 12.  Red started spinning the hits at CJOR Vancouver in 1954, becoming the first DJ to play rock 'n roll on a regular basis in Canada.

2005 - On May 20th, the CRTC approved application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to acquire the assets of CHNU-TV, which was subsequently rebranded from NOW-TV to OMNI.10 on the Labour Day weekend.  On July 21, the CRTC approved applications by South Asian Broadcasting Corporation Inc. for a new commercial specialty FM (ethnic) station directed at South Asian audiences to operate at 93.1 MHz and by I.T. Productions Ltd. for a new ethnic station also directed at South Asian audiences to operate at 1200 kHz.  On December 21 CKYE-FM 93.1 signed on, identifying as Red-FM.

2006 - On March 7, British Columbia Institute of Technology instructional campus radio CFML-FM 107.9 signed on, identifying as Evolution 107.9.  On May 30, CHMJ AM 730 stopped its sports/talk programming and relaunched at 7:30 a.m. on June 5 with drive-time traffic, live sports and delayed CKNW talk shows.  CJRJ AM 1200 Vancouver officially signed at 12 minutes to 7 p.m. on November 25. targeting listeners aged 18-44 with a mix of Bollywood, hip hop, Indi-pop, rap and bhangra. 

2008 - At 2 p.m. on September 26, Clear FM CKCL-FM 104.9 Chilliwack/Vancouver changed format to become FM 104.9 - The Greatest Hits of All Time.   On October 10, CBU-2-FM 88.1 Vancouver began rebroadcasting the programming of Radio One CBU AM 690.  The PEAK CKPK-FM 100.5 Vancouver officially launched at 7 p.m. November 13 with a Triple A format.  It replaced 600AM CKBD, which began as CFXC in 1924.  The 600 Khz frequency went silent at the end of December, follwing a simulcast period.  CISL picked up much of CKBD's programming.

2009 - At 4 p.m. January 8, CKZZ-FM 95.3 Vancouver became Virgin Radio 9 5 3 and added new programs including Ryan Seacreast’s On Air show and American Top 40.  Following a month of signal testing, Shore 104 CHHR-FM 104.1 officially signed on July 1.  It was been authorized by the CRTC to move to 104.3 in a swap with KNWR-FM Bellingham.  At 10 a.m. November 5, CFUN AM 1410 changed format from talk to all sports, followed by a call letter change to CFTE.   CKCL-FM then picked up the CFUN call letters after it starting identifying as Fun-FM.

2010 - At 7:30 a.m. January 14, CHHR-FM swapped frequencies with KAFE-FM Bellingham, moving it from 104.1 to 104.3.

2011 - Shortly after 8:30 a.m. on August 17, CFUN-FM announced a change to a current hit music format and new branding as SONiC, with a pledge to play 10,000 songs in a row.  On August 31/September 1, analog TV transmitters were shut down.

2012 - At 1:02 p.m. September 10, Co-op Radio CFRO-FM 102.7 and The PEAK CKPK-FM 100.5 swapped frequencies, putting CKPK at 102.7 and CFRO at 100.5.  The swap was part of a deal between the stations which allowed CFRO to increase power, transmit in stereo and have its transmitter site lease costs covered for five years by CKPK's owner The Jim Pattison Group.

2013 - On June 27, the CRTC approved a change of effective control of Astral Media's broadcasting undertakings to BCE Inc., but ordered Bell to divest itself of CHHR-FM 104.3, CKZZ-FM 95.3 and CISL AM 650.

2014 - On March 19, the CRTC approved applications by Newcap Inc. to acquire the assets of Vancouver market stations CHHR-FM 104.3, CKZZ-FM 95.3 and CISL AM 650 from Bell Media Inc.  On March 31 CKZZ-FM 95.3 returned to its earlier branding as Z95 3.  On June 20 Shore CHHR-FM 104.1 dropped its AAA format which had been in place since the station's launch in 2009, moved to hits of the 70s and 80s, rebranded as LG 104 3 and changed call letters to CHLG-FM.  Aboriginal Voices Radio CKAV-FM 106.3 Vancouver went silent during the first week of December and returned a few days later as Voices Radio with a 2000 song catalogue of eclectic music. 

2015 - On February 24, SONiC CFUN-FM 104.9 Vancouver changed branding to KiSS RADIORoundhouse Radio CIRH-FM 98.3 Vancouver signed on in mid October with a mostly talk format.  Pulse CISF-FM 107.7 Surrey signed on in mid December with test announcements and Christmas music.  Its format is Adult Contemporary with some talk programming.  CKNW was added as HD2 on sister station CFMI-FM 101.1 in mid October.  It was the first HD station in the Vancouver area.

2016 - In early June the programming of TSN1 1040 and TSN 1410 were added to CHQM-FM 103.5 HD2 and HD3 respectively.  In late June CKWX was added as HD2 to CJAX-FM 96.9.  The CHMJ AM 730 transmitter site in Delta was destroyed by the Burns Bog fire on July 3, forcing the station off air.  The all-traffic station's air signal was quickly restored, first with temporary facilities in downtown Vancouver and then with reduced power at the main site.  It was also added to FM 101.1 HD3.    

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