James W.B. “Big Jim” Browne (1884-1954)

James W.B. "Big Jim" Browne
James W.B. “Big Jim” Browne

Year Born: 1884

Year Died: 1954

Year of Induction: 1984

Pioneer – Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Browne, James W.B. “Big Jim” (1884-1954)

In 1928, a group of Kelowna, B.C. citizens formed the Kelowna Amateur Radio Club. George Howard Dunn, the City Clerk, who was one of the first amateur radio operators in Canada, introduced Jim Browne to the technical potential of radio. Mr. Dunn had a”spark” transmitter. The members of the Club included some with technical talents, and Mr. Dunn’s transmitter was converted from Morse key operation to voice. The Club applied to the government for an amateur broadcast license, and such was issued conditional upon being commercial-free with a power of 50 watts. The call sign was 10 AY. The station went on the air the same year.

In 1931, Jim applied for a commercial broadcasting license. The government said it would issue a license if 10 AY would cease operations. The Amateur Radio Club agreed, and a license for CKOV was granted.

Often working from a wheel chair due to poor health, Jim Browne became a real pioneer in the development of broadcasting in a small market. He introduced the first school broadcasts in the area, which became the model for national school broadcasts. His strong support for the Arthritis Society led to the establishment of a Kelowna branch,which became the cornerstone for the National Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society.

CKOV also pioneered in remote broadcasts and, in 1946, established the Okanagan’s first full-fledged newsroom.

“Big Jim” passed away in 1954 leaving the destiny of CKOV in the hands of his son, Jim Jr. to whom, during his final illness he had given the management.

James William Bromly-Browne was inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1984 – one hundred years after his birth.

Written by J. Lyman Potts – February, 1996