Albert W. “Bert” Hooper (1900-1981)

Albert W. "Bert" Hooper

Year Born: 1900

Year Died: 1981

Year of Induction: 1985

Pioneer – Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Hooper, Albert W. “Bert” (1900-1981)

In 1916, Bert Hooper joined the merchant navy as a Marconi Operator. Six years later, George Bell of Regina, in search of a multi-talented technician to run a radio station, for which the flat-top antenna system was even then being erected on the roof of the Regina Leader (newspaper) building, interviewed Bert in Vancouver. Satisfied with his technical qualifications, Bell handed Bert a newspaper, and sent him down the street to a pay phone to read back to him several items on the front page. Bert passed the “audition”. He was hired on the spot as CKCK Regina’s first employee for the combined job of Station Manager, Chief Engineer, Program Director, Announcer. Bert remained a one-man radio station for seven years, until Horace Stovin formed Plainsmen Broadcasters and entered into a management contract in 1929 with the station’s (now) owner – The Leader-Post.

By 1929, CKCK and CHWC, with which it shared the same frequency, were providing  continuous radio programming from 7.30 am to 11.00 pm, with CKCK’s transmitter located in the centre of the city, and CHWC/s transmitter over ten miles away at Pilot Butte. Unattended transmitter operation was not permitted, hence Bert had been able  to continue his joint engineering-announcing career from downtown Regina.
In his initial seven years, Bert had chalked-up a number of “firsts” – the most notable of which was setting-up on March 14, 1923 the first play-by-play broadcast  of a complete hockey game – the Regina Capitals vs the Edmonton Eskimos. The announcer was Pete Parker, an employee of The Leader, who has been acclaimed for his role.

Also, in 1923, on February 11th, Hooper achieved the first radio broadcast in the British Empire of a church service. It came from Regina’s Carmichael Church, and the sermon was given by the Reverend J.W. Willans.

In 1928, Bert Hooper was voted the most popular announcer in Saskatchewan.

However, in 1933, Hooper left the station he had built and accepted the position of Chief Engineer of CJRM Moose Jaw-Regina. CJRM’S owner, James Richardson and Sons Limited, had just established a studio in Regina and a new transmitter at Belle Plain, midway between Regina and Moose Jaw.

In 1939, Bert was transferred by Richardson’s to Winnipeg’s CJRC – one year prior to the purchase of CJRC and CJRM by the Sifton group (The Winnipeg Free Press and the Regina Leader-Post). The call letters were changed to CKRC and CKRM. Bert continued making broadcasting history until he retired from CKRC in 1966.

In 1985, Bert Hooper, a true Canadian radio pioneer, was inducted (posthumously) into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.

Written by J. Lyman Potts – September, 1996