The Hill family’s business history started in 1903 with the sale of land on which the Saskatchewan Legislative Buildings are presently situated. The founding company, McCallum Hill Limited, was created in the same year by Walter H.A. Hill and E.A. McCallum. Over the ensuing 74 years The Hill Companies, headquartered in Regina, Saskatchewan, established a highly successful business in real estate and property management, while diversifying into a number of other businesses.
Harvard Developments Inc became the Hills’ primary operating entity and it would be under the Harvard umbrella that the company would make its first of a number of acquisitions in the broadcasting field many years later.
Harvard’s broadcasting history was launched when Michael Sifton, whose Armadale company owned CKCK-TV, CKCK-AM radio and the powerful Regina Leader-Post newspaper, decided to sell the television station to counter criticism of Armadale’s combined ownership of two major media properties in one city, and a potential need to divest itself of one or the other. The CRTC approved the sale to Harvard, which thereby made its first determined step into the world of broadcasting.
In renewing CKCK-TV’s licence for a five-year term, the CRTC noted with pleasure the improvements that Harvard had effected over the previous two years, but expressed the hope that the station would be able to increase its contributions to the CTV Network.
Harvard made its first radio acquisitions with the purchase of CKRM-AM and CFMQ-FM Regina from Buffalo Broadcasting. CKRM was one of the oldest radio stations in Canada, having begun operations in 1925 as CJRM in Moose Jaw, and moving its main studios to Regina in 1933 and becoming CKRM in 1943.
620 CKRM acquired the rights to broadcast Saskatchewan Roughriders games. Subsequent renewals of those rights would give CKRM their role as the Rider play-by-play voice through 2015.
On September 12th, the CRTC denied a joint application by Regina Independent Television, a joint venture of Harvard Developments Ltd. and Allarcom Ltd., for broadcasting licences to carry on network operations for the cable distribution of third television services in Regina and Saskatoon, respectively.
Instead, the Commission approved applications by Saskwest Television Inc. for licences to carry over-the-air English-language television broadcasting transmitting undertakings to serve Regina and Saskatoon.
On July 4th, the CRTC approved an application by Baton Broadcasting Inc. of Toronto to make two major purchases in Saskatchewan that would give it domination of the province with only one exception – CJFB-TV Swift Current. Baton already owned CFQC-TV Saskatoon and had now agreed to buy a controlling (90%) interest in CKCK-TV Regina from Harvard Developments Ltd. Harvard in turn would purchase 10% of CFQC-TV and would participate in the management of both stations.
The Baton-Harvard partnership took ownership of CKCK-TV and CFQC-TV on August 29.
On February 27th, Baton purchased the remaining 10% of CKCK –TV Regina from Harvard, and reacquired Harvard’s 10% interest in CFQC-FM Saskatoon.
On May 28th, CFMQ-FM Regina changed its call letters to CHMX-FM. At the time, CFMQ had the oldest FM format in Regina, and Harvard decided that market demos dictated a change. The call letters were changed to match the new mix music format.
On June 4th, in renewing Harvard’s licences for CKRM-AM and CHMX-FM Regina, for a three-year term, the Commission emphasised the particular importance it attached to the development of Canadian talent and was satisfied with the annual budgets allocated and the initiatives proposed by the licensee in this respect. It encouraged Harvard to continue its efforts towards the support, development and on-air exposure of local and regional talent.
On August 10th, in announcing a further renewal of the licences for CKRM-AM and CHMX-FM Regina, this time for a seven-year term, the CRTC yet again reaffirmed the particular importance it attached to the development of Canadian talent.
CKRM acquired the radio broadcasting rights to the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. Subsequent renewals ensured that CKRM would retain those rights through the 2012-2013 season.
Craig Broadcasting Systems moved the studio and business operations for their Regina stations CKIT-FM and CKCK-AM into the Harvard Communications Building, which already housed Harvard’s CHMX-FM and CKRM-AM. A Local Management Agreement was established whereby the General Manager of the Harvard stations would also manage the affairs of the Craig stations.
Shortly thereafter, CKIT-FM changed its call letters to CFWF-FM.
On November 30th HDL Investments (Harvard) received approval to purchase CFWF-FM and CKCK-AM Regina from Craig Broadcasting Systems Inc. CKCK-AM would then be sold on to Rawlco Communications (Sask).
On December 12 the CRTC approved an application by Harvard Broadcasting Inc. to effect an intracorporate reorganization. Harvard was the licensee of radio stations CKRM, CFWF-FM and CHMX-FM Regina, and the radio network Roughriders. The proposed transaction would be implemented through the insertion of a new holding company, The Gabriel Holding Corp., into the existing corporate structure, between Famhill Holdings Limited and Famhill Investments Limited. As a result of this transaction, Famhill Holdings would own 100% of the Class E voting shares and the Class D non-voting shares, and the Paul Hill Family Trust would own 100% of the Class B non-voting participating shares in Gabriel Holding. This transaction would not change the control of Harvard, which remained with Frederick W. Hill, through the holding companies Harvard Developments Inc., Famhill Holdings and Famhill Investments.
On February 20th, CRTC approved an application by Harvard Broadcasting Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an English-language radio network originating from CKRM Regina. The new network would broadcast regional and provincial news and information of interest to the residents of Saskatchewan including open-line shows. It proposed to broadcast a maximum of 15 to 20 programs a year ranging from one to four hours in duration.
On August 2, Harvard Broadcasting Inc. was licensed to operate a new FM station in Calgary. It would broadcast on a frequency of 92.9 MHz with an average effective radiated power of 45,000 watts (100,000 watts maximum). Antenna height would be 160.3 metres. The CTV/Rogers television tower would be used (CTV owned the building and tower while Rogers owned the antenna). Harvard proposed to operate the new station with an Alternative Rock format designed to appeal to listeners between 12 and 34 years of age, with a core audience of males between 12 and 24. The call letters would be CFEX-FM.
On November 15, Harvard Broadcasting Inc. received approval from the CRTC to operate a new English-language commercial FM radio station in Fort McMurray. It won this right over eight other applicants. The new station would operate on a frequency of 103.7 MHz with an effective radiated power of 20,000 watts. The station would primarily offer an Adult Contemporary music format targeting listeners between 25 and 54 years of age, in the evening turning to a Top-40 format targeting listeners younger than 25 years of age. The call letters would be CFVR-FM.
CFEX-FM “X 92.9” signed on the air in Calgary on December 31 with an all ages New Year’s Eve party. The EX in the call sign would represent Extreme FM.
January 1st marked the official first day of broadcasting for CFEX-FM Calgary.
On May 28, Harvard Broadcasting Inc. received CRTC approval for the operation of a new FM station in Saskatoon. Harvard proposed to use a frequency of 92.3 MHz with an effective radiated power of 100,000 watts. The station would offer a Youth Contemporary music format blending Pop, Urban and Alternative Rock music. The format would be of primary appeal to an audience 12 to 34 years of age. 80% of all news and 126 hours, or 100%, of the station’s programming every week would be local. The new station’s call letters would be CFWD-FM Saskatoon.
The year 2008 was to prove to be a very active one for Harvard in the broadcasting field.
On January 14th, CFVR-FM Fort McMurray, “The Mix 103.7”, signed on the air at 7:00 a.m.
On April 7, CFWD-FM Saskatoon was authorized to change its frequency from 92.3 MHz to 96.3 MHz and to decrease effective radiated power from 100,000 watts to 96,000 watts. The changes would serve as a pre-emptive action to avoid potential third adjacency interference in Saskatoon. Harvard specifically referred to the Department of Industry’s consideration of new rules that would require stations using third adjacent frequencies to be co-sited or near co-sited. Accordingly, the licensee anticipated that its current site location of CFWD-FM Saskatoon might not meet the new third adjacency rules.
On April 9th, “Saskatoon’s first ever all Christmas station” launched at 4:00 p.m; “96.3 Santa FM”- From Bing to Sting, the station’s launch stunt offered all the best holiday hits!
On April 11th, a couple of days later, the Santa stunt made way for Saskatoon’s new music channel – “Wired 96.3”. CFWD-FM was a young, fresh and fun radio station actively targeting young adults with new music, new voices and a high energy sound.
On July 2nd, Harvard acquired effective control of GX Radio Yorkton from Brenda and Lyle Walsh through the transfer of 89% of the voting interest of the parent corporation of Walsh Investments Inc. and Yorkton Broadcasting Company Limited to Harvard Broadcasting Inc.
GX Radio was the licensee of CJGX-AM and CFGW-FM Yorkton, Saskatchewan and its transmitters CFGW-FM-1 Swan River, Manitoba and CFGW-FM-2 Wapella, Saskatchewan.
On July 13th, Frederick W. Hill died after a lengthy illness.
On October 17th, Harvard Broadcasting was licensed by the CRTC to operate an English-language FM radio station in Edmonton, Alberta. It was a condition of the licence that Harvard would amend its application by proposing a frequency other than the originally-proposed 107.1 MHz. The proposed call letters would be CKEA-FM.
On the same date, the CRTC also approved an application by Harvard Broadcasting Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate a new FM radio station to serve Red Deer. Harvard proposed to offer a Mainstream Adult Contemporary format targeted to adults between the ages of 25 and 54. The Commission considered that approval of Harvard’s application would allow it to realize efficiencies and maximize synergies among its stations in Alberta and Saskatchewan and consequently better enable it to achieve its objective of providing a service that was locally and regionally reflective.
Harvard would use an average effective radiated power of 54,000 watts on 100.7 MHz. The licence would expire 31 August 2015. The new station’s call letters would be CKRI-FM.
On October 6th, CFEX-FM Calgary received permission to relocate its transmitter and antenna. When the station was licensed, it was to broadcast from a transmitter site owned by CTVglobemedia and Rogers. However, CHUM also received a licence for a Calgary FM station in 2006, so the antenna site became unavailable upon CTVglobemedia’s acquisition of CHUM. Harvard then reached agreement with Global Television to replace the existing Global tower in Calgary with a new one, which would serve as the permanent location for CFEX-FM’s transmitter. Antenna height would increase from 160.3 metres to 342.2 metres.
On July 23rd, the CRTC approved a revised proposal for CKEA-FM Edmonton, whereby the station would broadcast on 95.7 MHz instead of 107.1 as originally proposed.
CKRI-FM Red Deer 100.7, branded “The River”, was launched on August 3rd at 6:00 am.
CKEA-FM Edmonton began on-air testing on August 31st, and officially launched as “The Sound” at 9.57 am on September 6th.
On March 28, 2011, at 6 AM, CKEA-FM Edmonton relaunched as an adult contemporary station, Lite 95-7.
On December 16th, the CRTC approved the acquisition by Harvard of CJNW-FM Edmonton from John Yerxa. On the same day, the Commission approved a change in the effective control of Harvard Broadcasting Inc. (Harvard) from Frederick W. Hill to Paul J. Hill, consequent on the death of Frederick W. Hill in July 2008.
On February 6th, the CRTC heard an application from Harvard Broadcasting Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an English-language commercial FM radio programming undertaking in Calgary. The new station would operate on frequency 95.3 MHz (channel 237C1) with an average effective radiated power (ERP) of 11,000 watts.
Bell Media, the Pattison Group, Unison Media and Clear Sky Radio were among several other applicants for the same Calgary frequency. A decision was expected in the early summer.
On May 24th, Harvard learned that its application for a new FM licence to serve the Calgary market had been unsuccessful.
On August 2nd, the CRTC announced that on October 3rd it would hear an application by Harvard Broadcasting Inc. for authority to acquire the assets of the radio station CHFT-FM Fort McMurray, Alberta from Newcap Inc. and for a new licence to continue the operation of the station under the same terms and conditions as those in effect under the current licence.
On November 7th, the CRTC announced its approval of Harvard’s proposed acquisition of CHFT-FM Fort McMurray from Newcap.
Harvard Broadcasting launched its fourth Cruz branded station – 100.7 CRUZ fm Red Deer.
In July, Paul Hill was appointed to the Order of Canada. Hill, chairman, president and CEO of The Hill Companies (owner of Harvard), said he was honoured to be recognized for his achievements as a business leader and contributions to community and education initiatives.
On December 22nd, the CRTC approved an application by Harvard Broadcasting Inc. (Harvard) for authority to acquire from L.A. Radio Group Inc. the assets of the English-language commercial radio station CKIK-FM Red Deer and for a broadcasting licence to continue the operation of the station. This transaction was deemed to serve the public interest as it would put Harvard on the same footing as the other mainstream commercial operators with two radio stations in the market and therefore would help ensure the long-term viability of CKIK-FM and CKRI-FM, the licensee’s other station in Red Deer.
On March 1, the Radioplayer streaming app launched in Canada and featured more than 400 Canadian radio stations, including Harvard owned stations.
In January, CKRI Red Deer changed format from Classic Hits/Variety Hits as Cruz FM to Alternative Rock as X 100.7. In February the call letters were changed to CKEX-FM.
On August 15, CJNW Edmonton changed its call sign to CKPW.
Corus Entertainment went to court to seek an injunction that would prohibit Harvard Broadcasting from using the Power 107 brand in Edmonton or any name that included the word Power. The case centred around Corus’ former Power 92 Top 40 station. While the station was rebranded in 2004, Corus alleged that Harvard’s CJNW-FM had not only adopted the name, but its distinctive black and white branding and ‘phrase that pays’ contest slogan. Harvard rebranded Hot 107 to Power 107 in August. Harvard’s statement of defence said Corus had no legal claim to the Power brand. Corus won the court case and Harvard announced it would rename Power 107.
Following the battle with Corus, CKPW changed its name to Play 107 and the format remained Classic Hits.
In June, Harvard eliminated its GM positions across the chain as it looked to minimize the revenue impacts of COVID-19. Layoffs included Tamara Konrad in Edmonton, Craig Picton in Fort McMurray, and Jason Huschi in Regina. Darren Robson, PD for MY 92.1 and 104.9 The Wolf in Regina, and Sara Parker, PD at Kraze 101.3 and X100.7 in Red Deer, were also casualties. Andy Ross lost his GM title in Saskatoon, but remained as PD for 96.3 CRUZ FM, while adding PD duties for Regina. Chris Meyers, PD for Harvard Edmonton, was now also PD for Kraze, while Christian Hall, PD at Calgary’s X92.9 and National Program Manager, added programming X100.7 to his duties. The restructuring included the creation of VPs to oversee their departments across all markets. They included Hall, now VP Brands and Content; Karen Broderick, VP Sales (Saskatchewan); Gary Brasil, VP Sales (Alberta); Angela Prokop, VP Finance and Administration; and Chris Terpsma, VP Engineering and Infrastructure.
In July, Harvard made on-air cuts following the elimination of General Manager positions across the operation. Among the talent impacted were Jamie Lewis, long-time morning host at CKRM Regina; morning show co-host Courtney Rae at CKIK Red Deer; Konnor Brown and Nate Bryant at CKEX Red Deer; Graham Mossimann, evening host at CFEX Calgary.
On September 4, CHMX Regina changed its branding to PLAY 92 from My 92.1.
Harvard Broadcasting Inc. Radio Stations
(Click on the call letters to view individual station histories)
|CFVR-FM||103.7||Fort McMurray, AB|
|CHFT-FM||100.5||Fort McMurray, AB|
|CKEX-FM||100.7||Red Deer, AB|
|CKIK-FM||101.3||Red Deer, AB|