CHFA-10-FM, Ici Radio-Canada Première, Edmonton

Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

CHFA-FM201290.1100,000Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
CHFA-AM19746805,000Canadian Brodcasting Corp.
CHFA-AM19496805,000Radio Edmonton Ltee.


Radio Edmonton Ltee applied for a French language AM licence in Edmonton. CJCA opposed the application and the CBC deferred the matter for further study.

In March, the CBC recommended for approval, Radio Edmonton Ltee’s application for a French language station in Edmonton, using 680 kHz with power of 5,000 watts. After refusing CKUA’s application for a commercial licence, Premier Manning called the CHFA decision, “indefensible and discriminating”. Radio Edmonton Ltee was organized by a group of Edmonton citizens.


Romain LeClair was named CHFA’s manager. He had been manager of CJEM Edmundston (NB) and was with CKSO Sudbury before that.

An ad for the soon to launch CHFA stated the station would serve 45,000 French-speaking Albertans in the Peace River, Lac la Biche, St. Paul and Edmonton areas.

CHFA signed on the air November 20, on 680 kHz with 5,000 watts (single directional pattern), using three 230 foot towers. The station was affiliated with the CBC’s French language network. Studios were at 10012-109e rue. 


The CBC approved the transfer of four shares in Radio Edmonton Ltee.

A.M. Dechene was manager and L. Hiller was commercial manager.


The CBC Board approved a public commercial licence for CHFA, for the transmission of personal messages where other means of electrical communication were not available.


The CBC French Radio Network was extended from Edmundston, NB to Edmonton, AB..CKSB St. Boniface, CHFA Edmonton, CFRG Gravelbourg and CFNS Saskatoon joined the network.


From an ad: CHFA, “the West’s most progressive French radio voice,” opens over 60,000 customer sales doors for your product! / La Voix Francaise De l’Alberta.

Approval was given for the transfer of one common share in Radio Edmonton Ltee.


Leo Remillard was manager of CHFA. 

Ad: You’re missing a sure bet…if your plans don’t include CHFA Edmonton…The West’s most progressive French radio voice…Serving over 80,000 French Canadians daily. La Voix Francaise De l’Alberta.


CHFA 680 had a power of 5,000 watts and used a single directional pattern. Ownership of Radio Edmonton Ltee: Mgr. Phillip Lussier 6.7%, Mgr. Henri Routhier 6.7%, Dr. L.O. Beauchemin 33.3%, Dr.L.P. Mousseau 6.7%, P. Sicotte 6.7%, J.W. Beaudry 6.7%, A. Morin 6.7%, J.M. Fontaine 6.7%, A. Dechene 6.6%, M. Lavallee 6.6%, J.O. Pilon 6.6%. CHFA was a supplementary affiliate of the CBC French network. Andre Dechesne was president of the company while Bernardin Gagnon was CHFA’s manager.


Ad slogans: 4 stations open the door for sales of the 180,000 French-speaking Western “Canadiens” – CHFA, CFNS, CFRG, CKSB – The Western Canada French radio group. / One reason alone – explains the existence of French language radio on the Prairies: over 180,000 “Canadiens” are here, speaking, reading, thinking and listening in French. Sell more where more can be sold! In Alberta – schedule CHFA Radio Edmonton Ltee – 5000 watts.


As a western group, CFNS Saskatoon, CFRG Gravelbourg, CHFA Edmonton and CKSB St. Boniface reached over 176,000 French speaking consumers. CHFA was drawing over 75,000 French listeners from the over 100 predominantly French communities in Alberta. It was also attracting English and listeners from other language groups. CHFA also offered programming in German, Italian, Ukrainian, Dutch and Polish. Non-French speaking listeners also enjoyed the fine music the station aired. 60% of CHFA’s listeners lived on farms, 25% were urban and 15% were miners, trappers and fishermen.

Ads: Man you’re talking business when you speak “Le Language” and that’s CHFA. The only French Voice in Alberta. CHFA is owned by the loyal, responsive French population of the province. Over 100 predominantly French communities in Alberta. 5,000 watts – 680 Kc. 


On April 1, Radio Edmonton Ltee. sold CHFA to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.


Around 1975, CHFA 680 increased power to 10,000 watts (single directional pattern for day and night), using three 290 foot towers.


CHFA-1-FM began broadcasting in Lethbridge on March 12.

CBRF-FM signed on the air in Calgary on May 23 to rebroadcast CHFA.


CHFA-2-FM launched in Red Deer on July 19.


CHFA-3-FM Peace River signed on the air on January 5.

CHFA-4-FM Hinton, CHFA-5-FM Grande Prairie and CHFA-6-FM Fort McMurray launched on August 6.


The Falher rebroadcaster – CHFA-7-FM – began operations on March 1.

CHFA-8-FM at Medicine Hat signed on the air July 1.


On December 17, CHFA was authorized to add a transmitter at Bonnyville on 98.7 MHz, with an effective radiated power of 50,000 watts.  


When CHFA had its licence renewed, it was noted that CHFA-9-FM Bonnyville was still not on the air.


The CHFA studios and offices moved to 7909-51st Avenue.


Due to financial constraints, the CBC decided not to proceed with the rebroadcast transmitter CHFA-9-FM Bonnyville.


The Radio-Canada network was renamed “Première Chaîne” on September 1.


A community rebroadcaster – CHFB-FM 98.7 – was added at Bonnyville on June 30. CHFA had earlier planned to add its own transmitter (CHFA-9-FM) but cancelled that plan in 1993 for financial reasons.


As of 2001, CHFA operated the following rebroadcast transmitters: CBRF-FM Calgary, CHFA-1-FM Lethbridge, CHFA-2-FM Red Deer, CHFA-3-FM Peace River, CHFA-4-FM Hinton, CHFA-5-FM Grande Prairie, CHFA-6-FM Fort McMurray, CHFA-7-FM Falher, and CHFA-8-FM Medicine Hat. CHFA broadcasts approximately 35 hours and 55 minutes of local programming each week from Edmonton.


On May 7, the CBC was given approval to add transmitters at Calgary and Edmonton to provide Radio-Canada’s La Chaîne culturelle FM stereo service.


On March 16, the CRTC approved the application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the licence for CHFA in order to operate an FM transmitter in Edmonton. The transmitter would operate on a frequency of 101.1 MHz (channel 266A) with an effective radiated power of 3,931 watts. It would rebroadcast the programming of the CBC’s national, French language network service La Première chaîne. The CBC submitted that urban growth, the construction of high-rise concrete and steel buildings, increased electrical noise from overhead wires, large and small appliances and portable radio transmitters had impeded the ability of the station to deliver reliable high quality AM signals to listeners. It stated that a significant number of residents who described themselves as CBC listeners had advised the CBC that they had difficulty receiving its radio service in their homes, offices and cars. The CBC proposed to establish an FM transmitter with modest power that would cover the urban area in order to improve the signal quality of its AM station. The CBC indicated that its existing AM transmitter, which had a very large coverage area outside the urban core served by the station, would continue to operate with coverage supplemented by this “nested” FM transmitter. It also indicated that it had considered other options for improving its signal quality through either modifying the existing coverage patterns of its AM transmitter to increase the strength of its signal in the urban core, or moving the stations from the AM band to the FM band. According to the CBC, its analysis of these options revealed that modifying its AM coverage pattern would require substantial capital costs and would only produce marginal improvements in the city while creating coverage gaps in the outlying areas that could potentially require the addition of more transmitters. The CBC maintained that it would be impossible for stand-alone FM undertakings to replicate the coverage provided by its AM transmitter because the overall spectrum availability on the FM band for high power radio stations has decreased. It further argued that converting the AM station to the FM band would require the use of a large number of FM transmitters operating at different frequencies to serve the same area. The CBC contended that the existing coverage of its AM signal in the outlying areas would be best optimized by its proposed nesting solution which, in improving service to the urban core, would also permit the CBC to maintain its existing wide coverage pattern outside the city. The CBC argued that such a solution would limit its capital costs and the future need for additional FM transmitters and frequencies. The CBC added that, over the past decade, radio listening across Canada has shifted from the AM band to the FM band. It argued that AM tuning in this market was declining or, at the very least, stagnant, thereby precluding the CBC from increasing its market share. By means of comparison, the CBC maintained that its position on the FM band in Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Saint John, had permitted it to gain market share in those markets. The Commission was satisfied that the CBC had adequately addressed the concerns raised by O.K. Radio Group regarding the potential for the proposed FM transmitter of CHFA to cause interference to CKER-FM.

The Edmonton FM transmitter went on the air later in the year and was licenced as CHFA-10-FM.


CHFA operated the following transmitters: CBRF-FM Calgary, CHFA-1-FM Lethbridge, CHFA-2-FM Red Deer, CHFA-3-FM Peace River, CHFA-4-FM Hinton, CHFA-5-FM Grande Prairie, CHFA-6-FM Fort McMurray, CHFA-7-FM Falher, CHFA-8-FM Medicine Hat and CHFA-10-FM Edmonton.


On June 22, the CRTC approved two applications by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The first application wais to obtain a licence to operate a French-language FM radio programming undertaking in Edmonton, in order to replace the licensee’s current AM station, CHFA, an affiliate of the network service La Première Chaîne. The second application was to switch the transmitter sites of CBCX-FM-1 Edmonton and CHFA-10-FM, and to modify the technical parameters of both transmitters. The CBC stated that it was forced to cease operating the transmitter CHFA-10-FM as a result of residential zones encroaching on the transmitter site. The CBC wished to make the nested rebroadcasting transmitter CHFA-10-FM the primary transmitter for La Première Chaîne in Edmonton. In order to limit the decrease in coverage associated with the transition from the AM to the FM band, the CBC proposed switching the site of CHFA-10-FM with that of CBCX-FM-1, its other FM transmitter in Edmonton, which rebroadcast the programming of CBCX-FM Calgary (Espace musique). The CBC submitted that this proposal would improve FM-band access to La Première Chaîne, the only French-language radio service to offer news and regional programming to the population of Edmonton. Once the two transmitters were relocated, the transmitter CHFA-10-FM would move from 101.1 MHz (channel 266A) to 90.1 MHz (channel 211C1). The effective radiated power would increase from 3,931 to 100,000 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of antenna above average terrain increasing from 123.7 to 193 metres). According to the CBC, this would increase by 8.7% the number of Francophones having access to La Première Chaîne’s FM signal in Edmonton. Going forward, the current transmitters associated with CHFA would be under the new FM station’s licence. In regard to the transmitter CBCX-FM-1, it would move from 90.1 MHz (channel 211C1) to 101.1 MHz (channel 266A), and its ERP would decrease from 100,000 to 3,931 watts (non-directional antenna with an EHAAT decreasing from 193 to 123.7 metres). The CBC stated that this would result in a decrease of 8% in the number of Francophones having access to the programming of the national service Espace musique in Calgary. The Commission concluded that the exchange of frequencies as proposed by the CBC would solve the CBC’s problem while maintaining good coverage in the service areas of each radio station affected by the exchange. The Commission further concluded that this exchange of frequencies was the most appropriate technical way for the CBC to address its problem, and that it constituted an appropriate use of the frequencies.

CHFA moved from 680 kHz (AM) to 90.1 MHz (FM), taking over the frequency that had been used by CBCX-1 which moved to 101.1 MHz. The 101.1 frequency had been used by CHFA-10, the former nested repeater for CHFA 680.

In the fall, CHFA 680 left the air as the simulcast period with FM 90.1 had expired.

On December 12, the CRTC approved the application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the licence for CHFA Edmonton in order to operate a FM transmitter in St. Paul that would rebroadcast the programming of its national, French-language network service La Première Chaîne. The new transmitter would enable listeners in St. Paul to receive programming originating from CHFA. The new transmitter would operate at 105.5 MHz (channel 288A) with an effective radiated power of 3,440 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of antenna above average terrain of 50.8 meters). The licensee stated that the purpose of the addition of a transmitter in St. Paul was to improve the French-language service of La Première Chaîne in this region.


CHFA operated the following transmitters: CBRF-FM Calgary, CHFA-1-FM Lethbridge, CHFA-2-FM Red Deer, CHFA-3-FM Peace River, CHFA-4-FM Hinton, CHFA-5-FM Grande Prairie, CHFA-6-FM Fort McMurray, CHFA-7-FM Falher, CHFA-8-FM Medicine Hat, and CHFA-10-FM Edmonton, for a five year term to August 31, 2018.


On August 31, the CRTC approved the CBC’s applications to amend the broadcasting licence for CHFA-10-FM Edmonton to operate transmitters in Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff. The transmitter in Jasper would operate at 101.1 MHz (channel 266A) with an effective radiated power of 251 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of antenna above average terrain of -508.9 metres). The transmitter in Lake Louise would operate at 102.7 MHz (channel 274A1) with an ERP of 116 watts (non-directional antenna with an EHAAT of -413.7 metres). The transmitter in Banff would operate at 105.7 MHz (channel 289A) with an average ERP of 249 watts (maximum ERP of 1,180 watts with an EHAAT of -247.8 metres).


On December 12, the CRTC gave the CBC approval for CHFA-10-FM to change the authorized contours of CHFA-5-FM Grande Prairie, by relocating the transmitter site, changing the frequency from 90.5 MHz to 103.3 MHz and the class from B to C1, and increasing the average ERP from 5,000 to 25,300 watts and the EHAAT from 206.5 to 247.5 metres.


In February, CHFA-FM-12 Banff signed on the air.

CHFA-FM-5 Grande Prairie moved from 90.5 to 103.3 MHz in July. ERP increased from 5,000 to 25,300 watts.

The story continues elsewhere…
Effective September 1st 2019, we will only be adding new material to these station histories in exceptional circumstances. Our intent to chronicle the early days of these radio and television stations has been achieved, and many new sources and technologies, from the CRTC website to Wikipedia, and others, are now regularly providing new information in these areas.

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