CKRA-FM, The Breeze, Edmonton
|CKRA-FM||2018||96.3||100,000||Stingray Group Inc.|
On April 17, CFCW Limited, owner of CFCW-AM Camrose, received approval to operate a new FM station in Edmonton. There were ten other applicants for the new licence including CHUM Ltd., Radio Station CHED Ltd., CHQT Broadcasting Ltd. The Voice of the Prairies Ltd. (CFCN Calgary), and Roger Charest. CFCW proposed a contemporary album-oriented rock format. The station would have a staff of 29 full-time and 29 part-time. The CFCW application called for the use of frequency 96.3 MHz and an effective radiated power of 100,000 watts.
CKRA-FM began broadcasting on November 15. CKRA’s operations, along with the CFCW sales offices, occupied nearly 12,000 square feet in Letourneau Centre in south-central Edmonton. McCurdy consoles, Technics turntables, Studer tape machines, and ITC cart decks were used in master control, production control and recording studio. The transmitter site was located near Looma, and featured Collins 831G3 25 kw transmitters, Kathrein 8-bay panel antenna, Dielectric 6-bay standby antenna, and STL. The 707 foot 2000 triangular tower was constructed by LeBlanc & Royle, and was built to accommodate two more stations. There were standby power generators at both the studios and transmitter site.
Hal Yerxa was president of the company. Lynden Olsen was chief engineer for both CFCW and CKRA. Mike McCoy was CKRA’s morning man. From the start, CKRA produced “RA Live”, a weekly hour-long interview and music show that featured local performers and live concerts.
Marcel Prefontaine became operations manager at CKRA-FM. He had been with the CRTC.
Bernie Boucher joined CKRA as news director. He had been with CFMO-FM in Ottawa.
New stations CISN-FM and CJAX-FM began using CKRA’s 707 foot tower, built in 1979. It was designed to accommodate three stations and more could be added in the future. The transmitter building was expanded to make room for the new stations. The three 25 kw signals were combined using a Kathrein combiner and 8-bay antenna, one of the largest in the country.
On January 11, the CRTC renewed CKRA-FM’s licence until September 30, 1985.
On June 23, the CRTC approved the transfer of effective control of CFCW Ltd., (CKRA-FM Edmonton, CFCW Camrose and CHRK-FM Kamloops), through the transfer 90% of the Class “A” common voting shares held by CFCW Radio Ltd., which in turn was controlled by Harold J. Yerxa of Camrose, and 10% of the Class “A” common voting shares held by Warren H. Holte to Newcap Broadcasting Ltd. NewCap was 100% owned and controlled by Newfoundland Capital Corp. Ltd. whose President and principal shareholder (43%) was Mr. Harry Steele. Mr. Yerxa, who founded CFCW Radio Ltd., stated that he has been seeking a purchaser for the stations for a couple of years, and that he considered that NewCap would ensure that the quality and level of local service would be maintained and enhanced in the years ahead. Warren Holte, who was Vice-President and General Manager of CFCW Ltd., would assume the role of President under a five-year management contract and Mr. Yerxa would become Chairman of the Board of Directors, which will be western based and include representation from Edmonton, Camrose and Kamloops.
Len Thuessen was program director at MIX96. Al Anderson was general manager. News director Mike Goetze died at age 50. He had been with the company for 30 years.
CKRA changed to a Hot Adult Contemporary format.
An Operations Agreement came into place at Craig Broadcast Systems’ K-Rock Edmonton and Newcap Broadcasting’s CFCW/CKRA-FM Edmonton. Craig would relocate to the CFCW/MIX 96 facility at about the beginning of June.
Mix 96 dropped morning host M.G. Kelly and brought personality B. J. Wilson. Mix 96 program director and mid-morning personality Len Thuesen was dismissed.
Thanks to the management merger with K-Rock, Todd James moved over to mid-days on Mix 96. Terry Evans got additional duties as assistant program director at K-Rock. Steve Jones, program director at CKCW/CFQM-FM Moncton, moved to fill the PD’s post at Mix96 succeeding Len Thuessen.
Mix 96/K-Rock 97.3/CFCW production manager Jason Bobier left in December. He was replaced by Marc Libioron from CHED/Power 92.
Steve Jones, program director at CKRA and CIRK, was appointed director of programming for Newcap Broadcasting’s thirty radio stations. He would also continue on as PD for the two Edmonton stations.
On February 24 at 8:45 a.m., CKRA Mix 96 (Hot AC) became 96X (The New 96X The Hit Music Alternative).
On August 15 at 9 a.m., CKRA switched from Hot AC to Top 40/CHR
On June 29, Newcap Alberta revealed its brand new 26,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art broadcast facility prominently situated within the West Edmonton Mall. The move brought together, under one roof, 790 CFCW, 96X, K-Rock and the Cat Country network studios, as well as the operations of Newcap Alberta. The two former headquarters of these stations were modest facilities, located off-the-beaten-track.
On December 12th at 9:00 a.m., The Big Earl country format of sister station CFCW-FM 98.1 Camrose moved to CKRA’s 96.3 dial position. The New Big Earl replaced 96X. The New Big Earl 96 dot 3 FM “Plays Everything Country including today’s best new Country and yesterday’s favorites”. CFCW-FM became known as CAM-FM.
At 3:00 p.m., March 28, (Big) Earl became the New 96.3 Capital FM, playing the hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s…Edmonton’s Greatest Hits. Capital FM plays a mix of the great music from the past with today’s modern perspective in a fun upbeat approach. The format changed from Country to Oldies-Classic Hits.
Ross Hawse, General Sales Manager at Newcap Radio Edmonton, joined Rawlco Radio Edmonton on November 30.
Dave Warawa was now general sales manager at Newcap Edmonton. He had been retail sales manager. Kelly Walter of Magic 99.9 Edmonton, was now Newcap Edmonton RSM.
Melanie Harysh joined 96.3 Capital FM as promotions director on March 22.
Shane Michaels joined 96.3 Capital FM in June, to handle afternoon drive.
Pat Cardinal became Program Manager of Newcap Alberta’s 31 radio stations. Cardinal, who retained his Operations Manager duties at the Edmonton cluster, saw his added role include being a programming and promotional resource to the Newcap Alberta Hub Managers and PD’s. He’d been with Newcap Edmonton for two years.
Steve Moore accepted the position of mid-day host and music director for 96.3 Capital FM. Steve had been with Capital for the last year, hosting weekend mid-days. His new role was to start on October 1st.
On November 30, the CRTC renewed CKRA’s licence to August 31, 2017.
On February 14, Global Edmonton Chief Meteorologist Nicola Crosbie began doing weather forecasts for 96.3 Capital FM (CKRA). Rob and Audie hosted the morning show.
Pat Cardinal moved to become General Manager at Astral Media Edmonton. Cardinal, who’d been the Operations Manager and Alberta Program Manager at Newcap and based in Edmonton, moved from Toronto in May, 2008, to become Ops Manager for Newcap’s Edmonton Radio Group. In 2010, he became Program Direcotr for Newcap Alberta’s 31 radio stations while retaining his Ops Manager duties. He began at Astral Edmonton on September 12.
The new Program Director at Capital-FM was John Roberts. While Roberts began his career in Edmonton, he’d spent the last number of years in Texas and North Carolina.
Retail Sales Manager Kelly Walter was promoted to General Sales Manager at Newcap’s Edmonton Radio Group. Stepping in to his RSM role at Capital FM and K97 was Doug McCulloch, promoted from Senior Account Manager. Leo Pilon continued as RSM for CFCW, CAM and W1440.
Bryn Griffiths, after 30 years on-air, most recently at The Fan 960 Calgary, joined K97 /Capital FM Edmonton as an account manager.
It was announced that Sharon Taylor, General Manager at QX 104/FAB 94.3 Winnipeg, would be moving to take on the GM position at the Newcap Edmonton stations (CFCW-AM-FM, CIRK, CKRA) as of December 2.
In February, Rob Christie announced he was retiring after more than 45 years in the business. Over the years, the Capital FM morning host had worked for CKXL Calgary, CKGM Montreal, CHED Edmonton, CKFM Toronto, CTV Vancouver, CKKS/CKLG-FM Vancouver, CJAQ Toronto, and CHMC Edmonton.
In August, Newcap Radio did some restructuring at its Edmonton stations. The casualties included GSM Kelly Walters, Capital FM afternoon drive host Shane Michaels and K-97 midday host Melissa Wright.
On October 23, the CRTC approved an application by Newfoundland Capital Corporation Limited, on behalf of Newcap Inc. and its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries, for authorization to effect a change in the ownership and effective control of various radio and television broadcasting undertakings in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, so that effective control of the undertakings would be exercised by Eric Boyko (Stingray Digital Group Inc.). Stingray took ownership of the stations just a few days later.
In late December, CKRA changed format from Classic Hits to Adult Contemporary as The Breeze.
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.