CKSB-FM-10, Ici Radio-Canada Première, Winnipeg

Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

CKSB-FM-10201488.1100,000Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
CKSB-AM197310501,000Radio -Canada (CBC French Network)
CKSB-AM194612501,000Radio Saint Boniface Ltee.


Seven men sat down and discussed the possibility of establishing a French language radio station in Western Canada. 


St. Boniface residents were confident that a French language radio station would soon be broadcasting from their community. It was said they had now received word from Walter Rush, Radio Controller at the Department of Transport, that permission to build and operate a station now only awaited approval of the Privy Council. At this point, no objection had been raised on the use of the 1250 kHz frequency. St. Boniface Radio Ltd. said that to date more than half of the estimated cost of the station had been raised, with contributions standing at about $54,000.00. The company was headed by Dr. Henri Guyot as president, and Father A. d’Eschambault as secretary. Temporary offices had been set up at 140 Provencher Avenue.


CKSB was expected to be on the air in early April according to Louis E. Leprohon who had been appointed managing director of the new French station. He said the licence had been issued and installation of the new 1,000 watt Northern Electric transmitter was well underway. CKSB would broadcast entirely in French and operate on a block-timing plan. The station would emphasize news and efforts were being made to obtain a French news service. There would be no network and the station would concentrate on community programs and there would be strong program promotion. Leprohon had been in the radio business 8 years. He started in the CKAC Montreal sales department and later became commercial manager. Most recently he was connected with F.H. Hayurst Co. Ltd. in Montreal. His appointment to CKSB was effective February 1. 

After four years and eight months, Western Canada’s first French language radio station became a reality when CKSB began broadcasting on May 27. Principal speakers on opening night were George McLean (Mayor of St. Boniface), R. F. Williams (Lt. Governor of Manitoba), Stuart Garson (Premier of Manitoba), Dr. Henri Guyot (President of Radio St. Boniface Ltee), and Louis E. Loprohon (CKSB Managing Director).

CKSB was owned by Radio Saint-Boniface Ltee, a co-operative. Studios and offices were located at 607 College Street in St. Boniface.  The station broadcast on a frequency of 1250 kHz with a full-time power of one thousand watts. The towers and Northern Electric ransmitter were located at a site on Dawson Road.   

The station was on the air from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sundays). Programming was entirely in French, using a block format. There would be a heavy emphasis on news and no network affiliation.  The “SB” in the call letters represented St. Boniface, the city of license. 

Slogan: Western Canada’s First French Language Station. 

Henri Pinvidic joined the announce staff. Norbert Prefontaine and Maurice Arpin joined the news department on a temporary basis. Leo Remillard joined CKSB as announcer. 


Louis Souchon was named news editor, replacing Albert LeGrande who returned to university. Leo Remillard was on the announce staff.

In the fall, CKSB added an hour to its broadcast day and was now on the air from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The station had operated between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.


Roland Couture was elected president of Radio St. Boniface Ltee. Other officers named: Dr. Paul L’Heureux (first vice president), Celestin Champagne (2nd VP), Gerard Leveille (treasurer), Father A. d’eschambault (secretary), Dr. Henri Guyot (past president, remained on the executive). Louis Leprohon remained general manager and Rene Dussault held his program director position.

Louis Leprohon accepted the position of managing director of CKCO in Ottawa. He had been running CKSB since February 1, 1946 and would leave the station on March 27 and take up his new post on April 1. Rene Dussault became acting manager.

Slogans: The Only Canadian Radio Station Owned And Operated By Its Listeners. The Best Music In Town.

CKSB announced that as of September 2, it would move from a 12 hour to a 16 hour broadcast day. It would now be on the air from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Lillian Bergeron was women’s commentator.


Henri Pinvidi was on the air at CKSB. CKSB announcer Henri Bergeron left for CKCH Hull’s announce staff as of February 23. Max Desaulnier (new to radio) joined the CKSB announce staff. Lianne Bergeron joined the announce staff (9-11 a.m. 6 days a week). Claude Cloutier also joined the announcing team.

Roland Couture (president of the board of directors) was named manager of CKSB. 

Leo Remillard (announcer) returned to CKSB after a year of drama study in Paris. He had been with CKSB since 1946. Program director Rene Dessault was promoted to assistant manager. Leo Remillard took over as program director. 


Slogan: The key to the French market in the Keystone Province of Canada.

Leo Brodeur was an announcer. Transmitter operator Louis Bodir left CKSB and the radio business. Denis Belair joined the announce staff. Rosmarie Bissonnette moved from continuity to the announce staff. Leslie Day joined the transmitter crew. Professor Meredith Jones (University of Manitoba) hosted “Let’s Learn French”. 


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. 


The CBC approved the transfer of 466 common shares and the issuance of 73 common shares in Radio St-Boniface Ltee. Later in the year, the board approved a further transfer of 48 common shares. 


CKSB became a member of CARTB (CAB).


It should be noted that in addition to French language programming, CKSB also offered programs in seven other languages. The station’s ownership also consisted of thousands of Francophone Manitobans. C. E. Champagne was president of the company. Roland Couuture was CKSB’s manager. He says CKSB is not in business to make profit (it does, though) but to provide service to every listener. A couple of “names” that got their start at CKSB: Gisele Mackenzie and Henri Bergeron, who was the station’s first announcer.

By this time, CKSB was an affiliate of the CBC’s French language network. It was operating on 1250 kHz with a power of 1,000 watts (single full-time directional pattern). Ownership of Radio St. Boniface Ltee: C. Champagne 2.3%, G. Leveille 2.0%, Dr. P. E. LaFleche 2.2%, Abbe A. d’Eschambault 2.2%, J. A. Dansereau 2.2%, E. St.-Amant 3.7%, L. Landry 3.4%, J. Deroche 3.5%, Dr. H. Guyot 3.5%, Abbe. J. A. D. McDougall 1.9%, Abbe. L. Senez 1.9%, A. Lemoine 1.9%, R. Couture 3.4%, A. Gallant 2.8%, J. VanBelleghem 3.4% and 28 other shareholders 59.7%. 


CKSB received approval to move from 1250 to 1050 kHz and to increase power from 1,000 to 10,000 watts. A competing application was denied. In that application, William Zukus of Prince Albert, SK, proposed to operate on 1050 kHz with 1,000 watts day / 500 watts night, at Transcona, part of Greater Winnipeg. 

CKSB was hoping to increase power from 1,000 to 10,000 watts in November. 

Ad slogan: 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.

A second television licence for Winnipeg was awarded to Ralph Misener Associates (would become CJAY-TV). Roland Couture, managing director of CKSB, was one of Misener’s associates in the TV bid.

As a western group, CFNS Saskatoon, CFRG Gravelbourg, CHFA Edmonton and CKSB St. Boniface reached over 176,000 French speaking consumers.


By this time, CKSB was operating on a frequency of 1050 kHz with a full-time power of 10,000 watts. Roland Trudeau was now president of the company. Roland Couture was still CKSB’s manager.


On March 29, Radio Saint-Boniface Ltee was given permission to sell CKSB to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Broadcast time would continue to be offered to language groups who had programs delivered to them by CKSB for years (Ukranian, Polish, German, Portuges, Jewish and Italian) for 12 months to allow those groups to make alternate programming arrangements.
The CBC (Radio-Canada) took ownership of CKSB on April 1. 

The CBC was licenced to add a French-language rebroadcast transmitter at Thompson, operating on 99.9 MHz with power of 86 watts (non-directional).


CKSB received authority to add the following FM transmitters: Flin Flon (99.9 MHz, 76 watts) and The Pas (93.7 MHz, 79 watts).


CKSB began broadcasting 24 hours a day.


Roland Couture passed away at 83 on December 1. He founded CKSB in 1946.


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


On November 30, an increase in effective radiated power for transmitter CKSB-8-FM Brandon was authorized…21,500 watts to 21,700 watts. The existing system would be replaced with a multi-channel antenna, allowing CKWB-8-FM, CBWS-FM and CKWV-FM to be combined into a single antenna.


As of 2001, CKSB operated the following transmitters: Manitoba – CKSB-1 Ste Rose du Lac, CKSB-2 St-Lazare, CKSB-3-FM The Pas, CKSB-4-FM Flin Flon, CKSB-5-FM Thompson, and CKSB-8-FM Brandon. Ontario – CKSB-6-FM Dryden, CKSB-7-FM Kenora, and CKSB-9-FM Fort Frances. CKSB broadcasts approximately 48 hours and 55 minutes of local programming each week from St-Boniface.


On October 20, CKSB was authorized to replace CKSB-1 (AM) Ste. Rose du Lac with an FM transmitter, operating on 92.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 5,420 watts.


On March 16, the CRTC approved the application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the licence for CKSB St-Boniface in order to operate an FM transmitter in Winnipeg. The transmitter would operate on a frequency of 90.5 MHz (channel 213A) with an effective radiated power of 2,800 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.


CKSB-10 – CKSB-AM’s “nested” FM rebroadcast transmitter at Winnipeg began broadcasting. 


On March 18, the CRTC approved the CBC’s application for a licence to operate a French-language FM radio programming undertaking in Winnipeg to replace its AM station CKSB St. Boniface and its nested FM rebroadcasting transmitter CKSB-10-FM Winnipeg. The new station would operate at 88.1 MHz (channel 201C1) with an effective radiated power of 100,000 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of antenna above average terrain of 223 metres). 

The new station would broadcast programming from La Première Chaîne network and would maintain, each broadcast week, the level of local programming now provided by CKSB. The local programming would consist of a mix of news, weather, sports, music and reports on community events. The CBC submitted that converting CKSB to the FM band would improve the coverage of its radio services in Winnipeg and reach more Francophones in that area. The licensee would continue to operate the existing transmitters CKSB-FM-1 Ste. Rose du Lac, CKSB-2 St-Lazare, CKSB-FM-3 The Pas, CKSB-FM-4 Flin Flon, CKSB-FM-5 Thompson and CKSB-FM-8 Brandon, Manitoba, and CKSB-FM-6 Dryden, CKSB-FM-7 Kenora and CKSB-FM-9 Fort Frances, Ontario, which would rebroadcast the programming of the new FM station. The licence would expire August 31, 2019.

On May 28, the CRTC renewed the licence of CKSB St. Boniface and its transmitters CKSB-1-FM Sainte Rose du Lac, CKSB-FM-3 The Pas, CKSB-FM-4 Flin Flon, CKSB-FM-5 Thompson, CKSB-FM-6 Dryden, Ontario, CKSB-FM-7 Kenora, Ontario, CKSB-FM-8 Brandon, CKSB-FM-9 Fort Frances, Ontario, CKSB-10-FM Winnipeg, and CKSB-2 St. Lazare, for a five year term, to August 31, 2018.

On September 18, CKSB 1050 began testing on 88.1 MHz. 

On October 18, the CRTC approved the CBC’s application to change the technical parameters of CKSB-9-FM Fort Frances, Ontario, by changing the antenna’s radiation pattern from non-directional to directional, to decrease the average effective radiated power from 50,000 to 5,620 watts (maximum ERP from 50,000 to 12,350 watts) and to decrease the effective height of the antenna above average terrain from 142 to 141.1 meters. 


CKSB 1050 left the air for good on January 3. The nested repeater CKSB-FM-10 (90.5) in Winnipeg also signed off on the same date. Both were replaced by the full-powered CKSB-FM-10.


On July 7, the CRTC approved the CBC’s application to change the technical parameters of CKSB-6-FM Dryden, Ontario, by relocating the transmitter to a new site in Dryden, by decreasing the average and maximum effective radiated power from 1,500 to 1,290 watts, and by increasing the effective height of antenna above average terrain from 100 to 105.2 metres.


In January the CRTC approved an increase in ERP for CKSB-FM-7 Kenora from 20,000 to 21.721 watts. Antenna height would be lowered from 100 to 96.1 metres (EHAAT).

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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