CKLB-FM, Aboriginal/Community, Yellowknife

Native Communications Society of Western NWT

CKLB-FM1985101.9.130Native Communications Society of Western NWT


On September 5th, the Native Communications Society of the Western Northwest Territories (NCS) was granted a licence by the CRTC “to carry on a radio broadcasting network via satellite to provide native and English-language programming to remote and underserved communities in the Northwest Territories.”

It was noted that the proposed programming schedule would include material in the five Dene languages, Loucheux, Dogrib, Chipewayan and North and South Slavey, as well as English.

Applications by local broadcasting undertakings for the carriage or transmission of this service would be the subject of future proceedings.


On December 17th, the CRTC granted NCS a license for an FM radio service to broadcast Native and English-language programming at Yellowknife, NWT, on 101.9 MHz, with an effective radiated power of 130 watts. The call letters would be CKNM-FM, and programming would consist of news, Native-language interviews, magazine-style programs, documentaries, children’s programs and music, with two hours allocated each evening for community access. Weekend programming would be added after the station had been in operation for six months.


June 6th saw the CRTC grant licences for three rebroadcasters to carry the output of the NCS radio network, as follows: Kakiska NWT, Rae Lakes, NWT and Arctic Red River, NWT. Each would transmit on 101.9 MHz.


On June 30th CKNM-FM received a four-year renewal of its licence for both the station and the radio network.


On July 7th, NCS was granted six more licences for rebroadcasters to carry its radio network service originating with CKNM-FM. These were to be located in Rae-Edzo, First McPherson, Inuvik, Fort Good Hope, Fort Franklin and Aklavik, NWT. Each would transmit on 101.9 MHz.

On the same day, CKNM-FM was granted an amendment to its licence, enabling the station to include in its schedule some programming originating with the CBC’s FM radio network.

Also on July 7th, NCS received approval for two new FM broadcast licences, for CHFP-FM Fort Providence and CHFS-FM Fort Smith. Each station would broadcast on 101.9 MHz with an erp of 10 watts, and would broadcast locally-produced programming in addition to rebroadcasting programming originating with CKNM-FM.

On December 19th, NCS received a licence for a new radio station, CHRR-FM Hay River, to broadcast on 101.9 MHz with an erp of 4 watts. The station would initially broadcast 10 hours local programming per week, in addition to carrying the networked programming of CKNM-FM Yellowknife.


On February 19th, CKNM-FM received a seven-year licence renewal for the station and its retransmitters, from March 1st 1992 to February 29th 1999. The CRTC acknowledged the important role that the Native Communications Society played in meeting the linguistic and cultural needs of the Northwest Territories through its operation. It also decided that CKMN-FM no longer needed a network licence to serve its transmitters and its owned stations.

CKMN-FM committed to broadcast 55 hours per week of local programming, of which 22.5 hours would be in Native languages and 32.5 hours in English. 


On February 26, Native Communications Society of the Western N.W.T. received an 18 month licence renewal from the CRTC for CKLB-FM, which in the interim had changed its call letters from CFNM-FM. This was an administrative renewal, to give the Commission time to conduct a review of the native broadcasting policy.


On May 1st, CKLB-FM applied to increase its effective radiated power from 130 watts to 234 watts, increase antenna height from 49 metres to 52 metres and to operate from a new antenna site. Thanks to a partnership with NWT Power Corporation that had been reached in the previous year, NWT Power would allow CKLB to use their higher tower free of charge, in return for CKLB’s agreement to broadcast emergency power messages when required. The move was approved on September 3rd.

On August 29, the CRTC gave a four-year licence renewal to CKLB-FM and its transmitters: VF2069 Deline Fort Franklin, VF2070 Fort Good Hope, VF2071 Rae-Edzo, VF2080 Fort McPherson, VF2081 Fort Resolution, VF2082 Inuvik, VF2083 Aklavik, and VF2102 Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. The short renewal, from September 1st 2008 to August 31st 2012, reflected the Commission’s concerns about CKLB-FM’s non-compliance with certain Regulations over the period 2002 to 2007, and the station was advised that its compliance during the renewal term would be the subject of assessment.


CKLB-FM was off the air for a portion of the Christmas holidays because, owners said, government funding was nine months overdue. The Native Communications Society of the Northwest Territories hadn’t received the monies it was expecting for fiscal 2012 from the federal and territorial governments. While now back on the air, there’s still trouble. The Department of Canadian Heritage – one of the station’s main sources of funding – said CKLB hadn’t received all of its money because it has not filed the necessary documents as part of its agreement. Further, said Heritage, rather than cutting monies it doubled the station’s annual funding in recent years.


CKLB was struggling to stay on-air because of slow-coming federal government financial assistance. The station laid off 11 employees as a result. With only 2 staff members remaining, CKLB stopped producing local and aboriginal language programming. 


CKLB-FM returned to the air with announcers after the territorial government announced it would contribute $400,000 to the Native Communications Society of the NWT on an annual basis for broadcasting purposes. The station had been forced to drop live programming in August of 2014 because of funding cuts.


VF2026 Lutselk’e and VF2008 Tsiigehtchic were shut down.


Les Carpenter (61) died on July 3. He started his career with the CBC in Inuvik where he hosted many programs and earned him the nickname “Mr. Saturday Night.” Carpenter left broadcasting in 1984 but returned in 2000 when he was asked by Northern Native Broadcasting in Whitehorse to step back into his former career as director of radio. In the fall of 2009, Carpenter took over as CEO of Native Communications Society, which owned CKLB-FM.

Dane Gibson (49) passed away July 15. Gibson started covering northern First Nations communities in 2001, producing a daily newscast for CKLB-FM and creating the program Ends of the Earth. In 2005, he became executive director of the Native Communications Society, operator of CKLB. Gibson held that job until 2011 when he moved to British Columbia.

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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