CFRC-AM, Kingston


CFRC-AM19411490100Queen’s University
CFRC-AM19341510200Queen’s University
CFRC-AM1933915100Queen’s University
CFRC-AM19331510100Queen’s University
CFRC-AM1929930500Queen’s University
CFRC-AM1925267.7 m500Queen’s University
CFRC-AM1924450 m1,500Queen’s University
9BT-AM1923variousn/aQueen’s University


April 28 – Prof. J.L.W. Gill gave a wireless telegraphy demonstration at Queen’s College Convocation, sending and receiving the code message “Success to Marconi”. In the fall of 1919, Prof. Gill set up the Queen’s Wireless Club, which later split and one part became licenced as 9BT in 1922.


May – Announcement that Radio Laboratory equipment in Laboratory #6, basement of Fleming Hall, Electrical Engineering, Queen’s University, was ready for the Wireless Club to do real radio broadcasting.
October 7 – The summary of an exhibition football game broadcast at 8.30 p.m. over 9BT on 200 metres (1499 kHz) from the basement of Fleming Hall. Earlier tests had included a student playing “The Bluebells of Scotland” as a cornet solo.

The 9BT licence was also used in Prof. Jemmett’s research on electromagnetic radiation from parallel wires, and allowed transmission on 175, 275 and 1050 metres.


April – 9BT (CW; Canadian) received by station 6BEK, Puente, California (“Calls Heard”, QST); reception was actually some time between December 1922 and February 1923. A Private Commercial Broadcasting Licence with call letters CFRC was granted by Marine and Fisheries in the spring of 1923, for 450 metres (666.3 kHz) and 1,500 watts anode power input, using a 6-wire inverted-L squirrel cage antenna. The 9BT experimental licence was renewed in the spring of 1923 but was allowed to lapse in 1924-25.
October 23 and 24 – Testing of CFRC well documented. The home-made Mark II transmitter used Heising constant current modulation, and was powered by a new motor-generator set. 

When CFRC offered a concert solo by a student it became the first university station in Canada and one of the first on the continent.

October 27 – CFRC’s first public broadcast – Professor Jolliffe called the Queen’s-McGill football game direct from the field at Richardson Stadium, 2 to 4.30 p.m. on 450 metres. CFRC also broadcast campus news, hockey and basketball games that year, and women’s hockey and basketball in early 1924. CFRC left the air before examinations in the spring and returned in the fall.

The CFRC call letters were popularly assumed to stand for “Canada’s Finest Rugby Club”, “Canada’s Famous Rugby Champions” (after Queen’s won the Grey Cup) and “Crazy Fellows Raising Cain”.  There was also “Canada’s First Radio College”. In fact, stations were not allowed to select their own call letters. 

The station’s transmitter was rebuilt later in the year.


May – The Radio Branch, Marine & Fisheries, moved CFRC from 450 to 267.7 metres (from 666,3 to 1120.7 kHz). Power was 500 watts. CFRC began broadcasting live studio concerts and aired one stage play.


November 13 – Foster Hewitt, sitting out on the slippery roof of Richardson Stadium, calling the Queen’s-Varsity football game for CFCA, Toronto, froze to the spot after rain turned to hail. He had to be broken free and hauled off the roof with ropes. It is not clear whether CFRC also carried and/or relayed the Hewitt feed to Toronto.


During the summer, CFRC’s operation moved upstairs to the first floor of Fleming Hall. 


January 1 – CFRC was moved from 1120 to 930 kHz. Power remained at 500 watts but was reduced to 250 watts the next year.


June 6 – Fire destroyed Fleming Hall, including the facilities of CFRC. On October 14, the frequency was changed from 915 to 930 kHz, and on November 6 to 1510 kHz, the power limited to 100 watts.


January 8 – CFRC returned to the air following re-building of Fleming Hall, with the home-built Mark VI transmitter, still on 1510 kHz but with 200 watts power. A new guyed mast antenna was built atop Ontario Hall, 120 feet above ground, with the other end on Fleming Hall, 70 feet above the ground. It was a half-wave horizontal antenna, 325 feet long, with counterpoise. From some time in 1934, CFRC was loosely affiliated with the young Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC), sending programs to and receiving programs from the network.


February 19 – Queen’s made a partnership agreement with the Kingston Whig-Standard for daily commercial radio broadcasting from CFRC. New studios built in Fleming Hall and James Annand hired as Program Director.
June 29 – Inaugural program from Toronto and Kingston, 6.45 p.m., welcoming CFRC to the CRBC network.

September – a new single-wire T-antenna was run between the old mast on Ontario Hall and a new 70-foot mast on Fleming Hall.

November 1 – The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation replaced the CRBC and CFRC continued as a CBC affiliate.


August 18 – U.S. President F.D.Roosevelt addressed Queen’s Convocation and CFRC relayed the speech to all North American radio networks. Mark VII transmitter built and installed in 1939, still at 100 watts.


W. Rupert Davies, editor of the Kingston Whig-Standard, was a partnership operator of CFRC. He would later go on to co-found CKWS Radio in the city.


On March 29, under the Havana Treaty, CFRC moved from 1510 to 1490 kHz (Class IV) with power of 100 watts.


August 31 – CFRC went off the air as a commercial station, making way for the new Whig-Standard station CKWS, which assumed the CFRC’s CBC affiliation agreement. CKWS allowed Queen’s to air some programs on their station. The agreement stated that CFRC would not compete commercially with CKWS for ten years and that Queen’s would operate CFRC solely to satisfy the educational requirements of the university. 

Major James A. (Jim) Annand left CFRC after six years. He was manager and would take up the same position at CKTB in St. Catharines.


Queen’s University was granted an experimental FM licence, using the call sign of VE9BH.


July 3 – The Queen’s Summer Radio Institute opened its first of four annual sessions, housed within CFRC, for elementary training in the radio arts, in co-operation with the CBC. 

CFRC resumed operation in October, after a recess due to the war. October 31 – The Radio Workshop of the Queen’s Drama Guild put on its first radio play over CFRC and the station was soon revived as a student-operated non-commercial service, run for a while by the engineering students and later by the Queen’s Radio Club under a faculty supervisor. 


Student activities were cut short due to an advanced exam schedule so CFRC abandoned operations in February, two weeks ahead of time. 

CFRC was the only college station in the country with studios and transmitter right on campus. It was once the lone radio station in the city (until CKWS went on the air). CFRC was the only college station to feature a regular round-up of nationwide university news. The station was now home of the CBC’s recently inaugurated “Summer Radio Institute”. CFRC was restricted by contract with CKWS to broadcasting sustaining programs, and for a period of not more than an hour per week. CFRC was on the air with that one hour per week, from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesdays.
At this time, CFRC had two studios, control room and transmitter room – all in Fleming Hall, an engineering building at the centre of the campus. The station was known as “The Voice of Queen’s”. Programming at this time consisted of round-table discussions of current events, 15 or 30 minute plays, quiz periods, musicals, and seven minutes of Canadian University Press and Queen’s news. Most of the on-air people are students with no broadcast experience. Two of the leading staff had professional experience. Sandy Webster was chief announcer and had worked with CFAR in Flin Flon, MB. Garth Gunter had worked with CHML Hamilton and Kingston’s CKWS. He does some on-air work and helped re-organize the station last fall. 


Queen’s had it’s FM licence upgraded from experimental to a full broadcast operation. The FM had been experimental since 1944 and would now have the CFRC-FM call sign. In approving the regular FM licence, the CBC Board of Governors said the FM outlet would give additional technical, operating and programming experience to the students of the university. 


CFRC-FM began official broadcasting, simulcasting the programming of CFRC-AM.


August – Construction began on new studios in the basement of John Carruthers Science Hall in the former Civil Engineering Lab. CFRC was then on the air 33-34 hours per week for 20 weeks.


Spring – Radio station CKLC donated its old RCA BTA-250L AM transmitter to Queen’s, and it went on the air on 1490 kHz at 100 watts after approval was granted, January 15, 1962.


CFRC’s ownership changed from Queen’s University to the independent body, Radio Queen’s University. CFRC now operated Thursday and Friday nights and all day Saturday and Sunday.


CFRC marked its 60th anniversary in October. It was the oldest campus radio station in Canada and the second oldest in North America. The station’s only full-time staff members at this time were manager Steve Cutway and engineer Gary Racine.


On May 9, the CRTC approved the application to make technical and programming changes for CFRC-FM. The Commission also approved the proposal to delete the condition of licence which authorized the simulcasting of programming originating with CFRC on CFRC-FM.


February 3 – CFRC-AM left the air permanently, though CFRC-FM continued in operation at increased power and in stereo.

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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