CBF-FM , Ici Radio-Canada Première, Montréal

Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

CBF-FM199895.117,030Societe Radio Canada
CBF-AM194169050,000Societe Radio Canada
CBF-AM193791050,000Societe Radio Canada


CBF went on the air in 1937 with 50,000 watts (non-directional) from a site about four miles northeast of Vercheres, near Montreal. CBF became the flagship station for the CBC French Network. Sister station CBM switched to full-time English programming. 


Because of lengthened time on the air, increased activities and larger scale programs, the CBC opened three more studios for CBF and CBM in the King’s Hall Building, where the existing studio facilities were located. One of the new studios was concert hall size. The other two studios were smaller and could be used for chamber music, piano recitals and plays. Each studio had its own control room and visitors’ observation booth.


Former CBF and CBM manager John Stadler was killed in a plane crash in northern Quebec on March 8. Gerry Wilmot and J. J. Fernand Leclerc were announcers. H. Rooney Pelletier was program director. 

Central studios and offices to house the scattered quarters now occupied by the CBC in Montreal and Toronto were to be built this year at a cost of $800,000 each. The new facilities would include a number of small studios, one large auditorium studio, offices for the entire staffs in each city, for the commercial departments, and in Montreal, also for the engineering department. 


CBC Quebec ad slogan: With the CBC Key Station, CBF (50,000 Watts), directed to the French-speaking population…with CBM (5,000 Watts) reaching the English-speaking people…the CBC network serves 80% of all radio homes in the Province, with an overflow that extends to French-speaking Canadian homes in the Maritimes and Eastern Ontario.

Jean Marie Beaudet was CBC Quebec program director. Producer Rooney Pelletier moved to Great Britain to join the CBC Overseas Unit. Jacques Desbailletes, producer in charge of commercial programs at the Montreal studios, was appointed to the CBC Overseas Unit in Britain.


Under the Havana Treaty, CBF moved from 910 to 690 kHz (Class I-A Clear Channel) on May 29. Power remained 50,000 watts.

Fernand Leclerc, chief of the special events department of CBC Montreal, and Leo Pol Morin, CBC musician, were killed in a car accident on May 29.


Omer Renaud was manager of CBF and CBM. J. Arthur Dupont was commercial manager for the French network.

On September 16, Gladstone Murray, general manager of the CBC announced that the networks would sign off at 11:30 p.m. local time in all regions as of September 27. The reduction was designed to reduce wear on equipment. Murray said that such a reduction would lengthen the life of a large amount of the equipment, some of which could not be replaced. Some of the vacuum tubes used at the 50,000 watt outlets were water cooled and cost as much as $3,000. The half hour reduction would not apply on all nights to CBA Sackville. It would continue to operate for the extra 30 minutes on some nights.


J.J. Gagnier was musical director for CBF and CBM. Albert G. Barrette joined the French announcing staff at CBF. 


CBC Quebec Regional Network: CBF, CBV, CBJ.

O. Renaud was CBF’s manager.


CBC Montreal studios were listed at 1231 St. Catherine Street West. 

John de B. Pyne was program administrative officer for CBC Montreal. 

In August, the CBC revealed plans for a $2,500,000 radio centre in Outremont. The CBC had earlier this year turned down an offer of a property by the city of Montreal which the corporation had agreed in 1939 to build a radio centre on.


J.M. Beaudet was manager and Omer Renaud was commercial manager. Renaud left the CBC to head a station representation firm. He had been commercial manager for CBC Quebec.


An explosion ripped through the King’s Hall Building on January 8 at 3:07 p.m., killing a 17 year old boy and injuring six women. The building was home to CFCF and the CBC’s CBF and CBM. King’s Hall was ordered evacuated at 4 p.m. and within six minutes, CFCF had resumed normal broadcasting from its facilities in the Mount Royal Hotel. The CBC stations switched to their transmitter sites and an hour later (5 p.m.), CBF began receiving programming from CBV Quebec City and CBM was getting its programs from CBL in Toronto. The CBC later operated from their shortwave studios and then the engineering department, therby restoring normal Montreal program services.

Marcel Ouimet was manager and M. Valiquette was sales manager for CBF, CBM and CBV.

Late in the year the CBC started work on remodelling the Ford Hotel which would become the Radio-Canada Building. It was not expected to be completed before the fall of 1949. It would contain studios and offices for the International Short Wave Service, CBF, CBM, the networks (Dominion, Trans-Canada and French), and the general headquarters of the CBC technical services.


Marcel Ouimet was manager and M. Valiquette was commercial manager.


Montreal’s Radio-Canada Building opened May 18. Dr. J.J. McCann cut the ribbon that officially opened the building, before more than a thousand guests. Speeches by Dr. McCann, CBC general manager Dr. Augustin Frigon and CBC Chairman Davidson Dunton were delivered during a 15 minute coast to coast broadcast. The building was the former Ford Hotel, purchased by the CBC in September of 1948. It took over two years to modernize and adopt the building to the demands of radio and television. The 12 storey building would be home to the French network, International Service, CBC Montgreal television, and the national offices of the personnel and administration division, the engineering division and the executive. Over 600 CBC employees and another 600 radio artists were required to produce the 18 hours of programming that would leave the building each day. The programs were in two languages for home listening, and 14 languages for the international service. When finished, the building would have 26 modern radio studios and three for television. Four 50,000 watt transmitters had already been installed – two FM and two for shortwave. The news rooms, recording rooms and large master control were already in place. The control room could handle five transmitters, eight outgoing and seven incoming networks and the 26 studios. It was an automatic operation to a great extent. 


William A. Nichols was assistant chief engineer for CBC Montreal.

Gerard Lamarche was appointed CBC director for the province of Quebec. He had been with the CBC since 1942. In 1952, he was named program director of CBF and became provincial program director last year.

Aurele Seguin resigned as head of English and French CBC Radio-TV in Quebec. Seguin started out as an announcer with the CRBC in Ottawa in 1934 and later moved to CBV Quebec City.


By this time, CBF operated two rebroadcast transmitters: CBFG 1400 Gaspe and CBFB 990 Megantic. 


As of July 26, CBC Montreal had a total of 2,374 employees. TV producers numbered 94, radio, 40. CBC Montreal made use of eight TV studios, including studio 42, one of the largest in the world. There were 21 radio studios.


On December 24, CBC transmitters CBMM (English) and CBFC (French) in Senneterre were authorized to swap frequencies. CBMM would move from 710 kHz to 540 kHz and CBFC would move from 540 kHz to 710 kHz.


On March 18, CBFF Chibougamau (540 kHz with 40 watts) was authorized to move its antenna site.

CBF received approval to operate a transmitter at Label-sur-Quevillon, operating on 1400 kHz with a power of 40 watts.

The CBC had 22 different owned and rented buildings throughout the city of Montreal. All of these facilities would come under one roof when Place de Radio-Canada was completed and in use by 1972. The building would be a 23 floor office tower, covering an area of 900 by 510 feet on a 25 acre plot of land in east-central downtown. New radio facilities would include 11 production studios (3 would be stereo-equipped), 8 presentation studios and 7 tape editing rooms. 


In November, the CBC Montreal stations began broadcasting from the new Maison de Radio-Canada at 1400 Dorchester Blvd. (now 1400 Rene Levesque Blvd.). The facility officially opened December 5, 1973.


When CBF had its licence renewed, the following rebraodcast transmitters were also renewed (this list may not represent all of CBF’s transmitters as some licences may have been renewed on other dates): CBFB Megantic, CBFC Senneterre, CBFI Mont-Brun, CBFM Lebel-sur-Quevillon, and CBFW Joutel.


The CBC was given approval to operate a transmitter at Trois-Rivieres to rebroadcast AM programming from CBF in Montreal. The new transmitter would broadcast on a frequency of 100.1 MHz and have an effective radiated power of 4,326 watts.


On September 21, CBF moved to a new transmitter site at Brossard. One 675 foot sectionalized tower is used, along with a 50 kw Continental 317 transmitter. The new site was shared with CBM 940.


On January 28, the following transmitters were allowed to change their program source from CBV Quebec City to CBF Montreal (received via satellite): CBV-1 Parent, CBV-2 Lac Edouard and CBV-3 Clova.  

On July 9, CBF-9-FM Mont-Laurier received permission to change frequency.


On Janaury 14, CBF-6-FM Lac-Mégantic was authorized to change frequency from 93.7 MHz to 91.3 MHz and decrease effective radiated power from 4,400 watts to 591 watts.  

On January 23, CBF-18 Parent received permission to change frequency from 1240 kHz to 710 kHz.

On October 17, CBF-3 Lebel-sur-Quévillon was authorized to change frequency from 1400 kHz to 650 kHz.  


On July 4, CBF was given approval to convert to FM frequency 95.1 MHz with an effective radiated power of 17,030 watts.

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


On January 22, CBF 690 was replaced by CBF-FM 95.1. The move took place almost two months early because of the big ice storm of ’98. CBF-FM (Chaîne culturelle) was renamed CBFX-FM.

On November 19, the CBC was granted a licence for a transitional digital radio undertaking to serve Montréal. The transmitter would be installed at the Mont Royaltower and employ the EUREKA-147 digital audio broadcasting system. CBF-FM would operate on frequency 1458,048 MHz with effective isotropic radiated power of 11,724 watts.


The old CBF 690 left the air.


On March 29, the CBC received approval to convert CBF-FM-10 Sherbrooke and CBF-FM-8 Trois-Rivières to French-language FM radio programming undertakings broadcasting regional programming. Until now, these stations rebroadcast the programming of CBF-FM Montréal in its entirety. The CBC also proposed to retransmit the programming of the new Sherbrooke station on CBF-FM-11 Asbestos, CBF-FM-6 Lac Mégantic and CBF-FM-12 Victoriaville, rather than the programming of CBF-FM Montréal. Outside of the new local/regional programs, these transmitters would continue to rebroadcast CBF-FM Montreal. 

On June 2, CBF-FM was granted an increase in effective radiated power from 17,030 to 100,000 watts. The increase would improve the service of “la Première Chaîne” provided by CBF-FM in greater Montréal, particularly in the outlying metropolitan areas.


As of this year, CBF-FM operated the following transmitters: CBF-1 Senneterre, CBF-2 Mont-Brun, CBF-3 Lebel-sur-Quévillon, CBF-4 Matagami, CBF-16 Clova, CBF-17 Lac-Édouard, CBF-18 Parent, CBF-FM-7 Radisson, CBF-FM-9 Mont-Laurier, CBF-FM-13 Saint-Michel-des-Saints, CBF-FM-14 Saint-Jovite and CBF-FM-15 L’Annonciation. CBF-FM broadcasts approximately 40 hours of local programming each week from Montréal. CBF-FM also operated CBF-FM-10 Sherbrooke and its transmitters, offering approximately 6 hours and 20 minutes of local programming each week from Sherbrooke, and CBF-FM-8 Trois-Rivières, which offered approximately 5 hours of regional programming each week. (See those stations for further information) 


On December 18, CBF was given approval to add a transmitter  at La Tuque. It would broadcast over 103.7 MHz with an effective radiated power of 11,300 watts. The new transmitter would replace CFLM, a private affiliate, which was authorized this date to disaffilate from the network.


On May 12, CBF was given approval to delete CBF-2 Mont-Brun. The CBC noted that this region was well served by CHLM-FM Rouyn and CHLM-FM-1 Amos/Val d’Or which distributed the entire programming schedule of  La Première Chaîne.

On October 23, the CBC received permission to rebroadcast, on the secondary channel of the digital radio station associated with CBF-FM Montreal, looped information from the main channel. Specifically, the CBC wanted to rebroadcast weather, traffic and news programming on its secondary channel seconds after its original broadcast on the main channel.


On October 8, CBF-FM received approval to add a rebroadcast transmitter at Saint-Donat. It would operate on a frequency of 89.7 MHz and have an average effective radiated power of 5,460 watts. The CBC said the addition of the transmitter would improve service to the south-east region of Mont Tremblant Park, particularly to the municipality of Saint-Donat.


On May 12 the CRTC renewed CBF-FM’s licence. The renewal included the following rebroadcast transmitters: CBF-DR-1 Montreal, CBF-1 Senneterre, CBF-3 Lebel-sur-Quevillon, CBF-4 Matagami, CBF-16 Clova, CBF-17 Lac-Edouard, CBF-18 Parent, CBF-FM-7 Radisson, CBF-FM-9 Mont-Laurier, CBF-FM-13 Saint-Michel-des-Saints, CBF-FM-14 Saint-Jovite, CBF-FM-15 L’Annonciation, and CBF-FM-20 Saint-Donat (Montcalm).


Because of a total lack of interest in digital radio by all parties involved, the CBC advised the CRTC that it would cease operation of its Montreal digital radio transmitters CBME-DR-1, CBM-DR-1, CBF-DR-1 and CBFX-DR-1. On June 15, the Commission revoked the broadcasting licence issued to the CBC for these transmitters.

On July 29, the CRTC approved an application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the licences of CHLM-FM Rouyn-Noranda and CBF Montréal. The licensee proposed to add transmitters CBF-1 Senneterre, CBF-3 Lebel-sur-Quévillon and CBF-4 Matagami to CHLM-FM’s licence in order to rebroadcast its programming, and to remove these transmitters from CBF’s licence. All technical parameters remain unchanged. Only the source of programming will be amended. The licensee indicated that these amendments would allow it to better serve the population living in these three transmitters authorised contours by giving them access to CHLM-FM’s local and regional programming.

On September 3, the CRTC approved an application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the broadcasting licences of CBF-FM-8 Trois-Rivières and CBF-FM Montréal. The licensee proposed to add transmitters CBF-16 Clova, CBF-17 Lac Édouard and CBF-18 Parent to CBF-FM-8’s licence in order to rebroadcast its programming, and to remove these transmitters from CBF-FM’s licence. All technical parameters remained unchanged. Only the source of programming would be amended. The licensee indicated that these amendments would allow it to better serve the population living in these three transmitters’ authorised contours by giving them access to CBF-FM-8’s local and regional programming.

On the same date, the CRTC approved an application by the CBC relating to CBF-FM Montréal. Specifically, the licensee proposed to change CBF-FM-20 St-Donat’s authorized contours by decreasing the average effective radiated power from 5,460 to 4,370 watts (maximum ERP from 11,600 to 10,000 watts with an effective height of antenna above average terrain from 242.5 to 182.9 meters) and by moving the antenna to another site. The licensee stated that this modification was needed because the site originally proposed for the Première chaîne in St-Donat was no longer available. Consequently, it proposed to relocate the antenna to a site on Mont Garceau. The Commission notes that the population served within the station’s 3 mV/m coutour would decrease from 12,072 to 7,528, and that the population served within the 0.5 mV/contour would decrease from 121,173 to 64,286.

More than a decade after CBF 690 and CBM 940 last broadcast from the two towers at Brossard, those towers were brought down. The CBC had used the Brossard site from 1978 to 1999. Before 1978, CBF and CBM had operated from separate towers at different locations. The taller, 675 foot tower did see some FM use during the summer of 2010, when it played as backup while work was done at the CBC’s main FM-TV site on Mount Royal. 

On August 9, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence of CBF-FM (and its transmitters) to August 31, 2011.


On August 25, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CBF-FM and its transmitters to March 1, 2013.


On February 22, the CRTC administratively renewed the licences for CBF-FM Montréal and its transmitters to August 31, 2013.

On May 28, the CRTC renewed the licence of CBF-FM Montréal and its transmitters CBF-FM-7 Radisson, CBF-FM-9 Mont-Laurier, CBF-FM-13 Saint-Michel-des-Saints, CBF-FM-14 Saint-Jovite, CBF-FM-15 L’Annonciation, and CBF-FM-20 Saint-Donat (Montcalm), for a five year term, to August 31, 2018.


In the fall, the CBC announced it had selected the Broccolini group to build the new Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal and Groupe Mach to purchase the western part of the large property (René-Lévesque Blvd. & Papineau Ave.) occupied by the broadcaster’s facilities. The transactions still required Treasury Board approval.


In March, the CBC received CRTC approval to reduce the ERP of CBF-FM-7 Raddison from 199 to 101 watts (366 to 101 watts Max), raise antenna height, and change radiation pattern from non-directional to directional.

On October 1, ground was broken at the site of the new Maison de Radio-Canada in Montréal. Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and CBC president Hubert T. Lacroix were among those on hand for the ceremony. Expected to be finished by January of 2020, the new building would feature a four-storey atrium and rooftop patio.

In October, the CBC received CRTC approval to increase ERP for CBF-FM-9 Mont Laurier from 38,000 to 40,430 watts and to lower antenna height.


In March, the CBC received CRTC approval to increase the ERP of CBF-FM-6 Lac Megantic from 591 to 807 watts and to raise the antenna height.

In June, the CBC received approval to operate CBF-FM in HD with power of 3,802 watts. CBF-FM-HD1 would offer Ici Premier programming and CBF-FM-HD2 would present Ici Musique programs.

Michel Pepin passed away at age 57 on November 19. Pepin began his career as a journalist on community television and radio in Amqui in 1983. He later joined Radio-Canada television and regional radio in Ottawa from 1988 until 2000. From 2000 to 2010, he worked as a journalist and radio host at Radio-Canada Montreal.

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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