CBK-AM, Radio One, Regina

Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

CBK-AM200154050,000Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
CBKR-FM1999102.5820Repeater for Regina from CBK Watrous
CBK-AM193954050,000Canadian Broadcasting Corp. – Watrous


The CBC had plans for the near future to open two 50,000 watt transmitters. One would serve the Prairies and the other would serve the Maritimes (CBA Sackville). The Prairie transmitter would be known as CBK and operate on a frequency of 540 kHz. As of this time, the transmitter was used by CJRM Regina, not far from the proposed site of the new transmitter which had not yet be definitely fixed (the location), according to CBC officials. An RCA 50-kW transmitter would be used and construction costs for the site would be around $300,000. The building of the two new transmitter sites would be in the hands of G. W. Olive, chief CBC engineer and H. N. Smith, CBC design and construction engineer.

Service in this area started on phantom station CNRR using the frequency of CKCK in Regina. CNRR was owned by the Canadian National Railroad. The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission was formed in 1932 and it took over the CNR’s radio operations. In 1936, the CRBC was replaced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC then started making plans for the expansion of its service. 

W.W. (Bill) Grant was with CBC Regina when CBK Watrous opened. He had come from CFCN Calgary where he had been part-owner.


It was expected the new 50,000 watt CBK (located near Watrous, SK) was to be ready for operation by June 1 at the latest. The station would receive daily 16 hours of CBC sustaining programs. There would be no local commercial programs. The two 460′ radiators for CBK and CBA (Sackville) were the first guyed radiators designed in Canada, made by the Canadian Bridge Co. of Walkerville, ON. Both radators were patented and were of triangular cross-section vertical design, having three sets of guy wires extending from the structure to heavy concrete anchors.

It was a little late but CBK Watrous signed on the air on July 29. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation station operated on a frequency of 540 kHz with a power of 50,000 watts (non-directional). The 460 foot tower was located at Watrous on the southwest quarter of Section 26, Township 31, Range 25, west of the second Meridian, two miles north, 55 degrees east of the CN Telegraph station. The “K” in the call sign represented the last name of Henry Kelsey, the first white man to come to the Prairies. At this time, CBK was the only CBC-owned outlet between Winnipeg and Vancouver. 

Roy Cahoon, CBC special events engineer was placed in charge of CBK engineering. A. S. Haggerty joined the technical staff. 

The CBC now required all advertisers ordering the Prairie region to include CBK. NBC advised its clients that the Prairie stations of CBC could be sold to NBC advertisers ordering them only if they used both WDAY Fargo and KFYR Bismarck (both North Dakota). 


On March 29, the Havana Treaty went in to effect and many radio stations in North America had to change their dial position. CBK was one of the few that remained where it was – at 540 kHz. This frequency was a Class I-A Clear Channel.

To meet growing demands for network time during the evenings, largely due to the war, the CBC set up a second network for commercial sponsorship. The network’s first sponsor (on an experimental basis) was the Gillette Safety Razor Co. The Mutual Broadcasting System originated boxing events for 26 Canadian stations through the CBC, plus the MBS affiliate – CKLW Windsor. The second network had 23 Canadian stations with alternative stations in Montreal to meet local conditions there. The new network would operate only after 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Over the past year, private stations had been anxious to have such a network – outside of CBC control. However, under the Radio Act, the CBC had full control over all networks in the country. It was felt that a full second network with full day and night programming was not feasible or economically possible at this time. CBC-owned stations affiliated with the new network: CBK Watrous, CBA Sackville and CBY Toronto. Privately-owned stations affiliated with the new network were: CJOR Vancouver, CHWK Chilliwack, CFCN Calgary, CFRN Edmonton, CJRM Regina, CJGX Yorkton, CJRC Winnipeg, CKCA Kenora, CJIC Sault Ste Marie, CKOC Hamilton, CKTB St. Catherines, CFPL London, CFCO Chatham, CKLW Windsor, CKCR Kitchener, CKCO Ottawa, CFCF or CHLP Montreal, CHLT Sherbrooke, CKNB Campbellton, and CJLS Yarmouth. 


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. 


Jack Smith (from Vancouver) joined the operating staff at CBK. 

On January 2, the CBC formed a second national network, The Dominion. The orginal network became known as the Trans-Canada. CBK was a Trans-Canada station. 



Jas. Finlay was manager.

A break in the water pipeline from Watrous to CBK’s transmitter site forced engineers to use ice packs to keep the transmitter tubes cooled. 

Mid 1940’s

The CBC’s plans for expansion were put on hold because of the war. CBK began providing programming in English and French from studios located at the Watrous transmitter site.


The CBC, in the process of taking over the frequencies of CFRB Toronto, CFCN Calgary and CKY Winnipeg, was now facing the possibility of losing one of its own channels – 540 kHz, used by CBK Watrous. The International Telecommunications Conference agreed to widen the broadcast band to include 540 kHz. The subject was to be discussed by the North American Regional Engineers in early 1948. Proposals had been presented to use 540 for a group of low-powered stations. Under the existing agreement, CBK was allowed to use 540 kHz until: “When as and if a substitute broadcast channel acceptable to the Canadian Government is made available for this station, Canada agrees to discontinue the use of 540 kcs. for this purpose.” 


Programming for CBK was now originating from studios in Winnipeg.

J.N. Moggridge was manager and W.G. Carpentier was commercial manager.


Studios and offices for CBK finally opened in Regina.


Bill Grant retired as CBK’s chief engineer. He had been with the station since 1936 but took time out for World War II (RCAF Service) and then returned to the station.


Ad slogan: In the Prairies on CBC Radio one buy covers all three provinces! Get all the details on CBC Radio’s “Prairie Blanket” – stations CBW for Manitoba, CBK for Saskatchewan, CBX and CBXA plus 4 repeater stations for Alberta.


Ad: Buying radio in the Prairie Provinces? CBX Alberta, CBXA Alberta, CBK Saskatchewan, CBW Winnipeg…Get blanket coverage with CBC Radio!


The Dominion and Trans-Canada networks consolidated into the CBC Radio Network. CBK was the Trans-Canada station in Regina. It was supplemented by private station CKCK. Another private station – CKRM – offered Dominion network service. With the consolidation, CKCK and CKRM were able to end their affiliation with the network.


CBC Radio added an all-night service in June.


CBC Radio’s all-night service, started in 1963, came to an end on March 1. When the service started it was primarily intended as a national information and warning system to be used in emergencies. Even though the service had now ended, the CBC said it would maintain a stand-by procedure through the night and broadcasts would begin immediately in the event of an emergency.

Former CBK chief engineer W.W. (Bill) Grant passed away on March 1.


CBK received permission to add FM rebroadcasters at La Ronge (105.1 MHz, 80 watts), Beauval (101.5 MHz, 1,950 watts), Iles-a-la-Crosse (105.1 MHz, 403 watts), Buffalo Narrows (103.5 MHz, 406 watts) and La Loche (93.5 MHz, 81.7 watts).

CBKA-FM La Ronge began broadcasting on July 31.


On June 4, CBK’s 465 foot tower was toppled by severe winds of up to 100 miles per hour. The station was off the air for four days. A temporary 300 foot tower was constructed and the station was back on the air June 8 at reduced power. Full 50,000 watt service was restored later that day. While CBK 540 was off the air, CBC AM programming was made available via CBKF-FM (Radio-Canada) in Regina and CJUS-FM in Saskatoon. 

CBKB-FM Beauval, CBKC-FM Ile-a-la-Crosse and CBKD-FM Buffalo Narrows began operations on September 3. CBKE-FM La Loche followed a few days later on September 9. 


The following rebroadcast transmitters opened: CBKI-FM Stanley Mission – June 6, CBKJ-FM Pinehouse Lake – June 14, CBKH-FM Stony Rapids – September 15, and CBKG-FM Fond du Lac – September 28.


CBKP-FM Southend signed on the air on December 20.


CBDH-FM Uranium City was launched on August 18.


The following rebroadcast transmitters were opened: CBKK-FM Patuanak – Febraury 14, CBKO-FM Denare Beach – June 2, CBKM-FM Meadow Lake – July 1, CBKV-FM Cumberland House – July 19, CBKL-FM Montreal Lake – August 4, and CBKN-FM Island Falls – October 1.


In October, the CBC Regina studios and offices moved from 1840 McIntyre Street to 2440 Broad Street. The facility was to have opened in 1979-80. The new building accommodated both English and French radio and television studios. The CBC Saskatchewan broadcast centre included TV studios of 3,500 and 1,800 square feet, a packaging studio, two automated on-air booths and central equipment room. There were also seven remote electronic field production units, three electronic editing suites, six quad VTR’s, three telecine chains, character generators and electronic slide store units. The radio facilities included nine studios, multi-track mixing consoles, 16 listening/editing rooms and automated switching systems. 

CBKW-FM Pelican Narrows opened on February 9

In October, the CBC Regina studios and offices moved from 1840 McIntyre Street to 2440 Broad Street.


CBC Radio added overnight programming to its schedule on May 1, with “CBC Radio Overnight”. The programming started out on certain CBC stations and was expanded to all of its stations by September. The program aired between 1:00 and 6:00 a.m. (local time) and offered reports from public broadcasters in 25 countries, with Canadian news on the hour. The program service was provided by the World Radio Network in London, England.


The CBC Radio network (CBC Radio) was renamed “CBC Radio One” on September 1.


On October 12, CBK was given approval to add a rebroadcast transmitter in Regina, operating on 102.5 MHz with effective radiated power of 820 watts. The transmitter would improve the quality of CBK’s signal to some 80,000 listeners in Regina. 


On June 12, CBKR-FM signed on the air at 102.5 MHz in Regina.


As of 2001, CBK operated the following rebroadcast transmitters: CBKM-FM Meadow Lake and CBKR-FM Regina. CBK broadcasts approximately 42 hours of local programming each week from Regina. Additional transmitters in the province were now operated through CBKA-FM La Ronge. 


On March 16, the CRTC approved the application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to amend the licence for CBK Regina in order to operate an FM transmitter in Saskatoon. The transmitter would operate on 94.1 MHz (channel 231A) with an effective radiated power of 4,100 watts. It would rebroadcast the programming of the CBC’s national, English-language network service Radio One. 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. In the case of Regina, the CBC submitted that a second FM transmitter of CBK was needed to provide adequate coverage to Saskatoon, which was within CBK’s coverage area. 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. 


The Saskatoon nested FM transmitter (CBK-1 at 94.1 MHz) commenced operations. 


On May 12 the CRTC renewed the licence for CBK. The renewal included the following rebroadcast transmitters: CBK-1-FM Saskatoon, CBKM-FM Meadow Lake and CBKR-FM Regina.

Barry Burgess died at age 63. He spent 35 years with CBC, 25 of them in Saskatchewan, before retiring in 2002.


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


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

Jill Spelliscy, managing director of CBC Saskatchewan, retired. Her successor was John Agnew who was regional director for CBC Yellowknife. 

Former CBC Vancouver Regional Operations Manager Marc Turenne died at age 54. He began his CBC career in Regina, transferring to Vancouver in the late 1980s, where he stayed for 17 years. He then moved to Winnipeg and began a home inspection company.


On February 22, the CRTC administratively renewed the licences for CBK Regina and its transmitters to August 31, 2013.

On May 28, the CRTC renewed the licence of CBK Regina and its transmitters CBK-1-FM Saskatoon, CBKM-FM Meadow Lake and CBKR-FM Regina, for a five year term to August 31, 2018.

On September 23, the CRTC approved the CBC’s application for a licence to operate an FM station in Saskatoon. The new station would replace CBK’s rebroadcaster CBK-1-FM. The station would continue to broadcast programming received from the CBC’s national Radio One network, but would also broadcast at least 12 hours and 30 minutes of local programming to Saskatoon residents in each broadcast week. CBK-1-FM would be deleted from CBK’s licence.


The CBC received CRTC approval to increase the power of CBKH 93.3 Stony Rapids/ Black Lake from 1,360 to 1,580 watts. Antenna height would be raised from 160.0 to 179.4 metres (EHAAT).


Sheila Coles hosted The Morning Edition for the final time on December 15. She was host of the CBC Saskatchewan morning show for 24 years.

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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