The Flat-Top Antenna, 1922

CKCK Antenna- The leader building

In the early 20s, the first broadcasting stations (transmitter and studios) were situated virtually in the heart of a city or town. Transmitting antennas were erected on the same property, usually on the roof of the same building. The power of the transmitters ranged from 25 to 500 watts, but there were four licences granted and implemented in 1922 for 2,000 watts, with indications of other variations to come.

Regardless, the proximity of all transmitters to home receivers tended to “swamp the dial” and interfered with listeners’ reception of nearby and distant stations. Circa 1925, the federal licensing authority required existing urban stations using more than 500 watts to reduce their power accordingly. New applicants and applications by operating stations for power increases to 500 watts, had to locate their transmitters a distance of at least ten miles from an urban centre. Over a few years, as regulations changed and higher power was granted, roof-top antennas disappeared, to be replaced by free-standing towers.

This is a 1922 picture of the Leader buildings at 1853 Hamilton Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, the home of CKCK‘s first transmitter and studios, and the domain of the station’s first engineer – Bert Hooper. CKCK used a flat-top antenna system, so-called because it employed horizontal wires strung between the tops of the two towers. These “top-loading” wires were secured to the towers by insulators at each end. The main part of the antenna was a vertical wire connected to the top-loading wires, which extended down to the transmitter. A “counterpoise” consisting of several wires ran from the base of each tower along the roof and wall, effectively providing a “ground” for the antenna.

The front legs of the right tower were lined with electric lights, as were the back legs of the rear tower. Three beacons were installed across the top of both. All lights could be seen for miles at night across the flat terrain, and were a traveler’s first marker of the City.

CKCK used this antenna system from July 19, 1922 until September of 1937, when it became inactive It was supplanted by one vertical tower and a 1,000-watt RCA transmitter, at Victoria Plains (Boggy Creek), north-east of the city. During WWII, the original towers were dismantled.

-Recalled in 2006 by J. Lyman Potts who had watched the erection of the towers in 1922