Five Decades in Five Days
Listen to this series that explores CKUA’s history through the years, celebrating our 57 years in the Alberta Block, and includes a special 45-minute retrospective of the Life of CKUA.
Biography of a Broadcaster
It began in 1927 with a dream: to take the University to the people via the new medium of radio. With a couple of the University of Alberta’s engineering students, 2 windmill towers, some old iron poles and a little creative book-keeping, a $700 grant was transformed into Canada’s first public broadcaster. The CKUA Radio Network signed on November 21st, 1927, with a 500-watt signal.
On May 23rd, 1929, the first Canadian school broadcast was made from CKUA, fulfilling the original goal set two years prior, and starting a tradition of excellence in distance education that continues today through CKUA’s relationship with Athabasca University and programs such as Ragtime to Rolling Stone and From Bop to Rock.
In 1945 Alberta Government Telephones (AGT) began operating CKUA and moved the station from the University campus to downtown Edmonton. CKUA went on air in 1948 with Alberta’s first FM station. ACCESS assumed ownership of CKUA in 1974 and the construction of transmitters in Calgary and Lethbridge soon followed. CKUA’s unique sound had begun to resonate across Alberta’s airwaves. CKUA was privatized in 1994, and since 1997 a combination of commercials, corporate sponsorships and listener donations fund the station’s day-to-day operating costs.
Today, CKUA is capable of reaching most Albertans through 16 transmitters across the province. On February 29, 1996, CKUA became the first Canadian station to stream online, giving CKUA a global presence via ckua.com.
CKUA remains steadfast in its commitment to offer listeners the chance to hear Albertan musicians, writers and performers, and to enrich the arts and cultural life of the province. Over 40 programs are featured on CKUA, spanning many music genres and topics.
With the support of the business community, our devoted listeners, and volunteers, CKUA continues to face and overcome obstacles and challenges. We are proud to continue to offer quality programming for listeners across Alberta and the world.
Over the past 8 decades, CKUA has had the privilege of offering music ranging from classical, jazz, and folk, to blues and world beat. CKUA has shared many firsts with the province of Alberta, including the first Western Canada football play-by-play in 1928, the first Edmonton outlet for a national network broadcast in 1930, and the first station in Alberta with FM Technology. It is with this pioneering spirit that we approach the years and broadcasts yet to come.
Take a Tour of the old Alberta Block
CKUA’s Ken Regan, CEO, takes you on a tour of our old home.