Gallery of Stories
My cabin has been under construction for about 38 years, built by me and my father - an accountant by trade who pretended to be a carpenter on weekends. We'd often joke that upon its completion, we'd sell the cabin and start anew. That's likely why it's still only around 80% complete.
Throughout my formative years, Jukebox Saturday Night signalled the end of a long day filled with saws, wood, nails, hammers, scrapes, and the occasional whacked thumb followed by staccato curse words. On rainy days, we'd play crib while Bill Coull inadvertently and incrementally taught me about the magnificent world of jazz. Sometimes the soundtrack was provided by John Worthington, whose musical curation enabled me to connect dots and spot innovation and the inspiration behind Coull's more contemporary selections.
It occurs I've been in the CKUA University of Music for nigh on 42 years.
CKUA has been absorbed into the pine and cedar that surrounds me now. If these walls could talk, they would speak in the dozens of voices who have given so much to me and my family in what is my favourite spot in the world.
- Todd Crawshaw
For me, I will never forget the energy I felt when I first walked through the front doors of this old building, Alberta Block. Hoping to get a job at CKUA, I was here for an interview and it immediately struck me that it felt like I had gone back in time. It wasn’t just the building. It was the 1950’s equipment too. Quickly, I was hooked.
Other milestones foremost in my mind: CKUA’s triumphant come-back from the infamous 1997 lock-out, and our jubilant 75th Anniversary celebration where Chris Allen meticulously restored an upstairs room to replicate the room CKUA’s first broadcast came from.
Original Studio A (c 1927)
Studio A replica (2002)
CKUA gets in your blood. It’s that simple. Looking forward, I feel real excitement about CKUA’s new home but I am also unapologetically sentimental and will always feel a warm affection for these old walls, and for the incredible mix of music and the creative people who have passed through time here.
Bev Hodson, Creative Writer
As young marrieds, we always had the station on, with Bill Coull and his Five O'Clock Whistle and Seth Sabourin filling our lives with eclectic music, not to mention late nights with Tony Dillon Davis and his totally off-the-wall humour and quirky musical choices. So our children basically heard only CKUA growing up and now we have our fifth generation CKUA fan - our teenage granddaughter, who plays CKUA constantly in her home. We all have a huge appreciation for the knowledgeable and personable radio hosts of the only station on the air worth listening to.
From my first volunteering stint in 1993, when we were given the formidable job of raising $50,000 (!) to now, I've been very fortunate to meet so many other kindred spirits in the CKUA 'family'. It must be said that as a visitor, and not having to work in this venerable old hulk of a building, I will miss its historic, creaky charm. CKUA truly is a huge part of my life, and I look forward with great pleasure to many more fundraisers, where new and old friends get together to ensure that our favourite station remains financially healthy and vibrant, and continues to be such an integral part of our lives.
- Joan S
Eventually I got to live out a dream, and spent a summer at CKUA as an intern in the library. I remember saying good morning to Peter North and Duke Paetz, before heading downstairs to the LP library to sort through world music, for the legendary 'Monty' database project. I discovered that Mark Antonelli shared my affinity for 1960s lounge and exotica music. Best summer I ever had.
Now that I'm back in Edmonton after a few years away, I'm thrilled to be back at CKUA, this time as a volunteer (in the library again, mostly)!
- Natalya Brettle-Seghers
And we volunteers were a competitive bunch, with the immediate reward for having the best reflexes when the phone rang. I can remember shifts where one of the volunteers, not natually blessed with fast-twitch muscles, never got to talk to a donor - if you weren't quick off the mark, you were out of the running (until the rest of us deliberately "sat out" a call).
The volunteers have it better today with all the improvements that have been brought into the fundraisers. But it is still just as much fun volunteering today, talking to Albertans who share my love of this station.
- Steve O.
I am Diane Szoke and I thought it would be remiss of me not to share the memories of bringing bellydancers to CKUA with Lark Clark for quite a few years. In the beginning I was so nervous but it's so much fun and CKUA is such a family. I try to bring different dancers every year to bring different flavours of dance. We have always had many laughs and we bring fun and energy to the pledge room. It has always been fun to harrass volunteers and staff with hip scarves. It is wonderful that CKUA recognizes that music and movement go together. Yippee for CKUA & dance!
- Diane Szoke
Several years later, I was making calls to lapsed donors. I called a number and got the father of the lapsed donor. The son no longer lived there. When I asked if the father listened to CKUA he said he did but hadn't been supporting us financially. Then there was a pause. The father then asked how much his son had given and matched the amount. My thoughts went to Dick and what a good mentor he was.
- Joan M
I could write about my first experience in the building, that feeling of awe. The feeling that you stepped into a special kind of history.
Or, I could talk about some of my first encounters with our personalities. Rarely do I get the feeling of knowing someone before, but at CKUA I can say that I’ve had this feeling on more than one occasion with some of our announcers whom - let’s be honest - I was a little intimidated to meet at first! But that’s the type of magical, special place that this is.
But one of the most unforgettable memories I have is when I made my way back to CKUA after leaving to travel the world for a couple of years, including a visit to the Vancouver Olympics: a welcome back hug from Ken Regan, the CEO! I mean really where else do you get such a genuine welcome back like that! At most organizations, you would be greeted with a perfunctory handshake and contract. At CKUA everyone is treated like family. It’s the real deal! It’s good to be home.
- Laura Connor, Marketing Coordinator
I believe they would speak of Robert Goulet’s first newscast – the one following which then Station Manager, John Worthington called the plucky young announcer (and future Broadway heartthrob and superstar) to say: “Robert, there is a “d” in Edmonton”. It’s a story and lesson Goulet himself never forgot.
I think they’d speak of past glories, when CKUA’s news department was the ‘news of record’ for things Albertan, but also an Alberta conduit to the world of current affairs. (I remember on one occasion interviewing an American journalist live from Argentina at the height of the ruling military junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. In the middle of our live interview – as the American was describing the military’s brutal actions against their own people, a knock came on his hotel room door. The American literally dropped the phone, because he was not expecting guests – and as he tentatively made his way to face the stranger at the door, I, along with our audience waited for what seemed an eternity in suspense – only to be told moments later that the ‘ominous visitor’ at the door was just the chambermaid…
I also think these walls would talk about W.O. Mitchell engaging our audience with live readings from several of his books and speaking proudly about how his wife, and life partner Merna was one of the original “CKUA Players” – a theatre group that produced live drama in CKUA’s early days. ‘Bill’ was a true fan of this place.
They would speak of visits by Prime Ministers, Premiers, artists, authors, singers, scientists, mothers, children, teachers, farmers, leaders, followers, native elders, and refugees – all of whom over the years graced the CKUA studios with their ideas, wisdom, passion, and stories of triumphs and tragedy.
They would speak of the immeasurable value of the truth and unquantifiable knowledge, insight, enlightenment, pathos and lessons that those often intensely personal stories represented to CKUA’s audiences as well as the people who worked within.
They would also speak of memorable and (probably for our bosses too numerous) on air gaffes and bloopers. (Like the day during a broadcast of Question Period from the Alberta Legislature I tried to describe the hard-nosed, occasionally acerbic personality of newly elected Leader of the Liberal Opposition, Laurence Decore. I was trying to ad lib that Decore, a former Mayor of Edmonton, might pose a challenge to then Conservative Premier Don Getty because he was feisty and considered to have ‘street smarts’. Unfortunately in the anxious hubbub of live radio I jumbled my adjectives to confidently announce that the new Liberal leader was someone considered to have ‘street farts’.)
Less egregious but no less humorous moments were plentiful too.
They would speak of dark days, silent nights and glorious revolution, when the unprecedented passion, effort and unbridled love of people throughout Alberta would not allow ‘their CKUA’ to be quieted.
And they would no doubt, with some degree of wistfulness, speak of how they might one day miss the magical presence of this genuinely human place and its astounding cast of crazy, colourful, carefree, caring characters.
But they would also know that while magic cannot be contained within walls and wherever CKUA goes the magic will follow – but magic’s shadows and magic’s voices, magic’s laughter and magic’s stories will also always reside within these walls too …
Ken Regan, CEO
3rd Floor Walls (courtesy of Terry Kostek)
My husband discovered CKUA on the radio dial years ago and turned me onto it right away. We both appreciate intelligent music so this was a treasure find. How many evenings are we drawn to the kitchen to the “dance floor” because we can’t help ourselves!
I dove right in to the CKUA pool with both feet. It didn’t take long before I became a monthly supporter. And it wasn’t long after that that I made the trek up to Edmonton to volunteer for a fall campaign. There at the phone table, I met two wonderful ladies also from Calgary and we hit it off right away! Since then, the three of us (sometimes more) head north for a campaign weekend twice a year and breathe in everything CKUA. I have made so many more friends within this realm and we all have the same thing in common: music and CKUA!
One of my favourite stories happened on a recent Saturday night. My husband and I had been listening to Mulligan Stew. I had recently been on a Paul Simon journey and TDM played a great Paul Simon song from one of his live concerts. We wondered if anyone had done a cover of any of Paul Simon’s songs and when Baba came on the air (the king of covers), I thought, well, we’ll ask him. I picked up the phone and my husband said, "You’re going to call him?" I dialed the number I knew so well, and you should have seen the stunned look on my husband’s face when Baba himself picked up the phone! He asked, "He answered the phone himself?!" I just smiled as I had a quick pleasant chat with Baba and then he promptly played my request and talked on the air about our chat.
"But, honey," I said, "that’s what CKUA is all about." What other radio station would allow you to reach out and touch the radio station like greeting an old friend, warm and welcoming? We are there for a long time, not just the good time!
- Gale C
I have a memory of the Fall 1995 fundraiser which was taking place right around the 1995 Quebec referendum. I was working a shift where the Old-Disc Jockey, John Worthington, was on air. Someone requested that a version of 'O Canada' be played to symbolize the feelings of the rest of Canada that Quebec should remain a part of the country. I was in the pledge room when the anthem started playing and through the glass I could see John Worthington stand up to attention while his country's anthem played, and all the pledge room volunteers followed suit. It was quite an emotional moment, and more than one person was tearing up - including me!
Another memory I have of my time volunteering at CKUA in the Alberta Block building is the 1997 million-dollar pledge drive. I remember the pledge room table being crowded with about 10-12 people around it, and everyone constantly on the phone, to the point that the phone rang as soon as a call was terminated. My hand felt like it was going to fall off, but it was a wonderful feeling. Very emotional time for sure, and very exciting to be there for the surge of affection and support that came during that pledge drive.
- Sandy M
Just got off the phone with a lovely volunteer who suggested I share my story about the start of my love affair with CKUA. Sixteen years ago, we had a baby. It was during the Spring Campaign in 1996, and Cathy Ennis was the announcer. I told our story to the volunteer who answered the phone, that we had had a baby and her name was Jane, named after both of our grandmothers. Well, Cathy, told our story on the air! It was so great and heartwarming to hear over the airwaves! That is when my love affair started with the beautiful CKUA!
Thanks so much!
- Shereen G
This is back in the mid 80s, back when CKUA was with ACCESS. I was dating a young lady from the news department. She had to do the news live one Saturday night so we arranged to meet at the station. I had been there a few times as I worked for the ACCESS side, but I still got the instruction to take the elevator up and press the intercom button and the operator would let me in and then I could get up to the studio.
Pretty normal stuff until I arrived at the station that dark Saturday night, walked into the front lobby and the elevator doors slid open. Now the elevator was (is) one step removed from a manual lift so this wasn't something one would normally expect. When I told the crew what had happened they said it was the ghost of CKUA and over the years I heard a few tales of footsteps in the halls late at night and other misadventures. Now I wonder will this spirit of CKUA slip into a packing box and take up residence in a very nice hotel building? I wouldn't doubt it. That's one reason CKUA is on the dial when I listen to the radio; you don't want to mess with something that can control an elevator.
- Frank F, Edmonton
Twice a year for the past eight years I’ve eagerly signed up for another stint in CKUA’s pledge room where I would happily get reacquainted with friends, get to know the DJs, listen to great music, and especially to talk with many of the station’s donors when they called in. Who wouldn’t enjoy answering telephone calls from people who are not only willing but eager for you to take their hard-earned money for CKUA while they tell you why they, too, love and value this great station and want to support it?
The biggest donation that I ever took over the phone during a campaign happened like this.
In October 2006, Dr. Bill Taylor shared with us pictures of the giant chess set that had been erected in Medicine Hat. Moments after I'd looked through all the photos, a donor phoned in on my line and, as he was from Medicine Hat, I mentioned having just seen the chess set and how impressive it looked. The man immediately identified his friend, Dr. Bill, as a prime mover for the project.I was delighted to explain that it was Dr. Bill himself who had brought in the photo album and that he was sitting here in the pledge room.
To complete the man’s donation, I had to locate the list of shows that could be sponsored (he wanted three) so I handed the phone over to Dr. Bill to chat with his friend, a medical colleague of Dr. Bill's and a generous philanthropist himself, while I searched. A couple of minutes later, when I took back the phone, I found that smooth-talking Dr. Bill had,amazingly, persuaded our caller to multiply his already generous donation by three! At the end of the call the man said - and this is what I passed onto Dr. Bill as soon as I hung up – he used Dr. Bill's credit card but says he'll pay you back...
- Shirley M
When I moved from Calgary to Edmonton in the 1970s I changed my car radio from one Top 40 station to another. One afternoon on my way home from work I got sick and tired of hearing a Top 40 Hit for the 2,348th time (I exaggerate, but not much). I punched one of my programmed buttons and CKUAcame on. I never went back.
My musical “taste” had been pop, with a leavening of folk roots and a dollop of classical – I thought Handel and Bach were pretty cool. CKUA “taught” me how to listen to and enjoy jazz from Bill Coull and Marc Vaisey, get a taste for the cutting edge from Holger Peterson on HP Sauce, deepen my appreciation for classical music with Sev Sabourin and get a sense of what it was like to be young and listening to the hottest bands in the 1930s and 40s with John Worthington. Over the years CKUA has expanded my musical horizons into world and blues. And Terry David Mulligan has reminded me of what was really worth listening to in the rock days of my youth and what is really worth listening to today. Most of my LP and CD collection is directly or indirectly influenced by the CKUA library and programmers.
I have been listening to CKUA since the late 70s and donating since their first pledge drive in the mid-80s. I remember that they had a goal of $50,000.00, they added pledge spots to their regular programming, reached their goal is a little over a week and quit! Those were the days.
I started volunteering in the spring campaign of 1996. On one of my phone shifts the Anik E satellite went off-line and took the FM network with it. A mini-Silence descended on the pledge room, with only 580AM broadcasting, so the volunteers hauled out their phone lists and started calling friends and relatives to solicit donations and music suggestions. Within a few days alternate feeds were arranged and the signal was going out again but it was an ominous presage of the Great Silence only a year later.
My main memories of the campaign to restore CKUA to the air in 1997 are of non-stop volunteer sessions: writing letters, calling donors to get pledges of support and being overwhelmed by pledge forms in Donor Relations during the Million Dollar Campaign. By then I was a volunteer data entry clerk with a very cranky early version of Raiser’s Edge that allowed only one person on each module at a time, could be cheated to allow more, but crashed frequently if you pushed it as hard as we needed to. We lived on pizzas for a couple of weeks after the pledge drive was officially over, trying to get all the paper converted to data, but it was exhilarating to be part of one of the greatest expressions of people power I have ever been a part of.
I am looking forward to adding a few words to CKUA’s new walls in the years ahead.
- Keith S, Edmonton
As a listener for 27 years, CKUA has been like part of an extended family, people who formed an important part of my world, but whom I had never met. It drew me into a community that I could access from anywhere, and listening to CKUA helped keep culture shock at bay during the year I taught English in Korea. That was before the station was on air 24 hour, so planning for the time difference and getting to an Internet cafe at the right time was a challenge that made me appreciate the change to 24 hour broadcasting.
Over the years listening to CKUA accompanied me along life's journey and a few years ago I decided that when I retired I would become a CKUA volunteer. Retirement began for me just over a year ago, and a chance email to Karen Howell at the station drew me further into the community and started me on my path to become a volunteer. Family situations and major surgery meant the wait of what turned out to be a very difficul t year, but contact and ecouragement from Karen brought light into my world and frequently gave me something to smile about.
One joyful even was that after I visited a son and his family in Korea Karen included a photo on the "Where In the World" page of me holding my beautiful Korean grandson while listening to CKUA. Over the past few weeks Susan Campbell, CKUA's Volunteer Coordinator, has welcomed me into the fold, and with the start of the campaign I can finally give back.
- Eileen M, Edmonton
I`ve been listening since the mid-80s, donating since the late 90s, and volunteering all this century. CKUA is one of those basic necessities of life, like the first cup of coffee in the morning, the one which allows you to face the day with some degree of equanimity.
It is hard to single out only one special memory of CKUA so here are a few random ones.
During one of my first campaigns, as I was on my way downtown in the morning, I heard in sequence: Jimi Hendrix when he was in Little Richard`s backup band, a Tuvan throat singer named Kongar Ool Ondar, Frank Sinatra and the 8 o`clock news. I remember thinking that other stations aspire to be eclectic, but CKUA left it gasping in the dust!
Chatting with the announcers, who turn out to be real people, most of them working musicians.
Challenging David Ward with what I thought would be an obscure request:
a group of African musicians who got together in England and formed a band called Osibisa. Dave was totally unfazed and with no hesitation asked which of the 3 albums I was interested in.
Here`s to 85 more years in the new digs!
- Colin C
The summer I graduated from music school my partner at the time woke me up early one morning (early for a musician, that is) and said, "Ann, you're on the radio!"
I got up, went to the living room, and heard the tail end of a song of mine coming through the stereo speakers, and then the voice of an announcer at CKUA radio saying, "That's a song by a new young local artist named Ann Vriend, who dropped off a little EP at the station a few weeks ago. I don't know much about her but maybe she'll want to come into the station for an interview sometime."
It was an uncanny feeling (and still is) to hear my music right along side other "normal" musicians on the radio, coming at me from the outside world, instead of from inside me, as if I was a stranger to myself. But indeed it was definitely me, and I am pretty sure it was the first time my music had been on the radio.
My partner said, "Well, you should call him up and take him up on the offer!"
I was still a bit stunned so that thought hadn't occurred to me (practicality and I have never been great friends). And also I had just gotten up. But of course it was a great idea, so I looked up the phone number for CKUA radio, and voila, next thing you know I was talking to Chris Martin, who was filling in for the regular morning DJ, and also had a program of his own on CKUA at that time.
Chris did have me on his program for an interview a few weeks later, and also not long afterward he became my first manager. Since then that EP, and every other album I have released, has enjoyed a lot of CKUA radio play by many CKUA DJs, and am honoured to have been at the station for many more interviews and recordings, including a live-from-on-tour-in-Australia (phone) interview with Bob Chelmick, which eventually was successful after a few missed attempts on my part due to forgetting about the International Time Zone.
About 2 years later I got a phone call one evening from a CKUA radio DJ saying that someone had just called the station, having just heard a song from my first album played on the program, saying it caused them to have to pull over to the side of the road (even though this was before the Distracted Driver law was in effect).
That person was Neil MacGonigill, who is most known for having been Jann Arden's manager, and is a long time member of the Alberta music scene. The DJ took it upon himself to let me know who Neil was (perhaps sensing that I live under a rock?), gave me Neil's number, and subsequently Neil and I eventually did a few shows together in Calgary. Neil also turned me on to Randy Newman, who for some reason I hadn't heard of yet (see rock reference earlier in this sentence).
Then, 2 years after THAT I was touring in Australia again, and was at a little folk music festival in the Illawarra Valley, near Wollongong, New South Wales. I was introduced to a local Aussie guitar player named Pete, who is the biggest Eric Bibb fan I've ever met. (Luckily I had heard of Eric Bibb, and even saw him play at that same festival-- phew.)
Pete said, "Oh, mate, you're from Canadia!? In Alberta? You've got to check out this fantastic radio station you've got there, I listen online to it all the time, it's called CKUA Radio!"
It was a strange feeling to have someone from the exact opposite side of the planet recommend the radio station to me whose headquarters are about 9 blocks from my house, but it wasn't strange in a bad way. I said, "Yes, I've heard of them. They were the first radio station that ever played my music. And of course they play Eric Bibb."
I wanted to add, "And if they want to call a new artist and give them a promoter's phone number, they can and do," but I wasn't sure if CKUA DJs would then be EXPECTED to start calling, say, Wollongongonian (?) guitarists on a regular basis, so I left it at that.
Anyway, these are some examples of how CKUA radio has been a part of my career from the very beginning, right up to right now. And of course, I am just one of many, many artists, both Albertan and world wide, for whom this is true.
If you read this far I know I'm preaching to the choir but of course it is still worth saying I hope you are one of those listeners who does support CKUA, not only because it offers great programming, but is directly beneficial to artists like me, in ways, by its very nature, that no other radio station can be.
- Ann Vriend
- Erica Gayler
This didn’t start to have an impact on me until I was eighteen, old enough to start going to concerts with a beer in hand. The cool thing was that I was able to see and meet musicians my dad raved about since I was little. The connection to CKUA, the vast library of unique music and a chance to hang out with my dad will always be a treasure that no amount of Top 40 radio will ever capture.
- Jamie A, Edmonton
- Katrina Regan-Ingram, COO
I started listening more actively and I recall being very taken by Bill Bourne and Shannon Johnson; awakening to the idea that this was amazing local music that I couldn’t find anywhere else on the dial.
Cheers and happy listening!
- Colleen S, Edmonton
Solstice (courtesy of Lorna Stevenson)
This picture evokes for me the idea that CKUA is a reflection of the quality and range of arts and culture that Alberta has to offer.
- Karen H, Edmonton