CKUA Radio Network

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CKUA logo.svg
Broadcast area Alberta
Slogan Original radio
Frequency Various FM frequencies
First air date November 21, 1927
Format public broadcaster; jazz, classical, news, local artists, eclectic
Power see chart
Class see chart
Callsign meaning Canada K University of Alberta
Former frequencies 580 kHz
Owner CKUA Radio Foundation (non-profit)
Website CKUA

CKUA is a Canadian radio station. Originally located at the University of Alberta in Edmonton (hence the UA of the call letters), CKUA was the first public broadcaster in Canada. It now broadcasts from studios in downtown Edmonton, and as of fall 2016 out of a studio in Calgary located at the National Music Centre. CKUA broadcasts on 16 FM frequencies across Alberta (see "Frequency" in Infobox sidebar).

CKUA was created in 1927 through a provincial grant which allowed the University of Alberta's Extension Department to purchase the licence of CFCK. CKUA and also the first radio station to offer educational radio programming, including music concerts, poetry readings, and university lectures. From 1930 to 1931 the station was an affiliate of the CNR Radio network.[1] CKUA was operated from 1945 until 1974 by Alberta Government Telephones.[2] The crown corporation, Alberta Educational Communications Corporation (later known as Access), assumed ownership of the station in 1974.[1] In 1994, Access sold the CKUA network to the non-profit CKUA Radio Foundation for $10.[3]

On March 20, 1997 the station went off the air for five weeks due to political squabbles, poor financial management, and attempts at privatization.[4][5] The station restarted broadcasting on April 25, 1997 after control was given to the public from directors appointed by the provincial government. As of 2005, more than two-thirds of the station's funding came from its listeners in the form of donations.

Cultural Impact[edit]

CKUA is considered a cultural icon by many musicians throughout Canada. The station's practice of supporting local, independent, and non-commercial artists has helped launch the careers of such renowned musicians as k.d. lang, Jann Arden, and Bruce Cockburn. In addition, CKUA has contributed to the careers of Arthur Hiller, Robert Goulet, and Tommy Banks, among others. Throughout the 1930s an early radio drama series, CKUA Players, was produced out of the station and broadcast throughout Western Canada by a network of stations.[6]


CKUA schedules different programs throughout the week and thus can offer many different genres including blues, bluegrass, R&B, Celtic, country, classical, jazz, reggae, house, hiphop, dance, funk, rock, and world.

Famous Historic Music Archive[edit]

CKUA's music library boasts one of the largest and most diverse music collections in Canada, with more than 250,000 CDs and LPs, including 10,000 78 rpm records, as well as a few aluminium transcription discs, 45s, and other various media formats.[7]

Broadcast Locations[edit]

CKUA was headquartered in the Alberta Block building on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton starting in 1955.[8] In October, 2012, CKUA officially moved into its current location in the Alberta Hotel building, with its first broadcast from the new location on October 15, 2012.[9]

Broadcast technics[edit]

The station's original transmitter was located at 580 kHz in Edmonton. It operated at 10,000 watts. Due to its location near the bottom of the AM dial, as well as its transmitter power, it was powerful enough to cover nearly all of Alberta's densely populated area. It added an FM simulcast in 1947.

Starting in the 1970s, CKUA built a network of 16 FM repeaters across Alberta. CKUA also broadcasts in western Canada on select cable and satellite providers (such as SaskTel, who carries CKUA across Saskatchewan as a Lloydminster station). As of February 29, 1996, CKUA became the first radio station in Canada to stream their broadcast online, and now has upgraded the service to carry in excess of five hundred streams. A new digital stream is in the testing phase. The station currently has more than 160,000 weekly listeners.

Because of CKUA's extensive coverage, the station was one of only a handful of broadcasters (another being CTV Two Alberta, formerly Access) to carry the Alberta Emergency Public Warning System. The provincial government-funded programme provided the station with 12% of its annual income until the contract was lost to an Ottawa firm, Black Coral Inc., in January 2010.[10]

CKUA announced plans to shut down its legacy 580 AM signal, the longest continuously-used AM frequency in Canada, in the spring of 2013. It would have needed to invest as much as $5 million to upgrade the transmitter site to modern standards, an amount it could not afford.[11] However, CKUA did not receive formal approval from the CRTC until September 12, 2013.[12] AM 580 went off the air on November 21, 2013, the station's 86th anniversary.[11]

CKUA broadcasts a Punjabi/Urdu-language format on a Subsidiary Communications Multiplex Operation frequency on its transmitters in Calgary and Edmonton.

Current On-Air Personalities[edit]

The CKUA program lineup relies on a number of on-air personalities.[13]

  • Mark Antonelli
  • Dilbagh Singh Bhangoo, who uses the on-air name "Baba"
  • Allison Brock
  • Bob Chelmick
  • Lark Clark
  • Cheryl Croucher
  • Tom Coxworth
  • Tony Dillon-Davis
  • David Dodge
  • Andy Donnelly
  • Diane Donovan
  • Roy Forbes
  • Cam Hayden
  • Kodi Hutchinson
  • Tony King
  • Monica Miller
  • Terry David Mulligan
  • Peter North
  • Holger Petersen
  • Lionel Rault
  • Caitlynn Reesor
  • Orest Soltykevych
  • Grant Stovel
  • David Ward
  • John Worthington
  • Wade Kozak
  • Hayley Muir

Previous On-Air Personalities[edit]


City of licence Frequency Callsign CRTC Decision
Athabasca 0098.3 FM CKUA-FM-10
Banff/Canmore 0104.3 FM CKUA-FM-14 86-1098
Calgary 0093.7 FM CKUA-FM-1
Drumheller/Hanna 0091.3 FM CKUA-FM-13
Edmonton 0094.9 FM CKUA-FM (flagship)
Edson 0103.7 FM CKUA-FM-8
Fort McMurray 0096.7 FM CKUA-FM-11
Grande Prairie 0100.9 FM CKUA-FM-4
Hinton 0102.5 FM CKUA-FM-7
Lethbridge 0099.3 FM CKUA-FM-2
Lloydminster 0097.5 FM CKUA-FM-15
Medicine Hat 0097.3 FM CKUA-FM-3
Peace River 0096.9 FM CKUA-FM-5
Red Deer 0107.7 FM CKUA-FM-6 2007-25
Spirit River 0099.5 FM CKUA-FM-12
Whitecourt 0107.1 FM CKUA-FM-9


External links and references[edit]