CKUA Radio Network

Broadcast area Alberta
Slogan Original radio
Frequency Various FM frequencies
First air date 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), it now broadcasts from studios in downtown Edmonton, with its Edmonton transmitter located on the southeast side of the city. 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 was the first public broadcaster in Canada, and also the first 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] A crown corporation, the 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]

In March 1997 the station went off the air due to political squabbles, poor financial management, and attempts at privatization. The station was saved from demise in April when control was handed over 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.


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, the employ of 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.[4]

CKUA schedules different programs throughout the week and thus can offer many different genres. These include, but are not limited to: blues, bluegrass, R & B, Celtic, country, classical, jazz, reggae, house, hiphop, dance, funk, rock, and world music.

CKUA also continues its history of educational programming with its broadcast of telecourses offered by the music and history departments of Athabasca University. A highlight of weekday programming is the daily Call of the Land, a farm and agribusiness news program rumoured to be the basis of the SCTV parody, "Farm Film Blow-Up".

Famous Historic Music Archive

CKUA's music library boasts one of the largest and most diverse music collections in Canada, with more than 70,000 CDs, 50,000 LPs, and 10,000 78 rpm records, as well as a few aluminium transcription discs, 45s, and other various media formats.

Broadcast technics

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.[5]

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.[6] However, CKUA did not receive formal approval from the CRTC until September 12, 2013.[7] AM 580 went off the air on November 21, 2013, the station's 86th anniversary.[6]

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

Notable hosts




City of licence Frequency Callsign CRTC Decision
Athabasca 98.3 FM CKUA-FM-10
Banff/Canmore 104.3 FM CKUA-FM-14 86-1098
Calgary 93.7 FM CKUA-FM-1
Drumheller/Hanna 91.3 FM CKUA-FM-13
Edmonton 94.9 FM CKUA-FM (flagship)
Edson 103.7 FM CKUA-FM-8
Fort McMurray 96.7 FM CKUA-FM-11
Grande Prairie 100.9 FM CKUA-FM-4
Hinton 102.5 FM CKUA-FM-7
Lethbridge 99.3 FM CKUA-FM-2
Lloydminster 97.5 FM CKUA-FM-15
Medicine Hat 97.3 FM CKUA-FM-3
Peace River 96.9 FM CKUA-FM-5
Red Deer 107.7 FM CKUA-FM-6 2007-25
Spirit River 99.5 FM CKUA-FM-12
Whitecourt 107.1 FM CKUA-FM-9


  1. 1 2 CKUA History from the Canadian Communications Foundation
  2. CKUA History, Canadian Communications Foundation
  3. CKUA-FM history, Canadian Communications Foundation
  4. Radio Drama, English Language, Canadian Encyclopedia, accessed January 23, 2008
  5. "Contract loss forces job cuts at CKUA". January 12, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  6. 1 2 CKUA-AM history at Canadian Communications Foundation
  7. Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-483, CKUA-FM Edmonton – Deletion of an AM transmitter, CRTC, September 12, 2013

External links and references

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