APPENDIX D: CANADIAN RADIO BACKGROUND
Canadian Radio - Beginnings to 1945
Canada has always been at the forefront of radio development. Perhaps Canada’s enthusiasm for the medium of radio was born out of Canada’s youth as a nation, its immense size, and scattered centers of population. Radio was embraced as a means of spreading information quickly over the vast expanses of the country. From 1910 and into the 1920s, North America saw radio transmitters springing up like high-tech weeds. Hobbyists, newspapers, stores, shipping companies, and others all wanted to get in on the commercial possibilities of the medium of sound transmission (Greenfield 2). Saskatchewan radio hobbyists also began broadcasting during this time. Wayne Schmalz, in his book On Air: Radio in Saskatchewan, provides a thorough history of the birth and growth of the radio industry in Saskatchewan. Schmalz notes that among the earliest developments in Saskatchewan radio broadcasting was the establishment of the province’s first registered amateur radio club: Saskatoon’s in 1912. The province’s first commercial radio station, CKCK in Regina, began broadcasting ten years later, on July 22, 1922. When CKCK hit the air, it was in the company of 61 amateur broadcasting stations across the province (On Air, 6-7).
In the face of the ever-growing number of transmitters in Canada and the United States, both countries’ governments were forced to initiate some form of regulation. It is here that Canada and the United States take very different paths in national radio development.80 Canada, acting upon the recommendations of the Aird Commission81 (1928), established a system of public ownership, like the United Kingdom’s British
80 For a more complete view on the growth of the American and Canadian radio industry, seek out Howard Fink’s The Sponsor's v. the Nation's Choice: North American Radio Drama in Peter Lewis’ Radio Drama (New York: Longman Group Limited, 1981).
81 Prime Minister King was spurred to action on radio regulation by several factors. The two most commonly cited are: 1. the inspiring demonstration of the power of radio to reach Canadians from coast to coast when, in 1927, the Canadian National Railway radio division broadcast Canada’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations live over 23 private stations linked especially for the occasion (Schmalz On Air 45); and 2. the growing number of complaints and controversies surrounding some religious broadcasts. As Troyer notes, “In Saskatchewan, for example, a Bible station had gone commercial and rented time to the Ku Klux Klan!” (Sound and Fury, 43-44). The situation to which Troyer alludes is a fascinating and complex combination of religion, politics, and commerce. Wayne Schmalz gives it thorough treatment in his chapter “Unholy Wars” in On Air: Radio in Saskatchewan.