Appendix D: – Canadian Radio, Some Background
recording of the inaugural broadcast of the CBK tower. After the strains of Oh, Canada
had issued forth, the listener was treated to speeches of various dignitaries from the world of broadcasting and politics.
During the thirties and forties, there were private radio stations within Saskatchewan doing their part to add to Canadian radio drama. Wayne Schmalz, in On Air, cites the example of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan’s local radio station CKBI. It celebrated upgrading from amateur to commercial status with the help of local performers: “For the official opening of CKBI in January 1934, the Prince Albert Historical Society presented a radio drama, replete with music and sound effects, on the founding of the city” (On Air 61). CKCK Regina contributed, too, as Art Crichton, who worked at CKCK in 1942, recalls in Signing On: “We couldn’t put on CBC ‘stage’, but we did some dramas. Small ones, mind you, using the staff as announcers, actors, and sound effects technicians. We had a photographer who traveled around the world. He had all kinds of stories to tell and several of us dramatized these things” (McNeil and Wolfe 132). Bird Films of Regina sponsored the program, called Bird’s Camera Store, which ran for fifteen-minutes every Sunday afternoon on CKCK87 (Schmalz 79).
The cultural importance of radio drama was becoming increasingly apparent to prairie theatre audiences as live, professional theatre was declining through the 1920s and 1930s. In The History of Prairie Theatre: The Development of Theatre in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan 1833-1982, E. Ross Stuart88 cites a number of factors as contributing to this decline: the Depression made the economics of touring unfeasible for professional shows from outside the prairies, which constituted most of the prairie’s professional theatre; also, the rise of popularity of the movies played a part – movie
87 Dick Bird: b. August 16, 1892, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England; d. September 27, 1986. “In 1937 he began a weekly program on CKCK Radio called Camera Trails. He also published The Camera Trailer, which was illustrated, with his own photographs, for distribution to his radio audience.” Honours: “He was an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London. In 1950 he was the second Canadian, after Yousuf Karsh, to become a fellow of the Photographic Society of America. In that year he was also made the first life Member of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society. In 1976 Bird received an honourary Doctorate of Law from the University of Regina. He was honoured as Saskatchewan's Pioneer Cinematographer at the International Film Festival in Yorkton in 1979.” Dick and Ada Bird fonds. Saskatchewan Archival Information Network <http://scaa.usask.ca:10094/WebZ/Authorize?sessionid=0>
88 Ross’s book is an excellent source for more information on local theatrical traditions, history and companies across the prairies, whether amateur or professional, small town or big city.