This Week in History (1946): CKPG Radio hits the airwaves

Radio Station CKPG made its inaugural broadcast on February 8, 1946, becoming the first broadcasting station to serve residents of central and northern British Columbia.

The Prince George station officially signed on at 5 p.m. on Friday February 8, transmitting a seven-hour introductory showcase over its original AM 1230 frequency. Listeners enjoyed an opening musicale, speeches from local dignitaries, and programs from eight radio stations across Canada. The successful and popular broadcast was marked by the “constant ringing of the [station] telephone as requests poured in from local residents for favourite recordings,” reported the Prince George Citizen on February 14, 1946.1

CKPG had been in the works since November 1944, when the Canadian Department of Transport granted a station-operating license to CKPG Radio Ltd., an independent company owned by brothers Cecil and Frank Elphicke of the Lower Mainland. In May 1945, the brothers visited Prince George and purchased land on the north bank of Hudson’s Bay Slough in South Fort George. By fall of that year, CKPG’s first 250-watt transmitter building — featuring a 90-foot antenna supported by two 93-foot masts — stood on the site. The three-person station staff was in place shortly thereafter: Cecil Elphicke, managing director; Jack Carbutt, program director; and Ray Tate, engineer, arrived in Prince George from Kelowna, Kamloops and Flin Flon, Manitoba, respectively. The broadcast team occupied the newly leased CKPG offices on the third floor of the historic Ritts-Kifer Hall. From this location, the station’s regular programming commenced at 7:25 a.m. on Saturday February 9, 1946.

Photo of Jack Carbutt and Cecil Elphicke, original staff of CKPG Radio.

Jack Carbutt, left, and Cecil Elphicke were part of the team that launched CKPG Radio in February 1946.
(Photo: The Exploration Place)

From the moment it first took to the air, CKPG Radio was a mainstay of the news and entertainment infrastructure in Prince George and area. Six months after launch, CKPG joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Trans-Canada Network (now CBC Radio One). In 1947, the station adopted a lower frequency — AM 550 — in order to increase its range of transmission over the mountains of North-Central British Columbia. In 1961, CKPG Radio launched Prince George’s first television station, CKPG-TV.

CKPG Radio was acquired by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group in 2000. The station now operates as CKDV-FM 99.3 The Drive. Over 65 years later, CKPG Radio continues to fulfill then-mayor Jack Nicholson’s 1946 prediction that the station would make the people of Prince George “better and closer neighbours.”2

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Notes:

  1. “Radio station CKPG signs on,” Prince George Citizen, 14 February 1946, page 1.
  2. Ibid.

Other Sources:

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