CFGP Radio fonds. — 1937-1997. — 46.5 cm of textual records. — 888 photographs. — 3 blueprints. — 2 video recordings.
CFGP was established in 1937, the first radio station north of Edmonton and the most northerly station in the British Empire at the time. It was owned by the Northern Broadcasting Corporation Ltd., and shares were sold to local people and businessmen at $200 each. Taylor, Pearson and Carson, from Edmonton, owned the largest number of shares as well heavy investments in many other radio stations throughout Alberta.
The station went on the air with 100 watts of power on November 2, 1937, on channel 1200. Howard Brooker was the first manager, followed by Mr. Cecil Berry as President and Manager, assisted by Miss Margaret Moon as secretary, Bert Churchill as music director, George Sinclair as chief engineer, and Paul Guy as Announcer. Operating hours were from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 10 p.m.
This was during the depths of the Depression, and public service broadcasting was the key, creating a communications role for CFGP within the community—not just weather and announcements, but sending greetings to friends, school broadcasts for curriculum enhancement, church services for the shut-ins, radio dances to raise money for causes such as building the Monkman Pass Highway, Armed Forces radio service shows for U.S. and Canadian army personnel, emergency evacuation and communications for disasters such as forest fires. They used local talent in programming—Mel Rodacker’s “Oldtimers” played regularly on radio during the 1940s and 50s; locally produced radio plays were aired in cooperation with Little Theatre. Free advertising was given to many community causes: Victory Loans, the Kinsmen’s Milk for Britain campaign, the construction of the Curling Rink, improvements on the Memorial Arena, the development of Bear Creek Park, . Today, CFGP still promotes many community events such as Stompede, Golf Classics, Fairs, Rodeos and Provincial/National Competitions. They offer community service announcements to non-profit clubs and organizations free of charge.
But it was not just in communications that CFGP contributed to its broadcast area. In 1939, they sent 250 children to Edmonton to see the King and Queen; in 1940 they assisted the National Film Board in filming Peace River, a promotional film for the Peace River area of Alberta and British Columbia; in 1941 they started a regular program to raise funds for the needy at Christmas; and at war’s end organized and funded Welcome and Welfare Committees throughout the Peace to welcome home returned soldiers. In 1944, the editor of MacLeans Magazine described CFGP as “Canada’s most community minded station.” The station also brought celebrities to Grande Prairie: the Edmonton Flyers Hockey Team in 1960.
Off-site broadcasting drew thousands of people to events such as the Opening of the Smoky Bridge, the Dunvegan Bridge, and the Whitecourt Cut-off, and started a tradition for “on location radio” which continues today. Sometimes the occasion was a disaster instead of a celebration and thousands of dollars were raised through CFGP coverage on disasters such as the Kinuso Forest Fire in 1944, and the Canyon Creek fire in 1945, when Jack Soars broadcast on location from the site of the fire.
News was always an important aspect of programming—starting with the first announcer, who simply read the news from the previous day’s Edmonton Bulletin. In 1940 they began to receive “ticker tape” news which they got directly from the radio transmitter. Also, during the 1940s, the newsman monitored the CBC network and re-wrote the items. In 1956, the first News Editor, Mrs. Charters, was appointed to news features.
Early schedules were daytime programs that quickly extended into evenings. Other innovations in programming included “Open Line” in 1958.
CFGP started with its own building and transmitters on the rise of land just north of town, but quickly realized they needed to be more accessible. In January 1938, they moved to offices in the Donald Hotel, and in 1941 to their own building on 99th Street and Richmond Ave. The station increased in staff and broadcast area. By 1944, there were nine staff and 1,000 watts of power, in the early 50s they went to 5,000 watts, and by 1956 the signal strength was 10,000 watts. In 1964, a new building was constructed on 103 Avenue and four years later CFGP went to 24 hour programming.
Management at CFGP after a short stint by Howard Brooker: Cecil Berry 1938-1945; Art Balfour 1945-1958; Cam Perry 1958-1968; Walter Everitt from 1968-1978. In 1978, Gordon Pearcy, who began his broadcast career with CFGP in 1943, took over as manager and VP of Northern Broadcasting Ltd. until 1990.
CFGP was purchased by the Selkirk Chain c. 1980, and in 1986 introduced AM-Stereo. The next year, 1987, was the station’s 50th Anniversary, and they celebrated in a big way. Their new home in Windsor Court was officially opened on by the Duke and Duchess of York, Andrew and Sarah.
In 1997 the radio station began airing on FM, changing its name to SUN FM.
Records were collected by Gordon Pearcy and stored at SUN FM, who donated them to the Grande Prairie Regional Archives in 2003.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of logos, posters, summaries and scrapbooks which detail the history of CFGP; photographs, blueprints and correspondence regarding the physical plant which housed the radio station; correspondence regarding the broadcasting market, starting with telegrams from all over the area regarding quality of transmission on first day of operations in 1937; Market statistics, reports and administrative correspondence; photographs of personnel; announcer and advertisement scripts; program schedules from the initial broadcasts to 1950; photographs of activities generated through sales and promotions; publications for promotions and celebrations; photographs and material regarding the Royal Visit in 1987, and a file of news clippings.
Table of Contents
|Series 005.02||Physical Plant|
|Series 005.03||Broadcasting Market|
|Series 005.05||Personnel Photographs|
|Series 005.07||News & Programming|
|Series 005.08||Sales and Promotions|
|Series 005.09||Royal Visit/50th Anniversary|
|Series 005.10||News Clippings|
|Series 005.01||History. — 1937-1997. — 6 cm of textual records.The series consists of the logos which have represented CFGP from its creation to its conversion to SUN FM, correspondence from the opening of CFGP in 1937, yearly summaries detailing the activities of CFGP from1937 to 1997, and one 1962 scrapbook containing news clippings and memorabilia.|
|Series 005.02||Physical Plant. — 1937-1997. — 2 cm of textual records. — 88 photographs. — 3 blueprints.The series consists of 10 photographs of the original plant and transmitter towers built north of the town of Grande Prairie in 1937; 3 blueprints, land deeds, correspondence and 18 photographs regarding the tower and transmitter sites; 2 photographs of the station built on the corner of Richmond Ave and 99th Street; 54 photographs of the new building was opened on 103 Avenue and Clairmont Road; and 14 photographs of the move and new broadcasting studio in Nordic Court in 1987.|
|Series 005.03||Broadcasting Market. — 1937-1984. — 7 cm of textual records.The series consists of 121 telegrams sent in from all over the broadcast area on opening day, November 2, 1937, reporting on the quality of the transmission; letters of community support for an FM Station in 1978-79; an proposal to start FM transmitting in 1985-86; and efforts to expand the market into Tumbler Ridge in 1981, Valleyview in 1982 and High Level in 1983.|
|Series 005.04||Administration. — 1950-1990. — 10 cm of textual records. — 20 photographs.The series consists of Market Statistics produced by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement from 1958-1979 which estimate the number of households tuned in to CFGP at any given hour of the day; in-depth Market Reports from 1960-1968 which analyse the population of the area; two financial reports from 1961 and 1988; correspondence files from 1969 to 1984; 4 photographs of early admin staff and a series of 16 photographs (also the slides and negatives) of administrative personnel in their offices in 1990.|
|Series 005.05||Personnel Photographs. — 1937-1997. — 261 photographs.The series consists of 5 photographs of the first five staff in 1937; 10 photographs of staff before 1958; 83 photographs of staff in the 1960s and 70s including the 1963 photo of a group standing with spades to mark the place where the new CFGP station was to be built; 81 photographs of staff in the 1980s; and 28 photographs of staff in the 1990s. There are also 54 photographs of staff events, such as farewells, summer camp-outs and Christmas celebrations.|
|Series 005.06||Production. — 1944-1989. — 6 cm of textual records. — 15 photographs.The series consists of material written by creative writers for programs and commercials. There are announcer scripts for “The Land of Twelve Foot Davis” a history program written by J.G. MacGregor which aired from 1953-1954; announcer scripts for “Pionera: GWG Salute to Pioneers” which aired from 1960 to 1961, including original submissions from the public; A 1969-70 document called ‘In the Public Interest’ which details CFGP involvement in the community; Local Talent searches from 1986-89; and 11 photographs of Jane Cada’s program, Feedback. There are also photographs of Iona-Jewel Frelund (4 ½ years old) at the mike for a Gospel Broadcast in 1944; Mel Rodacker’s Old-timers band in 1948; and two photos of Jack Soars doing interviews for Open-Line c. 1965.|
|Series 005.07||News & Programming. — 1937-1961.The series consists of program schedules for Nov. 14-Nov. 20, 1937; July 10-16, 1938; and the month of July, 1941; a ‘Home-O-Gram’ program booklet for Radio Programs in the winter of 1949-50; and an order of worship c. 1960 for the ‘Pioneer Radio Church of the North’, St. Paul’s United Church. There is also an in-house called “A Study of News” looking at news broadcasts from 1971-1975.|
|Series 005.08||Sales and Promotions. — 1945-1991. — 8 cm of textual records. — 467 photographs.The series consists of collections of publications, photographs and anniversary celebration correspondence and memorabilia. The publication files are of ‘Northland Calling’ in 1945; ‘Segue’, put out by Selkirk Communications from 1983-88; a Cookbook of recipes from listeners printed c. 1985; and the Gazette, published for CFGP by the Daily Herald in 1990. Sales and Promotions Photographs show CFGP in its role in the community, both as an advertising business and as a promoter of public events. CFGP sponsored their own events, but also advertised and participated in events for charity. Events included: the Christmas Tree Burn, Family Ski Bus to Powder King, Showcase of the Stars, Family Day events, Trade Fairs, CFGP Scholarship Program, Secretary’s Luncheon, Bed Races, Bath-tub Races, Dinosaur Festivals, United Way events, Peace Country Summer Fairs and Parades, Great Canadian Duck Race, July 1st events, Terry Fox Run, Horse Racing, Civic Elections and many more. Anniversary files for the 20th , 25th, 45th and 50th anniversaries contain special publications, correspondence and a few photographs. There are also two promotional posters and two posters celebrating CFGP’s 45th Birthday and a “What Price Freedom” promotional map.|
|Series 005.09||Royal Visit/50th Anniversary. — 1984-1988. — 6 cm of textual records. — 37 photographs. — 2 video recordings.In 1987, the 50th anniversary was marked by a Royal Visit from the Duke and Duchess of York, Andrew and Sarah, to open the new facility in Windsor Court. The series consists of the plans and events for the day itself; correspondence before and after the event regarding the planning and protocol; copies of news clippings covering the Royal Tour; photographs of the event; and two videos: a VHS titled “Christmas Tour of CFGP ’87 by Paul Ouellette and Tim Kennedy”, and a master tape of the Royal Tour of Grande Prairie on July 25, 1987 by the Duke and Duchess of York.|
|Series 005.10||News Clippings. — 1937-1990. — 1 cm of textual records.The series consists of miscellaneous clippings detailing the opening of the station and its activities over the years.|