Radio is a sound salvation by Cindy J. Sinko, Stratford-Perth Archives

A 1944 map of the coverage area of CJCS Stratford. Stratford-Perth Archives

“This is 10AK broadcasting from the 44th floor of the Knights of Columbus building in Stratford.”

In 1924, area residents would have heard this at the beginning of the broadcast for the local radio station. It was a stretch since, in actual fact, this building was only two storeys high, but it fooled the listener and made them imagine they were hearing the broadcast coming from more of a metropolitan area.

This image from the Stratford-Perth Archives Collection is of a 1944 map that shows the coverage area for CJCS in miles for listeners in urban and rural areas. It could be heard as far as 50 miles away in such places as Bayfield and Clifford during the day but, at night, it had a smaller radius of 30 miles.

From newspapers to radio to TV to the internet, we are lucky to have options in how we are able to obtain our news today. At one time, the only way was newspapers. But new technology in the early part of the 20th century ushered in a new way for people to get news and, for the first time, hear music other than from their gramophone. The long and interesting history of radio and radio broadcasting has evolved over the years.

According to research in the early days of radio, it was controlled under the Radiotelegraph Act of 1913, and a government minister had the power to license radio broadcasting stations. There was a $1 charge for a licence fee for each receiving set. The first licensed radio station was issued in 1919 to XWA, an experimental station in Montreal and was operated by the Canadian Marconi Co.

By 1928, there were more than 60 stations that were operating, but most were working on low power and providing intermittent services. That same year, the government established a Royal Commission to advise on the future of broadcasting in Canada. During this time, development of Canadian radio was still in its infancy so listeners were tuning into American stations since Canadian stations were experiencing interference from unregulated U.S. frequencies. All of these early stations broadcast in AM only. The history of FM stations started after the Second World War, but experimental FM networks didn’t come into being until the 1960s.

Private radio stations established during this time provided the framework for national radio in Canada. It also played a great deal in Canada’s public broadcasting system. This started with the Canadian Broadcasting Commission in 1932.

We here in Stratford and Perth County were lucky enough to have a radio station and still are. Listeners all over the county at one time or another have listened to CJCS. It all began in the early 1920s in Higgins’ Hardware store located at 151 Ontario St. Mr. Higgins obtained an amateur license in 1923 and was assigned the call letters C3GG. He had set up a studio in part of his store and obtained several sets of receivers. He would often invite the public to come in and listen. On occasion, one could hear the broadcast coming from Arnold Flanagan’s music store at 112 Ontario St. Higgins would run a line between the two stores. It was a year later that Higgins’s obtained his commercial license and it became know as the Classic City Radio Station, with the call letters changed to 10AK.

In 1933, the radio station moved to the second floor of the Windsor Hotel on Albert Street and, in 1935, was assigned the call letters CJCS. It remained in this location until March 1947, when the station moved to 125 Ontario St. Today, the station calls 376 Romeo St. home. When it started, as with all stations during that time, it was only in AM but, in 2003, added the FM station Mix 107.7.

As radio shifted from a novelty to becoming a mass medium between 1920 and 1940, radio programming evolved. During the 1920s, most Canadian stations lined their programs with live production of music, drama and story reading, mostly using amateurs. This was the same here, as they used local talent from Stratford and surrounding areas, such as The Chuckwagon Boys.

By the end of the 1930s, listeners were enjoying a wide range of programs, not just of Canadian content but American. When the Second World War broke out, radio was where people would gather to hear what was happening in Europe. Over the years, new formats and shows appeared to entertain and inform the country.

The industry has grown from that first single station in Montreal that started in 1919. Statistics show that, in 2019, there were 963 radio stations in Canada. For many years now, radio has extended its reach via the internet and across all devices. Stations today can simulcast online via their websites. With technology today, there are also apps that can be used on tablets, smartphones and through smart speakers, where listeners can tune into the news, talk radio, sports or entertainment on the go. Source: Beacon Herald Reflections