Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Fifth Radio Station, CJCA, Edmonton, AB

CJCA-CIRK Edmonton Alberta  930 khz   50,000 watts

I arrived in Edmonton as Assistant News Director and Morning Newscaster for CJCA 930.
Joe Meyers was news director.
Bob Lang, who was PD at CJOC in Lethbridge was PD here now.
Terry Strain was Station Manager and Bill Matheson was a Talk Show Host along with Bill Jackson.
The Morning man was Bob Arnold, Gord Whitehead did afternoon Drive.
Bryan Hall was sportsmouth, salesman and seemed to be the primary commercial announcer.
Gord Skutle was Chief Engineer and Andre Picard was his assistant.
I soon joined in the engineering department part time.
I ended up doing hourly and half hourly newscasts on CJCA along with quarter to the hour ad lib newscasts on CIRK.
Upon my arrival at the station, which was fairly new, there was no news format.
Everyone basically went on and said whatever he wanted to.
The station was built in a circle.
The newsroom was the centre of that circle with a view into all of the control rooms and studios.
Arranged around that from the left, CJCA’s main Control room, the associated talk studio, the production Control room and it’s studio, the CIRK main control room and it’s associated studio and the News studio.
Offices surrounded the outer circle.
Later, we built a third control room outside the circle at the rear of the building beside the engineering shop as the CIRK production control.
We had a 50K Continental Main Transmitter for CJCA with a 10K Continental Standby and a generator that would only run the 10K.
It was a new building and tower site, the old one at Ellerslie having been abandoned a few years earlier.
It too had one of those old 5K Marconi monsters.
In the studios, it was all McCurdy boards.
The boards were slider pots.
In CJCA master, there were two ITC 3 decker cart machines on either side of the console along with 2 McCurdy 12” rim drive turntables and Microtrak 303 arms.
At that point, music was played about 50/50 between carts and vinyl.
There were two Ampex 351’s with Inovonics electronics and the various monitoring and remote control equipment.
We also used an Eventide delay unit.
FM was similar but with Panasonic Turntables and the Microtrak Arms.
We actually used Minimus 7 monitors from Radio Shack on the console meter bridge as early nearfields, with McCurdy Amplifed wedges over the window.
The FM Studio had a couple of mics and a triple deck ITC cart machine for news clips.
Later, they added a cheesy Alice board and a Revox tape machine for recording interviews.
When I arrived at the station, they were using a variety of microphones so almost every room sounded different.
There were EV RE 11s in the control rooms and studios.
An old EV 676 was in the newsbooth and couldn’t be moved!
There were a variety of other cheap cheesy mics in use as well.
For remotes, we used the Shure mic/line amp model SM82.
We standardized on Shure SM7 mics  in the studios and control rooms and made some headset mics for the talk shows using small Sony electrets.
The talk show telephone setup consisted of the old 2 piece phone coupler and a multi line set.
The phone received a mix minus feed pre delay feed from the board instead of the internal mic on the keyset.
In the newsbooth was a triple decker ITC and a custom made board with mic on/off switch, cart buttons, monitor and headphone volume, a button to fire one of the ITC decks in Master control, and the best feature of all, a switch which would allow news to seize the program line from the control room and take over the transmitter.
It was great for news bulletins!
We could also go on air from the newsroom itself with a mic by the main work area.
There were two audio work areas in the newsroom, both with homemade boards, headphone monitoring, two Revox tape machines each and a cart record play deck.
Both stations could do phone recording and pick up the mobile units and various line feeds from city hall, police headquarters, etc.
There was a great collection of Vintage mics stored in Engineering.
They had a 44BX, a 74b, a 77DX from RCA.
There were two Shure  SM300’s and a couple of RCA paintbrush models, all salvaged from the old building.
The old transmitter building at Ellerslie also was crammed with old broadcast gear.
CJCA had one of the best traffic plane set ups ever.
They had a plane and pilot supplied by the Edmonton Flying Club and got the service for the price of gas.
The pilots logged extra hours towards their licenses.
The cost was split with the Edmonton Police Force. 
We had a traffic reporter with a two way radio in the plane and the police officer had his own two way connected to the police communications network.
They used it for traffic observation and crime prevention.
Once during rush hour, the plane was used to track the pursuit of some bank robbers!
We had a play by play on air from the air!
The plane was up morning and afternoon drive and Sunday or holiday Monday evenings year round.
I also was the operator for visiting radio during the Edmonton Eskimos home games during their glory years.
We worked out of Commonwealth Stadium, the plushest broadcast facilities of any stadium in Canada.
There were snacks throughout the game, delivered by hostesses and a full blown buffet at half time.
We had a custom made control surface at the stadium along with a Shure SE30 mixer/compressor and custom built talkback between me and the talent.
Broadcasts were handled by phone line.
During my seven years there, I designed two new control rooms, one new production room for the fm station and one for the am station.
Both were four track rooms with custom McCurdy Consoles and 4track Ampex AG440c’s. as well as similar 2 track machines.
They also had ITC cart machines, the 99 series with built in erase/splice find capability and Panasonic SP10MKII turntables with the Grey wooden arms.
We also did one outside concert which was recorded to 24 track at the venue, then mixed down at one of the local recording studios for on air broadcast.
The band was awful, the name escapes me but they never went anywhere.
They couldn’t’ carry a tune in a bucket!
During my seven years there, we had 2 pretty hot radio stations but I was getting frustrated with Edmonton and especially the weather.
I was still doing the morning newscasts on CJCA and CIRK and was assistant news director.
I also worked in the afternoon for the local Muzak franchise, installing and troubleshooting sound systems and intercoms.
One June day, I decided I’d had enough and handed in my resignation.

A Montage of Edmonton Radio Station Logos.

More CJCA memorabilia.

Peg at a CJCA Microphone likely in the '50's.

The 50 thousand watt Continental being removed to make way for a new transmitter.

An early CJCA Chart.

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