CKRW marks 50 years of broadcasting
PSR thanks Tim Kucharuk for submitting this article…
By Tim Kucharuk
November 21, 2019
The first private radio station north of 60 went on the air on November 17th, 1969.
CKRW The RUSH is marking a milestone.
The station went on the air at 6 a.m. on November 17th, 1969. Yukoners could tune into 610 AM on their radio dial and hear the latest news, weather, and sports, community events, and the popular music of the day.
Features included the sometimes-controversial call-in program Talkback, as well as birthday greetings and the now-legendary Trader Time.
The station was the first private radio station north of 60 when it was launched by Whitehorse businessman Rolf Hougen. The company is still known today as Klondike Broadcasting.
(Listen: the first few minutes of CKRW courtesy of Yukon Archives.)
In an interview marking the station’s 50th anniversary, Hougen recalls how CKRW got started.
“I had the cable company, and I had spent a lot of time organizing that, and launching that, and running that,” Hougen said. “So I was familiar with communications in general, and I thought it’s time Whitehorse had a privately-owned radio station.”
Listen: Senior Reporter Tim Kucharuk speaks with CKRW founder Rolf Hougen.)
(Hougen visits the CKRW studios Friday morning. Photo: Tim Kucharuk/CKRW.)
Ron McFadyen was the first Production Manager and the first voice on CKRW. He returned to the territory from his home in Ontario to help celebrate 50 years on-air. McFadyen says there was lots of anticipation that first day.
“I remember Mr. Hougen was there at the sign-on at 6 o’clock in the morning,” McFadyen recalled. “Probably some family members, the mayor and a whole bunch of people were in the radio station at 6 o’clock in the morning for the opening day.”
“The next morning there was nobody.”
Listen: Senior Reporter Tim Kucharuk speaks with Ron McFadyen.)
(McFadyen addresses the CKRW 50th-anniversary celebrations at the MacBride Museum Thursday evening. Photo: Tim Kucharuk/CKRW)
CKRW added an FM transmitter on Grey Mountain in 2004 and rebranded as The RUSH.
Besides having transmitters in every Yukon community, the station modernized equipment and expanded broadcasting to include Inuvik in the Northwest Territories.
The station moved into the digital age with a website in 2012, and the RUSH app in 2016.
(McFadyen (left) and Hougen in an undated photo from the Hougen Group of Companies website.)
(Hougen with CKRW’s first manager Al Jensen. Photo: Hougen Group of Companies website.)