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May 31, 2015 9:28 am  #1

Book tunes into history of Flin Flon, northern Manitoba radio

Interesting read for any fan of radio...
(Via The Reminder)

With the flick of a switch, Flin Flon changed forever on November 14, 1937.

The birth of CFAR radio ushered in a new era of entertainment, information and communication for the community and the broader area.

“It probably brought the entire region closer together, no question about it,” says Garry Moir, a veteran Manitoba broadcaster and journalist.

Moir dedicates a chapter to northern Manitoba in his new book, On the Air: The Golden Age of Manitoba Radio.

Broadcasting in the region originated with CFAR, the brainchild of a radio-loving entrepreneur named Monty Bridgman.

“He decided that he would try to get this radio station going in Flin Flon in the 1930s, which was not a very good time because there was a Depression going on and it took them a long time to get it off the ground,” says Moir.

Bridgman and two partners promoted the idea of a Flin Flon radio station as early as 1934, but they didn’t secure a license until May 1937.

Hit airwaves

After several months of devising and testing the necessary infrastructure, CFAR hit the airwaves from a studio near the rear of the long-defunct Northern Café on Main Street.

“It was so important in that there obviously had never been anything like it before,” Moir says. “Radio had been going in southern Manitoba since the early 1920s [but] the North never really had any radio until CFAR came along.”

Though CFAR was born some two years before the end of the Great Depression, Moir believes the station made sense as a business investment.

“Flin Flon had established itself as a fairly important mining community, and it had the potential for some significant growth,” he says. “Clearly there was a population big enough to probably support a radio station, in good times anyway.”

CFAR’s early days were dominated by local content, such as Bert Wilson calling barn dances and the band Welcome Morris and His Oldtimers performing from the old Elks Hall.

More famously, CFAR became the first radio station in Canada, and most certainly the world, to broadcast in Cree.

The show was called Teepee Tidings, also known as Teepee Chitchat, hosted by the English- and Cree-speaking Rev. Ray Horsefield.

Teepee Tidings grew into a key source of communication for Aboriginal people in the region.

Cree-speaking patients staying at Flin Flon General Hospital could now relay messages – “My surgery went well” and the like – to family back home.

Anglers and trappers in the middle of the wilderness could receive messages from family.

Perhaps just as importantly, Aboriginal people could feel a greater sense of inclusion as industry reshaped the region’s identity.

“[CFAR was] a leader in Aboriginal broadcasting and that’s pretty significant,” says Moir.

Everyone in the region – Cree-speaking or not – would benefit from other important messages relayed by CFAR, be it news of a forest fire or a mining development.



Last edited by ig (May 31, 2015 9:29 am)

Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.

May 31, 2015 10:59 am  #2

Re: Book tunes into history of Flin Flon, northern Manitoba radio


May 31, 2015 11:03 am  #3

Re: Book tunes into history of Flin Flon, northern Manitoba radio

It's funny how the 'golden age' depends on the person and their career .  For me, the 'golden age' was probably 1982 through 1990.  Radio seemed to 'change'  after that, not better or worse, but different.   I'm quite certain in 25 years, these will also be the 'golden age' for people also.  And no reason why they shouldn't be.   

I once lamented on the 'golden age' in an old radio newsroom, and it was quickly pointed out that it was the 'golden age' if you were old, white, male and smoked.  But for everyone else, not so much. 

It's all perspective I guess.


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.
     Thread Starter