Broadcast areaAlberta
FrequencySee transmitters
BrandingCKUA Radio
FormatCommunity Radio
OwnerCKUA Radio Foundation
First air date
November 21, 1927
Former frequencies
580 kHz (AM)
Call sign meaning
Canada K University of Alberta
Technical information
Classsee chart
Powersee chart

CKUA Radio is a Canadian donor-funded community radio station based in Edmonton, Alberta. Originally located on the campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton (hence the UA of the call letters), it was the first public broadcaster in Canada when it began broadcasting in 1927. It now broadcasts from studios in downtown Edmonton, and as of fall 2016 has added a studio in Calgary's National Music Centre. CKUA's primary station is CKUA-FM, located on 94.9 FM in Edmonton, and the station operates fifteen rebroadcasters to serve the remainder of the province.

As of February 28, 2021, CKUA is the 13th-most-listened-to radio station in the Edmonton market according to a PPM data report released by Numeris.[1]


CKUA announcers in 1931. Source: University of Alberta Archives, UAA-1969-010-037
CKUA on Calgary Trail in Edmonton, October 1941. Source: University of Alberta Archives, UAA-1972-058-1755

CKUA was founded on November 21, 1927[2][3] through a provincial grant which allowed the University of Alberta's Extension Department to purchase the licence of CFCK, which had been on the air since 1922, sharing a frequency with CJCA. CKUA was also the first radio station to offer educational radio programming, including music concerts, poetry readings, and university lectures. From 1930 to 1931 the station was an affiliate of the CNR Radio network.[4]

From 1945 to 1974 CKUA was operated by Alberta Government Telephones.[5] The crown corporation, Alberta Educational Communications Corporation (later known as Access), assumed ownership of the station in 1974.[4] In 1994, Access sold the CKUA network to the non-profit CKUA Radio Foundation for $10.[6] The same year the station won an Alberta Recording Industry Award of Excellence.[2]

On March 20, 1997, the station went off the air for five weeks due to political squabbles, poor financial management, and attempts at privatization.[7][3] The station restarted broadcasting on April 25, 1997, after control was given to the public from directors appointed by the provincial government. As of 2005, more than two-thirds of the station's funding came from its listeners in the form of donations.

In April 2024, CKUA announced that it needed to raise $3 million in donations by September 30, 2024, to avoid closure. Despite rising audience numbers and steady revenue, the station cited factors including the recent inflation surge, limited government funding, and the vacancy and devaluation of the Alberta Hotel building, which it owns and rents out, for its financial struggles.[8][9][10]

Cultural impact

The station's practice of supporting local, independent, and non-commercial artists has helped launch the careers of musicians such as k.d. lang, Jann Arden, and Bruce Cockburn. In addition, CKUA has contributed to the careers of Arthur Hiller, Robert Goulet, and Tommy Banks, among others. Throughout the 1930s an early radio drama series, CKUA Players, was produced out of the station and broadcast throughout Western Canada by a network of stations.[11]


CKUA schedules different programs throughout the week and thus can offer many different genres including blues, bluegrass, R&B, Celtic, country, classical, jazz, reggae, folk, hip hop, dance, funk, rock, roots, and world.

Historic music archive

CKUA's music library boasts one of the largest and most diverse music collections in Canada, with more than 250,000 CDs and LPs, including 10,000 78 rpm records, as well as a few aluminium transcription discs, 45s, and other various media formats.

Broadcast locations

CKUA billboard on its original Alberta Block building headquarters

CKUA was headquartered in the Alberta Block building on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton starting in 1955. In October 2012, CKUA moved into its current location in the Alberta Hotel building, with its first broadcast from the new location on October 15, 2012.[12]

Broadcasting issues

The station's original transmitter was located at 580 kHz in Edmonton. It operated at 10,000 watts. Due to its location near the bottom of the AM dial, as well as its transmitter power, it was powerful enough to cover nearly all of Alberta's densely populated area. It added an FM simulcast on June 28, 1948.[13]

Starting in the 1970s, CKUA built a network of 16 FM repeaters across Alberta. CKUA also broadcasts in western Canada on select cable and satellite providers (such as SaskTel, who carries CKUA across Saskatchewan as a Lloydminster station). As of February 29, 1996, CKUA became the first radio station in Canada to stream their broadcast online, and now has upgraded the service to carry an unlimited number of streams. The station currently[as of?] has more than 250,000 weekly listeners.

Because of CKUA's extensive coverage, the station was one of only a handful of broadcasters (another being CTV Two Alberta, formerly Access) to carry the Alberta Emergency Public Warning System. The provincial government-funded programme provided the station with 12% of its annual income until the contract was lost to an Ottawa firm, Black Coral Inc., in January 2010.[14]

CKUA announced plans to shut down its legacy 580 AM signal, the longest continuously-used AM frequency in Canada, in the spring of 2013. It would have needed to invest as much as $5 million to upgrade the transmitter site to modern standards, an amount it could not afford.[15] However, CKUA did not receive formal approval from the CRTC until September 12, 2013.[16] AM 580 went off the air on November 21, 2013, the station's 86th anniversary.[15][17]

Current on-air personalities

The CKUA program lineup relies on a number of on-air personalities.

Previous on-air personalities


City of licence Frequency Callsign CRTC Decision
Athabasca 0098.3 FM CKUA-FM-10
Banff/Canmore 0104.3 FM CKUA-FM-14 86-1098
Calgary 0093.7 FM CKUA-FM-1
Drumheller/Hanna 0091.3 FM CKUA-FM-13
Edmonton 0094.9 FM CKUA-FM (flagship)
Edson 0103.7 FM CKUA-FM-8
Fort McMurray 0096.7 FM CKUA-FM-11
Grande Prairie 0100.9 FM CKUA-FM-4
Hinton 0102.5 FM CKUA-FM-7
Lethbridge 0099.3 FM CKUA-FM-2
Lloydminster 0097.5 FM CKUA-FM-15
Medicine Hat 0097.3 FM CKUA-FM-3
Peace River 0096.9 FM CKUA-FM-5
Red Deer 0107.7 FM CKUA-FM-6 2007-25
Spirit River 0099.5 FM CKUA-FM-12
Whitecourt 0107.1 FM CKUA-FM-9


  1. ^ "Winter 2021 PPM Data". Retrieved 2021-04-17.
  2. ^ a b "Mercy - Arden collects half a dozen ARIAs". Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, May 30, 1994, p. 12
  3. ^ a b Walters, Marylu (2002). CKUA : radio worth fighting for. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. pp. 307–328. ISBN 0-88864-395-0. OCLC 50403279.
  4. ^ a b "CKUA History from the Canadian Communications Foundation". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-04-27.
  5. ^ CKUA History Archived 2006-10-10 at the Wayback Machine, Canadian Communications Foundation
  6. ^ "CKUA-FM history, Canadian Communications Foundation". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-04-25.
  7. ^ Takach, Geo (1 December 2010). Will the Real Alberta Please Stand Up?. University of Alberta. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-88864-772-6.
  8. ^ "'Perfect storm': CKUA must raise $3M by end of September to stay open". CTV News Edmonton. 2024-04-17. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  9. ^ Patterson, Kelsey (2024-04-17). "Alberta CKUA Radio trying to raise $3 million". CityNews Edmonton. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  10. ^ Frew, Nicholas (2024-04-21). "Canada's 1st public broadcaster needs $3M before October to stay on the air". CBC News. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  11. ^ Radio Drama, English Language, Canadian Encyclopedia, accessed January 23, 2008
  12. ^ "CKUA Radio celebrates new home with ceremonial record delivery". By Caley Ramsay Global News, October 6, 2012
  13. ^ "CKUA Opens New Studios: New F.M. Station Promises Improved Service In Radio". Edmonton Journal. June 28, 1948. p. 7. Retrieved June 14, 2023 – via
  14. ^ "Contract loss forces job cuts at CKUA". January 12, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  15. ^ a b CKUA-AM history Archived 2014-02-26 at the Wayback Machine at Canadian Communications Foundation
  16. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-483, CKUA-FM Edmonton – Deletion of an AM transmitter, CRTC, September 12, 2013
  17. ^ CKUA says goodbye to 580 AM by CKUA Radio Network,, November 21, 2013

External links and references