CJSR made its first FM broadcast on January 7, 1984—the first song was “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” by Joni Mitchell—but its roots stretch to the founding of CKUA in 1927.
That station, which was owned by the university until 1944 and whose studios were located at the Power Plant, provided the foundation and infrastructure for the creation of the University of Alberta Student Radio Directorate, the direct progenitor of CJSR.
The Radio Directorate, which changed its name to the Radio Society in 1948, broadcast over a closed PA system all over campus, and weathered funding cuts, format changes and a temporary shutdown due to lack of funds. By the ‘70s it had built an AM antenna—that could only broadcast as far as Lister Hall—and gained the call letters CKSR. In 1978 the station was renamed CJSR when a television station in Chilliwack wanted the call sign and the CRTC granted the request.
In 1983, after more than a decade of work, CJSR was granted an FM license at 88.5 FM, the furthest left the dial could go, and focused its attention beyond the university campus from where it still broadcasts. For the past 30 years, CJSR has been a voice for diverse communities not represented on radio anywhere else in the city: it broadcasts alternative news, cultural programming and underground music that cannot be heard anywhere else, with a strong focus on local culture.
CJSR has also long been a place of inclusion, where people of any age and background can learn the various aspects of broadcasting. From board members, to music librarians, technicians, organizers and on-air hosts, CJSR is proud to be volunteer-run radio dedicated to pushing the status quo.
For a more in-depth history of CJSR and public radio in Alberta, listen to our radio documentary “All Ears: A Shared History of CJSR and CKUA.”