It is believed to be the fourth oldest radio station in Canada and the oldest radio station in Saskatchewan. This weekend CHAB Moose Jaw is celebrating 100 years on the air.
The story began in 1922 – on April 23, 1922 when, after much meeting, planning and anticipation, 10-AB began broadcasting. According to Broadcasting-History.com, the Moose Jaw Amateur Radio Association “originally planned to operate the station, but found they couldn’t afford to operate it, so they turned it over to the Kiwanis club. 10-AB was licensed as a non-commercial station at 1200 kHz with 50 watts of power.”
One hundred years later, in 2022, the signal at 800 on the AM radio dial is blasting across the province and across the northern United States with 10,000 watts of power with studios located at the top of Main Street in Moose Jaw , Saskatchewan, broadcasting via a transmitter located near Pasqua, just southeast of Canada’s “most notorious town”.
It was in the fall of 1922 that the Kiwanis Club transformed 10-AB into the reorganized Moose Jaw Radio Association and in 1924 the studio was moved from the old YMCA building to the top floor of the Bellamy Furniture Store, a building which still stands to this day, having been converted into an apartment building on Main Street downtown.
In 1931 there was another move to new studios at the Grant Hall Hotel, a charming historic building which has been completely refurbished.
Financial difficulties in 1933 would lead to 10-AB going off the air on November 11. The history books tell us that Rudy Vallée “provided the background for the signature chant I’m Heading To The Last Roundup.” It wasn’t until weeks later that 10-AB returned to the airwaves as CHAB after obtaining a commercial broadcast license from the federal government. Carson Buchanan, the secretary of the Amateur Radio Association, would own the radio station with partners and become the general manager of CHAB.
It was in 1937 that one of the first true radio stars to leave Moose Jaw began his career. Elwood Glover got his start at CHAB, working for $5.00 a week. Glover would later become CBC Radio’s chief announcer.
In fact, CHAB was a CBC affiliate from 1933 until 1962 when the CBC’s Dominion network folded and they became an independent station.
Many loyal, long-time listeners can tell you about the different programs and formats they’ve had over the years. CHAB was a top 40 station in the 60s and many young people relied on them to play all the new Beatles songs at the time. They stuck with pop music and rock ‘n roll for most of the 60s through the 70s and into the 80s when, for a time, we were “Favorites of Yesterday and Today. ‘today’. Many will never forget the historic shift to country music in the mid-90s when they were renamed “Country 800”. The move came just days before the popular Craven Country Jamboree, now known as Country Thunder.
It was 2002 when CHAB, under the ownership of Golden West Broadcasting, returned to rock ‘n roll with the format “The Greatest Hits of All Time”, as Golden West expanded its operations to Moose Jaw with the addition of a new FM station. , CILG – Country 100 – 100.7 FM.
Twenty years later, the CHAB flagship is now flanked by two FM stations, with the addition of CJAW – Mix 103.9, and they own and operate DiscoverMooseJaw.com, Moose Jaw’s daily source for local news and information.
Over the course of 100 years they have changed hands many times with many, many famous broadcasters and artists debuting right here at CHAB. You can find a chronological history on the right here.
Golden West Broadcasting, under CEO Elmer Hildebrand, purchased CHAB 30 years ago in 1992 from then-owners Moffat Communications.
It was a transaction that Mr. Hildebrand remembers fondly.
“There were a variety of stations that Moffat Communications had and we were interested in Moose Jaw but the way the whole deal shook up we had to take a station in Calgary and one in Hamilton to make it work because we were doing this deal with three other broadcasters…so they convinced me, it was an operation of Ted Rogers who was leading the process, they convinced me that in addition to Moose Jaw, we should also take Calgary and Hamilton, which we did. But Calgary and Hamilton are much bigger cities than we used to operate in. We used to operate in smaller communities and we eventually left Calgary and Hamilton and have chosen to focus only on the smaller communities on the Prairies,” explained Mr. Hildebrand.
Golden West Broadcasting brought a new perspective and culture to CHAB in 1992 with a focus on local news, local weather and local sports – a spirit that remains to this day, 30 years later.
“If you keep it local no one else does and so you have a unique product. That’s what we’ve been able to do over the years. That’s the kind of thing that sets us apart from a lot of other broadcasters and from my perspective, that’s the only reason we’re still here,” Hildebrand said.
And while Golden West Broadcasting has owned CHAB for 30 of its 100 years, Hildebrand has worked hard in the industry for 65 years, beginning his career as an editor at CFAM in Altona, Manitoba.
“It’s been an amazing journey and I’ve enjoyed it very much. Working in the type of environment we operate in, we’re blessed to be able to create anything we can imagine. If we can imagine anything, we can actually do it and we can do it on the radio and on our portals. What motivates me the most is the service we provide to our listeners. We have so many listeners in the Prairies it amazes me. They are there every day…and we have to make sure that we provide the kind of interesting radio service that they want to come back to tomorrow and the next day and again and again and again So the whole concept of creating local news for local communities by local employees, that’s what drives me.”
CHAB is a sister station to AM1190, Magic 103.5 FM and Big 106.