May 20, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of radio in Canada. On that day a century ago, the first scheduled radio broadcast in Canada aired on the Montreal-based station, XWA. It became the first radio station to host regular broadcasts in Canada, which is why the station’s call letters were later changed to CFCF – Canada’s first, Canada’s finest.

From these humble beginnings radio has spread to every corner of Canada, and now reflects every facet of Canadian life, including local communities. Over the past hundred years, radio has enabled Canadians to keep abreast of current news and events, discover and promote musical artists, stay in touch with their communities and enjoy original Canadian content. As radio’s popularity grew, so did the need to expand the communications system. By 1922, the country had 39 radio stations in operation. By 1932, there were 77 stations. Shortly after, in 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada was established as a way to ensure citizens stayed connected across the country. The CBC later established news bureaus abroad to provide its audience with a Canadian perspective on international events.

The Canadian Radio-Television Commission (now the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)) was created in 1968 as an independent regulator for the broadcasting system. The Commission’s activities to this day for radio includes: ensuring Canadians have access to a wide array of quality Canadian content and programming, issuing licences to radio stations, and overseeing the ownership and control of radio so it remains in Canada. Over the years, the CRTC established policies to ensure that all regions and cultures, as well as both official languages, were well represented.

Today, there are over 1,000 radio stations operating across Canada. Radio binds together communities and communities of interest, whether it’s a station bringing together a religious community on the prairies, Inuktitut communities in the North, French hip-hop in Montreal, or dozens of others – radio helps bring us together. And Canadians continue to tune in to audio services on AM and FM radio as well as HD and satellite radio. According to the 2019 Communications Monitoring Report, Canadians listen to close to 15 hours of radio per week. In addition, Canadians have been discovering a plethora of audio content on digital platforms.

We’ve seen how radio has evolved over the past 100 years, but how will it fare over the next 100 years? And what kind of technology will enable us to listen to it in more ways and perhaps on even more platforms than today?

Stay tuned as we continue to discover the magic and influence of radio in our lives.

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