The official launch of Winnipeg’s newest full time community FM radio station, 93.7 CJNU, was held on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 10:00 am.
Dozens of invited guests, volunteers and the general public filled the majestic dining room at Assiniboine Links on Roblin Boulevard to be a part of the half-hour live broadcast that kicked off a new era for this community sponsored station.
The event also marked the start of broadcasting via a brand new 500-watt transmitter on the top of 55 Nassau, as Winnipeg’s newest fully licensed 24-hour radio station.
Radio host, Lee Major, anchored the show which included live music and special appearances from CJNU president Ross Thompson, station manager Bill Stewart, Conservative Member of Parliament for Charleswood-St.James Steven Fletcher, Assiniboia NDP MLA Jim Rondeau and Charleswood City Councillor Paula Havixbeck.
The day marked a radio first for Winnipeg, as CJNU is a station truly owned by the community, owned and operated on a largely volunteer basis by its 1000 plus members.
The CJNU story is a fascinating tale of a little station that could. In the mid 1990’s, Lee Smith and a group of volunteers went on the air for two weeks with a low power station to remember Canada’s veterans. Radio’s most loyal listeners, predominantly seniors, loved hearing their favorite tunes and familiar radio voices including Cliff Gardner, Jack Wells and Garry Robertson.
In 2002, the station was licensed as a full fledged commercial operation. It was a success with listeners but unable to generate sufficient revenue and was sold — the dream seemingly ended.
Then in 2006, 22 radio enthusiasts met at Garry Robertson’s house, held an organizational meeting that elected Bill Stewart as President of a newly formed community non-profit co-operative and went on the air in December of that year, and CJNU has broadcast every month since then.
The station’s development was hampered by low power, a requirement to go off the air for a day or more every month and the constant threat of losing its spot on the dial.
In 2009, the station applied to the CRTC to be licensed. After waiting out technical roadblocks and the economic downturn, the CRTC granted a license in February 2013 for a community station that would target audiences that are generally under served.