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A century of broadcasting

Queen’s community radio station CFRC celebrates its anniversary and its status as one of the world’s oldest operating radio stations.

  • CFRC programmer at work in the mid to late 1950s. (Queen's Archives)
    CFRC programmer at work in the mid to late 1950s. (Queen's Archives)
  • Northern Electric mic mixer for sports broadcasts. (Queen's Archives)
    Northern Electric mic mixer for sports broadcasts. (Queen's Archives)
  • Former CFRC staffer Phil Brown in the Transmitter Room in 1971. (Queen's Archives)
    Former CFRC staffer Phil Brown in the Transmitter Room in 1971. (Queen's Archives)
  • The entrance to CFRC at Carruthers Hall.
    The entrance to CFRC at Carruthers Hall.

For the past 100 years CFRC has been providing radio programming that has helped connect, inform, and entertain the Queen’s and Kingston community. Originally created by Queen’s Engineering faculty and students in Fleming Hall in 1922, CFRC is now one of the oldest campus stations in the world. 

The station produces a mix of music programs covering a wide variety of genres, interview shows, news segments, and podcasts. Among the alumni who have shared the airwaves are renowned CBC broadcasters Lorne Greene and Shelagh Rogers, and Sportsnet NHL commentator Chris Cuthbert.

“CFRC volunteers are able to offer perspectives that really do enhance the academic and cultural life of Queens University, as well as our broader community,” says Dinah Jansen, Executive Director of CFRC. “There are so many things that are happening at Queen's University and in Kingston itself and we want to offer opportunities for as many people as possible to be able to participate in the conversation with their own voices, from their own perspectives.”

Celebratory Event

CFRC will be holding a special event to recognize its centennial anniversary. On Oct. 7, at 1 p.m. an outdoor plaque will be unveiled outside of Carruthers Hall to celebrate the occasion. Principal and Vice-chancellor Patrick Deane, City of Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, and student government leaders will offer short remarks, alongside Alumni, and distinguished CFRC volunteers and station staff. Tours of the newly renovated recording studio, and a pop-up exhibit organized by the Queen’s Archives will display items with historical significance.

Evolution of CFRC

The station has approximately 100 active volunteers, 50 of whom are students, and 50 coming from the Kingston community. They are supported by seven staff members consisting of three core members, and four students. 

As a community radio station, CFRC is unique in Kingston as it encourages volunteers and staff members to have a voice on current issues and initiatives. In addition to covering news, sports, and weather, CFRC also spotlights researchers and diverse populations in the Queen’s and Kingston community while providing training and the opportunity to develop broadcasting skills. 

Principal Emeritus Daniel Woolf is a long-time supporter, volunteer, and dedicated member of the Board of Directors at the station. He’s the host of Dark Glasses, a show that features an eclectic mix of music, and has been on air since 2012.

“We live in a relatively small city that is underserved by other radio stations in terms of a mix of spoken word and non-top 40 music,” says Daniel Woolf.  “CFRC provides an opportunity for students and interested volunteers such as me to broadcast about things they are passionate about and, I might add, it’s rather humbling to be in such exalted company as some of the former CFRC broadcasters who began their broadcasting careers right here at Queen’s.”

Recently CFRC has built capacity for greater campus and community news reporting through the federal government's Local Journalism Initiative program. These efforts include feature interviews with Queen's researchers, students, and staff members across campus and provide opportunities to share news and their insights, and initiatives for the benefit of the Queen's and wider Kingston communities.

Over the years, CFRC has changed locations, radio transmitters, and weathered differing levels of funding and support from university partners. Following CFRC’s separation from the AMS in 2014, the station has since operated as an independent not-for-profit. During the evolution of station, CFRC has remained committed to amplifying student involvement and providing quality programming.

“I’ve learned that broadcasting takes a lot of creativity, especially when you are the creator and editor of a show,” says Skylar James, second year Media and Performance Production student. “It’s super rewarding to be able to experiment with new ideas and concepts, making a set list with a theme, and editing the show for a platform that is open to hosting a wide variety of programs.”

The changes CFRC has gone through over the years can be seen through the Queen's Archives 100 Years of Radio, a virtual timeline which includes audio of recordings, and photos dating to the early 1900's. 

To learn more visit the CFRC website or tune in to 101.9 FM.