CKUA News and Current Affairs programming over the years has captured many momentous events, particularly in the area of political history. Provincial and national elections, Alberta budgets and throne speeches; the Canadian Commercial Bank Failure, Pierre Elliot Trudeau's farewell from politics and the Papal visit. These are just some of the thousands of newsworthy events covered and presented by CKUA's team of professional journalists over the years. Some of these recordings date back as far as the original signing on the airwaves of CKUA in 1927. But regardless of their vintage, many provide an excellent insight into the issues and stories of their day.
News and Current Affairs, by Sharon Vasey
For the first twenty years or so, CKUA was primarily known for its university lectures and its music and plays - news and sports taking a back seat. With the Canadian Press and British United Press supplying most of the news and sports via teletype, the on-duty announcer would simply "rip 'n' read" the copy over the air. This changed not long after World War II.
In 1945, Geoff Nightingale became the first news director and expanded this service by covering local events and conferences and going out into the province for interviews. He was aided by the first, somewhat clumsy and unreliable, tape recorders. Farm information and Legislative reports were added, making CKUA's News Department a reality. In 1947, Art Ward became CKUA's sports director. An avid sportsman himself, he interviewed many of the greats of the day, initiated remote broadcasts of football and hockey games, and presented a fifteen-minute sportscast daily.
Technically, there have been numerous changes over the years in news coverage. Those awkward tape recorders have been replaced by highly sophisticated machines: broadcasts now feature "carts" (tape cartridges) with news clips gathered from all over the world, and three radio services - Broadcast News, Newsradio, and Canada News Wire - now provide up-to-the-minute coverage for CKUA broadcast. In terms of staff, there has been expansion and shrinkage, according to the fortunes (or lack thereof) of the time. Over the years, there have been news bureaus in Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, and Red Deer. The Calgary Bureau now covers the southern half of the province.
The News and Public Affairs Department of CKUA has several achievements of which it is particularly proud. The appointment of a full-time Legislative reporter (in 1947). The first to broadcast a provincial budget and, later, to offer complete coverage of the visit of Pope John Paul II. And daily broadcast of Question Period in the Legislature.
The Conservative Leadership Convention in October, 1985, was the impetus for another CKUA first - the station's most sophisticated remote broadcast to date. A team of sixteen reporters, announcers, and technicians provided fifteen hours of continuous live coverage, unmatched by any other broadcast news service. The Department has also produced documentaries and panel discussions on issues of the day. And, in 1983, its "Hiroshima Revisited" was awarded "Best of the West" as the winning public affairs radio documentary.
"News and Public Affairs" by Sharon Vasey. Reprinted from A Sound For All Seasons: CKUA's 60th Anniversary with permission from CKUA Radio Network.