For several years the British Columbia Institute of Technology Radio Program and Broadcast Journalism Program students had operated a "closed circuit" radio station at BCIT as part of regular classes, but telephone lines to only a few locations, such as the campus pub, routed the signal. On January 22 1982, after being granted a carrier current licence the previous year by the CRTC, B.C. Association of Broadcasters president Noel Hullah, of then CHQM-AM Vancouver, threw the switch to launch CFML (for Canadian FM Learning) on 650 AM with a signal that covered a handful of buildings on campus. Radio Program student Gary Russell, who went on to manage radio stations in Prince George B.C., played the first song on the air - "Listen to the Music" by the Doobie Brothers. As a transmitted station, CFML now was eligible to be carried on cable, and Radio and Broadcast Journalism students moved from being heard by instructors and a few students in a handful of campus locations, to being heard across all the cable systems in Greater Vancouver on 104.5 FM. "Real" listeners won contests, called the station with music requests, spoke their minds on student programming, and ramped up the reality quotient of the training at BCIT.
On October 26, CFML was authorized to change frequencies from 650 to 940 kHz, as local station CISL swapped frequencies from 940 to 650.
CFML operations moved to 24/7 after previously programming from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Although an elusive "on-air signal" seemed beyond reach in such a major market, moves toward a low-power FM transmission ramped up in the new millennium. On December 23, the CRTC approved an application for an instructional campus FM station to operate at 107.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 12 watts. The applicant proposed to offer 126 hours per week of programming responding to the needs and interests of students attending BCIT and reflecting community and university current events. The CRTC noted that the BCIT Radio Society, owner of the license for CFML, is a not-for-profit society whose operating costs are fully covered by the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
On-air planning work began in earnest, with faculty and staff purchasing transmitting equipment, finding a transmitter antenna location, ensuring programming was in top shape, working with students to develop new branding concepts and ultimately working with contractors to erect the transmitting tower, antennas and systems atop Burnaby's Metrotower 1 complex, about two km south of the campus.
The antenna erection was completed in early March, and a brief burst of transmission indicated all systems were go. With Industry Canada approval of the installation, CFML launched as "Evolution 107.9...the evolution of radio!" just before noon on Tuesday, March 7. This ushered in a new era for training for students in BCIT's four-decade-old Broadcast and Media Communications department. Evolution 107.9 offered a solid clear signal across Greater Vancouver, and the reality quotient of broadcast training at BCIT has reached a new peak. Around 200 voices and faces heard and seen in the Greater Vancouver market got their start in BCIT's Broadcast programs.
On August 31, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence of CFML Burnaby until August 31, 2012. The Commission noted that licence renewal applications for this station had not been received. If the licence renewal application was not been received by November 30, 2011, the Commission may not renew the licence further.
John Oliver of BCIT in Burnaby, the CFML operations manager and assistant radio instructor, retired December 16 (2011) after 10 years with the institute. Succeeding him was Brian Wiebe, an alumni of BCIT, and the program director / morning host at Q101 Merritt where he worked the last nine years.
On August 8, the CRTC administratively renewed the licence for CFML-FM until August 31, 2013.
B.C.I.T. Radio Society requested the revocation of its broadcasting licence for the English-language carrier current AM radio programming undertaking CFML Burnaby. Given the licensee's request and pursuant to sections 9(1)(e) and 24(1) of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission revokes the broadcasting licence issued to B.C.I.T. Radio Society for the above-mentioned undertaking. (March 4, 2013)
Updated by Bill Dulmage - May, 2013