Electronics enthusiast Clarence (Casey) Wells, and Jack Menzies of Menzies
Hardware, started the station to promote the sale of radios and batteries. Reception of Vancouver stations was poor due to low power and the mountains in the Fraser Valley. Wells located a primitive five watt transmitter, owned by Earl Streeter of nearby Mission City, which had been used in a World War One submarine. They applied to the Department of Marine and Fisheries for a licence after putting the station on the air from the second floor of the hardware store, and were subsequently issued licence number 100 as 5CG on 1210 kHz. Initially, the station was on the air for two hours a day - noon to 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Hours of operation actually depended on whether the owners would get back to the store after being out selling radios. 5CG was named by an American trade paper as, "The smallest commercial radio station in North America".
The station's first of broadcasting was June 23rd.
The August 31, 1928 edition of the U. S. government publication “Radio Service Bulletin” listed the station as CHWK Chilliwack with 5 watts on 1210 kHz.
1929 The owners advertised for a repairman. Jack Pilling, who was living in nearby Haney, applied and held out for a salary demand of $100 a month. Pilling also worked on-air, filling in when Wells was busy with other duties. The station acquired an electric turntable to replace one that was cranked by hand.
CHWK moved to 665 kHz and increased power to 100 watts.
Around this time, the owners started selling air time at 80 cents an item.
To allow for a furniture department, the station equipment was moved to the second floor of the Fashion Bakery next door by knocking out a hole in the wall between them.
The station became an affiliate of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC). Under the policies of the day, local affiliates originated network programs. One of the standout network feeds was “Buster and His Merry Mountaineers”, considered big time entertainment for a small town.
Casey Wells purchased Menzies’ stock, to take over control of the station. Programming was geared to farming in the area, the main industry of the Fraser Valley.
On April 22, 1933 Vancouver newspapers reported the frequency change of numerous stations in North America, including Vancouver, and the assignment of CHWK to 780 kHz.
The station played an important part in local communications after the ice storm of January 21, which hit the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley areas. Chilliwack reported 29 inches of snow with all the power lines down. Full service wasn’t restored until mid February.
CHWK received approval to increase power from 100 to 250 watts. The power increase went into effect later in the year.
CHWK covered the Canadian visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as the entourage, travelling by train, made a short stopover in Chilliwack.
Jack Pilling became an equal partner in the station, and was active there until 1958.
During the 1940s, it thrived as a CBC affiliate. CHWK was able to broadcast much of what the network had to offer, and under network policy continued to originate programming for the CBC
Under the Havana Treaty CHWK moved from 780 to 1340 kHz (Class IV) on March 29. Power was 100 watts.
To meet growing demands for network time during the evenings, largely due to the war, the CBC set up a second network for commercial sponsorship. The network's first sponsor (on an experimental basis) was the Gillette Safety Razor Co. The Mutual Broadcasting System originated boxing events for 26 Canadian stations through the CBC, plus the MBS affiliate - CKLW Windsor. The second network had 23 Canadian stations with alternative stations in Montreal to meet local conditions there. The new network would operate only after 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Over the past year, private stations had been anxious to have such a network - outside of CBC control. However, under the Radio Act, the CBC had full control over all networks in the country. It was felt that a full second network with full day and night programming was not feasible or economically possible at this time. CBC-owned stations affiliated with the new network: CBK Watrous, CBA Sackville and CBY Toronto. Privately-owned stations affiliated with the new network were: CJOR Vancouver, CHWK Chilliwack, CFCN Calgary, CFRN Edmonton, CJRM Regina, CJGX Yorkton, CJRC Winnipeg, CKCA Kenora, CJIC Sault Ste Marie, CKOC Hamilton, CKTB St. Catherines, CFPL London, CFCO Chatham, CKLW Windsor, CKCR Kitchener, CKCO Ottawa, CFCF or CHLP Montreal, CHLT Sherbrooke, CKNB Campbellton, and CJLS Yarmouth.
During World War II, a volunteer program called “Field Fighters” was initiated to assist farmers in the Chilliwack area to harvest an estimated one million dollar crop. The program was assisted by CHWK every Monday at 7:45 p.m.
The basic CBC national network was renamed the Trans-Canada Network and CHWK became part of the new CBC Dominion Network on January 2.
CBC Dominion Basic Stations: CJFX, CHNS, CFCY, CKCW, CKNB, CJLS, CKCO, CHOV, CFBR, CJBC, CHEX, CFPL, CFCO, CFPA, CHLT, CFCF, CKRC, CJGX, CKX, CKRM, CHAB, CFQC, CKBI, CFCN, CFRN, CJRL, CHWK, CJOR, CJVI.
The Chilliwack Broadcasting Co. announced the following appointments and promotions at CHWK: C. Casey Wells (president and business executive), Jack Pilling (managing director), William G. Teetzel (commercial manager), Murdoch Maclachlan (production manager).
June Hanson left CHWK to work on-air at CKMO Vancouver. CHWK staff included Bill Teetzel, Bert Turvey, Gina Haron, Casey Wells and Gordon Rose. Bill Mavor joined the CHWK announcing staff.
Cece Fox was an announcer at CHWK.
On June 23, CHWK marked 20 years and threw the switch on new equipment, at an open house event. A new RCA 250-L quarter kilowatt transmitter was now in operation. Construction of new studios and offices were started last year and were now completed. Messages from dignitaries and ten other stations were aired. The new studios were located on Yale Road East.
CHWK again provided necessary communications to the Fraser Valley as an unusually long, hot May weekend caused a dike to breach, leading to the evacuation of an estimated 1,200 people, 250 homes and 1,600 cattle from the nearby community of Glendale, just over one kilometre from Chilliwack. The station served the community by transmitting messages and directing repair crews.
After graduating from Sprott-Shaw Community College in Vancouver, Bill Wolfe started with the station as a DJ. He went on to host “Bill's Breakfast Bell”, “Let's Talk” and “Bill's Partyline” during the 1950s and ‘60s before becoming part owner.
| Bill Wolfe - 1957
Don Murray applied for an FM station at Chilliwack. The proposal was turned down by the CBC in favour of CHWK, who the Board understood would be making an FM application in the near future.
CHWK received CBC approval to change frequency from 1340 to 1230 kHz. Power would remain 250 watts. Later in the year, approval was received to change the frequency from 1230 to 1270 kHz and to increase power from 250 to 1,000 watts.
Jack Pilling was manager and W.G. Teetzel was commercial manager.
In order to combat television, the station launched a mid-morning open line program. Murdo Maclachlan, general manager and part owner of the station at the time, claimed it was one of the first in Canada to do so. However, several other stations around the country also made the same claim in the early 1950s.
CHWK moved from 1340 to 1230 on April 14. Bill Teetzel arrived on the scene at this time. Power increased to 1000 watts.
Tom Gould started is career at CHWK around this time.
The September 13-19 edition of the CBC Times showed a move by CHWK from 1230 to 1270 kHz.
Norm Grohmann, who went on to a lengthy career at CKNW in New Westminster B.C. and as the CHAN-TV (BCTV) Vancouver weatherman, started with the station.
Jack Pilling received CBC approval to acquire Fraser Valley Broadcasters and he became president of the company.
The Rotary Club of Chilliwack started a radio auction on CHWK to raise funds for the Community Chest.
Alex Moir did sports and Jim McDonald was a newscaster.
A number of radio stations in the Vancouver region applied for frequency changes. CHWK wanted to move from 1270 kHz to 1130 kHz and increase power from 1,000 watts to 10,000 watts. The application was denied.
The station was listed as being owned by Fraser Valley Broadcasters Ltd. with Jack Pilling as the largest shareholder with 73.4%.
CHWK applied to move from 1270 to 980 kHz and increase power from 1,000 to 5,000 watts. The CBC Board of Governors approved CKNW's (New Westminster) application for 980 kHz so CHWK would have to remain at 1270 on the dial. Another applicant had proposed a new station at Burnaby, also using 980. It too was turned down.
According to Elliott-Haynes CHWK reached a total of 69,881 adult listeners every day.
CHWK’s power was increased to 10,000 watts, still on 1270 kHz.
Ad - CHWK "Voice of the Fraser Valley" serving B.C.'s top farm area with 10,000 watts. Fraser Valley feeds Vancouver and accounts for half of B.C.'s farm produce.
On August 20, Fraser Valley Broadcasters established CFVR in nearby Abbotsford as a semi-satellite of CHWK, operating on 1240 kHz with 250 watts of power. CFVR had its own morning show, with the balance of programming from Chilliwack.
Jack Pilling retired as the majority owner and president of Fraser Valley Broadcasters.
Bruce Kirkpatrick made his broadcasting debut at CHWK. He went on to file over 10,000 stories over 29 years in television as a senior feature reporter at CHEK-TV Victoria.
Bill Wolfe helped pioneer the introduction of cable TV by becoming the owner, president and manager of Valley Televue, positions he held until 1973.
| Bill Wolfe
By this time, Fraser Valley Broadcasters was owned by Murdo MacLachlin, Bill Wolfe and Bill Teetzel. Dennis Barkman came into the picture and purchased the interest held by Teetzel.
Dennis Barkman was appointed managing director of CHWK and CFVR. He had been vice president and sales director for the past three years. He succeeded Murdo MacLauchlan who was managing director since 1958 and was withdrawing from active management and broadcasting but would retain his interests in the company of which he was president. Bill Wolfe, who was also withdrawing from Broadcasting would continue as a director of the company.Ad: Blanket the Fraser Valley with CHWK 1270 / CFVR 1240.
| Dennis Barkman
On July 3, a transfer of shares for Fraser Valley Broadcasters was approved. 227 common shares transferred from the existing shareholders to Dennis Barkman. A subsequent transfer saw 105 common shares go from Barkman to five new shareholders. When Barkman purchased Teetzel’s interest in the company in 1966, he had an option to acquire the shares held by MacLachlan and Wolfe, which he exercised in 1969.
Jim Leith was news director.
History repeated itself on January 20, as the area’s second major ice storm of the century descended on the Fraser Valley. Once again, The Fraser Valley Radio stations provided needed communications to the community as power was out in many areas for about a week. On May 8, a second rebroadcaster, CKGO went on the air in Hope at 1490 kHz, with 250 watts. It aired two hours of local programming per day with the remainder originating at CHWK. At this time, Dennis Barkman, Gerry Pash, Gene Ross, Ken Davis, Bob Singleton and Harold Roberts owned the company.
W. J. Coombes and J. R.Singleton were given approval to purchase 27.8% on Fraser Valley Broadcasting Ltd. from K. L. Davis, D. C. Barkman & G.W. Pash.
Bill Coombes succeeded Dennis Barkman as President. On November 11, station co-founder Clarence (Casey) Wells died in Chilliwack at age 74.
In February sister station CFVR Abbotsford moved to 850 kHz and increased power to 10,000 watts. CKGO Hope later took over CFVR's old 1240 frequency and increased power to 1000 watts day/250 night.
Jack Pilling died. He joined CHWK in 1929 and later became Managing Director of the station. He became a major shareholder and President of Fraser Valley Broadcasting in 1955 and retired in 1963.
Bill Wolfe semi-retired to give time as president of the Kinsmen Club, the Chamber of Commerce and a member of K-40.
In June a CBC-FM rebroadcaster of CBU Vancouver went on the air in Chilliwack. This paved the way for CHWK/CFVR/CKGO to drop their CBC affiliation.
On October 1, Fraser Valley Broadcasters signed on the original CKSR-FM at 107.5 MHz in Chilliwack, with a rebroadcaster (originally CFSR-FM) in Abbotsford at 104.9 FM, with a mixed adult contemporary/easy listening format, identifying as “Star-FM”.
Barry McMaster was STAR-FM's program director.
CHWK general manager Bill Coombes was promoted to president and general manager of Fraser Valley Broadcasters. Dennis Barkman remained as a director of the company. Gary Milne took over as general manager of CHWK.
Gary Milne, who had taken over management of CHWK/CFSR-FM earlier in the year, left to become sales VP at CKWX in Vancouver.
On June 25 CFVR flipped from adult contemporary to oldies and changed call letters to CKMA, identifying as “85 Radio MAX”.
On September 8, CHWK and rebroadcast station CKGO Hope became “Radio Max” as they joined their Abbotsford station CKMA with the ”Greatest Rock and Roll Hits of All Time” format.
Fraser Valley Broadcasters president Bill Coombes wasn't talking, but word was filtering out of Star-FM that morning host Rick Honey, the high profile hire from last fall, would be leaving the station by the end of October and that Star-FM, which had been hoping to make inroads in the Vancouver market, would revert to its roots - broadcasting to the smaller markets of the BC lower mainland.
Rogers Broadcasting moved to acquire Bill Coombes' Fraser Valley Radio Group (CHWK/CKSR-FM Chilliwack, CKGO Hope, and CKMA Abbotsford). While the AM's were geared to a local presence, STAR-FM (CKSR) had three transmitters that had the potential of reaching two million people in the lower mainland. Coombes said he was delighted with the sale and that Rogers was a perfect fit. Fraser Valley Broadcasters (Fraser Newco) was sold to Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. in August, with CRTC approval on September 10.
On February 25, the CRTC heard application by Rogers Broadcasting to convert CHWK from the AM band to FM 98.3 directional with an average effective radiated power of 2340 watts (5000 watts peak). Additionally, application was made to move CKGO Hope from AM to FM 100.5 omni-direction with an effective radiated power of 157 watts. On June 9, the CRTC approved the CHWK application and on December 15 approval was given to CKGO. Interveners, Corus Entertainment and Standard Radio had expressed concern the station would target the Vancouver market. Rogers responded that the station’s 3mV/m contour would fall outside of Vancouver and hence would be difficult to receive there. In September, CHWK, while still on the AM band, changed official call letters to CKSR, but continued to identify as “Radio Max”.
CKSR FM 98.3 Chilliwack started testing its new FM transmitter in July with the slogan "Star 98.3, The Valley's New Light Rock". On August 31 the "Star-FM" trio of CKSR-FM 98.3 Chilliwack, CFSR-FM 107.1 Abbotsford and CKIS-FM 100.5 Hope officially launched as "The Valley's Light Rock". The three new FM stations replaced the AM frequencies of 1270, 850 and 1240 respectively, but simulcast for the allowable three-month period. On December 3, after several days of running announcements that its Fraser Valley stations had moved to the FM dial, the three Fraser Valley AM transmitters became silent.
Rogers’ Abbotsford stations CKVX-FM-1 “X-FM” and CFSR-FM “STAR-FM” swapped frequencies at the end of April putting CKVX-FM-1 on 107.1 and CFSR-FM on 92.5. On June 20 the two stations returned to their previous frequencies. The corporate name changed from Rogers Radio (British Columbia) Ltd. to Rogers Broadcasting.
Early co-owner John (Murdo) Maclachlan died July 8 in North Vancouver at the age of 93. He was widely hailed for his years of community service and during his lengthy broadcast career had served on the executive of the Board of Broadcast Governors.
In early April, sister station CKVX-FM 107.5 Chilliwack became CKCL-FM (the CL in the calls for "Clear") with rebroadcasters CKCL-FM-1 92.5 Abbotsford and CKCL-FM-2 104.9 Vancouver.
On March 25, sister station CFSR-FM 107.1 Abbotsford separated from CKSR-FM Chilliwack and changed from “The Valley's Lite Rock” to “Today's Country Favourites”. CKSR-FM continued as “STAR-FM, The Valley's Lite Rock.”
Bill Wolfe died on June 1 at age 77. He was recognized for his contributions to broadcasting and the cable TV industry, which included chairman of the Western Canadian Cable Television Association in the early 1970s.
On December 2nd, the Rogers family announced that Ted Rogers had died at home in the early hours of the morning at the age of 75, after having suffered from congestive heart failure for several months.
Bob Colling died at age 84. The veteran radio Newsman began at CHWK Chilliwack in 1948. His career included stops at CHLO St. Thomas, CKNW New Westminster, CKMO and CKWX Vancouver and then 25 years with Broadcast News in Edmonton. He retired in 1991.
Melanie Green, operations manager for Country 107.1 and Star FM in the Fraser Valley announced two in-house promotions. In Abbotsford, assistant program director and afternoon drive announcer Curtis Pope became program director at Country 107.1. In Chilliwack, promotion director Teresa Laynes became program director at Star FM. She also retained her promotion director duties at both stations - Country and Star.
Written by Bill Dulmage, Gord Lansdell - Updated May 2013