Cecil Elphicke, right, sits with station PD Jack Carbutt
Prince George's Very First Radio Station Is 60 Years Old! (2006)
February 6, 2006 (Prince George, BC) - Prince George's Classic Rock, 99.3 The Drive is celebrating its 60th anniversary this99.3 The Drive Wednesday, February 8th. CKPG began broadcasting at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, February 8, 1946. The station changed positions on the dial from 1230 AM to 550 AM over the years and remained there until the spring of 2003 when Prince George's heritage station moved to the FM band and became 99.3 The Drive.
The original station began with a 250-watt transmitter with a staff of three, including: Cecil Elphicke, Managing Director; Jack Carbutt, Announcer; and Ray Tate, Engineer. It was the only radio station in the city for nearly 25 years and as former Mayor of the City, Jack Nicholson stated back in 1946, "CKPG will make us better and closer neighbours".
The station was the start for countless on air personalities, sales staff and many other talented people who have moved on. Well respected broadcasters like Brian "Frosty" Forst, Don Prentice, and the late Bob Harkins started their broadcast careers at the legendary station.
Prince George got its first radio station after the Canadian government granted a broadcast license to the Elphicke family (Cecil and Frank) for a 250-watt station to serve central and northern British Columbia. Broadcasting began for radio station CKPG at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 8 from the second-floor studios located in the Ritts-Keifer Hall on George Street. The first announcer was Jack Carbutt. The signal proved strong enough to reach Endako to the west, McBride to the east, and as far south as Seattle. Mayor Jack Nicholson joined owner Cecil Elphicke on air for the official start. Telephone lines were opened to encourage listeners to call in music requests. Regular features were a report from Parliament Hill broadcast Tuesday evenings and an "air edition" of the Citizen was read on Saturday mornings to provide information of interest to people in outlying districts.
In November the Canadian Department of Transport granted a license to operate a radio station to CKPG Radio Limited. The principals were brothers Cecil and Frank (Tiny) Elphicke.
In May land was purchased for the transmitter site near the Hudson Bay Slough in Prince George. In August construction of the transmitter began along with leasing of office space. Radio Station CKPG Limited was incorporated and capitalized at $25,000 (2500 shares at 10.00 per share). 1490 shares were issued. In October 1945 Cecil Elphicke moved to Prince George to begin building and equipping office space and studios on the upper floor of the historic Ritts-Kifer Hall on George Street.
CKPG signed on the air on at 5:00 p.m., February 8, operating on 1230 kHz. Studios were in Ritz-Kiefer Hall on George Street and the 250 watt transmitter was at South Fort George. The PG in the call letters represented Prince George. CKPG was owned by Radio Station CKPG Ltd. and was a CBC Trans-Canada affiliate. Some of the original staff consisted of Cecil Elphicke (Managing Director), Ray Tate (Engineer) and Jack Carbutt (announcer).
CKPG moved to 550 kHz with power remaining at 250 watts. However, the listening range increased because of the lower frequency, a factor for stations operating in the mountainous British Columbia interior.
CKPG moved to a new building at 1220 - 6th Avenue, designed by Vancouver architect William Henry Birmingham.
Bob Harkins began as a copy writer at the station.
Harkins was appointed general manager and president of the station at age 26. He went on to become a City Alderman in 1986, spent more than 40 years of his life making the general public aware of the unique local history of Prince George and was presented with the Broadcaster of the Year Award from the B.C. Association of Broadcasters.
On March 1 Cecil Elphicke died and on May 26 Frank Elphicke died.
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