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Bud Steen on CKUA’s past, present, future


Do you have a story about you and CKUA that you’d like to share with us? Please let us know by writing us. We’d love to feature it! What do such stories look like?

Well, here’s one by CKUA advisor and volunteer, Bud Steen!

CKUA has been with me well over 50 years.

In the late 1960s, I was fortunate that a friend of mine recommended tuning in, late on a Saturday, as it was the only station playing alternative music of the day from Britain. Over the months and years following, CKUA introduced me to uncountable musical riches. I began enjoying folk music, and classical music. I developed an interest in jazz. Soca, soul, reggae, punk, Tex-Mex, and numerous other styles have provided me hours of solace and enjoyment.

CKUA got me through tons of university papers and exams. I listened while on road trips in the province and made sure it was on in the yard while I was working there. It inspired me to develop my own music library—first vinyl, followed by CDs. I carried playlists of tunes with me into football dressing rooms throughout the country. I became familiar with a long list of programmers and felt many of them were speaking directly to me about the music they were playing.

Although I would have loved nothing more than to work at CKUA after leaving high school, that was not in the cards for me. I was, however, provided an opportunity in 1997 to work with many other passionate CKUA fans, assisting the network to get back on the air and charting the course for the years to follow. During that period, I worked with many of those programmers who introduced me to so many fabulous artists and selections. I was in awe of their knowledge when we talked about what was interesting us at the moment; CKUA had created a bit of a music nerd and he was in his glory!

My time as Chair of the Board of the Foundation was both challenging and incredibly rewarding.  I spent untold hours with Tommy Banks, an Edmonton community legend. He taught me a great deal about the critical importance of the arts in our daily lives. I worked with Jack Hagerman, a.k.a. John Worthington, the Old-Disc Jockey. His commitment to quality radio was unparalleled. Bill Coull, one of Canada’s greatest radio voices; Monica Miller, the librarian who went on to host many of my favourite programs…I could go on at length, describing many from CKUA who invited me into their world and allowed me the opportunity to share their appreciation of distinct music produced by quality artists from around the globe.

What strikes me is what has happened to CKUA since 1997. Prior to 1994, CKUA was underwritten by the provincial government. In part, as a result of the shutdown in 1997, an engaged community of supporters quickly coalesced. Each year since, the community has grown and its reach extended, to the point that in 2020, we have over 6600 on-going monthly donors and thousands more who contribute to the network’s two annual campaigns.

CKUA is now more than a radio service. We provide information about local artists to community members who appreciate and support those artists. As each of us tune in during our day, we know there are thousands of others who share our musical journey. I hear other community members sharing their lives in notes to the host, assuring all of us that we are not alone despite significantly reduced social interaction.

More than ever before, the CKUA community is a vital resource, helping its members through the travails of their daily lives. CKUA is an old and trusted friend, here for each of us. For that and many other reasons, I believe CKUA is something I must support. I appreciate that many have been hit hard by the pandemic and lack the resources to do so. That inspires me to do more because I know how important it is for our community.

Thanks again for sharing this story about you and CKUA, Bud! 

Please email us if you would like to share your own CKUA story with our community!