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The 1980s and CKUA: Deborah Walker Remembers


Do you (or does someone you know) have a 200-300 word 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 Deborah Walker, who worked for CKUA between 1984 and 1986.

On my first day as a newsperson at CKUA, I entered the old building on Edmonton’s Jasper Avenue at about 6:00 AM, went up the creaking stairs, past dark offices, and into the newsroom. There, I met Ken Regan, who greeted me warmly and showed me the ropes.

There were four or five other reporters/announcers on site and Cathy Ennis was our “techie,” recording material for us, and operating the soundboard during our live programs. The newsroom atmosphere was one of frantic typing (on typewriters!), some swearing (never at anyone, always at our own mistakes) and lots of laughter.

Some staff members worked elsewhere. The Larrys (Donovan and Shewchuk) reported from the Alberta legislature and there were three reporters in Calgary.

This crew was supervised by Ron MacDonald; a quiet guy who smoked a pipe, wore the same cardigan every day, and gave us a lot of creative freedom. Our most memorable production was a documentary called That there is broken-ness. It was based on themes in Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan, including the internment of Japanese-Canadians during WWII, and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. We won an international award for it and joked about travelling to California to accept the plaque.

Previously, I had worked in strictly formatted private radio, so I loved CKUA’s eclectic music programming and marvelled at its source, the Music Library. David Ward was the vinyl custodian and, in the days before electronic databases, he always knew where to find the album we needed.

The DJs were fonts of musical knowledge. I remember especially the “late greats,” Herb Johnson (my favourite) and Bill Coull and I’m happy that Holger Petersen, Tony Dillon Davis, and Cam Hayden are still there. Also thrilled that Cathy Ennis has re-joined you.

Every time I listen to CKUA, I feel the same warmth I felt then.

Stay eclectic and friendly and, most of all, stay safe.

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

Please email us if you would like to share your own 200-300 word CKUA story with our community! And tell a friend too! We’d love to hear from listeners of all generations and backgrounds!