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Listener Derek Quittenton on “the day the radio died”


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 longtime CKUA listener, donor, and volunteer, Derek Quittenton.

I remember the day the radio died. I was used to waking up to lovely music from my FM clock radio, the calm voices, and great morning music from CKUA.

But not this morning. I got a horrid, angry shrieking noise—the electronic scream of a dead radio station. At first, I thought it was my own radio dying. I could not believe a whole radio station could die. 

Over the next few days, a plan was made to ask CKUA listeners to donate their own money to the station to get it back on the air and keep it afloat. We needed volunteers and my hand shot up. “Pick me.” I joined the pledge room team, answering phones and taking pledges. I had a full-day shift, so I showed up for my first day with a homemade bag lunch in hand. I felt like such a goof when I looked around the room. A large space, with a magnificent grand piano and long tables and chairs, spread around the room.

Pick your spot, here is your phone, the old-fashioned tethered-to-the-wall landline. Here is what you do and how to do it. Away you go and oh, all that wonderful food over there? It is for you. We can’t pay you but restaurants all over Edmonton were bringing in food for us. What a few days.

We were going for $50,000. A huge amount of money and we were getting there the old-fashioned way, $5, $10, $15 at a time. A $50 donation was huge, a $100 donation, very, very rare. To keep us on track, we had a woman who bragged she was “a total woman.” She was, as she was kept running, picking up pledges, and adding up the money pledged. Yes, the total woman she was.

I remember Sev Sabourin especially. He had a voice on the air that just filled the room with calm peace and knowledge of his craft. Sev walked around the pledge room introducing himself to each volunteer, shaking their hand and thanking each of us for doing what we were doing. He told each of us that without our work, CKUA would never make it. A couple of days later I was back. Sev remembered me, whispered a quiet thank you in my ear, as I was on the phone and greeted other volunteers.

Over the few days we were getting closer to our goal. Late on the last day, I took a call: the caller wanted to know how close we were.

“Close,” I said, “$100, a huge amount, should put us over the top.”
“Done,” she says, “Here is my credit card number, charge a $100 for CKUA and please play ‘Blue Bayou’ by Roy Orbison.”

Yes we will. I bring the pledge and the request to our on-air person, bud in and say, “We have the pledge that puts us over the top, we have our $50.000. The caller wants to hear ‘Blue Bayou’ by Roy Orbison.”

The on-air host says we will play every version of that song we have for the donor. This was a great day for CKUA, for a lovely person and for all of us who love this station.

Derek Quittenton 
Edmonton, AB

Thanks again for sharing this story about you and CKUA, and for your tireless support, Derek!

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!