From humble beginnings, FM 98.5 CKWR has grown into a thriving community-licensed radio station.
Wired World Inc.’s (FM 98.5 CKWR) inception is largely due to federal youth grants, given to University of Waterloo (UW) students. Riding the community media wave in 1973, the students received money from the Canadian government to start a community television station. Their ambitious goal was also expensive, compelling them to find an alternate project as Grand River Cable took over the role of community cablecaster. That was the start of community radio — FM 98.5 CKWR — and the first station of its kind in Canada.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) gave Wired World Inc. non-profit charitable status, a license to operate a non-commercial, community-oriented station in 1974. The CRTC said, “We applaud Wired World Inc. for their noble ambition. The Commission will follow with interest this experiment in facilitating community expression on radio, and hopes that it may help to develop a more meaningful role for community dialogue in the private broadcasting sector.” It’s charitable status was annulled in 2016, but the station remains a registered not-for-profit organization in good standing.
Operating initially as CKWR 98.7, the little FM station broadcast from a cramped office inside a house at 1342 King St. East in Kitchener. The premises were owned by UW professor Henry Crapo, who also served on the station’s Board of Directors. The primary reasons for broadcasting, as reflected by it’s mandate, were: “ to advance education and to expand the scope and integrity of information and artistic expression in Waterloo Region.”
Three moves and 43 years later, FM 98.5 CKWR has come a long way since its inception with its fair share of growing pains along the way. Professional in its approach to programming, the community can find something on the station that is of interest to it. A listener can hear everything from Tchaikovsky to heavy metal; from easy listening and chat shows to programming in Chinese, German, Spanish and many other languages. It’s an eclectic blend with a soft-and-easy format during the day, specialty programs in the evenings and multicultural on weekends.
After 43 years, FM 98.5 CKWR continues to be the “voice of our community”, providing local and regional listeners with alternative programming that reflects the diversity of the region.