College Hill Student Radio (CHSR)
Previous/other names: UNB Radio Society; Radio UNB
Prominent date(s) of activity: 1956 - present
History: In 1959 a representative from UNB, Barry Yoell, attended a meeting of the Canadian Association of University Broadcasters in Toronto, as one of the only delegates with no campus radio station to report on. Yoell returned from the meeting with enough information and enthusiasm to convince a group of interested students to join him in founding the UNB Radio Society. Unable to afford costly airwaves and power lines, this small start-up group settled for a closed-circuit network that served a few campus buildings.
On January 20, 1960, Radio UNB was deemed an official student organization by the Student Council and awarded a start-up grant of $1,000. The station was relocated to the basement of Memorial Hall, where donations of equipment began to arrive from IBM, Westinghouse, RCA, Northern Electric, and other companies. A local station, CFNB, donated two professional turntables, and other equipment was purchased and assembled by the staff.
By January 1961 the station was completed, and on January 22 the first official broadcast was made, reaching the Memorial Student Centre and Jones House. During his opening address, UNB President Colin B. Mackay suggested that FM broadcasting would someday be a possibility for university stations. Many notable guests such as New Brunswick Premier Louis Robichaud were interviewed, giving credibility to the station, and increasing listenership. Students built speaker boxes which they covered in UNB tartan to pipe the broadcasts into their residence rooms.
In 1969 the station moved to its current location in the Student Union Building, where, two years later, it became College Hill Student Radio (CSHR). In 1973 the station received an AM currier current broadcast license, and began broadcasting on and off campus to a potential audience of 4,000 people.
In 1981 the CRTC granted the station an FM license, extending its potential audience to 60,000 listeners. The station continued to interview a number of well-known celebrities, including political strategist Dalton Camp, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Apollo mission moon-walker James Irwin. Musicians Simon and Garfunkel were also interviewed, when they performed at the 1967 UNB Winter Carnival. Armand Paul, former station director, recounts the interview: "Just as I was about to ask the first question, there was a loud noise that startled everyone. For a moment I blanked out. Paul Simon took the microphone from my hand and started to do the interview himself. He said, 'We have Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I believe that I'm Paul Simon and this is Art Garfunkel.' He pointed the mic at me and said, 'And who are you?'"
The station switched from a low-power, 50 watt FM broadcast, to a high-power, 250 watt FM broadcast in 2005, in order to reach greater distances. The new, stronger signal, which reached New Maryland and Oromocto, ensured that anyone who contributed to the station was able to listen to the station.
By 2011 the station was broadcasting 24 hour a day, year round, with programming in six different languages.
Activities: According to Director Doug Varty (1981), the goal of CHSR was not to compete with other local radio stations, but to provide a new and unique listening experience. The campus radio station provided a learning experience for student volunteers, while catering to the music and information interests of the student population.
Note(s): First closed-line broadcast (1959); first AM broadcast to 27 buildings (January 22, 1971); first open-air FM broadcast to city of Fredericton (January 24, 1981).
CHSR was the third Canadian campus to receive an FM license.
In 1996 CHSR held the largest musical library in the Maritimes.
In 2007 the campus newspaper, The Brunswickan, published an article lamenting the lack of an alternative to the two major, allegedly disappointing, radio stations dominating the Fredericton airwaves. Current and former members of the CHSR broadcast team wrote into the paper exclaiming that not only was there an alternative station, but the author of the article was as welcome as any other community member to come to the station and take part in the programming.
In 2010 CHSR celebrated 50 years of broadcasting. Alumni from across North America returned to UNB for the celebration, which took place in the Student Union Building, where the station is currently located.
- UA Case 173.
- Montague, Susan. A Pictoral History of the University of New Brunswick. University of New Brunswick, 1992, p. 171.
- Up the Hill, 1996, p. 117.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 138, no. 17, 2005, p. 1.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 141, no. 6, 2007, p. 5.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 144, no. 5, 2010, p. 2.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 144, no. 17, 2011, p. 12.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 146, no. 25, 2013, p. 19.
© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014