CHNS Radio Celebrates 90 Years EVAN WEBSTER

Thursday, May 12, 2016

When CHNS aired its first radio broadcast on May 12, 1926, the station used a 500-watt transmitter and aired from a tiny room at the Carleton Hotel in Halifax.

The times have changed, but CHNS is still around. Now known as 89.9 The Wave and airing from Bayers Lake, Nova Scotia’s oldest radio station has seen it all.

Thursday marks the station’s 90th birthday, and it’s celebrating the milestone with special vintage programming for the entire month of May.

Along with the usual music, news and talk shows, listeners this month can enjoy vintage commercials, historic news stories, archived interviews, and old-school music and jingles.

It’s all part of the station’s plan to celebrate its rich history, and highlight the fact that for the last 90 years, CHNS has always been there.

“We’re taking listeners on a trip down memory lane,” said Mike Mitchell, director of programming with Maritime Broadcast System Radio, the station’s parent company. “We’ve archived a significant portion of our 90-year history, so we’ve been able to put together some pretty great stuff from an audio perspective that will air every day, all month long.”

No radio station in Halifax has more memories than CHNS. Over the years, the station has been home to some of Atlantic Canada’s most well-known broadcasters and radio personalities, including Ian Hanomansing, Stan Carew, and Mike Duffy.

From 1933-1960, the station was an affiliate of the CBC. It served as an important outlet for the news stories of the time, including the Second World War, the Korean War, and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Clips from those days will be airing all month.

Vignettes from other iconic local programs, like Jerry Lawrence’s Hello Metro, will be on the air as well.

“Throughout our history, this radio station has told the story of Halifax,” said Mitchell. “We’ve accompanied great music with stories about this city’s people, businesses, organizations, and charities. This month, we’re celebrating that.”

From the 70s to the 90s, CHNS specialized in top-100 music before switching to oldies in 1992. In 2006, the station abandoned its original AM channel and re-branded as a classic rock station, 89.9 HAL FM. Just three years ago in 2013, the station switched to classic hits, and was reborn as 89.9 The Wave.

The music is important, but for Mitchell, it’s the storytelling that measures the success of any radio station.

“At the heart of it, radio is about putting great storytellers on the air,” he said. “That’s why it’s hugely important to have an announcing staff that’s involved in the community, heading to the hockey rinks and soccer fields on the weekends, and finding the compelling stories that matter to our unique audience here in Halifax.”

The broadcast industry is evolving and CNHS is too, but for the the next 90 years, one thing won’t change. Nova Scotia’s oldest radio station will continue to serve its audience with local programming that matters.

The great music is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Nowadays, any news story can be sourced a hundred different ways. That’s why we find stories that are relevant, compelling and local,” said Mitchell. “Thanks to things like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, we can now accompany our traditional audio storytelling with videos and photos on our website. We’re always evolving and highlighting our great storytelling, but this month, we’re paying tribute to the past. I know our listeners will enjoy it.”


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