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Home of the Okanagan’s first radio station to become stores and housing

This proposed commercial/residential building is planned for the site where two Kelowna radio stations now operate.
This proposed commercial/residential building is planned for the site where two Kelowna radio stations now operate.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

CKOV was the first commercial radio station in the Okanagan, hitting the airwaves on Nov. 4, 1931.

Now, the building it moved to in 1982, at the corner of Cook and Lakeshore roads, is destined to be replaced by a six storey, 104-unit housing project with almost 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

“The proposed building is set to become the focal point of Cook Truswell Village Centre, creating a strong sense of place while also being mindful of the adjacent wetland,” says the rezoning application that has been filed at Kelowna City Hall by Jim Pattison Developments Ltd.

“Due to its corner location, high visibility, and ‘landmark’ potential, the building has been designed to stand out in the urban context.”

This is not the original location of CKOV radio. That was on Mill Street in downtown Kelowna but this land was bought in 1938 for the radio’s transmission tower.

According to an article on the World Radio History website by J. Peter Shinnick, radio first came to the city in 1928 when the Kelowna Amateur Radio Club was formed.

James William Bromley-Browne, George Dunn, Bobby Johnston and Harry Blakeborough were cited as key people behind the station.

“To convert to amateur radio broadcasting, Dunn’s transmitter had to be converted from Morse key operation to voice,” Shinnick wrote. “The government granted the club a licence under the call letters 10-AY, restricting the group to non-commercial broadcasting. With a diminutive 50-watt transmitter, the club broadcast a relatively ambitious schedule of programs.”

Those included church services, performances of the Ogopogo Concert Club and plays.

"J.W.B. Browne received his commercial broadcasting licence in the spring of 1931 on condition that 10-AY disband,” Shinnick wrote. “The Amateur Radio Club readily agreed to this condition for the token sum of $1.00, paving the way for the Okanagan’s first commercial radio station.”

That was given the call letters CKOV, standing for Canada Kelowna Okanagan Valley.

READ MORE: Where have all the nudists and their beaches gone in Kamloops, Okanagan?

CKOV had a number of different owners, musical styles and personalities over the years.

It was where former Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray started his radio career in 1957 before heading into broadcast ownership and a seat on Kelowna City Council in 1986. He served as mayor from 1996 to 2005 then again from 2011-2014.

The station was bought by the Jim Pattison Group in 1998.

In 2007, CKOV moved to the FM band and, while retaining the same call letters, was rebranded B-103 (now Beach Radio 103.1).

In 2010, the CKOV call letters were changed to CKQQ-FM.

The Lizard 104.7 FM and Beach Radio 103.1 both operate out of the building at 3805 Lakeshore Rd.

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