Action Alert: To gauge listener reaction, CKZN Goose Bay goes off air

“Is anybody even listening?”  So said the powers-that- be at CKZN.  To find out, the relay was (temporarily) shut down.

You, too, may have noticed that the CBC Radio 1 relay through CKZN on 6,160 kHz has been off air for several days. I’m traveling in Canada this summer, and noticed that CKZN has been completely silent lately, whereas earlier this month their1 KW signal was actually penetrating the RFI here where I’m staying in Québec.

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors–including Ed, Matt, Richard Cuff, Ed McCorry, and Dennis Dura–who’ve provided a few details about this development:

Richard Cuff shared the following:

[T]he CBC has apparently switched off the CKZN shortwave transmitter on purpose — to see who notices that it’s missing, it appears — much like Radio Australia did just before shutting down its shortwave service.

I know I would miss them — they frankly have been an enjoyable companion especially when I’m away from home and unable to connect to the Internet via WiFi.

Richard then included email correspondence that Glenn Hauser received from CBC representative Katie Rowe; Glenn published Rowe’s reply on the DX Listening Digest:

“Hi Glenn, They are currently conducting some testing to gauge listenership. I’ve been advised that they will likely be off-air for a couple of more weeks. “

Ed McCorry also received a reply from Katie Rowe when he inquired about CKZN:

I’ve been advised that the system is being tested. I should have some more information soon I can pass along.

Thanks for reaching out.

Richard and Glenn have hit the nail on the head.  The CBC is taking the same approach the ABC did prior to closing down their shortwave services; they’re gauging listener reactions by turning off the relay…and simply waiting for a response from those in the target region.

The WRTH featured CKZN in their 2017 issue.

Some of you might recall that Hans Johnson, featured an article about CKZN in the 2017 Word Radio TV Handbook, noted that the CBC intended to not only continue the shortwave service directed at Labrador’s most remote areas, but was planning to replace their 1 kW Elcom Bauer transmitter in the coming years.

Why, then, this sudden silence?

I rather suspect the CBC are looking at the cost of this transmitter upgrade and considering simply shutting down the service instead of re-investing in it.  A worrisome––and potentially short-sighted–– development.

Contacting the CBC

If you listen to CKZN––even if you’re not in their target broadcast footprint––consider contacting them to let the know you’re listening…to nothing.

Certainly, if you’re a listener in Labrador, northern Québec, or indeed anywhere in Canada where you might benefit from this service, or in any rural area where radio is sometimes (or often) preferable to inadequate internet service, I’d strongly suggest you make your voice heard. The CBC have been clear about this point.

Why is this important?  Because as most regular readers of this blog already know, losing a shortwave radio relay––a useful service that becomes especially vital in the event of an emergency––is cutting off a vital channel of communication.  It is, metaphorically speaking, putting all one’s eggs in one (digital and/or FM) basket.  Yet the Internet, which has now largely supplanted radio, is certainly not infallible, especially in rural regions; many rural Canadians, even those who don’t regularly listen to this station, may rely upon this very service in the event of a emergency such as a weather event or other crisis, and unquestionably during an interruption of digital service.  However, this sort of event is not likely to take place during this testing period, giving the CBC a narrow view of the radio relay’s actual utility.

One reader provided this link for a host of email addresses for CBC Newfoundland & Labrador:

I also contacted Ms. Rowe this morning for comment, but have not yet received a reply. Her email address:  [email protected]

Keep in mind, Saturday is Canada Day, and the country is celebrating their 150th…I wouldn’t expect to hear back until next week.

Happy Canada Day, Canadian friends!

And let’s keep listening…even for inexplicable silence on the radio dial.

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10 thoughts on “Action Alert: To gauge listener reaction, CKZN Goose Bay goes off air

  1. Ed McCorry

    Your probably right that the letters won’t change their all ready made up minds. However, I think if they get piles of letters against it they won’t have the chance to make the same comment as whats her name from ABC that they never heard from any listeners. Plus it made me feel good to write and stand up for a hobby I’ve been engaged in for 55 years!

    1. Keith Perron

      The problem will be the same as with the ABC. As the ABC put it in the hearing that recently took place. the shortwave hobby types don’t count as they are not in the target of the RA broadcasts, which got fewer than 20.

      Unless your in the target it makes no difference and just gives them another reason to cut it.

  2. Troy Riedel

    I have to agree with both posters … writing likely won’t do any good. I have nothing more to add than it’s sad to see another one bite the dust.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Yeah. My take is that I contact them if for no other reason than to let them know there are listeners. I don’t expect it to change the course of their decision. The only thing that might help would be contact from a significant number of listeners from the rural/remote communities the stations serves.

  3. Juan Carlos Perera Borges

    Internet is a very useful tool nowdays I acknowledge it. But it’s pretty sad & unfair that those nice & awesome old shortwave broadcast stations are shuttingdown their transmmissions. They don’t think about people from faraway rural areas around the world. I love Shortwave Listening since the age of seven (I’m now 47) I realized how state-of-art radio sets were advancing as time went by & suddenly Internet was born! Good and not good at the same time. It’s just my mind speaking.

  4. Broadwing

    Many nights I have tuned in to this CKZN-St Johns as this Spring it seemed that the reception was really great compared to last Winter. I really like the programs they broadcast and the music that was played, plus it is in English. It seems like the Shortwave Bands are getting quieter and quieter as stations leave replaced by nothing but static. Pretty soon I’ll have to find a different Hobby to concentrate on if this keeps up. I sure would hate to have to sell my receivers at a yard sale in the future.

    1. Tom Servo

      I seriously think the biggest improvement to CKZN’s signal was the 6160 in Vancouver being taken off the air permanently. I wouldn’t think these sub-1,000 watt signals would clash that much, but I swear the day it went off and stayed off, I started hearing CKZN quite clearly down here on the Gulf of Mexico.

      I’ll be sending some correspondence to the CBC but it won’t do any good. I’m sure like most other big government agencies, they are just giving listeners lip service with this so-called trial. They always work on the “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind’s already made up” line of thinking. See also, Radio Australia, or Ajit Pai’s take on Net Neutrality at the FCC.


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