CFAM hit the air waves at 8:01 p.m. on March 13, 1957. The radio station, operating at 1,000 watts and located at 1290 on the AM dial, was housed in a small studio in Altona - a community of 1,800 people at the time.

The idea for a radio station in Southern Manitoba was conceived by A.J. Thiessen, an entrepreneur from Rosenfeld.

"It was a very momentous evening - something that people had looked forward to for quite a while," reflected CEO Elmer Hildebrand, who at the time of the launch, worked as a commercial copywriter at the station. "It was a cold winter day...(and) it was an amazing evening and from my recollection it's sort of like yesterday, I can remember it well."

When CFAM signed-on that March evening there were only eleven employees. The company, which started as this single station in Altona, has now grown to over 40 stations in Western Canada and Northern Ontario and employsCFAM hitstheairLeft to right: Les Garside, Dennis Barkman and Reuben Hamm about 450 staff.

Hildebrand admits that in those early day he had no idea the station would grow to this magnitude. "But somewhere in the mid-60's it dawned on me that this was a real business and that we could probably expand it over time, and we have."

Today, Golden West also operates about twenty online portals for people to access local news and information, as well as stream their local radio station. Hildebrand explains it became obvious a number of years ago that the company should have a digital or online presence of some form. "I may be the least proficient in that field but I know that we should be there."

He adds the online community portals are unique with no other broadcaster running web sites the way Golden West does, noting it all comes back to local content and local production.

"That is going to be a huge part of our future and, at the end of the day, that may be a bigger part of our business than radio."

Golden West has become a vital part of the fabric for about two-dozen communities, and the belief in local news, weather and sports continues to be the foundation of relationships with communities, clients and families in the centres it works in and represents. "We are nothing if we are not serving the community," noted Hildebrand.

He explains this local process is what makes Golden West unique in Canada, adding there isn't another radio broadcaster that takes this approach.

CFAM farmA live-on-location broadcast. Covering local news and farming issues has always been an important part of the CFAM mandate"As a result, you will hear in the media many stories about radio stations having a hard time - losing both listeners and audience. In our case that's the reverse, we're growing both with listeners and with revenue, and basically it has to do with one hundred per-cent local service."

Hildebrand feels that unless broadcasters offer this local service, they will eventually become irrelevant.

"It used to be that you needed a radio station for music, today...you need it for information and unless our stations prepare to hire people that have boots on the ground and are willing to cover events, they will become irrelevant."

He says Golden West has been ramping up these efforts ever since it was determined that this was the way to remain successful, and notes the plan is to keep it up and do more. "We're very optimistic for the future."

While he's accumulated too many memories to count over the last sixty years, Hildebrand says the biggest thrill that he still gets to this day is seeing young people enter the business, grow and become professional on a full-time basis.

"...They started their career with us and they blossomed, they haven't had to go anywhere else (and) they haven't had to move to bigger cities - they can do it all right here."

Hildebrand went on to say that in the radio business, we are only as limited as our imaginations. "I've often said that theatre of the mind is often more colourful than television, and so if we can imagine something then we can probably do it."

With cutting edge technologies and industry leading performance, Golden West is looking forward to the next 60 years.

Looking to the future, Hildebrand believes that Golden West will continue to provide the service that it does now on both AM and FM stations, as well as the online community portals. "We're also developing apps for our different centres, so that will be another expansion of the digital mode."

In fact, he predicts that one day all Golden West radio stations will be broadcasting without the towers that we see erected in the middle of fields, but rather over the Internet in some form. "All of this progress keeps going. We have a very qualified technical staff and generally we are close to the leading-edge of technical proficiency in our organization and it's something that I really enjoy watching."

CFAM birthdayLeft to right: Ben Horch, Esther Horch, Al Esau, Dennis Barkman, Elmer Hildebrand, Jake Peters, Chris Penner, Mary Dueck, Peter Olsen, Gertrude Wiebe, Larry Bodnar, Leonard Enns. Seated: D.K. Friesen

More Local News

Plum Coulee Arena Back In Business

The Plum Coulee arena is back up and running after being shut down for over a year. Fire in May 2016 caused extensive damage to the structure and the adjoining community hall. Rhineland reeve Don…

Altona Student Proposes Using Bats To Protect Local Watershed

Emily Zacharias is a grade 11 student at W.C. Miller Collegiate and is concerned about the well being of our local watershed. Through her grade 12 Biology class, she learned of an initiative by Ducks…

Police Investigating Stolen Truck, Winkler Police Report

Winkler Police Service is investigating the theft of a vehicle. On November 17 at approximately 11:45 p.m, police were notified by a resident of Park Street that his truck was stolen from his…

Provincial Government To Double-Down On "Indicators Of Success"

The provincial government has recommitted to reducing the deficit, saying they've seen better than expected results. The Manitoba government has also committed to making the province the most…

Government Commits To Making Manitoba Most Improved Province

The Manitoba government has committed to making our province the most improved in Canada by attempting to fix finances, improve services and rebuild the economy. That was the message delivered…

Expect Colder Than Normal Winter On Prairies

The official forecast from Environment Canada will be released at the end of the month, but they're expecting a colder than normal winter. The Weather Network and American forecasts are predicting…

Local Farmers Thanked For Contributions To Feeding Hungry People Around The Globe

Members of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) were in Winkler Monday to say thank you to supporters. At the event, Executive Director Jim Cornelius shared how a lot of their work is dedicated to…

Morden Police Officer Honoured With Special Recognition

His passion and dedication to making our communities safer have earned a Morden police officer special recognition. Constable Jonathan Goertzen was presented with the Excellence in Law Enforcement…

Winkler Community Foundation Blows Past Fundraising Goal

Every dollar donated to the Winkler Community Foundation (WCF) was supercharged on November 18. WCF raised $37,326 on Saturday, easily passing their goal of $20,000. "Thank you to the community for…

Winkler Woman Assaults Male While Holding Small Baby

Winkler Police responded to two unrelated assaults, within an hour of each other, at the same location. On November 12 at approximately 3:00 p.m, police were dispatched to Navigator Apartments…

Ginew Wellness Centre Breaks Ground For Expansion

The Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation (RRAFN) recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ginew Wellness Centre (GWC). On Monday, local officials and residents gathered to celebrate the…

Phone Scam Costs Winkler Victim $1,674

Scams and fraud attempts continue to plague residents of the Pembina Valley. The latest scam was reported to Winkler Police earlier last week regarding a female who received a phone call from someone…

Winkler Pool Renovations 80 Percent Complete Before Winter Hit

Work was over 80 percent complete on the $650,000 renovations at the Winkler Aquatic Centre before the weather halted the project. While crews wait for spring, the City of Winkler has received a…

FOUND: RCMP Locate Missing Morris Teen

Morris RCMP are thanking the public for their assistance in locating a missing teen. On November 19, at 7:30 p.m, 18-year-old Aaron Martens left his home on foot, without his cell phone. With the…

Proposal To Reduce Winkler Garbage Bag Limit Pushed To 2019

The proposal to reduce Winkler's residential garbage limit to a single bag per week has been pushed to January 2019. Mayor Martin Harder says as composting and recycling ramps up, the single limit…

PRSD Consults Community On Tight Budget

Prairie Rose School Division held two community consultations over the last number of weeks. The two sessions were held in Carman and at St. Paul's Collegiate. Superintendent Terry Osiowy said the…

Winkler Rallying Support To Strip Traffic Board Of Speed Limit Authority

The City of Winkler is confident municipalities will join their campaign for more autonomy when it comes to setting local speed limits. Winkler has sponsored a resolution to limit the power of the…

Pancakes To Make Christmas More Jolly

Saturday, Scotiabank and other businesses came together in support of the Winkler and District Christmas Cheerboard with the 'Holly Jolly Breakfast'. People could come down to Winkler's Southland…

Amish Group Moving To Vita Area

Some unusual highway signs have been posted along Provincial 201 in the Vita area. They advise motorists to watch for horses and buggies. Lucie Maynard, Chief Administrative Officer for the RM of…

Teleconferencing Program Helps People Living With MS

Manitobans living with multiple sclerosis have another useful resource for getting information about the disease and how to cope with its symptoms. Ada Jane Okonkwo is the Community Connections…

PembinaValleyOnline.com is your only local source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide

26
Oct
2017
Pickelball

26 October 2017 - 21 December 2017, 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Emerado Centennial School, Winkler





13
Nov
2017
Great Violinists, Great Concertos

13 November 2017 - 18 December 2017, 7:00 pm - 9:15 pm

Bryce Hall, University of Winnipeg





16
Nov
2017
Minds in Motion - Altona

16 November 2017 - 04 January 2018, 9:30 am - 11:30 am

The Gardens on Tenth, Altona





19
Nov
2017
Pitching Clinic

19 November 2017 - 18 March 2018, 12:00 am - 2:00 pm

Central Plains RecPlex, Southport MB





20
Nov
2017
Great Violinists, Great Concertos

20 November 2017 - 25 December 2017, 7:00 pm - 9:15 pm

Bryce Hall, University of Winnipeg





22
Nov
2017
Boomerang Bags Altona Sewing Bee

22 November 2017 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

WC MILLER COLLEGIATE Home Ec room, Altona





23
Nov
2017
A Labour of Love by Winnipeg Artist Segun Olude & Gibril Bangura

23 November 2017 12:00 am - 6:00 pm

MHC Gallery, Winnipeg





Login