Who would have thought that Winnipeg’s most popular radio station broadcast from a basement alongside the city’s busiest street. Such was life at 930 Portage Avenue for 48 years.
My very first article on this blog was Remembering CJOB – The Main Studio. When I wrote that post in August 2015, I focused mainly on the equipment and did not pay much attention to the building itself.
CJOB began broadcasting in 1946 from the Lindsay Building, close to Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg. My recollection is that the original frequency was 1340 kHz, not switching to 680 kHz until October 1957.
The 930 Portage Avenue building was constructed in 1956 for the Sun Life Insurance Company. Located a few miles west of downtown, I think costs were probably much lower than the Lindsay Building, and the site was still very handy. CJOB moved into the basement in October 1962 and the main floor was occupied by Postal Station D.
Indeed, this was an interesting location. At the front was Portage Avenue, Winnipeg’s busiest street. At the back was Wolseley, a quiet residential neighborhood. Over time, CJOB took over the entire building. I have fond memories of 930 Portage Avenue as the home of Winnipeg’s best radio station for 48 years, until its relocation to the old CKY-TV studios in Polo Park in 2010.
When I first started working at CJOB, I rode my bike to work in the summer and took the Portage bus in winter.
930 Portage Avenue – CJOB’s Basement Broadcasts
Boy, was the basement at 930 Portage Avenue busy and crowded. Studios ran along the north and west walls. Offices occupied south and east. In the middle of the floor were work spaces, music library and engineering. When the Post Office moved out, the offices and CJOB-FM moved upstairs.
Given Winnipeg’s flood history, I was always surprised by the decision to put expensive studios in the basement of a building, quite a change from the top floor of the Lindsay Building. Interestingly, the Red River Floodway began construction the same month CJOB moved into 930 Portage Avenue.
But our biggest problem was road noise. Heavy transport trucks used Portage Avenue extensively at that time. I can remember when the studios shook like an earthquake occasionally. Sometimes the vibration was so strong that the turntables quivered and needles squirmed across records.
After a long night shift, it was great to climb the stairs and see morning sun.