On October 19th, 1973, CJRB Radio 1220, based in Boissevain, went live across the Westman Region bringing local news, weather and sports of the southwest corner of the province to the airwaves. 

Today, CJRB Radio celebrates 50 years of continuing that mission to share what’s happening in Westman, both on the air and through Discover Westman’s online portal. 

CJRB is one of over 38 radio stations under the umbrella of Golden West Broadcasting, with 12 of those stations in Manitoba alone. 

CFAM Radio 950 was the first in the Golden West family, broadcasting out of Altona starting in March 1957 under Southern Manitoba Broadcasting Co. Ltd. 

AM1250 Radio in Steinbach (CHSM) would follow in 1964, and CJRB would join the Radio Southern Manitoba trio in 1973. 

The inspiration for the Steinbach station and CJRB was to broaden the coverage of CFAM; first CHSM to the east, and then CJRB to the west. 

“The CFAM transmitter could not cover that part of the province, so a lot of people who were trying to listen to CFAM in the southwest might have been able to get the signal during the day for a while, but it was always gone at night,” shares Golden West CEO, Elmer Hildebrand. “So, we decided we would provide another signal at a different frequency, have towers in Boissevain, and that would enable us to cover the entire southwest all the way into Saskatchewan.” 

“With the three stations, we basically had radio coverage from border to border,” notes Hildebrand, “From the U.S. border to Dauphin to the north, and to the Interlake area north of Winnipeg, and all the way to the Ontario border.  

“So, once we had all three of those stations in place that’s when we came up with the idea of calling it Radio Southern Manitoba,” he adds. 

When CFAM signed on in 1957 the slogan was, ‘Your farm and good music station!’ Elmer Hildebrand was one of the original eleven employees and has remained with the company over the past 66 years, leading the Golden West team for decades.   

What has also stayed true to all three stations is the dedication to covering local news, local sports and agriculture content, pertinent to each of the regions. 

“Radio Southern Manitoba provided separate programming for all three of those areas, and that’s really what has been the backbone of Golden West Manitoba ever since we started,” shares Hildebrand. “So, that’s another very important piece to the entire part of providing coverage, not just during the day, but also at night.” 

The 3-station concept was new to radio broadcasting, with Radio Southern Manitoba leading the way with building its own microwave system from Altona to Boissevain.  Manitoba Telephone System (MTS) had all the equipment in place to accommodate this rebroadcasting of the CFAM signal west, however the cost was high, so the CFAM engineering team felt they could develop their own network. 

Special equipment was imported from Marti, a Texas manufacturer, to build the new microwave system.  After successfully building and launching the new system to enable the establishment of CJRB, they shared this revolutionary technology across Canada.  As a result, Radio Southern Manitoba would supply Marti equipment to broadcasters throughout Canada, the Caribbean and South America.    

CJRB Radio 1220 continues to focus on the unique family programming it has broadcast from Day #1, October 19th, 1973. 

“We have a unique program format, and the kind of family programming that covers the entire spectrum of family values and local information,” says Hildebrand. “This is the reason we exist, and it was very important to have that signal right across Southern Manitoba.” 

“The local information keeps us relevant and the family-style values that we present every day, you can’t find that anywhere else,” he adds. “From my perspective, I'm proud to see all of these things develop and will continue to cheer everybody on!” 

“I’d like to thank all of our listeners in the great southwest,” shares Elmer Hildebrand. “Thanks for all the years that you’ve been loyal listeners, and we hope to provide this service to you for many, many years to come!” 

Please listen to more with Golden West CEO Elmer Hildebrand below as he shares some of the changes he’s seen over the past 50 years at CJRB Radio. 

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, DiscoverWestman encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the DiscoverWestman app.