While wandering through the Upper Midwest.

Scott Fybush scott@fybush.com
Tue Feb 21 21:43:59 EST 2012

On 2/21/2012 5:27 PM, A. Joseph Ross wrote:
> On 2/21/2012 1:08 PM, Scott Fybush wrote:
>> CBW and CBK can do what they do because they sit astride some of the
>> most phenomenal ground conductivity anywhere on Earth.
> What makes the ground there so conductive?

It used to be an ocean, and it's very moist.

As for the callsign question, Canada handles things a bit differently 
from the US. There are "stations," and then there are "transmitters."

CBK is a "station" - it's licensed with specific requirements about its 
programming. But in addition to its main licensed signal at 540, its 
license also includes numerous rebroadcast transmitters.

"Transmitters" are kind of like translators in the US, but they can be 
on either AM or FM, and they don't have the same power restrictions that 
US translators have. Some can even originate limited amounts of local 
programming. (For many years, the Radio-Canada TV outlet in Toronto, 
CBLFT, was actually licensed not on its own but rather as a transmitter 
of Ottawa's CBOFT.)

Transmitters can sometimes have their own callsigns, but especially on 
FM they usually use the parent station's callsign followed by a number.

All Canadian FM stations are assumed to have the "-FM" suffix.

Put those pieces together and we see that the signal on 89.3 in Winnipeg 
is thus CBW-1-FM - CBW for the parent station, -1 for the transmitter 
suffix, and -FM because it's on FM. The CBC could also have given the 
transmitter on 89.3 its own call, something like "CBWA."

As Garrett notes, there's already a separate CBW-FM, carrying CBC Radio Two.

On a similar vein, there used to be both a CBF(AM) and a CBF-FM in 
Montreal carrying separate Radio-Canada services. Both had transmitters 
in smaller Quebec communities, and it was not unusual to find a place 
where there was both a CBF-10-FM, carrying the CBF(AM) programming, and 
a CBF-FM-2, carrying the CBF-FM programming. When Radio-Canada moved CBF 
from 690 AM to 95.1 FM, you couldn't have two "CBF-FM"s, so the former 
CBF-FM on 100.7 became CBFX, and all the CBF-FM-2s became CBFX-FM-2s.

(Consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds, the English CBC did it 
differently - when CBL moved to FM, the existing CBL-FM stayed CBL-FM 
and all its transmitters were CBL-FM-x, except a couple of older ones in 
Kingston and London with their own calls, CBBK and CBBL; the new Radio 
One signal on FM became CBLA-FM and its new transmitters became CBLA-FM-x.)

Fortunately for the public, the CBC never announces those transmitter 
callsigns anyway, so it's just "CBC Radio 1 Winnipeg" whether it's 
CBW(AM) or CBW-1-FM or whatever.

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