History

The 70’s

Radio Centre-Ville is the only multilingual community radio station in Montreal, and, in fact, in all of Quebec. The station was founded in 1972 by ten individuals working in various community and ethnic groups in the neighbourhood of Saint Louis.

 

In 1975, occupying its former premises in the Cooper Building, Radio Centre-Ville was already broadcasting at 7.5 watts of power on the 99.3 FM frequency, in five languages: French, English, Greek, Portuguese and Spanish. This is the origin of the station’s French-language acronym: CINQ-FM.

 

In October 1976, CINQ FM obtained a new frequency 102.3 FM, which it still occupies today. Similarly, it was granted permission to increase its power to 36 watts, enabling it to expand its listenership significantly on the Island of Montreal.

 

Despite its progress and the challenges Radio Centre-Ville overcame in a short time, its founders entered a crucial period between 1976 and 1981. Its very limited financial resources did not allow it to move into more suitable and spacious quarters. Even worse, its transmitter broke during a storm in 1979, which further complicated the situation. Despite these impediments, Radio Centre-Ville survived; determination and the efforts of its coordinators and volunteers overcame these obstacles.

 

The 80’s

In 1982, Radio Centre-Ville moved into its current quarters located at 5212 Saint Laurent Boulevard.

 

In 1983, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese as well as Creole were added to the station’s languages of broadcast.

 

Three years after the move, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted Radio Centre-ville the right to increase its power to 50 watts and permission to broadcast in stereo.

 

The 90’s

However, given the constantly increasing needs of the communities served by the station, this power increase proved to be clearly insufficient. Therefore, in 1991, the CRTC granted CINQ FM permission to broadcast at 1,300 watts. This allows the station to reach a wider listenership that extends beyond the boundaries of the Island of Montreal. In 1992, the station’s first multicultural program, Planète Montréal, was broadcast. In 1995, the station won the citizenship award for its work in integrating cultural communities and promoting multicultural exchange.

 

In 1997, our antenna exploded, preventing us from broadcasting for a week, but thanks to the efforts of listeners, volunteers and employees, we succeeded in returning to the airwaves and funding repairs. The following year, the radio station launched its first website. This was also the year of the ice storm, and the station broadcast constantly even without electricity; volunteers relayed information to the various communities during this time of crisis.

 

In 1999, the station won a prize, awarded by the Greek government, for the quality of its programming. This was also the year that Radio Centre-ville became involved in Michel Delorme’s “Radio Enfant” project, broadcasting programs produced and aired by children.

 

During the 90s, the station grew financially and both its volunteer base and listenership increased.

 

2000 and Beyond

In 2002, the station took over the Radio Enfant project and turned it into a weekly program; this was the first time in Quebec that children were producing radio programs on a regular basis in an FM radio station. In 2004, the station paid off its mortgage and became the full-fledged owner of the building it occupies. The following year, it won the Citizenship Award for the second time, thereby confirming its social commitment to the defence of the most disadvantaged and excluded individuals, and to interculturalism. This was also the station’s 30th anniversary, marked by a conference and a book on cultural diversity in the media.

 

Radio Centre-Ville is proud of its accomplishments, including:

  • The longest-running program focusing on film, Derrière l’Image (since 1980, still on the air)
  • The longest-running French-language hip hop program, Nuit Blanche (since 1991, still on the air)
  • The station which pioneered jazz broadcasting in Montréal
  • Canada’s longest-running English, language feminist program—Matrix (since 1980; still on the air)
  • The first program by and for gay people, in defence of their rights (1981)
  • Programs produced by prisoners—Souverains Anonymes (from Bordeaux jail)
  • The first weekly program produced by children—Radio Enfants (since 1999)
  • The longest-running program on comic books—Au Pays des Bulles
  • The first techno music program
  • The longest-running program on dance
  • The longest-running program on French song
  • The first program advocating for refugees

 

And the list can go on for a very long time!

The primary objective and challenge still hold true today, i.e. to produce high-quality programs that are thought-provoking and promote the rights of various Montreal communities that are not given a voice in conventional media.