Happy Birthday to CHNS

What do legendary country star Hank Snow and I have in common? Well, we both worked at the landmark Halifax radio station CHNS… sort of. Hank did the morning wake-up slot at 8 am when CHNS was broadcasting out of the Lord Nelson in the early 1930s. The Depression was in full throttle and his wife worked in the Moirs Chocolate factory, where the Scotiabank Centre is today.

I, on the other hand, worked on a Junior Achievement posting in High School in 1976 and 1977 at CHNS, where we produced one half-hour show per week. We recorded on Wednesday or Thursday nights when the station was located in a beautiful Art Deco building on Tobin Street deep in Halifax’s South End. The show was then broadcast at 8 pm on Sunday Night, right before ‘Dutch Corner’, a program for the Netherlands’ Community in Nova Scotia.

It was the Sunday Night Community access slot, a ratings dead zone that demanded none of CHNS real stars – at the time they were Frank Lowe, Johnny Gold and Jerry (Jer Bear) Lawrence. Lawrence would ascend to the Nova Scotia legislature a few years later, being the first wheelchair-bound MLA, and a formidable force who brought the first accessibility issues to government buildings and to the business community.

Working around and being advised by those radio heavyweights of the time was something of a thrill. Media seemed remote to most of us teenagers, and to actually produce a real program, with real advertisements, music and commentary, catapulted our small but merry company into what we thought was the “big time.”

CHNS may have morphed through several incarnations, having moved from Tobin Street with a couple of ownership changes in between. But it’s still there pumping out music when the pundits said that radio is a dead issue in the age of the internet. That’s what they said with television, and when vinyl went out and CDs came in. Now vinyl is back. And Radio is indeed as alive as ever. Long live CHNS, and may radio continue to live forever.

For my part, I’m happy to have played a very minor part in Halifax’s first major radio station.

So… Happy 90th birthday CHNS!

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