Brandon mourns loss of CKX

Local TV station shuts down as newscast ends

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BRANDON -- As CTV affiliate CKX-TV signed off the air at the conclusion of its supper newscast Friday, the mayor of Brandon said its absence will be felt in every living room, coffee shop, board room and storefront across western Manitoba.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/10/2009 (4704 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BRANDON — As CTV affiliate CKX-TV signed off the air at the conclusion of its supper newscast Friday, the mayor of Brandon said its absence will be felt in every living room, coffee shop, board room and storefront across western Manitoba.

The 54-year-old station was shut down after potential buyer Bluepoint Investment notified CTV it was pulling out of its deal to buy the station for $1.

“It just feels like you’ve lost part of the household because it’s been part of our lives here in Brandon and Westman for as long as I’ve ever been here,” said Mayor Dave Burgess. “It’s really sad to see it go.”

Without a television broadcaster, the broad exposure to many of the aspects that keeps people interested in life in the Wheat City has been eliminated in one fell swoop.

“It really removes one of the avenues of getting out to the public,” Burgess said.

Brandon Souris Conservative MP Merv Tweed said while he lobbied to help save the station, the government cannot interfere with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s reluctance to grant CKX satellite carriage.

“If I could reach in and make them change their mind, it’s something I would do, but they’re independent,” Tweed said. “It’s been a tough period for all industries and the media is no different. I just regret they couldn’t get it done.”

Brandon bakery owner Harold Kuipers, who was “absolutely devastated” by the news, said he’s known far and wide across Westman for his “good buns” commercials broadcast over the years on CKX.

“Next to the Brandon Sun, where are people going to get their new information on what’s going on with Brandon’s business community?” he asked. “It reaches far… this community will truly feel the loss of this.”

The station’s closure will also have a ripple effect on the next generation of local broadcasters. Assiniboine Community College’s media productions program has relied on CKX to be the training ground for hundreds of green broadcasters over the years. “CKX has a long and storied history,” said ACC instructor Greg Sherris. “It’s been an important part of our community and it’s also created opportunities for young people from our area to launch careers that have taken them to places far and wide. “

“CKX has meant the world to ACC,” he said.

The shock waves created by the closure of CKX have also rocked the lives of many of its former employees.

“That job was such a gift to me. I’ll never get another job like that,” Karen Chrest, former host of the CKX Noon Show, said. “It allowed me to really be creative, get out in the community and be an advocate for the community. That’s what CKX did — they were a huge advocate for the Westman area.”

Wanda Kurchaba, a former CKX reporter and producer who now enjoys a public relations job at Assiniboine Community College, said she looks back at her time at CKX with true fondness.

“I remember doing stories on everything — from school board to potato harvest — and being out there in my high heels, being a rookie reporter out in the middle of a field,” she remembered, laughing.

CTV has been struggling to keep stations afloat in some local markets. Shaw Communications Inc. (TSX:SJR.B) had agreed to buy the CTV stations in Brandon, Windsor, Ont., and Wingham, Ont., but pulled out in late June.

The decision left CTV scrambling to find alternative solutions for the three stations. Earlier this month, the broadcaster announced it would keep its A Channel station in Windsor, Ont., open until at least Aug. 31, 2010.

Meanwhile, it had also applied to the CRTC to turn its Wingham, Ont. station into a full re-broadcast of the A Channel station in London, Ont.

— The Canadian Press

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