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'It brought a real added dimension to life on the prairies': Prince Albert TV station turns 65

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When CKBI television launched in 1958, a little piece of Hollywood came to Prince Albert.

“As a 20-year-old walking in and seeing all of the bright lights of the studio, the equipment. It was incredible,” station manager Janet Chenier said.

Ed and Frank Rawlinson started the television station with the goal to put the local community in the spotlight. Many employees came from radio and learned the ropes of the TV industry five days before going on-air.

“We didn’t have a lot of confidence in our ability, because we were all newbies, but it went off fabulous. It was just a great opening,” former CKBI television broadcaster Jim Scarrow said.

The chief engineer, Tom Vanes, was responsible for building and maintaining the station’s equipment. His daughter, Vilda Poole, said he devoted his life to television and helped with the installation of the tower on Red Deer Hill.

CKBI television launched in Prince Albert in 1958. (File)

“One day my father said, 'See that hill over there? That’s where I’m going to build a tower,'” Poole said.

The tower broadcasted television far and wide and reached rural areas.

“It brought a real added dimension to life on the prairies,” former CKBI television broadcaster Jim Spooner said.

In 1987, CKBI-television became a twin-stick operation with CIPA-TV, meaning it shared staff and resources. In 2002, it rebranded to CTV News Prince Albert.

“I loved it. Television was great, and it was just a fun, fun career to have,” former CTV Prince Albert broadcaster Don Mitchell said.

"There are amazing people in Prince Albert, and it was great to be able to either support them or tell their story,” Former cameraman Gord Barrnett said. 

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