Quebec radio stations not only showcased professional musicians and popular bands, but also gave local entertainers a chance to reach a broader audience. Radios became more common in smaller communities during the 1940s, as the electric grid expanded. By the start of the 1950s, 90% of Quebec households owned one. It was truly the medium’s golden age. The first broadcast licence for the Montmagny area went to the radio station CKBM in 1954.
The P’tit bal à l’huile
The P’tit bal à l’huile was a highly popular folk program broadcast on CKBM from 9 p.m. to midnight. Hosted by Gilles Vallière, the show featured live musical performances by local artists. The musicians would often continue playing for the live audience for two or three hours after the broadcast ended!
When local Montmagny radio station CFEL took over from CKBM in 1983, the show moved to Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m. Each 15-minute segment attracted thousands of listeners. Advertisers were left wondering what was going on in that time slot to give a regional station such great ratings! The secret formula involved broadcasting traditional music played by a mix of big-name accordionists and local musicians. The show was a major influence on many performers from the Montmagny area.
This clip showcases the quality of the music played on the program: