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Modes of Transmission: Local Radio

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

Black and white photograph of Gilles Vallière, pipe and pencil in hand, sitting behind a desk. A telephone can be seen on the desk.

Gilles Vallière

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.

Black and white photograph of Michel Montminy hosting a radio program. He is wearing headphones and sitting in front of a microphone, surrounded by radio equipment.

Michel Montminy on air at CFEL

This clip showcases the quality of the music played on the program:

Listen to the audio excerpt with description (EN).