On December 9, 2021, Pickering College marked the 100th anniversary of the first trans-Atlantic radio signal. This anniversary is of particular importance to the school as this milestone was achieved on the school’s campus in Newmarket.
Ted Rogers Sr., a radio aficionado and Pickering College alumnus, is said to have sat at his telegraph key in what is known on the school campus as Rogers House, taken a deep breath and tapped out a message in Morse code. With that, he made history as the only Canadian to successfully compete in the first amateur trans-Atlantic radio competition, transmitting a signal across the Atlantic to Ardrossan, Scotland. Ted was the son of Pickering College Chairman of the Board Albert Rogers, and would become the father of Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications Inc.
More recently, radio has played a key role at Pickering College since 2007 with the launch of campus radio station 102.7 CHOP FM, thanks to a generous donation from the Waters, an alumni family who owned and operated CHUM Limited. “CHUM Limited always believed that giving back to the communities in which it operated radio and television stations was most important. Pickering College played a significant role in our daughters’ lives. Our family’s donation towards the building of CHOP FM is our way of ‘giving back,’” says Jim Waters.
Since then, the radio station has been one of the school’s unique features, giving students JK to Grade 12 the opportunity to become on-air hosts, producers, editors, and interviewers as they help to manage the station’s day-to-day operations. Additionally, Pickering College offers a course on Radio and Audio Production and in January will launch a new online OSSD credit in Communications Technology - Radio, Grade 11 (TGR3M) available to students across the province.
“Being able to offer our students this kind of hands-on experience is an invaluable way to solidify what they’re learning across the curriculum,” says Peter Sturrup, Head of School. “Having the ability to write and speak effectively, along with the technical competencies of delivering radio programming, truly sets up our students to become inspiring leaders in the future.”
The school marked the 100th anniversary with a virtual presentation at Morning Meeting that included students and faculty from Senior School, followed by an evening Zoom chat with alumni who were involved as contributors to CHOP FM during their time at PC.
“Students learn the technical skills associated with the radio medium as well as project management and communication skills in a dynamic and authentic environment,” says Ian Johnston, Senior School faculty. “Many of our alumni have found a love for radio and have gone on to pursue post-secondary studies in the field.”
Pickering College is the only JK-Grade 12 school in Canada with a CRTC-licensed radio station. Broadcasting from New House, this fully functioning station serves the wider Newmarket community and provides a range of community-based programming including a live morning show, sports updates, music and feature programs.
With an active board and advisory council, 102.7 CHOP FM benefits from the energy and insights of many community members, including award-winning filmmaker and Pickering College alumnus Brian Purdy ‘56 who created an informative video that outlines the past, present and future of CHOP FM, entitled "On Air." You can see the video on Pickering College’s YouTube channel or by visiting www.pickeringcollege.on.ca/chopfm