Phonothèque québécoise

A Sound Archive
Preserving, documenting and sharing our sound heritage


The History of Community and University Radio in Montreal

Pioneers of community radio

Community radio in  Montreal (origins and development)


In a word ... (quotations)

Sound archives of community radio

Photographic archives and summaries of recent interviews

Memorable shows and hosts

Radio Centre-Ville CINQ multi-ethnic radio

CIBL: alternative radio in French

Local and community information

Community groups find a voice


The special character of urban radio (urban life,  social connections)

Promotion of French-language content and cultural diversity



University radio


Texts by Roger Fritz Rhéaume and Michel Sénécal

Research: Yves Bernard

Production, edition, research and digitalization of the sound archives and icononographic archives, photographs and interviews : Christian Lewis (webmaster)

Copy editing: Eugénie Fortin

Editorial board: Christian Lewis and Chantal Dumas





The Phonothèque has long wanted to document the phenomenon of community radio, that emerged and blossomed in the wake of the Quiet Revolution.  The two people listed below have enriched the Phonothèque site with the varied and rigorous perspectives that their research into this phenomenon has yielded: 

·                     Roger F. Rhéaume, director general, in succession, of CINQ FM, of CHAI FM (Châteauguay) and of CIBL FM (Montreal), secretary general of the Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec, and consultant.

·                     and Michel Sénécal, Associate Professor of Communication and researcher at the Université du Québec, teacher and designer of many courses in this field and the author of numerous works on communications.

Community and university radio have encouraged diversity in social and cultural content. Grass-roots groups, political and social movements, the cultural communities, cultural and literary movements of all persuasions as well as artists and innovators in the field of communications, all have helped make radio what it is today.

This research has shed new light on the history of the media in Montreal. It has become clear that community radio has succeeded in creating an authentic urban "radio de proximité," a radio close to its listeners, broadcasting:

These stations also served as training ground for many communicators working in commercial and public radio, among them  Marie-France Bazzo, the members of Rock et Belles Oreilles and many journalists.


The role of these stations has changed with time. Each in its way is a reaction against the imperatives of private radio and mass culture. Rather than re-playing the hits heard everywhere, they continue to offer varied musical programming: emerging and alternative music, world music and song, jazz and blues, classical and contemporary music … Further, the variety of subjects tackled in their broadcasts has often been surprising: culture, news and current affairs from here and elsewhere, urban life, public, political and social affairs.


Some broadcasts have innovated in giving a voice to working people, unions and community groups and to people from the underground, from prisons and others generally excluded from the media.


Community radio has been able to create a feeling of belonging, community and respect for others among Montrealers. It has been able to gain a faithful audience. It has definitely influenced public radio, if only in its spirit of freedom and research, while remaining connected with its audience.


We hope that the texts on this site will highlight the importance of these broadcasters. The texts are available by clicking on the  table above. For a  quick overview, we suggest the chronology and the webmaster's choice of quotations. Finally, here are some of the individuals who have been involved in community radio; the links will take you to sound clips of interviews about our sound heritage
 (in French):




Christian Lewis

Links to community and campus radios of Montreal :






The Phonothèque Inventories and Databases Projects



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1997 Phonothèque québécoise / Musée du son
Last update June 7,  2004

URL http://www.phonotheque.org/f/Hist-radio-com-eng.html