Reggae In The Fields Celebrates 45 Years In Your Ears!

Over the next month we are celebrating 45 years of Reggae In The Fields on the air! Tune in to hear testimonials from listeners, friends, admirers and others all month as we toast the great Junior Smith on this incredible milestone!

One of the most steady and popular voices on the airwaves, Junior is an international treasure!! So many have been introduced to the sounds and culture of the Caribbean through Reggae In The Fields. We feel lucky and honored to support Junior throughout his incredible run. He has represented the station and his community with distinction.

From everyone here at CKCU we want to congratulate Junior on this singular achievement, and we look forward to supporting Reggae In The Fields for many more years.

Tune in starting at 1PM tomorrow (June 26th) as Junior presents a 4 and a half hour extravaganza, special presentation of REGGAE IN THE FIELDS only on the Mighty 93.1, CKCU FM

A “Reggae In The Fields” Reflection by Ewart Walters

Ewart Walters

It was August 12, 1995, and Junior Smith, host of CKCU-FM’s popular Saturday afternoon music program, “Reggae in the Fields,” put his reggae records aside. Instead, he devoted the full two and a half hours of his program to a panel discussion and call-in show. Smith’s in-studio guest that day was Ottawa-Carleton’s Chief of Police, Brian J. Ford. Before long, and to almost nobody’s surprise, they were talking about a man, Vincent Gardner, who died in hospital in the late autumn of 1991, six weeks after being felled and crippled by a police bullet.

Gardner’s death had enraged the community because the system was engaging in a cover-up, claiming that Mr. Gardner died of liver cancer and not the gunshot. This was finally put to rest five years after his death by a Coroner’s jury that rule death was due to the bullet.

But this was only one of many public affairs matters that were discussed over the years on Reggae in the Fields. And it was the only one that took up the full two and a half hours. For Reggae in the Fields was a music program based on the Jamaican music that was sweeping the world.

Bob Marley & Junior Smith circa 1979

Bob Marley & Junior Smith circa 1979

In the year 1976. Junior Smith was a young math student at Ottawa’s Carleton University when he discovered that Radio Carleton had opening for volunteers. It was, after all, a student-run entity and was open to just about anything that students wanted to do. And so he sought and obtained a one-hour space on a Saturday for a program based on reggae music.

Grounded in the music of Reggae King Bob Marley, the program sought to bring a wide variety of popular Jamaican music to listeners.

Shortly after the program began, the Counsellor at the Jamaica High Commission got word of it and contacted Junior Smith who invited him to assist. The result was seven programs featuring the historical rise of the music and the singers and musicians behind it. Since then, there have been several programs based on the history and the impact of the music.

Speaking of impact, as good as Marley’s music is, it is his lyrics that make the impact, with his persistent concern for equality, brotherhood, upfulness and righteousness.

On the occasions when Smith has had to be away others have filled in, notably DJ Karess who also for a few years prepared and presented a review of Caribbean news.

Nearly half a century later the program has grown to 2½ hours. Listeners around the world tune in each Saturday, sometimes sending in music from their homelands, but always contributing in one way or the other.

Indeed, Junior Smith has been central to promoting and maintaining Jamaican culture here in Ottawa with Reggae in the Fields. May it long continue.

(Ewart Walters is a journalist, author and former diplomat. Former Publisher and Editor of the defunct Black newspaper “The Spectrum”, he is a recipient of numerous  awards including the Order of Ottawa)

Black History is Every Month airs Saturday May 1st, 1-3PM

Presented by Carleton University School of Social Work, Black History is Every Month highlights African diasporic accomplishments and culture and draws attention to the challenges, strengths, and resilience of Black communities in Canada. In particular, there is a focus on the importance and value of celebrating Black history every day.

This annual event debuted in March live on YouTube, and CKCU is proud to air an audio version on Saturday May 1st from 1-3 PMThis project is an integral part of the School of Social Work’s commitment to serving all students, including Indigenous, Black, and racialized students who often express feeling invisible in academic spaces while also feeling hyper-visible in their differences. The sentiment of being seen and yet unseen relates to their experiences within post-secondary education. This event’s ultimate goal is to create a space that supports culture change to assist the Carleton community and the broader Ottawa area to understand the complex issues associated with diversity and inclusion.

The Black History is Every Month featurette includes interviews with a variety of contemporary Black voices in Ottawa, a living portrait of their stories and commentary, as well as conversations that further dissect what it means to be Black in Canada today. A LENZSTUDIO Production.


More info:

The Passing of Bernard Stepien of CKCU’s Rabble Without A Cause

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Bernard Stepien. Bernard was a long time fixture at the station and in the local jazz scene where he was known for his virtuosic saxophone playing. After taking on Rabble Without A Cause in the 90’s he became part of the Sweetman / Émond / Stepien axis of Jazz on CKCU, which reigned for decades. Beyond his life in music he was a researcher and software engineer at the University of Ottawa contributing to that body of knowledge with several publications.

Local funeral services and commemorative jam sessions will be delayed until Ottawa is out of the COVID red-zone. At that time we’ll let everyone know how best to pay their respects. CKCU has been running a range of produced carts and best-of shows commemorating his work at the station over the next while, and will be making a gift to the family. He is survived by his son Thomas Stepien, who also broadcasted on CKCU as the well known DJ Teknobrat. Please keep his family in your thoughts.

Here is a link to two programs that Ron Steeds produced to commemorate Bernard:

Here is a link to an article by Peter Hum in the Ottawa Citizen:

The Place Of Sound debuts on CKCU

Welcome to The Place of Sound: a show that explores the meaning of some of the everyday spaces and places that surround us, both here in the city of Ottawa and elsewhere. Debuts this Monday at 6:30PM (Feb 22nd)….

The Place Of SoundIn a time when many of the spaces we inhabit are digital, we’re going to pause and reflect on how important physical space still is in our everyday lives. We’ll do so by listening to the work of students in Carleton University’s Communication and Media Studies program. We’ll listen to conversations they’ve had with others on the topic of home, and other projects such as soundscape compositions, which communicate one’s personal relationship with a particular place.

So on the one hand we’re using sound to understand the role of place in our lives and the many meanings that it holds, but on the other, we’re placing sound by using the skill of listening to explore the everyday spaces we inhabit.

So if you’re interested in hearing stories that will make you reflect on what places might mean and who you are in them, tune in to CKCU radio every second Monday at 6:30pm, listen On Demand:  and/or visit the website at

NEW PARTNERSHIP W/ Bushah Luxury Coffee & Tea Company + CKCU FM

We’re pleased to announce that we have partnered with local business, Bushah Luxury Coffee & Tea Company.

This partnership was made possible by our devoted volunteer and host of Friday Drive, Trevor Walker.

The concept is simple. For every bag of coffee sold, CKCU FM will receive $2 dollars. This will go a long way in keeping the Mighty 9.31 on the air while also supporting a great local business.

To support CKCU FM while purchasing your coffee, enter the promo code “FRIDAYDRIVE” and voila! We’d like to thank Bushah Luxury Coffee & Tea Company as well as Trevor Walker of Friday Drive for making this partnership a reality!


Happy 45th BIRTHDAY to the Mighty CKCU!

Exactly 45 years ago at the stroke of midnight on Nov. 15th 1975, CKCU-FM began broadcasting as Canada’s first CRTC licensed campus/community radio station at 93.1FM, and the first song played was “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” by Joni Mitchell.

From the initial vision, passion and hard work of CKCU’s founders, the Mighty 93 has been a crucial part of the Ottawa/Gatineau region providing independent programming for four and half decades. Over these last 45 years, CKCU has worked to support music, arts, culture, current affairs and countless other communities. CKCU’s commitment to this will surely continue. 

CKCU owes a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who has walked the hall to our studios. An extra special thanks of recognition to Janis Lockwood. Janis lead many a CKCU birthday celebration over the years, announcing while popping the cork on a bottle of champagne. Janis’ involvement with CKCU going back decades cannot be overstated. Thank you Janis for your passion, dedication and belief in CKCU.  

As we move towards our 50th year as a broadcaster in 2025, CKCU will continue to grow with our communities and expand the support we strive to give independent voices. The support you provide us as listeners and donors keeps us alive and moves us forward. Huge thank you to everyone for helping us get here.  Let’s share a toast to CKCU getting to 45 years, and to the decades yet to come.

Celebrating 30 Years of The Back Forty on CKCU!

This Saturday Nov 7th at noon, during the final week of Funding Drive, “The Back 40” will celebrate its 30th year on CKCU. Co-founded in 1990 by program hosts Bill Grant, Dave deJongh and Doug Torrance, the show was conceived as one that would feature several dimensions of country music, including “old-tyme/hillbilly” (Bill Grant), Nashville – Grand Old Opry stars (Doug Torrance), and bluegrass music (Dave deJongh).

Having taken over the reins in 1993, Ron Moores has continued to host the show. While continuing the root traditions of “Back 40”, Ron has focused on interviews with local and area musicians and with bluegrass artists throughout North America. In addition, Ron has forged close ties with country and bluegrass festival organizers and with the Ottawa Valley Bluegrass Association that continues to serve the bluegrass community  throughout the Ottawa Valley. Ron is also 5 x winner of the Central Canada Bluegrass Association’s “DJ of the Year Award” and an inductee into its Hall of Honour.

Featured on Saturday’s broadcast will be music and interviews with two of the three founders of the Back 40 (who are Dave deJongh and Doug Torrance, both of whom were program hosts at CKCU; Bill Grant passed away in 1993), along with listeners and with the Treasurer of both the Ottawa Valley Bluegrass Music Association and the South Grenville Bluegrass Festival, who is David Porter.

“Rots & Rhythms” emerges just in time for Funding Drive/Halloween!

This Sunday night, October 25th at 8 o’clock,  Rotting Renny resurrects Rots & Rhythms”, a spooky spectacular Halloween Funding Drive special with sonic tricks & treats, followed next week by the semi-legendary Smut For Bucks Funding Drive show on Sunday night November 1st. Something scary for  a coronavirus free Halloween & then something that’s almost obscene. Roots & Rhythms, thrilling you since 1997!

NOW REVEALING: CKCU 45th Anniversary Funding Drive Campaign Art By Colin White

Image: Colin White

In just a few days CKCU will be launching our annual funding drive!! We though it was time to reveal this year’s original funding drive art! This year we were fortunate to have Ottawa’s number one street documentarian Colin White share his talents with us. The image portrays the legacy of our past and the promise of our bright future as we #JourneyTo50. Look for an update to this post where we interview the artiste himself, but for now enjoy + share the image and head over to our updated pledge page to invest in our future!