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Canada's Flourishing Radio Industry

Updated: March 6th, 2024

The radio industry in Canada remains a significant source of entertainment and information for Canadians despite facing challenges from new media. This section delves into various aspects of the Canadian radio landscape, including station count, revenue trends, audience demographics, and station types.

Canada's Radio Stats

Radio Stats

  • Number of Stations: 965 (as of 2022)
  • Commercial vs. Non-Commercial: 716 commercial stations, 249 non-commercial stations (community, campus, Indigenous, religious)
  • Revenue: $1.527 billion (2022)

Radio's Revenue

The industry has experienced a decline in revenue over the past several years, falling from a peak of $2 billion in 2011. FM radio stations contribute around 83% of commercial radio revenue, with AM stations making up the remaining portion.


Nearly 87% of Canadians reported listening to the radio within the last month. Toronto boasts the highest average radio audience, with over 5.87 million daily listeners, followed by Vancouver with 2.46 million. The car remains the most popular platform for listening to radio (80%), followed by traditional radio sets (38%).

Commercial Radio Stations & Non-Commercial Radio Stations

  • Commercial Radio: Generates revenue primarily through advertising.
  • Non-Commercial Radio: Primarily funded by listener donations, government grants, and fundraising initiatives. These stations are categorized as community, campus, Indigenous, or religious.

Radio Licences in Canada

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is responsible for issuing and renewing radio broadcasting licenses in Canada. These licenses specify the station's format, power, and coverage area.

A Brief History of Radio in Canada (1918-1932)

In 1919, the first commercial radio station, XWA, began broadcasting in Montreal, marking the beginning of a new era in Canadian communication. This period, lasting until the establishment of a public broadcasting system in 1932, witnessed a rapid rise in radio's popularity and its transformation into a dominant cultural and economic force.

Fueled by the establishment of new stations in both French and English, and the surging sales of radio receivers, radio quickly captivated the nation. These private stations laid the groundwork for Canada's national radio system, influencing the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) formed in 1932. Broadcasting in both French and English, radio fostered national conversations and debates, bringing together a diverse population within the intimacy of their homes.

The story of Canadian radio began with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company in 1918. Experimenting with broadcasting from a Montreal facility, the company received a license for station XWA in 1919 and began regular transmissions a year later. This single station sparked a nationwide "radio craze," as the technology transitioned from a hobbyist domain to a commercial one.

By 1922, the number of radio stations had soared to 39, and by 1932, it had nearly doubled to 77. This growth was accompanied by a surge in radio sales, with Canadians purchasing over 173,000 sets by 1931, even during the Great Depression.

The late 1920s saw the possibility of national programming emerge, driven by the increasing number of stations and widespread radio adoption. The Canadian National Railway (CNR) constructed a network using a combination of its own stations and "phantom stations" to provide entertainment to train passengers. This network, connected via telegraph and telephone lines, served as a model for commercial stations to collaborate and broadcast major events nationally. A notable example was the 1927 coast-to-coast Diamond Jubilee broadcast anchored by CFCF (formerly XWA).

The establishment of the CRBC in 1932 marked the end of the purely private radio era, but the foundation laid during this period had a lasting impact on Canadian broadcasting throughout the 20th century. In just over a decade, radio had evolved from a niche pursuit to a cornerstone of Canadian culture.

Jobs in Radio in Canada

Jobs in Radio

While the radio industry in Canada has seen a decline in employment in recent years, there are still various job opportunities available across different areas. Here's an exploration of the diverse career paths you can pursue in Canadian radio:

Job Title Location Expected Salary
On-Air Personality (Radio Host) Toronto, Ontario $40,000 - $80,000
News Reporter (Radio) Vancouver, British Columbia $50,000 - $75,000
Audio Producer (Radio) Montreal, Quebec $55,000 - $85,000
Digital Content Manager (Radio Station) Calgary, Alberta $60,000 - $90,000
Radio Sales Representative Ottawa, Ontario $45,000 - $70,000 + Commission
Broadcast Technician (Radio) Winnipeg, Manitoba $40,000 - $65,000
Program Director (Radio Station) Halifax, Nova Scotia $70,000 - $100,000
Social Media Coordinator (Radio Station) Regina, Saskatchewan $45,000 - $60,000
Music Director (Radio Station) Edmonton, Alberta $55,000 - $80,000
Sportscaster (Radio) St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador $40,000 - $70,000

Note: Salary ranges are estimates based on job postings and may vary depending on experience, location, and specific job duties.

Tune into a Rewarding Career

The Canadian radio industry, while facing some changes, remains a vibrant landscape offering a variety of exciting career paths. Whether you possess a passion for on-air performance, enjoy the technical aspects of broadcasting, or have a knack for digital content creation, there's a role waiting for you to take center stage. Let's explore the diverse range of opportunities available in Canadian radio:

CategoryDescriptionExample Jobs
On-Air TalentIndividuals who captivate listeners with their voices and personalities.On-Air Personality (Radio Host), News Reporter (Radio), Sportscaster (Radio)
Content CreationProfessionals responsible for crafting compelling audio and digital content.Audio Producer (Radio), Music Director (Radio)
Production & Technical OperationsIndividuals who ensure the smooth technical functioning of radio broadcasts.Broadcast Technician (Radio)
Management & SalesProfessionals who oversee radio station operations and generate revenue.Program Director (Radio Station), Radio Sales Representative
Digital & Social MediaIndividuals who manage and leverage digital platforms to connect with audiences.Digital Content Manager (Radio Station), Social Media Coordinator (Radio Station)

Move to Canada in Radio

Immigrating to Canada to work in the radio industry requires careful planning and meeting specific requirements. Here's an overview of the potential path:

Research & Eligibility

Start by exploring the Canadian government's Express Entry System, the primary pathway for skilled workers seeking permanent residence. Research relevant National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes related to radio. These codes will determine the Express Entry system's eligibility criteria and point requirements.

Consider exploring Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) offered by specific provinces. Some provinces may have programs tailored to radio professionals, offering additional pathways to immigration.

Qualifications & Experience

Ensure you possess the required education, training, and work experience for your chosen radio specialty. Relevant degrees in Communications, Journalism, Broadcasting, or Audio Production can be beneficial.

Gather documentation proving your qualifications and relevant work experience. This might include transcripts, diplomas, letters of employment, and reference letters.

Language Proficiency

Demonstrate strong English or French language proficiency through recognized tests like IELTS or TEF. Scoring well on these tests significantly improves your application's competitiveness under the Express Entry system.

Job Offer

While not mandatory, securing a valid job offer from a Canadian radio station can significantly strengthen your Express Entry application and potentially expedite the process. However, obtaining a job offer from abroad might be challenging.

Application & Processing

Once you meet the eligibility criteria, submit your Express Entry profile online. Be prepared to wait, as processing times can vary depending on the current backlog.

If selected for permanent residence, you'll receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) and proceed with completing the immigration application and providing the required documents.

Additional Considerations

Depending on your chosen radio specialty, obtaining a Canadian radio broadcasting license issued by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) might be necessary. Research the specific licensing requirements for your chosen field.

Consider seeking guidance from an RCIC familiar with the process's intricacies and specific challenges aspiring radio professionals face.



How Many Radio Stations Are There in Canada?

As of 2022, there are 965 radio stations in Canada, employing approximately 10,000 people.

What is the Most Popular Radio Station in Canada?

CBC Radio One holds the title of the most popular radio station in Canada. It offers a wide range of programs covering news, current affairs, and cultural content.

What Impact did Radio have on Canada?

Radio played a significant role in shaping Canadian society. It served as a platform for shaping public opinion, interpreting global events, and supporting the arts. Additionally, radio significantly influenced social customs and emerged as a powerful tool for national unification, fostering a sense of shared identity across the country.

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