CHRW origins date from 1959 when student politicians suggested that a student-run radio station would be a boss idea. It was not until 1971 that radio at Western really grew legs when a group of students began broadcasting for six hours every Sunday night on CFPL-AM 980.
This encouraged the University Students’ Council (USC) to give financial support for a closed-circuit station to be set up first in Somerville House and later at the University Community Centre.
In January 1978, the old carrier current and cable frequencies were established. The station ceased to exist as 1978 began. At one point Radio Western was also broadcast as a weekly show on 95.9FM in London.
In March 1979 the USC held a referendum asking students if they would support a radio station. The referendum passed by a 4-to-1 margin. The new Radio Western (with call letters CHRW) spent the summer of 1979 getting ready. Two people were hired full time: Pat Nagle (Area Manager for CBC North) came on board as the first Station Manager and Roy Blake was put in charge of building the station from the ground up as the Technical Director.
A call for volunteers went out in September as classes began. The volunteers spent hours hooking up equipment and getting stacks of records (from the previous radio station) sorted out.
Finally, on Monday, January 14, 1980 at 8AM, the new Radio Western made its first broadcast. The station continued to broadcast until midnight each day until April 30, 1980 after which the station shut down for the months of May, June, July and August.
Finally, on September 2, 1980, Radio Western went back on the air, where it has been ever since! In those early days, Radio Western was only available on closed-circuit at various points on campus. It was also available on London Cable and McLean Hunter Cable (at two different frequencies).
Behind the scenes, Pat Nagle was putting together a proposal to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to grant Radio Western a full-fledged FM license.
Radio Western was granted a low power (50 watts) community-based campus radio station license in June 1981 for broadcasts on public airwaves. The frequency was set at 94.7 FM.
CHRW began test broadcasting at 94.7 FM on Friday, October 16. However, the official date of the power increase to 50 watts took place at noon, on Saturday, October 31.
Pat Nagle began things that day at noon with a small speech about what Radio Western had to offer the community. Ten minutes later, Radio Western's chief announcer, John Quain, took over the controls and played CHRW 94.7 FM's first song -- On The Air by Peter Gabriel.
A few minutes later came Radio Western's first request -- Urgent by Foreigner. When John Quain politely told the caller that was not the type of music Radio Western played, the caller then suggested Sister Europe by the Psychedelic Furs.
Quain was more than happy to play that, and 94.7 FM was on its way. Later that afternoon, the schedule continued with a Mustang tradition - live Saturday afternoon football.
The power increase to 3000 watts was granted and implemented in October 1990, allowing coverage of the surrounding area from Chatham to Woodstock. The official date of the power increase was October 31, 1990, exactly 9 years after our move to 94.7 FM.
In November 2003, then Station Manager Mario Circelli’s plan to implement a further power increase to the present 6000 watts, a change of frequency to 94.9 FM and transmitter location change to 1 London Place came to fruition. The station is now heard northeast to the edge of Waterloo and down Highway 24 to Lake Erie.