University Of The Air
Aired from 1966 to 1983
Youtube video courtesy compactcassette
During the early days of CTV, the affiliates did a certain amount of their own cooperative Canadian programming, which was circulated by what was known as a tape “bicycle”. This was not the physical method of delivery, but a reference to the way the tapes were flown around the country, landing and taking off like a fixed point on a bicycle wheel.
One early initiative by the stations, collectively known as ITO, the Independent Television Organization, was the production of degree-related courses with the cooperation of universities around the country, under the umbrella title University of the Air. The effort was coordinated by Nancy Fraser out of CJOH Ottawa, and the programs were free of commercial content.
Once the stations took over control of the network in March 1966, they began to utilize the network microwave to distribute several individual and group station productions by this much more expedient method. University of the Air began to be delivered this way in the fall of 1966, and this arrangement continued until the series had ceased production by the end of the 1982-83 season.
The ‘convenience delivery’ of University of the Air was usually somewhere between 6:00am and 9:00am, and many stations played it ‘as delivered’. As it happened, this timing appeared to suit a majority of students, who had jobs to go to or other courses to take later in the day. The end of University of the Air coincided – perhaps not altogether coincidentally – with the expansion of Canada AM to 2½ hours, which gave the stations another half-hour of Canadian content, plus some commercial time to sell.