Meeting the listener’s demand with CKUA

We built an on-demand platform that puts the listener first while aligning to regulatory guidelines.


CKUA logo


Custom development


Responsive Web Application


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CKUA OnDemand's website displayed on a laptop and mobile phone.

About the client


CKUA is a Canadian donor-funded radio network that has held cultural relevance in Alberta for nearly one hundred years. CKUA uses musical discovery to share culture, connect people, and build one of the strongest independent media brands in Canada, on-air, online, and in person—wherever its community is. CKUA broadcasts out of Edmonton and Calgary to 16 frequencies across Alberta, and online to listeners around the world.

CKUA is a unique radio station, not only because it is the only provincial broadcaster in Canada, but because it is committed to supporting local, independent, and non-commercial artists not found on Top-40 radio. CKUA has helped launch the careers of several well-known Canadian artists, like k.d. lang, Jann Arden, and Bruce Cockburn.

Project overview

CKUA has some of the most dedicated listeners of any radio station in Alberta—largely because of their big roster of show hosts and their wide breadth of music genres. Listeners often become long term fans, but if they move out of Alberta (which many have over the last several decades), they might not be able to listen to their favourite show, since online streaming is only available live and in real-time.

Recently, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made some changes to their licensing, allowing broadcasters to re-publish previously aired content without having to pay expensive licensing fees, but with the caveat that it can only be available for public consumption for seven days.

With this change, CKUA wanted to address some feedback it had been receiving for years from loyal listeners and donors—the radio station’s main source of revenue.

A picture of CKUA OnDemand's search screen displayed on a monitor.
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Marc, figure out how CKUA can go on-demand, and I might just have the money to make it happen.

Problem Statement

Based on our initial research and interviews, we worked with CKUA to understand what the listener was feeling, and how solving this problem could make a big impact on them.

We developed the following problem statement:

As a radio listener, I am trying to discover new music and artists, but I can only listen to certain content on CKUA radio because the programme segments are available live only at a specific time. This makes me feel left-out and not in control.

The Solution

We proposed an on-demand listening platform, where users could play any show that had aired in the previous seven days, at any time, and on any device. Based on the research with listeners, we collectively decided that this feature should be available to everyone, not put behind a paywall, which is what CKUA was initially exploring as a way to generate more revenue for the station. Based on our collective workshops and discussions, we all agreed that making the service available for free would likely generate even more donations, and would have more impact on revenue than keeping it as a reward for existing donors.

There were two requirements we wanted to keep top of mind as we built out this new platform:

  1. CKUA has limited staff, and we needed to build this platform without using up any extra human resources.
  2. Content had to be automatically removed after seven days, and users needed to know how much longer content would be available for them to access.

The outcome

  1. Custom software that automatically adds and removes content in accordance with CRTC requirements.
  2. A way for listeners to access content at their convenience—both on desktop and mobile.
  3. CKUA can keep listeners and donors engaged beyond Alberta, casting a wider net for potential revenue.
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On-Demand keeps us relevant and front-of-mind with thousands of listeners amid a media landscape dominated by convenience and choice. It is an essential connection given that we are supported by donations from those same listeners.

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