From a coal oil lamp-lit farmstead 90 miles northeast of that city, twelve-year-old Pete first heard Webb Pierce and Hank Snow and dozens of others who would influence a major portion of his life. Lying about his age, Pete’s early-developed baritone voice started him on his radio career just shy of his 16th birthday at CFCP in Grande Prairie, Alberta in 1956.
Radio was more free-form then, with announcers selecting their own music or at least having the right to change the music selected by the station librarian. It was not long before Pete was playing much more of his radio heroes than anything else.
The same pattern followed in subsequent stations in Peace River and Lloydminster, Alberta and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He moved to Wisconsin in 1962 and stayed there for the one year required to maintain his immigrant Green Card.
At the end of that year, he was recruited to open Spokane, Washington’s first all-country station, KSPO. He built the station library and aired the city’s first country morning show to great success the summer of 1963 garnering nearly one quarter of market share. From 1963 to 1980, he was one of the leading broadcasters in Spokane, consistently in the market’s top three.
During his time in the States, Pete was able to air much of the top Canadian talent of the day to his American listeners, many of whom were really only familiar with Montana Slim (Wilf Carter) and Hank Snow. Regularly played on Pete’s shows were Dick Damron, R. Harlan Smith and Chris Neilson, the Emeralds, Hal Lone Pine, Hank Smith, The Rhythm Pals, Al Cherny, Tommy Hunter, yodeler Rod Erickson and many other Canadian artists to great acceptance. Almost all of this Canadian music he brought with him or picked up on visits home to Alberta.
His sons graduated in 1978 and 1979 and this single parent dad was on his way to a family reunion in Westlock, Alberta when he tuned in to 790 CFCW. After listening to Bev Munro, he knew he had to try to join this great station.
Upon his return to Spokane, he called from his morning show to the legendary Bev Munro morning show to see how he could become part of what he called the “best country station in the world”. Munro hooked him up the with the station manager and Pete Hicks arrived in Camrose on February 23, 1980 to begin what is now nearly 30 years of country music magic.
Under Munro’s tutelage, he worked any shift asked and in 1994 was asked if he would be interested in producing a two-hour Sunday morning Country Classic Show. Overwhelming response expanded the show to three hours shortly afterwards (Sunday mornings from 9 til noon) and with its outstanding ratings, it is now being prepared for syndication. All this is in addition to his regular radio show which has been the top rated mid-day show (major-market, Alberta) for many years.
Pete’s love of classic country music earned him an invitation to emcee the Alberta Legends concerts in 2002. Once word got out that he had several decades of band tours and music writing, publishing and singing under his belt, it quickly turned into an invitation to perform which has resulted in the successful release of two CDs. Between radio and a busy concert schedule, Pete continues to promote and perform his favorite music.
Now in his 53rd year of broadcasting, Pete still approaches every day with a rare passion for radio, country music and his listeners. When asked why he hasn’t yet considered retirement, he replies “Retire from what? This is what I do.”
Connect with Pete:
Pete's Country Classic
Calvin Vollrath composed a song for Pete called "Pete's Country Classic",
Click HERE to have a listen!
1961 Live Broadcast Audio
The opening of a 1961 live CFQC broadcast from Saskatoon's Nutana Collegiate with host Pete Hicks who, at that time, already had five years radio experience. He is still on the air today playing country music from CFCW Camrose. Listen HERE!