CHVN legend Terry Van Veen started at CHVN only four months after it first launched and stayed for the next eight years.

Now, the Christian radio program director looks back from Alberta on his first days (and years) at Winnipeg's only Christian radio station.

Big move

"I was kind of, almost original staff," Van Veen jokes about when he started at CHVN in January 2001.

The CHVN legend had been working at an Edmonton radio station doing programming and mornings when he and his wife decided to move to Winnipeg with their two young sons.

Van Veen had connected with someone who worked alongside Wade Kehler to launch CHVN while working in Calgary at a different station. CHVN was searching for an afternoon show host.

That connection brought Van Veen two provinces east to Manitoba.

"It's a really tight industry, Christian radio is pretty tight," Van Veen says. "It was kind of a bit of a networking thing."

Van Veen recalls his move to the prairies and his friendships made there fondly.

"It was such a great experience," he says. "It tore our hearts out to leave Winnipeg when we moved to Grand Prairie but we knew it was God's will."

First years "buzzing"

Christian radio was a pretty new concept when CHVN was first launched, and that made for an exciting work environment, according to Van Veen.

"There was so much of a buzz in the first years of the station," he recalls.

"Southern Manitoba was just loving the fact that they had a station and there was just so many things that kind of bubbled up at that time."

Van Veen remembers artists like Jon Buller and Starfield getting their starts, with CHVN on the front lines.

"I think about Starfield walking into the station, Tim and Jon Neufeld. It was brand new, these guys had just barely cut their teeth on recording and they were coming in with their bandmates," Van Veen says.

"Nobody had even heard of Starfield at that time ... I have clear memories of them coming to the Chevrier Boulevard Studios and we interviewed them. We were playing some of the early songs that nobody was playing and then we had them at our second anniversary at the Pantages in 2002."

Van Veen remembers hearing them perform their show for CHVN's second anniversary and thinking to himself: "Man, these guys are going places."

Tragedy in the first year

Just a day short of CHVN's first birthday was a day that changed history: 9/11.

Van Veen remembers working during the catastrophic event.

"We were on the air all day and we were covering 9/11. It was a bizarre experience."

Sujo John, one of the survivors of the attacks on New York's Twin Towers, was interviewed by one of CHVN's on airs.

"It was unbelievable. To get that audio within 24 hours, I don't even know how [she] did that."

Van Veen says he remembers looking back on that day and asking himself how the station should go about approaching it.

"We're all uncertain, it was just a shock to everybody. We're like, 'How do we do that?' And as announcers, we realized we had to be a voice of calm on the air, so that was our role that day."

Highlights in CHVN Radio

Concerts are one thing Van Veen remembers clearly from his time with CHVN.

"I couldn't believe the amount of shows that we crammed into that short period of time," he says.

Delirious, Mark Schultz, and Casting Crowns, to name a few. Matthew West when he was still an opening act, sitting on a stool on stage with just himself, a guitar, and a microphone. Michael W. Smith performing sold-out shows at Calvary Temple.

During the summer of 2007 when the Elie tornado hit, Van Veen recalls seeing clouds beginning to gather in the sky as he listened to a performance by Building 429 or Downhere.

"It was like that funny, bizarre cloud cover," Van Veen says.

CHVN also participated in and hosted the Dove Awards during the early 2000s. And then there was the Manitoba Christian Talent Search where Connections co-host Colleen Houde was first discovered.

Another top contender, who finished as a finalist in the contest, was The Color's Jordan Janzen.

Van Veen compares CHVN to a magnet for the Christian arts community during its early years due to events like these.

"Steve Bell and Jon Buller and people like that started gathering around us, it was kind of a neat buzz," Van Veen says.