Owned and operated by the (government-owned) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (French : Société Radio-Canada), it broadcasts on 95.1 MHz from the Mount Royal candelabra tower with an effective radiated power of 100,000 watts (class C1) using an omnidirectional antenna. Its studios and master control are located at Maison Radio-Canada in Montreal.
The station has an ad-free news/talk format and is the flagship of the Première Chaîne network which operates across Canada. Like all Première Chaîne stations, but unlike most FM stations, it broadcasts in mono.
CBF went on the air on December 11, 1937, as the CBC launched its French-language network (Radio-Canada). CBF replaced CRCM, a station operated by the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission on 600 kHz in alternance with CFCF. CBF operated on 910 kHz using 50,000 watts fulltime with an omnidirectional antenna as a clear channel (class A) station. The transmitter was located in Contrecoeur.
The station moved from 910 kHz to 690 kHz on March 29, 1941, as a result of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement. In 1978 the CBC consolidated its two Montréal AM broadcast transmitters and the station moved to a new transmitter site shared with CBM 940 kHz in Brossard.
CBF started to broadcast from the Maison Radio-Canada in November 1971. Commercial advertising on the station was eliminated in 1974 except for Montreal Canadiens hockey games. (CBF was the Canadiens' radio flagship since its opening in 1937 and would remain so until 1997.)
CBF applied to move to FM and was authorized to do so by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on July 4, 1997. The FM transmitter was put on the air ahead of schedule on January 22, 1998, and initially had special programming targeting people affected by the 1998 Ice Storm (i.e., people without electricity). The AM signal was shut down on January 21, 1999. (For an unknown reason, English-language sister station CBM (which got permission to move to FM and started FM operations at the same time) retained its AM signal until May 14, 1999.) CBF became CBF-FM as a result of this move to FM; the existing CBF-FM station was renamed CBFX-FM.
Because of severe reception problems, CBF-FM was authorized to increase its power from 17,030 watts to 100,000 watts on June 2, 2000. The power increase was implemented in mid-2001.
In recent years the popularity of the station has increased significantly. The station is now usually one of the top five stations in Bureau of Broadcast Measurement ratings (using shares), after decades of being an also-ran.
The following stations are fulltime rebroadcasters of CBF-FM :
There are other stations which use the CBF-FM call sign and a numerical suffix, but despite this situation, they are not rebroadcasters of CBF-FM. This includes CBF-FM-10 in Sherbrooke and CBF-FM-8 in Trois-Rivières, and also their own respective rebroadcasters. CBF-FM-10 and CBF-FM-8 have some local programming since 1998, and officially became licensed as independent stations in 2000.
On June 27, 2008, CBF applied to add an FM transmitter at Saint-Donat to broadcast on the frequency 89.7 FM That application was approved on October 6, 2008.