VERNON - If all goes to plan, Vernon may have a community radio station on the air by the end of the year.
Launched in 2017, the Vernon Community Radio Society applied for a licence to run a local station in October 2018 and have just passed one of the many regulatory steps towards achieving that goal.
Vernon Community Radio Society president Gordon Leighton said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is now seeking public input into the society's application, which he sees as a positive step into obtaining a licence.
Leighton, a former broadcaster himself with over 50 years experience, said he launched the society because he sees a need in the community.
"Vernon is under served," he said, "I think community radio is coming around to be a new medium."
The community radio station would broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week and feature around 20 per cent spoken content, covering news, current affairs and call-ins focussed around local issues. Music will make up most of the remaining time, but won't feature pop, instead focussing on niche genres from classical and folk to country. The station will also run ads and will broadcast to Vernon, Coldstream and the surrounding area. While some presenters would be paid professionals, the station will be largely volunteer-run and members of the public will get the chance to host or produce shows.
Leighton said if all goes well the station could be on the air by the end of the year. There are however many steps to go before this happens. Leighton said the not-for-profit group need to raise around $100,000 to launch the station and since they don't have a licence yet, they haven't been able to fund raise. Leighton is however optimistic the money will come as the society has a variety of grants available to them from federal and provincial governments. Running costs will be paid for by ads and grant money and Leighton thinks the station would employ four or five full and part-time paid staff.
In an era when anyone can launch an internet radio from their home or put out a podcast, Leighton admits the concept may sound dated but insists radio has a strong future.
"I call it the original social media, there is nothing quite like the warmth of the human voice," he says.
He points to the fact it's the only media medium that can be consumed in a vehicle.
With over 100 community radio stations across the country and about 30 in B.C., community radio is different from commercial radio because they are run as not for profits groups.
From here Leighton said the CRTC will assess whether the market can sustain another radio station in Vernon. As the CRTC last issued a radio licence in Vernon over 40 years ago, he's optimistic they'll find that it can. And if all does go to plan, Leighton sees himself presenting a mid-morning talk show.
"Good radio is an entirely interactive medium," he says.
Click more information about the Vernon Community Radio Society.
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